By Blake Thurman
I strongly support the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Support for Gorsuch may seem odd coming from someone whose voting record is likely to be far to the left of Gorsuch’s votes. I found Bernie Sander’s message attractive. But it is not our voting for people running for public office that should be an overriding concern.
There is a larger issue at stake: We need an independent judiciary that is not subject to the hyperbole of the divisive partisan politics that seem to be rampant in the loud attacks on rational, informed thought. And, as a country, we need a Constitution that is explained and defended according to sound legal concepts. I trust that Gorsuch will do that.
Gorsuch was an undergraduate at Columbia when I was an assistant dean. We had many long, wide-ranging and friendly discussions. Notable about Gorsuch at the time were his well-considered ideas that had been thoroughly researched so as to bring intellectual support to his ideas without resorting to dogma. He considered opposing arguments and listened carefully with a willingness to incorporate what he heard. His strong background in debate was obviously at play.
He will bring these necessary qualities with him to the Supreme Court. Fundamentally, I found Gorsuch to be deeply ethical in his thinking as well as deeply concerned with how to move the country forward in positive ways.
My recollection is that I first contacted Gorsuch early in his sophomore year at Columbia to speak with him about nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships that he might be eligible for based on the excellence of his first-year grades. Even then, Gorsuch was preparing to continue in law school as a way to prepare himself for a career in public service.
My support of Gorsuch does not imply that I will always be happy with his decisions. But legal decisions should not be made on the basis of making us happy. I respect that. Happy or not, I will read Gorsuch’s decisions and arguments very carefully in order to understand his decisions. We should all be doing that. After reading the decision, I expect that I will conclude that the historical, philosophical, moral and legal arguments that he brings to an opinion have been understandably presented and supported.
Recently, a student asked me if Gorsuch was a friend to a special interest group, as portrayed by the press and various political interests. My answer was that I thought that Gorsuch might respond respectfully, with his usual grace and humor, that he is not the friend of special interest groups but is a friend of the Constitution. I believe that and trust that Gorsuch will be a highly respected Supreme Court justice.
My view on Gorsuch’s nomination contains only praise, unlike my opinions on other nominations for the highest positions in our federal government. He will be a thoughtful, trustworthy and independent jurist from whom we have much to learn.
Blake Thurman is a retired college administrator.