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Gorsuch Already Broadly Disliked By Top Court Colleagues

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Gorsuch Already Broadly Disliked By Top Court Colleagues

Gorsuch filibuster

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


Long after his presidency is over and Trump has finally shuffled off this mortal coil, Neil Gorsuch will likely still be sitting on the Supreme Court, much to the delight of American conservatives. Gorsuch’s fellow Supreme Court justices do not appear to share their glee. Multiple reports indicate that almost from the moment he was confirmed, the dyed-in-the-wool constructionist has rubbed members of the court the wrong way—and not just the liberals on the bench.

Last month, Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker cataloged all of the judicial norms and practices the Trump appointee has violated during his brief tenure. He has dominated oral arguments where new associates are expected to defer to their seniors, penned condescending dissents challenging the wisdom of a court whose justices claim more than 140 years of experience between them, and barely concealed his contempt for Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Gorsuch has also broken SCOTUS’ unwritten rule that no justice embarrass the high court with any kind of overt political advocacy. In less than a year of service, he has delivered speeches at the conservative Fund for American Studies (at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, no less), as well as at the University of Louisville, where he was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (McConnell was instrumental in blocking the appointment of Merrick Garland, whom Gorsuch ultimately supplanted.)

“There is nothing unlawful about Gorsuch’s speeches, though it’s hard to say just what the ethical rules are for Supreme Court Justices,” Toobin writes. “They are exempt from the code that governs the conduct of other federal judges, so the Court has traditionally relied on informal self-policing.”

John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, has reportedly taken exception with Antonin Scalia’s successor. According to CNN, a “rivalry” has emerged between the two conservatives, with the chief justice refusing to join Gorsuch’s dissent in a case overturning an Arkansas law that prohibited same-sex partners from being listed on a child’s birth certificate. (Roberts previously dissented in Obergefell.) And while he’s been fairly consistent throughout his judicial career, the piece notes, “Roberts may be more open to negotiating with liberals if Gorsuch continues to bolster the hard right.”

Gorsuch’s relationships with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan appear markedly more contentious. During oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case that could determine the future of partisan gerrymandering in U.S. congressional districts, Ginsburg appeared to bristle at the associate justice’s originalist line of questioning, asking him curtly, “Where did one person/one vote come from?”—a reference to Chief Justice Earl Warren’s ruling in 1964’s Reynolds v. Sims.

Earlier this week, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who has covered the court for decades, told the Supreme Court podcast First Mondays that Kagan has “really taken him on” in conference. “It’s [been] a pretty tough battle,” she said, “and it’s going to get tougher.”

“Why is Totenberg’s reporting here so extraordinary?” asks Mark Joseph Stern of Slate. “Because it’s astonishing that any reporter would hear details from conference, let alone score some genuinely juicy scuttlebutt…If rumors leak about a justice’s behavior in conference—and they basically never do—it is almost certainly a justice who leaked them. And when justices leak—which again, happens very rarely—they do so on purpose.”

Gorsuch is an illegitimate justice occupying a stolen Supreme Court seat. If he leaves behind a legacy of corporate plunder and institutional rot, he will have honored the man who nominated him.

H/T Slate

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.



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  1. Dapper Dan October 21, 2017

    It sounds like Gorsuch is definitely the perfect justice to demean The Supreme Court every bit as much as trump has left an indelible stain on the Presidency. These are very troubling times we live in

  2. InGen12 October 21, 2017

    No one should be surprised that Drumpf had nominated someone who’s character and integrity are in question. That has been his modus operandi in all of his appointments. Not only do we have a fake president, we also have a fake Supreme Court justice who the Repubs stole the seat for.

    1. dpaano October 21, 2017

      As well as a fake cabinet!

  3. CrankyToo October 21, 2017

    “Supreme Court Justices,” Toobin writes. “… are exempt from the code that governs the conduct of other federal judges, so the Court has traditionally relied on informal self-policing.”

    I suspect this fact is reasoned upon the expectation that Supreme Court justices will behave as paragons of virtue, wisdom, dignity and judiciousness (think Thurgood Marshall).

