Editorial: Not so fast on Gorsuch celebration

President Donald Trump’s pick to the U.S. Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch — was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Friday, meaning Gorsuch becomes to the 113th member of the highest court in the land.

 

Many conservatives were celebrating with pats on the back, indeed taking a political victory dance for finally vanquishing Democrats who were filibustering Gorsuch’s nomination.

Don’t start the party just yet, conservatives. The celebration may be premature.

As evidence, we offer John Roberts — the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Don’t like Obamacare? To a large degree, thank Roberts for this bureaucratic health care monstrosity which is the primary part of the former president’s legacy of big government sticking its nose in the lives of Americans — and then fining them if they refuse to bow to Dr. Uncle Sam.

For those needing a reminder (and many conservatives do), it was Roberts who cast the deciding 5-4 vote unleashing Obamacare on the country in June 2012. The chief justice voted for Obamacare again in 2015, this time in a 6-3 vote.

Roberts was nominated by former President George W. Bush — hardly a liberal. His confirmation was relatively smooth compared to Gorsuch’s nomination, which was a historic partisan power-play. Roberts was confirmed by a 78-22 vote, with both GOP senators from Texas — John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison — voting for Roberts. Gorsuch was confirmed by a 54-45 vote, with Cornyn and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, voting for Gorsuch.

Roberts described himself as an “umpire” during his 2005 nomination hearing, saying, “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.”

This judicial “umpire” saw fit to determine that the U.S. Constitution includes a mandate for health care coverage to all Americans.

Is Gorsuch another Roberts? At this point, that is impossible to determine one way or the other. And any Republican or Democrat who can say with certainty how Gorsuch will rule on major issues is guessing — pure and simple. It is possible we will find out a lot about Gorsuch rather quickly, as the Supremes are scheduled to hear a church/state/religious freedom case right off the bat.

On paper, the court appears to have regained its 5-4 conservative majority with Gorsuch on the bench. However, U.S. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, and do not have to bow to political pressure when making a decision or ruling — which is ultimately a good thing.

Those who are celebrating the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch should remember this.

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