Senate should confirm Neil Gorsuch’s nomination
At a time when our country desperately needs it, the nomination of Coloradan Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court presents the U.S. Senate with an opportunity to repair festering political wounds and to show that principle, cooperation and statesmanship can coexist.
Between the two of us, we have more than 50 years of service in government, much of it in elected executive positions. We are of different political parties. We have worked together on issues, and we have been on opposite sides of arguments as well. We both understand how important it is to the public interest that people from different sides of the aisle work together toward finding common ground, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
Looking back, it is easy to see why frustration in the U.S. Senate is at a boiling point. Judicial nominations have been blocked, “nuclear options” have been deployed to change longstanding rules, and
major policies have been implemented using procedural maneuvers over the unanimous objection of the other party. Nobody has clean hands. The temptation to retaliate is understandable.
The Senate, though, can break this destructive cycle by rejecting both the filibuster and the “nuclear option,” and holding an up-or-down vote on the merits of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.
As a letter recently signed by a diverse group of more than 220 prominent Colorado lawyers of every political persuasion highlights, Gorsuch is a worthy successor to Colorado’s last Supreme Court justice, Byron White, for whom Gorsuch once clerked.
Gorsuch’s temperament, personal decency and qualifications are beyond dispute. But as he himself has noted, the same was true of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Many feel a great deal of bitterness over the fact that Garland did not get an up-or-down vote in the months that he was nominated. That bitterness is legitimate, and the instinct for revenge is understandable.
But while we may disagree about whether Gorsuch’s or Garland’s judicial philosophy is preferable, we strongly agree that retribution is not a legitimate governing principle. Both are excellent judges. But only one is now a nominee for the Supreme Court, and it is that nomination the Senate will consider soon. It is time to look forward, not back. It is time to rise above the political fray, and for both sides of the aisle to commit to the high road going forward.
We believe that the upcoming hearings and votes are critical for Gorsuch and for the preservation of the independence of the Supreme Court. They are just as critical a test for the institution of the U.S. Senate. Blocking a vote on this nomination, in part to avenge what was done in the past, may well do more harm to the U.S. Senate than to either the Supreme Court or to Gorsuch.
A Senate that functions based on backward-looking revenge and tit-fortat tactics weakens itself most of all. It is our hope that senators from both sides of the aisle can put aside the political considerations that have led us to this precipice.
We believe this is an opportunity for senators to agree that the 60-vote cloture rule serves an important role in preventing confirmation of truly unqualified nominees for the Supreme Court, and that neither it nor the nuclear option should be used as tools for mere political differences or cynical reprisals.
It is time to use this confirmation process to examine and exalt the characteristics of a judge who demonstrates that he or she is scholarly, compassionate, committed to the law, and will function as part of a truly independent, apolitical judiciary. Judge Gorsuch fits that bill. «FROM 1D
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings begin Monday in Washington.