Professor Schmidt: “The Gorsuch Report—Week 5”

By Professor Christopher Schmidt

It’s been almost a month since Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s the latest news on his confirmation process.

The most interesting news of the past week concerning the Gorsuch nomination was a plan floated by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall that sounded a lot like a West Wing episode (Season 5, Episode 17). Udall’s plan would involve Trump administration officials striking a deal with a liberal Supreme Court justice who might be looking to replace that justice with Judge Merrick Garland, allowing Obama’s and Trump’s nominees to get seats on the Court. Call it the Gorsuch-Garland Gambit. Udall believes such a plan show the country that the new President is really interested in acting to “unite the country.” (It’s not going to happen, but it’s fun to think about it.) To no one’s surprise, the White House does not think much of Senator Udall’s plan.

Seven states may be seeing more of Judge Gorsuch in their mailbox this week. The Concerned Veterans for America group sent out a mailer yesterday to Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia, the Washington Examiner reports. The mailer encourages people to call their senators and “urge them to confirm Gorsuch.”

In other news, some Republicans who did not support President Trump for the Republican nomination have changed their tune with his choice of SCOTUS nominee. The Washington Times reports that “his [President Trump] selection of Judge Gorsuch has helped patch over differences and cemented bonds with his longtime backers.”

Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker suggests six questions senators should ask Gorsuch at his confirmation hearing later this month. Toobin’s suggested topics include abortion, privacy, Brown v. Board of Education, methods of constitutional interpretation, campaign finance, religious liberty, and immigrant rights. Although Gorsuch is unlikely to answer these questions directly, Toobin argues “that shouldn’t prevent the American public from thinking about what the answers ought to be.”

Finally, SCOTUSblog’s Mark Walsh offers a fascinating, detailed account of Judge Gorsuch’s experience as a clerk for Justices Anthony Kennedy and Byron White.

This post originally appeared on ISCOTUSnow, the blog of Chicago-Kent’s Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States, on February 23, 2017.

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