By Senator Mike Rounds
Throughout his career, Judge Neil Gorsuch has proven time and again that he is exceptionally qualified to be a Supreme Court justice. His long history of defending the Constitution and applying the law as it was written demonstrate that he has the aptitude for this lifetime appointment. His resume is second to none: after attending Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, Gorsuch clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy before working for the Department of Justice.
Since 2006, Gorsuch has served as a judge for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after being approved unanimously by the United States Senate. Over the past 11 years, Judge Gorsuch has shown he is as mainstream as they come. In fact, of the 800-plus opinions he has written for the 10th Circuit, less than two percent, or only 14 opinions, have drawn dissents from his fellow judges on the 10th Circuit. Ninety-eight percent of his opinions have been unanimous. That is remarkable when you look at the makeup of the 10th circuit: 12 of the judges were appointed by Democrat presidents, while only 5 were appointed by Republicans.
During his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch again proved he has the temperament and aptitude to fill this lifetime appointment. During approximately 20 hours of testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and, by extension, the entire country, he was asked questions ranging from his views on judicial philosophy to how he would rule in specific, sensitive cases. In each instance, he answered with the utmost honesty, integrity and transparency.
Despite impeccable credentials, we are in a situation today because of a precedent set in November 2013 by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his conference. Former leader Reid’s use of the so-called “nuclear option” in 2013 meant the Senate could reinterpret its rules via a simple majority vote. Former leader Reid accomplished this by challenging a ruling of the chair with regard to the number of votes needed to end debate on certain nominations.
The Standing Rules of the Senate require the support of a supermajority (67 percent) of senators to change the rules. To challenge the ruling of the chair, Reid only needed a majority vote to overturn the presiding officer’s correct interpretation of the written rule. Republicans warned that former leader Reid’s move would pave the way for future reinterpretations of the Senate rules to be made by a simple majority vote. In other words, former leader Reid broke the rules to change the rules, taking highly unusual actions for which there is now precedent. Because of the unprecedented partisan filibuster of his nomination by Senate Democrats, we followed former leader Reid’s precedent this week in order to have an up-or-down vote on this highly qualified judge.
Judge Gorsuch is one of the finest judges our nation has to offer. The knowledge and careful deliberation he brings to the court will result in rulings that reflect justice, fairness and an interpretation of what the law is and what Congress intended it to be, not what administrative agencies want it to be. His lifetime of defending the Constitution and applying the law as it was written provides clear evidence that he has the aptitude for this lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.