1. Trump’s Good Justice: Neil Gorsuch is an originalist judge in the Scalia mold.

By The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2017, Pg. A16, Review & Outlook

No one can replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, but President Trump has made an excellent attempt by nominating appellate Judge Neil Gorsuch as the ninth Justice. The polarized politics of the Court guarantees a confirmation fight, but based on his record the 49-year-old judge is a distinguished choice who will adhere to the original meaning of the Constitution.

Judge Gorsuch is a leading light on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he was appointed in 2006 by George W. Bush. He is well known in legal circles for his sharp prose, as well as for his arguments for religious liberty and his skepticism toward judicial doctrines that give too much power to the administrative state. He is also noted for a Scalia-like approach to criminal law that takes a dim view of vague statutes that can entrap the innocent.

Mr. Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch from the list of 21 potential nominees he released during the campaign, and his choice will be popular among GOP voters of all stripes.


2. The Boy Scouts step up on LGBT rights, so does Mr. Trump. 

By The Editorial Board, The Washington Post, February 1, 2017, Pg. A20

WE INTERRUPT coverage of tumult in Congress and the administration with two pieces of good news. Both reflect progress American society has made in recognizing the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The White House announced Tuesday that, contrary to anonymous reports, the president will not reverse executive orders extending workplace protections to LGBT federal workers. The administration statement accurately and encouragingly recalled that Mr. Trump made a point of standing up for LGBT rights in his speech to the Republican National Convention last July, noting that he was “proud” to have done so.

The White House announcement came a day after the Boy Scouts of America revealed that it will allow transgender boys to participate in the group’s premier programs, changing a decades-old policy that relied on the gender listed on birth certificates to one that recognizes the gender identity listed on Scouts’ application forms. 

The Scouts’ relatively quick and decisive move on the transgender issue came more easily and quickly than previous reforms. The Boy Scouts appear to have decided to rely on the goodwill of their participants to accept the decision with the maturity the organization preaches to Scouts. Altering top-line policy is just the first step, but it’s an encouraging one.


3. Neil Gorsuch: A Worthy Heir to Scalia. 

By Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online, January 31, 2017, 4:33 PM

President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court will be Neil Gorsuch, a well-respected conservative whose legal philosophy is remarkably similar to that of Antonin Scalia, the justice he will replace if the Senate confirms him. He is, like Scalia, a textualist and an originalist: someone who interprets legal provisions as their words were originally understood.

That Judge Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is similar to Justice Scalia’s is evident from a tribute the former gave after the latter’s death. In that tribute, Gorsuch summarized and endorsed Scalia’s method of legal interpretation: 

“Judges should instead strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.”

And it would be a mistake to assume that Gorsuch would always rule the same way as Scalia. He may be more willing than Scalia was to rein in administrative agencies. He has called into question Supreme Court precedents that command judicial deference to the legal interpretations of those agencies. He has been skeptical, as well, of agencies that purport to apply regulations retroactively.

Tonight, President Trump will nominate a careful and thoughtful judge whose jurisprudence is squarely in the mainstream of legal conservatism. Gorsuch shares Scalia’s philosophy and intelligence, if not his acerbity, and in selecting him, Trump has made good on a crucial campaign promise.


4. A Supreme Successor to Justice Scalia. 

By Ed Whelan, National Review Online, January 31, 2017, 8:06 PM

Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist and dedicated originalist and textualist. He thinks through issues deeply. He writes with clarity, force, and verve. And his many talents promise to give him an outsized influence on future generations of lawyers.

Gorsuch’s judicial outlook is reflected in his beautiful speech (text and video) celebrating — and embracing — Justice Scalia’s traditional understanding of the judicial role and his originalist methodology.

In that speech, Gorsuch acknowledges that Justice Scalia’s project had its critics… He explains why he rejects those critics and instead sides with Justice Scalia in believing that “an assiduous focus on text, structure, and history is essential to the proper exercise of the judicial function.” The Constitution itself carefully separates the legislative and judicial powers. … This separation of powers is “among the most important liberty-protecting devices of the constitutional design.” Among other things, if judges were to act as legislators by imposing their preferences as constitutional dictates, “how hard it would be to revise this so-easily-made judicial legislation to account for changes in the world or to fix mistakes.” Indeed, the “very idea of self-government would seem to wither to the point of pointlessness.”