    Regrettably, the odious Republicans have foisted upon us an ambulance-chaser who lacks a reliable moral compass, and whose GPS clearly needs updating since it can’t seem to help him find the high road.

  4. Richard Prescott October 21, 2017

    The first step to a dictatorship is to appoint judges willing to compromise ethics and law for personal and biased opinions.
    The GOP knew this when they approved Gorsuch. They are as complicit as Trump who nominated him over Garland or any other more qualified choice.
    To cite the fall of the Republic into the Empire of Star Wars. Make it look like one thing while doing the opposite, manipulating the process.
    Now I just have to ask, since I do know that Supreme Court Judges are lifetime appointments.
    Can a judge be removed for his/her seat for cause?

    1. Charles van Rotterdam October 21, 2017

      Here in Oz a High Court Judge must retire at the age of 70. I understand why you Yanks did make it a lifetime appointment but that was in an age when people were lucky to get to 70.

    2. Independent1 October 21, 2017

      The answer is yes but it is not likely. See this from the Washington Post:

      Can a Supreme Court justice be forcibly removed from the bench? A quick civics lesson.

      The Constitution grants Supreme Court justices a lifetime appointment if they choose to stay by not specifying a time or age limit of service. The purpose of a lifetime appointment was to give them freedom to make decisions without interference from the executive or legislative branches of government. But the Constitution leaves open the possibility of impeachment and removal by Congress. In U.S. history, one justice was impeached, but not convicted, and one justice resigned under the threat of impeachment.

      Section 1 of Article 3 of the Constitution says:

      The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

      The single justice impeached but subsequently not forced out was Samuel
      Chase, a longtime Maryland legislator who was appointed to the court as an associate justice by President George Washington on Jan. 26, 1796, and who served there until his death on June 19, 1811.

      In 1804, eight articles of impeachment accused him of allowing his political
      views to interfere with his decisions. This description of events comes from the U.S. Senate’s website:


  5. Beethoven October 21, 2017

    There may be a silver lining in this cloud. If Gorsuch alienates the other conservatives on the Court enough, he just might cause some of them to swing their votes to the liberal side. He may demonstrate by his “reasoning” that the conservative viewpoint is unreasonable. I don’t have much hope for Justice Thomas’ ability to figure this out, but some of the others might.

    1. brainy37 October 23, 2017

      That’s not really how it works. These are professionals. At worst they will push him out of publishing the Court opinion and/or have separate dissents. But then that isn’t all that uncommon already as Thomas regularly publishes his own dissents as had Scalia. No Justice is going to switch their ruling based on hurt feelings. That’s millennial kind of petty thinking.

      1. Beethoven October 23, 2017

        I’m not saying it’s likely to happen. But not all of the Supreme Court justices are so set in their viewpoints that they are immune to reasoning. Some of them just might see the unreasonableness of Gorsuch’s opinions, and change their own opinions as a result.

  6. dpaano October 21, 2017

    For such a constitutionalist, he is totally unqualified for his job. Much like Trump, I doubt He’s actually read the Constitution or even understands it. He’s an illegally nominated judge to my way of thinking!

  7. Chuckl8 October 21, 2017

    It was painfully obvious during every minute of Gorsuch’s approval hearings that he is extremely and insanely arrogant and completely dismissive of everyone on the panel, including those who supported his nomination. He sees himself as being far above everyone else intellectually, having enough knowledge to defend that view. In short, he’s the perfect model of the “gifted fool.”

    While Antonin Scalia shared those traits, at least he had the occasional tiny sliver of social decency to fake humility. Gorsuch couldn’t be humble for even a split-second if you put a gun to his head.

    1. Independent1 October 21, 2017

      Gorsuch is nothing but a corporate shill who will bastardize the interpretation of the Constitution in order to achieve his evil intentions.

