04/10/2017

Neil Gorsuch To Fill Supreme Court Vacancy At Critical Time For The Nation

Tiffany Bates, Daily Signal

After four days of scrutinizing hearings and nearly a week of vociferous debate, the U.S. Senate has voted 54-45 to confirm Neil Gorsuch as an associate Supreme Court justice.

Gorsuch’s sterling credentials and demonstrated fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law should give all Americans confidence that he will be a fair and impartial justice.

Chief Justice John Roberts is set to swear him in early next week, and Gorsuch will take his seat immediately.

The ceremony will round out a uniquely transparent nomination process. President Donald Trump was clear about the type of justice he would appoint, even taking the unprecedented step of publishing a list of candidates from which he would choose.

He repeated his promise to appoint someone from the list throughout the campaign, often citing the fact that many Americans would vote for him because of the Supreme Court vacancy.

This turned out to be true. Polls show that the future makeup of the Supreme Court was a leading concern of the American people, and it was this promise—more than anything else—that convinced many to support him.

Trump fulfilled his promise by nominating Gorsuch, to acclaim from conservatives and even some fair-minded liberals.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to oppose the nomination to the bitter end—even though neither he nor any other Democrat opposed his nomination to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 11 years ago.

Senate Democrats found themselves in an awkward position, choosing between following their party’s leadership in opposing the nomination of an eminently well-qualified and well-respected jurist, or representing the American people who voted in favor of Trump and his Supreme Court candidates.

Despite Senate Democrats’ unjustified attempts to thwart his confirmation, Gorsuch will now take his seat on the court, where he will be a natural successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, a leading voice on religious liberty.

There is a need for leadership at the Supreme Court, since the justices are slated to hear oral argument in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley on April 19.

In this First Amendment challenge, a church sued Missouri for denying its application for a grant to install rubber surfaces made from recycled tires on the church’s daycare playground.

The state of Missouri claims that Locke v. Davey (2004), a Supreme Court case involving state funds being used for educating pastors, allows it to exclude churches from state-funded programs because there is “‘no break in the link’ between state funds and religion.”

But Trinity Lutheran argues that the state’s categorical exclusion of churches from public grant programs is “an overbroad and unconstitutional restriction on the faithful’s ability to participate on equal terms in public life.”

Gorsuch’s vote in this case could be pivotal.

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