On issues of religious liberty, Gorsuch has an especially strong record. In 2013, he determined that Hobby Lobby was entitled under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to relief from the HHS Obamacare mandate that would have required it to provide its employees insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs and devices. 

Gorsuch has also fought against a hyper-expansive reading of the establishment clause that would exclude religion from the public square. In 2009 (in Green v. Haskell County Board of Commissioners), he disputed a panel decision that ruled that a county’s Ten Commandments display was unconstitutional. 

Gorsuch has earned special acclaim for his insights on administrative law and separation of powers. In an opinion last August (Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch), he argued that the Supreme Court’s precedents on deference to reasonable agency interpretations of law “permit executive bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power and concentrate federal power in a way that seems more than a little difficult to square with the Constitution of the framers’ design.” He called for the Supreme Court to reconsider whether the so-called Chevron doctrine of deference is sound.

In his courageous book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, he propounds the principles that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Judge Gorsuch’s path to confirmation — this time to become Justice Gorsuch and a fit successor to Justice Scalia — should again be smooth and swift.


5. For Catholics, Trump’s SCOTUS pick may stir both hopes and fears.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, January 31, 2017

Considered a reliable conservative on most issues, Gorsuch seems likely to align with the Catholic Church’s positions on many matters but create possible heartburn on others.

From a Catholic point of view, Gorsuch’s strong support for religious freedom will strike many as attractive.

In broad strokes, Gorsuch also seems opposed to the idea of using the courts to achieve social change that has not been accomplished through the political process.

For instance, he’s said that American liberals’ “overweening addiction” to using the courts for social debate is “bad for the nation and bad for the judiciary.” He cited three issues of direct Catholic interest as examples – gay marriage, school vouchers and assisted suicide.

Gorsuch has not been involved in any rulings that bear directly on the legal status of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, but most observers regard him as fundamentally sympathetic to the pro-life argument.

On the other hand, there are  areas in which Gorusch’s record may appear troubling from the point of view of Catholic social teaching.

For one thing, he’s generally rejected appeals from death row inmates seeking to avoid execution, and has favored a strict interpretation of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

Gorsuch is also not generally seen as a strong advocate of immigrant rights, and last August joined an opinion ruling that Central American immigrants detained for being in U.S. illegally were not entitled to judicial review of their detention.

However, most observers doubt that Gorusch would see his role primarily as pursuing an aggressive personal agenda on the court, since he’s a proponent of conservative legal philosophies that emphasize not going beyond the literal meaning of a statute.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, Crux’s principal partner, voiced strong support for Gorsuch.

“We applaud the president’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Anderson said. “From his writings and his record it is clear that he will interpret the Constitution as it was written, including our first Amendment right to religious freedom, and the right to life of every person.”


6. Neil Gorsuch, ‘a Worthy Successor to Scalia,’ Gets Supreme Court Nod. 

By Joan Desmond, National Catholic Register, January 31, 2017

Hannah Smith of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest group that has represented the Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby and EWTN (the Register’s parent company) in their legal challenges to the Health and Human Services contraception mandate, praised the selection of Judge Gorsuch for the nation’s highest court.

“Judge Gorsuch wrote an eloquent opinion in the Hobby Lobby case.” 

“This was a well-written opinion that demonstrates why he will be a great justice,” said Smith, who told the Register that Justice Samuel Alito picked up on that theme when he wrote the majority opinion in favor of Hobby Lobby.

“President Trump has chosen a worthy successor to Antonin Scalia, and the nominee deserves the support of any friend of human life, religion and the family,” Gerard Bradley, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, told the Register.


7. Gorsuch pick affirms Trump vow to pick ‘pro-life’ justice, By Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico, January 31, 2017, 8:21 PM

Judge Neil Gorsuch has never ruled directly on abortion rights, but he has decided twice against Obamacare’s contraception coverage requirement and written a book on the value of human life — signs that he conforms to President Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint “pro-life” justices.

The choice of Gorsuch for the Supreme Court was immediately praised by anti-abortion groups and chastised by supporters of abortion rights.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called him a “phenomenal nominee” in part because of his “strong commitment to life.”’

Gorsuch wrote an extensive defense of the “inherently valuable” human life in a 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” The book provides a moral and legal argument against assisted suicide, arguing that all intentional killing is wrong, and includes an analysis of the Supreme Court’s major abortion rulings

Supporters of abortion rights, including Physicians for Reproductive Rights and All Above All, immediately decried his selection.