  8. Nativegrammy October 21, 2017

    The last paragraph says it all. “an illegitimate justice occupying a stolen Supreme Court seat.” What McConnell did with Pres. Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was beyond the pale, representing the moral and ethical dishonesty of Mitch McConnell and pure “politics” he is consumed with. It’s never country first, or civility it’s always “what rule I can prostitute to get what I and Republicans desire to “fix” the game to only our advantage” I detest the man and history will judge him harshly! It sounds as if Gorsuch is an arrogant know-it-all,considering his young age for a justice, he is going to need a few lessons in humility to shape up his ultra conservative ass. I have lost so much respect for the Supreme Court and the right leaning decisions made over the last 10 years, I cannot imagine the reality of another catastrophic choice by Trumpelthinskin if Kennedy retires! At least Kennedy can be reasonable having learned from life’s lessons!

    1. Charles van Rotterdam October 21, 2017

      Our High Court selection process is a wee bit less politicised than yours. With as Republican dominated government you’re going to get a Republican judge, with the Dems the opposite true though they seem to be a bit more rational in their choices.

      But this is how we do it

      1. Independent1 October 22, 2017

        The only drawback I see with forced retirement at 70, is that it could limit the selection process for good justices by not making it worthwhile to appoint someone who is highly qualified say in their late 50s or early 60s, because it takes several years for a justice to become truly acclimated to being on the court, thereby leaving them with little time once experienced to be involved in meaningful court decisions.

        Personally, I like the 18-year renewable term idea that was proposed some time back.

        See this summary of that proposal:

        Why it’s time to get serious about Supreme Court term limits

        For starters, are term limits even a good idea? A lot of sharp thinkers on both sides of the political aisle think so. Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute likes the idea of an 18-year term limit, saying it would “would to some degree lower the temperature on confirmation battles by making the stakes a bit lower. And it would mean a Court that more accurately reflects the changes and judgments of the society.”

        Law professor Erwin Chemerinsky likes the 18-year proposal too. “Eighteen years is long enough to allow a justice to master the job, but not so long as to risk creating a court that reflects political choices from decades earlier,” he wrote in 2013.

        The idea is that justices would be appointed for an 18-year, nonrenewable term, staggered so that a vacancy would occur every two years. Vacancies that occur through resignation or death would be filled by appointing someone to serve the unfinished part of the term.

        There are many virtues to this approach. Life expectancy is dramatically longer today than when the Constitution was written in 1787. The result is that Supreme Court justices are serving ever longer. From 1789-1970, justices served an average of 15 years. From 1970 until early 2005, the average tenure had expanded to almost 26 years. The four justices leaving since then had served an average 28 years.


  9. FireBaron October 21, 2017

    And he has already been “schooled” by Notorious R.B.G.

    1. brainy37 October 23, 2017

      Oh? On which subject and when?

  10. charles October 22, 2017

    “Gorsuch has also broken SCOTUS’ unwritten rule that no justice embarrass
    the high court with any kind of overt political advocacy.”

    So did the author, in his outrage, just completely forget RBG’s campaigning against Trump?

    If it weren’t for double standards lefties wouldn’t have any standards at all.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker October 23, 2017

      Get over it Charlie rightie. Gorsuch thought he would implement what he knew was bias in that ruling and RBG was having none of it. But you fail to mention so very conveniently as right wing liars always do, that Sotomayer and Kagan backed her.

      You boys need to face facts. The male persuasion of bullies is about to become a MINORITY unto yourselves. When you learn to shut those bully mouths, maybe you’ll realize you don’t get to have your way ALL the time on women’s tax dollars.

  11. Eleanore Whitaker October 23, 2017

    Gorsuch was nailed to the wall by RBG. The problem with today’s right wing is that most of them are all mentally unbalanced when it comes to having any common sense.

    All they want is “Celebrity TV” government. Not the government founded by the Founding Fathers.

    I’ll prove it. Did the Founding Fathers specifically intend for every branch of government to be under the rule of the Executive Branch?

    Yet, the right wingers overload their nasty, mean spirited liars, deceptive creeps into every crucial department to cut off all other voices in government THEY and ONLY they don’t want to hear.

    They reinterpret U.S. History from January 20, 2017 so that the Civil War was won by the hicks, the U.S. Constitution is now to be remodeled for TrumpWorld needs and the Bill of Rights disappears so the righties can bulk up what used to be a government of the people, for the people, by the people to a corporate empire ruled by CEO billionaires who turn all of us into their corporate business employees while we PAY them instead of the other way around.


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