What should Democrats do about Neil Gorsuch? They should filibuster.
The reason is obvious: Merrick Garland, President Obama’s eminently qualified and moderate nominee for the Supreme Court, never even got a hearing from Republicans. Unlike obstructionist Republicans, the official party of no, a party that with a clear majority can’t even pass its own
wealth/health care plan, the Democrats gave Gorsuch a fair hearing. It’s now time to oppose him. To do anything else would be an admission of gutlessness.
Democrats, at the risk of stating the obvious: Republicans are not going to respect your sense of fair play, your bipartisanship, your willingness to compromise. Just keep one image in mind: Republicans are Lucy holding the football, and you are Charlie Brown. No matter how many times Lucy tells you she’s going to let you kick the ball, she’s always going to pull it away, betraying her promise while making snide comments about your gullibility.
There’s another reason not to vote for Gorsuch: the man lacks compassion. Sure, he’s urbane, intelligent, and well-read. He knows his way around the law. But he seems to believe humans were made for the law, rather than the law being made for and by us.
The higher a judge rises in our system of justice, the higher the premium on compassion. The law is not a bunch of words and statutes and rulings to be adjudicated soullessly while citing “original intent,” whatever that means. In certain rulings, like the “frozen trucker” case, Gorsuch came across as soulless, allowing strict interpretations to trump common humanity.
I’m a historian, not a lawyer, so my view of the law is somewhat different from the experts. I see it as an artifact of history, a fluid substance, an imperfect product of imperfect humans. That doesn’t mean it’s not vitally important; that it doesn’t deserve our respect and our protection. But, again, the law exists for us: to uphold life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The law shouldn’t exist solely for the powerful, for corporations, for the government, for the richest.
Justice shouldn’t be blind. Justice requires judges to use all their senses, and not just those, but their hearts and souls as well. It’s not enough for a judge to be learned; he or she should have empathy, a strong sense of fairness, and, again, compassion.
Gorsuch is a fan of Dickens. While listening to him, it was difficult for me to tell whether he was Scrooge before his moral awakening, or Scrooge after it. He came across more as the Scrooge of “Are there no prisons, no workhouses,” rather than the Scrooge who embraces charity and who freely gives to those in need.
So, Democrats, your direction should be clear: In the name of Merrick Garland, and in the cause of compassion, resist Gorsuch. For even if you naively choose to support him, in the name of highminded fairness, Lucy will always be there to pull the football away, laughing all the while at your spineless gullibility.
Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and historian, blogs at Bracing Views.