What sort of civics lesson were the American people treated to last week? Judge Gorsuch’s performance was outstanding. Enduring more than 20 hours of questioning over two days, he displayed an impressive command of the law and an intellect befitting someone with his stellar credentials. He showed that he understands the proper role of a judge in our system: to apply, not make, the law. Throughout, his demeanor was serious, thoughtful and humble. These qualities have defined his judicial service for the past decade and will serve him well on the Supreme Court.
In stark contrast was the astonishing treatment Judge Gorsuch received from many of my Democratic colleagues. Whatever their motivation—be it the outcome of President Obama’s lame-duck nomination during last year’s election, an unwillingness to accept the November results, or the desire for judges to push a liberal political agenda—they have apparently decided to wage a desperate, scorched-earth campaign to derail this nomination, no matter the damage they inflict along the way. We are now watching the confirmation process through the funhouse mirror.
Consider the Democrats’ demand that Judge Gorsuch answer politically charged hypotheticals about future cases. For decades, Supreme Court nominees of both parties have rightly refused to comply with such demands. To offer an advisory opinion is inconsistent with the Constitution, which gives judges the authority to make a decision only within the legal and factual context of an actual case. Judges should be neutral arbiters, and asking them to prejudice themselves raises serious due-process concerns for future litigants, who deserve the opportunity to make their arguments in full.