As concerned as they have been about Donald Trump’s unpredictable and dangerous behavior since his installation in the White House, the Republican Party’s elected representatives are on the same wavelength as the president regarding his choice, announced Tuesday evening, of good-natured conservative Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Had they not, after all, laid the groundwork for the unlikely eventuality — now tragically fulfilled — that Hillary Clinton would not be elected president? The fact is that the shoes Judge Gorsuch hopes to fill should have been filled by a more moderate man, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, whom Mr. Obama had chosen to succeed Justice Scalia. Except that, as soon as Scalia died in February 2016, the Republican-majority Senate refused to begin Judge Garland’s confirmation process, on the pretext that the country was on the verge of a presidential election. A pretext under which, in the name of the integrity of this capital institution, the Republicans sought in reality to prevent President Obama from replacing conservative Scalia with a more progressive voice.
Mission accomplished. Neil Gorsuch, who espouses a literal reading of the Constitution, and who is not nearly as incompetent as Mr. Trump, will follow in Antonin Scalia’s footsteps, helping to bury, among other things, the anti-discrimination provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver by former President Bush in 2006, Mr. Gorsuch has defended positions hostile to environmental protection and to women’s and workers’ rights.
His appointment, which will be confirmed despite promised obstruction by Democrats, does not, in the short term, alter the balance of the Supreme Court. But moderate, 80-year-old Anthony Kennedy is predicted to retire soon, and then Mr. Trump will be able to pull the Supreme Court to the right.
As it so happens, in the short term Mr. Gorsuch could be called on to decide electoral issues, with major democratic stakes, such as the decisions of states like Texas and North Carolina to enact laws that make it more difficult to exercise the right to vote, and that specifically affect black and Hispanic minorities. A situation that may prove awkward for this new judge, as the president who nominated him continues to falsely state that three million people voted illegally last Nov. 8 … Thus goes American democracy.