Newswise — President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court brings back some of the diversity that has been missing since Justice Stevens left in 2010, says Brian Kalt, The Harold Norris Faculty Scholar and professor of law at the Michigan State University College of Law.
For example, all the other justices came from posts on the East or West coasts. Gorsuch, being from the 10th Circuit, would be the only justice coming to the court from “flyover country.” He would be the only Protestant on the court. And as often happens when there is a new justice after a long time, he would be the youngest; he is 49.
Kalt says it looks like President Trump was going for three thing, similar to what recent presidents have done: someone young, so that he will likely be on the court for a long time; someone with a long appellate judicial record, so that Trump can be more confident of the sorts of votes Gorsuch will give on the court and methods he will use in his opinions; and someone with a good reputation for working with others, so that once on the court he can build coalitions (i.e., win over Justice Kennedy) rather than alienate people as Justice Scalia sometimes did.
Gorsuch has stellar credentials and an excellent reputation: smart, collegial, and a good writer, Kalt says. One might think of him as the classic insider, and thus not the sort of person Trump might favor, but that just goes to show how well-respected he is as a judge.
Gorsuch, like Scalia, likes originalism: the philosophy that constitutional provisions or statutes should be read as meaning what they meant when they are written. This puts the onus for evolution in the law more on the people and Congress - to an originalist, the way to change the law is to change it, not to reinterpret it. That leads to conservative results, but not always.
Just as Scalia sometimes reached results that were liberal (as in some of his jurisprudence on the rights of criminal defendants), Gorsuch might as well, Kalt explains. One area where he differs from Scalia is on deference to administrative agencies. Gorsuch has expressed more skepticism about such deference; if he gets on the court and gets four colleagues to agree, that would mean federal agencies would have a tougher time defending their regulations and decisions in court. Other than that, however, he would likely restore the voting balance that existed before Scalia died - and project it into the future.
Kalt can discuss what’s next in the process and the effect Gorsuch’s nomination, if confirmed, could have on the justice system.
Kalt can be reached at (517) 432-6987 or [email protected]. To learn more about Kalt, visit his bio: http://www.law.msu.edu/faculty_staff/profile.php?prof=44.