Thanks to swift and bold action on the part of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Friday…and not a moment too soon. By pushing his confirmation through and breaking the Democratic filibuster without a moment’s hesitation, McConnell ensured that Judge Gorsuch would be seated in time to hear the last cases of the court’s spring term – some of which are extraordinarily important to conservative principles.
Conservative, constitutional ideology now has five votes on the Supreme Court once again, and we have every reason to expect that Gorsuch will live up to the immaculate name of the man whose seat he is taking: the late, great Antonin Scalia. Will he vote the way we wish he would on every case? Probably not; he’s a judge, not a partisan pundit. Sometimes the cards simply don’t fall the way conservative commentators might otherwise wish.
But when it comes down to the meat of the matter, Gorsuch has signaled that he has the right stuff to move the court in the direction of fairness, objectivity, and constitutional originalism.
We’ll see where he stands soon enough; the court is set to hear opening arguments in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley in just two weeks’ time. Gorsuch will almost certainly have his robes by that time, and he’ll be able to vote on the case – which is an important one in the realm of religious freedom.
Trinity Lutheran is suing because the state of Missouri declined to provide the church with grant money to resurface their daycare playground…even though the state gives such money to other nonprofit organizations. The state says that by giving money to the church, they would be violating the separation of church and state.
But that’s nonsense, as prior Supreme Court decisions have already made clear.
That’s only one of many cases where a fifth conservative vote could make all the difference in the upcoming term and in the months and years to come. Gorsuch has a chance to not only build his own personal legal legacy on the Supreme Court, but to continue to brilliant foundation laid by his predecessor.
By the time he steps aside as president, Donald Trump will have doubtlessly done many things that rankle his own voters, just as every president before him. But no matter what he does from here on out, he made good on his promise to put a true conservative on the Supreme Court. That’s certainly more than we would have gotten from Hillary Clinton.
Hopefully, Trump’s conservative critics will remember that when the going gets tough.