Grassley Remarks on the Nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
Prepared Senate Floor Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
On the Nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
February 1, 2017
Mr. President, last evening I had the pleasure of being at the White House when President Trump introduced his nominee to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. And it shouldn't surprise anybody that President Trump delivered on a promise made during the campaign when he listed 21 people that he would choose from. Everybody knew ahead of time what sort of a judge he would put on for this vacancy or any future vacancy.
Judge Gorsuch’s decade of service on the Tenth Circuit has earned him a reputation as a brilliant, principled, and mainstream judge. It’s already been widely reported that he was unanimously confirmed by a voice vote to the Tenth Circuit. There are still 31 senators in this body who voted for the judge at that particular time. Twelve of them are Democrats, and one of them is Senator Schumer.
Judge Gorsuch was, of course, supported by both of his home state Senators, one Republican, and one Democrat. He has been recognized as a great jurist by members from both parties. For instance, when he was sworn in to the Tenth Circuit, Senator Salazar remarked that Judge Gorsuch “has a sense of fairness and impartiality that is a keystone of being a judge.”
A fourth generation Coloradan, Judge Gorsuch is eminently qualified to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His decades of experience span many facets of our legal system. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Judge Gorsuch was also a prestigious Marshall Scholar at Oxford. He served as Principal Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice. Judge Gorsuch also knows the Supreme Court well, having clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He currently serves, with distinction, on the Tenth Circuit, where he has established himself as mainstream judge with a reputation as a fair and brilliant jurist.
As a mainstream jurist, Judge Gorsuch enjoys broad respect across the ideological spectrum. At the confirmation hearing for his current judgeship, Judge Gorsuch was introduced by Senators Allard and Salazar. Senator Salazar, of course, isn’t exactly a conservative firebrand, having most recently served as the head of the transition team for Secretary Clinton.
At his hearing in 2006, William Hughes, Jr., a democrat candidate for the House of Representatives, authored a strong letter of recommendation for Judge Gorsuch stating, “I have never found, nor thought, Neil’s views or opinions to be tainted or swayed by any partisan leanings. Quite to the contrary, his approach to all things professional and personal has always been moderate and practical.”
And there are plenty of other examples of strong bipartisan support for Judge Gorsuch. Even observers in the press recognize his reputation for fairness. Last week, the Denver Post endorsed Judge Gorsuch, saying he “has applied the law fairly and consistently.” Judge John Kane, a colleague on the District Court of Colorado, appointed by President Carter, says that Judge Gorsuch “listens well and decides justly. His dissents are instructive rather than vitriolic. In sum, I think he is an excellent judicial craftsman.”
After his nomination was announced last evening, the highest praise came from President Obama’s former Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who described him this way: “Judge Gorsuch is one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our nation over the last century. As a judge, he has always put aside his personal views to serve the rule of law. To boot, as those of us who have worked with him can attest, he is a wonderfully decent and humane person. I strongly support his nomination to the Supreme Court.”
To me, following the law wherever it may lead is perhaps the most important attribute for a Supreme Court Justice to possess. That principle guided Justice Scalia’s decision making, and it’s also how Judge Gorsuch has said judges should approach the law. As he once wrote, quoting Justice Scalia, “if you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.”
That gets back to something very basic: A judge is supposed to be dispassionate. A judge is supposed to leave their personal views out of it. A judge looks at the law on one hand and the facts of the case on the other and make your decision just based on those two things.
From what I’ve learned so far, his judicial record reflects this philosophy of following the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress. Judge Gorsuch doesn’t legislate from the bench, nor does he impose his own beliefs on others. In a speech at Case Western, Judge Gorsuch said judges should strive "to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be -- not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best." I believe it is this fundamental sense of fairness and sense of duty in upholding the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress that has led Judge Gorsuch to be a highly regarded jurist.
After the tragic passing of Justice Scalia, we made it clear that the Senate would wait for the American people to have a say in the future of the Court. I said that no matter who the won the Presidential election, we would move forward with the new President’s nominee. I maintained this position right up to the eve of the election. And I maintained that position even when everyone seemed to believe that our next President would be Secretary Clinton. I’ve been consistent. Unfortunately, some of my Democrat colleagues—the very Senators who held all those rallies, chanting “we need nine”—have already said they intend to do everything they can to stop this eminently qualified judge. That’s unfortunate. I hope and trust that approach won’t be uniform on their side. I look forward to moving forward with a hearing when we will learn a great deal more about Judge Gorsuch, and I look forward to an up or down vote on his nomination.