‘A com­mand­ing pres­ence with a res­o­lute man­ner’

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL - By John Greenya By John R. Coyne Jr. John R. Coyne Jr., a for­mer White House speech­writer, is co-au­thor of “Strictly Right: Wil­liam F. Buck­ley Jr. and the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Move­ment” (Wi­ley).

“No­body speaks for me. No­body. I don’t have spokes­men. I’m a judge. I speak for my­self.” — Neil Gor­such be­fore the Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on March 21, 2017.

At 49, writes John Greenya, Judge Neil Gor­such had “a com­mand­ing pres­ence with a res­o­lute man­ner” as he tes­ti­fied be­fore the com­mit­tee. As Fox News’ Charles Krautham­mer put it, “This guy is out of cen­tral cast­ing. This is a Gary Cooper char­ac­ter. At­tack­ing him would be a los­ing propo­si­tion.”

In or­di­nary times, given Judge Gor­such’s im­pec­ca­ble per­sonal and pro­fes­sional record, his nom­i­na­tion would have had en­coun­tered only the pre­dictable par­ti­san op­po­si­tion. A grad­u­ate of Columbia Univer­sity and Har­vard Law (in­ter­est­ingly, his aca­demic record, in many ways, tracks Barack Obama’s); clerk­ing for a D.C Cir­cuit judge, then for Supreme Court Jus­tices By­ron White and An­thony Kennedy.

This was fol­lowed by a year study­ing for a Ph.D at Ox­ford, then 10 years at a Wash­ing­ton, D.C. law firm, the Jus­tice Depart­ment for a year, a nom­i­na­tion by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush to the 10th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, cov­er­ing his home state of Colorado, as well as Kansas, Ok­la­homa,

Utah, Wy­oming and New Mex­ico, for which he was con­firmed quickly, with no sig­nif­i­cant op­po­si­tion. In all, a model nom­i­nee.

But in 2017, the world had changed. Don­ald Trump had de­fied all po­lit­i­cal odds and pre­dic­tions and de­feated Hil­lary Clin­ton, and a stunned and em­bit­tered Demo­cratic

Party be­came an or­ga­ni­za­tion with only one pur­pose — defy Pres­i­dent Trump, thwart what­ever ini­tia­tives he pro­posed and do ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary to drive him from of­fice, al­low­ing him no sig­nif­i­cant vic­to­ries in the process.

Cen­tral to this process was the mat­ter of a Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion, per­haps the sin­gle most im­por­tant is­sue in the op­po­si­tion’s play­book. Who­ever con­trolled the Supreme Court, they be­lieved, con­trolled the na­tional agenda for years to come.

And this meant that no Trump nom­i­nee could be con­firmed, and cer­tainly no young Gary Cooper­ish Westerner with decades of ser­vice ahead and who — even more ter­ri­fy­ing — like Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia, one of his ju­di­cial idols, was a tex­tu­al­ist and orig­i­nal­ist in­ter­preter of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. (Also, like Jus­tice Scalia, a be­liever in opin­ions writ­ten in clear, in­tel­li­gent and in­ter­est­ing prose — in­dica­tive, to some crit­ics, of a touch of elitism.)

John Greenya, a widely re­spected Wash­ing­ton, D.C., writer and the au­thor or co-au­thor of more than twodozen books that fre­quently deal with the law and pol­i­tics (one of which, “Are You Tough Enough,” was writ­ten with Anne Gor­such Bur­ford, Judge Gor­such’s mother), guides us quickly and ex­pertly through the con­fir­ma­tion process, giv­ing credit to Sen. Mitch Mc­Connell for his mas­ter­ful po­lit­i­cal ma­neu­ver­ing.

In­ter­est­ingly, Mr. Greenya quotes Harry Reid, for­mer ma­jor­ity leader and fierce no-holds barred Demo­cratic in­fighter, who puts it all into po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive. Under Pres­i­dent Obama, Mr. Reid wrote in a New York Times op-ed, Democrats “‘changed the Sen­ate rules to guar­an­tee a pres­i­dent’s nom­i­nees a sim­ple-ma­jor­ity vote … I doubt any of us en­vi­sioned Don­ald J. Trump’s be­com­ing the first pres­i­dent to take of­fice under the new rules. But what was fair for Pres­i­dent Obama is fair for Don­ald Trump.”

In this first bi­og­ra­phy of Jus­tice Gor­such, Mr. Greenya, in the clear, di­rect prose fa­mil­iar to the read­ers of his pieces in such pub­li­ca­tions as The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Times, he sets out to tell us who Neil Gor­such is, what kind or man he is, what he be­lieves in, and what we can ex­pect from him as the youngest judge to be nom­i­nated to the Supreme Court in 25 years.

To this end he’s done com­pre­hen­sive re­search, con­ducted ex­ten­sive in­ter­views with peo­ple who have known Jus­tice Gor­such all his life, both friends and op­po­nents, and drawn on his own per­sonal knowl­edge of the fam­ily’s his­tory, gained in no small part through his book col­lab­o­ra­tion with the jus­tice’s mother, who died in 2004, and for whom he re­tains great re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion.

“In writ­ing this book,” Mr. Greenya con­cludes, “I feel as if I have come full cir­cle: the book is about Neil, but it is also for his mother.”

In­ter­est­ingly, Mr. Greenya quotes Harry Reid, for­mer ma­jor­ity leader and fierce no-holds barred Demo­cratic in­fighter, who puts it all into po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive.

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