Column: Heitkamp would be wise to confirm Judge Gorsuch
U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp recently said that she'll do what's best for our state when it comes to President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee. If that's the case, then she and her colleagues should vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch without delaying the process. Gorsuch's confirmation should not be controversial. Known for his intellect and legal mind, he earned his bachelor's degree with honors from Columbia University before attending Harvard Law School as a Truman Scholar. He then received a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University.
His professional experience is similarly impressive. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, worked as an attorney at a private law firm, and served at the U.S. Justice Department where he focused on issues like counter-terrorism and civil rights.
During his 11 years on the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch has built a reputation as a consensus builder. Only 14 of the roughly 800 opinions he has authored have drawn dissent from fellow judges, Republican and Democrat appointees alike.
This likely owes to his originalist interpretation of the Constitution. He strongly believes in the rule of law and doesn't let his personal beliefs influence his decisions. He once said, "A judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels."
These credentials and principles have earned Judge Gorsuch bipartisan support throughout his career. When he was nominated for the Tenth Circuit in 2006, he was confirmed by unanimous voice vote. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is one of 11 current Democrat senators who voiced no concern about Gorsuch's confirmation at that time.
More recently, a former high-ranking Obama administration official even recommended Judge Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court, saying, "he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation's highest court." But if Heitkamp is unconvinced that Judge Gorsuch is fit to serve as Supreme Court justice based on merit alone, then she only needs to consider the will of her constituents.
After making the Supreme Court a defining issue of his campaign, Trump won the state of North Dakota in a 36-point landslide. Nationally, one-in-five voters said this was the most important issue to them. They knew what they were voting for, too. During the campaign, Trump released a list of people he would choose from in making his nomination, which he stuck to in nominating Gorsuch. Heitkamp criticized some of her Senate colleagues last year for "playing politics with our highest court—a branch of government that should be above politics." Given Gorsuch's personal background, qualifications, and bipartisan appeal, she too should set the politics aside and support his confirmation to our nation's highest court.
Flohrs is the state director for the North Dakota and Minnesota chapters of Americans for Prosperity.