Bloomberg has a transcript of his prepared remarks. Gorsuch is renowned for the clarity of his prose, which makes his opinions accessible in a way that most judicial writing isn’t. Tom Hardiman was touted as the “populist” choice available to Trump because of his blue-collar upbringing but Gorsuch’s common touch as a legal stylist is a nod in that direction too. The most interesting part of today’s statement may have been how overt he was in recognizing that. He paid the requisite tribute to Justice Kennedy, for whom he clerked, and to Justice Scalia, whom he hopes to replace, but he name-checked Robert Jackson for a particular reason:
Finally, there is Justice Jackson. He wrote clearly so everyone could understand his decisions. He never hid behind legal jargon. And while he was a famously fierce advocate for his clients as a lawyer, he reminded us that, when you become a judge, you fiercely defend only one client — the law…
Of course, I make my share of mistakes. As my daughters never tire of reminding me, putting on a robe doesn’t make me any smarter. I’ll never forget my first day on the job. Carrying a pile of papers up steps to the bench, I tripped on my robe and everything just about went flying. But troublesome as it can be, the robe does mean something — and not just that I can hide coffee stains on my shirt. Putting on a robe reminds us that it’s time to lose our egos and open our minds. It serves, too, as a reminder of the modest station we judges are meant to occupy in a democracy. In other countries, judges wear scarlet, silk, and ermine. Here, we judges buy our own plain black robes. And I can report that the standard choir outfit at the local uniform supply store is a pretty good deal. Ours is a judiciary of honest black polyester.
The two themes of his statement are family and humility, judicial and otherwise — another common touch. He was introduced by the senators of his home state of Colorado, Cory Gardner and Democrat Michael Bennet, in keeping with tradition. He was also introduced by former Obama solicitor general Neal Katyal; having a legal bigwig from the other party offer a vote of confidence in the nominee is decidedly not traditional, at least in the post-Bork era. Katyal made the case for confirming Gorsuch in an op-ed in January, which I recommend to you if you haven’t read it yet. Other famous legal liberals, like Kathleen Sullivan, have also endorsed Gorsuch. At a moment when the left is grasping for any reason to oppose a nominee who usurped Merrick Garland, Trump may have found the one guy whom even lefties in the know feel obliged to admit would make a fine justice, however much they disagree with his philosophy. How charming must Gorsuch be in person, I wonder, to have so completely disarmed people who have every professional reason to oppose him.
The president deserves full credit for having made a stellar pick, even if his goofy tweeting about Obama and wiretapping managed to step all over what should have been some terrific headlines for him today. Spare a thought too, though, for Mitch McConnell, who would have caved on Garland last year and held a vote to confirm Obama’s pick if he was half the RINO that populists frequently insist he is. If not for McConnell kiboshing a Garland hearing from the beginning, not only wouldn’t Gorsuch be where he is today, Trump might not be either. How many Republicans last year who were leery of him as nominee decided to suck it up and vote for him anyway expecting that his SCOTUS nominees would be far superior to Hillary’s? This vacancy might have won Trump the election. And when given the chance to deliver, he did.
The Q&A starts tomorrow, bright and early. Buckle up.