Or­di­nary Amer­i­cans get what’s at stake in fight over Gor­such

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - Hans A. von Spakovsky is a se­nior le­gal fel­low and Elizabeth Slat­tery is le­gal fel­low at The Her­itage Foun­da­tion. Mr. von Spakovsky is the co-au­thor with John Fund of “Who’s Count­ing? How Fraud­sters and Bureau­crats Put Your Vote at Risk” and “Obama’s Enfo

Are­cent C-SPAN poll found that 53 per­cent of re­spon­dents couldn’t name a sin­gle Supreme Court jus­tice. Some might claim this only shows that Amer­i­cans pay lit­tle at­ten­tion to the high court. But that same poll, as well as one con­ducted by The Her­itage Foun­da­tion, also found that Amer­i­cans un­der­stand quite well the power of the Supreme Court, its effect on their ev­ery­day lives, and the im­por­tance of the Se­nate’s vote on Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nee, Judge Neil Gor­such.

Polling over 1,032 likely vot­ers, C-SPAN found that 90 per­cent be­lieve the court’s de­ci­sions “have an im­pact on their ev­ery­day life as cit­i­zens.” They could not be more cor­rect.

The framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion viewed the third branch of gov­ern­ment as the “least dan­ger­ous branch.” But over the last 80 years, the courts have vastly ex­panded their power and reach into al­most ev­ery as­pect of our econ­omy and our per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives — too of­ten to the detri­ment of the bal­ance of power that the Con­sti­tu­tion’s au­thors were seek­ing to pro­mote.

More­over, 82 per­cent said that fill­ing the empty seat on the Supreme Court was an im­por­tant fac­tor in de­cid­ing how they cast their vote in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race. To­day, they are watch­ing the cur­rent nom­i­na­tion very closely — 71 per­cent said they are fol­low­ing the news about Judge Gor­such’s con­fir­ma­tion.

Those num­bers help ex­plain another find­ing: While 26 per­cent don’t have an opin­ion on Judge Gor­such’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions to be a jus­tice, 43 per­cent sup­port his con­fir­ma­tion; only 31 per­cent op­pose it. In­ter­est­ingly, 44 per­cent of all re­spon­dents said they voted for Hillary Clin­ton while only 40 per­cent voted for Don­ald Trump.

The data also sug­gest that the pub­lic un­der­stands that the Supreme Court has ex­ceeded its con­sti­tu­tional role. The C-SPAN poll found that only 38 per­cent be­lieve the Supreme Court acts in a “con­sti­tu­tion­ally sound man­ner,” while 62 per­cent be­lieve the court is “split on po­lit­i­cal grounds like Congress.”

Cer­tainly the hy­per-par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal fight Se­nate Democrats have waged against Judge Gor­such has done noth­ing to ame­lio­rate that view. Af­ter all, Judge Gor­such — a highly qual­i­fied can­di­date who re­ceived the high­est pos­si­ble rating from the Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion — was con­firmed unan­i­mously to his present post just 11 years ago.

The pub­lic’s pref­er­ence for judges who fol­low the Con­sti­tu­tion ac­cords with find­ings of a Her­itage Foun­da­tion poll. That poll found that 87 per­cent be­lieve ju­di­cial nom­i­nees should have a record of in­ter­pret­ing the law as writ­ten. Al­most the same pro­por­tion (84 per­cent) say judges should not write their per­sonal pol­icy pref­er­ences into the law, some­thing we have seen in some of the re­cent fed­eral court de­ci­sions against Pres­i­dent Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der on travel.

And 89 per­cent of vot­ers want to see the ju­di­cial se­lec­tion process de­politi­cized. Judges shouldn’t be used as po­lit­i­cal pawns. They are sup­posed to be ser­vants of the Amer­i­can peo­ple with a duty to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion.

True, the C-SPAN poll showed that most Amer­i­cans were not fa­mil­iar with the in­di­vid­ual jus­tices on the high court. The most fa­mil­iar name was Ruth Bader Gins­burg (16 per­cent). That’s un­sur­pris­ing given her sta­tus as pop culture icon, in­clud­ing a Satur­day Night Live char­ac­ter with the catch­phrase “Ya just got Gins­burned” and news that Natalie Port­man will play her in a forth­com­ing biopic.

Chief Jus­tice John Roberts and Jus­tice Clarence Thomas trail her at 12 per­cent and 10 per­cent, re­spec­tively. Not a sin­gle re­spon­dent could name Stephen Breyer.

But so what? Ask Amer­i­cans to name the IRS com­mis­sioner, and only a tiny per­cent­age could tell you it is John Kosk­i­nen. But vir­tu­ally ev­ery tax­payer un­der­stands how pow­er­ful the IRS is and how much they have to fear from that fed­eral agency.

And while they may not be able to ID the com­mis­sioner, they want that agency run in an un­bi­ased and apo­lit­i­cal man­ner that com­plies fully with the law. Clearly, most Amer­i­cans want the same thing in the Supreme Court.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A C-SPAN poll finds 26 per­cent of Amer­i­cans don’t have an opin­ion on Supreme Court jus­tice nom­i­nee Neil Gor­such’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions and 43 per­cent sup­port his con­fir­ma­tion.

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