The U.S. Senate has confirmed an outstanding jurist, Judge Neil Gorsuch, to the U.S. Supreme Court, ensuring his place as the 113th justice in U.S. history. I was pleased when President Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch back in January and I publicly supported his nomination.
One of the most important reasons I supported Donald Trump during last year’s campaign is the president’s power to appoint Supreme Court justices and, indeed, all federal judges. As we’ve seen in recent years, on so many issues – from abortion to marriage, from immigration to health care – the judiciary is truly a co-equal branch with Congress and the White House. This year alone, judges have blocked President Trump’s travel moratorium on those coming from seven countries plagued by terrorism, showing the dangerous power of unelected jurists to ignore the Constitution and put our country at risk.
The president’s power to appoint judges is underappreciated but undeniable. President Obama alone nominated 329 judges, including two Supreme Court justices, who won Senate confirmation. Those judges will sit on the bench for decades, ruling on issues critical to our national security, the administration of our government, and the vitality of our culture.
Last year, as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to appoint justices in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the greatest justices of all time. Justice Scalia was the embodiment of what a justice should be – an impartial arbitrator, not a champion of trendy political causes. Justice Scalia understood that Congress’ role is to make the law, the president’s job is to execute the law, and his role, as a Supreme Court justice, was to interpret the law. That is all. And when judges overstep their boundaries – and allow their personal feelings to reign supreme – the results are disastrous, as we saw when the Ninth Circuit struck down President Trump’s travel moratorium.
We have every reason to believe Judge Gorsuch will be a worthy heir to the legacy of Justice Scalia. During his confirmation hearings, for example, Judge Gorsuch said, “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge…stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.” That is a humble and refreshing comment from a Supreme Court nominee, and a welcome change from President Obama’s nominees, who – in Obama’s own words – were selected because they exhibited “empathy” and “understood that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory.”
The Senate Democrats who opposed Judge Gorsuch were engaging in political obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism. They never questioned his character or his qualifications. Even the American Bar Association, which the Democrats once called "the gold standard" for judicial nominations, gave Judge Gorsuch its highest rating. Instead, they wanted to score political points against President Trump. Their strategy failed, and it deserved to.
I am confident that Judge Gorsuch will make the people of Idaho proud. Hopefully, this will be only the first of many outstanding judicial nominees from this still-young administration. On Day 78 of the Trump Era, Idahoans who support the Constitution and understand that a judge’s role is inherently a conservative one, have a big win to celebrate.
Raul Labrador is Idaho’s congressman from the 1st District