The last thing Sen. Michael Bennet needs is one more Republican giving him advice on the nomination of fellow Coloradan Neil Gorsuch. But add Libby Szabo to the list.
The Jefferson County commissioner and former state legislator has penned a worthy bit of writing about what it means to have a Coloradan on the high court. (Colorado Politics isn’t yet running guest blogs or op-eds, but we’re evolving. Stay tuned for a lot of changes in the next couple of months.)
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Gorsuch Monday, opening the way for an April 7 confirmation vote on the floor of the Senate. Two Democrats have said they would vote for Gorsuch, but Bennet is still mum.
“Although smart, well-meaning judges might come to different conclusions about what the Constitution actually requires, in no event should they substitute their own partisan preferences for legal analysis,” Szabo writes.
“Judge Gorsuch passes this test with flying colors.”
Here is the entire essay, printed with Szabo’s permission:
The Colorado Legacy Gorsuch Stands to Inherit
Many have labeled Judge Neil Gorsuch as a brilliant and worthy heir to the judicial legacy of Justice Scalia. But Judge Gorsuch, a Coloradan, stands to continue the legacy of another legal titan: Justice Byron White, the only Supreme Court Justice so far to have come from the Centennial State.
The connection between the two is not just geographic, but personal and philosophical. Before clerking for Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan-appointee, Judge Gorsuch clerked for Justice White. Although liberal politically, having once served as the Deputy Attorney General under President Kennedy, Justice White believed as a judge in upholding the Constitution, even where that conflicted with his political beliefs. Sometimes that meant taking a stand that was deeply unpopular with other liberals, such as when he famously dissented in Roe v. Wade. Above all else, Justice White was consistent in his commitment to upholding the Constitution as he read it.
Standing next to President Trump, Gorsuch paid tribute to Justice White at the announcement of his nomination, calling him “one of the smartest and most courageous men I’ve ever known.” Judge Gorsuch also summarized his own, similar approach to being a judge, saying, “I respect, too, the fact that in our legal order it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws. It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.”
These are the words of a thoughtful. measured judge who will make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. Like Justice White before him, Judge Gorsuch understands that Supreme Court Justices, for all their brilliance, are not elected by the people and therefore have no rightful power to make law.
Although smart, well-meaning judges might come to different conclusions about what the Constitution actually requires, in no event should they substitute their own partisan preferences for legal analysis.
Judge Gorsuch passes this test with flying colors.
And, in this time of hyper-partisanship, the Supreme Court could use a Coloradan. After all, Colorado is the perfect example of what a purple, swing state looks like. We have one Republican U.S. Senator, and one Democrat. We have four Republican U.S. Congressmen, and three Democrats. Democrats control our state House. Republicans control our state Senate. Republicans hold the attorney general’s and secretary of state’s offices. Democrats hold the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s offices. Colorado is a true “laboratory of democracy” perhaps more than any other state, with every view-point and perspective represented. Against this background, Judge Gorsuch’s record of judicial restraint is all the more commendable.
The last Coloradan on the Supreme Court became one of the great Justices of the 20th century. With his similar commitment to upholding the Constitution, Judge Gorsuch could become one of the great justices of the 21st . Coloradans rightly are proud of Justice White’s legacy, and we should look forward to our next Coloradan Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, following in his footsteps.