Gorsuch will bring needed perspective
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, Guest Writer
Throughout his distinguished career, the newest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court has proved committed to interpreting the law as it is written.
And that, simple as it sounds, is saying a lot.
Once he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Judge Neil Gorsuch will help keep the court connected to bedrock principles that, regrettably, have gradually lost favor in recent decades, principles such as strict constructionism, states’ rights federalism and religious freedom.
Gorsuch will bring a conscience to the court much in line with the man he will replace, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
As Indiana Attorney General, I work daily to ensure our state hits the proper marks established by federal law. The U.S. Constitution stands as a stable and steadfast charter of our liberties, but activist federal judges too often contort its clear precepts based on their own ideological and philosophical whims.
Judge Gorsuch made a statement in a 2016 dissent that should fill with hope the heart of every American who believes in the rule of law rather than the rule of men.
‘A judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge,’ Gorsuch wrote, ‘reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels.’
Never has our nation needed such clarity from our Supreme Court as it needs it today.
Average Americans who live their daily lives without much contemplation of jurisprudence must think it odd to hear judges praised for demonstrating simple respect for the actual intent of the Constitution. Shouldn’t such a commitment be the most basic and minimal requirement for anyone wanting to be a federal judge? Ideally, yes. But the prospect of creating laws in their own image has proved all too strong a temptation for many liberal judges.
Gorsuch has discussed this phenomenon when describing his own belief in judicial restraint. Visionaries wanting to implement their own progressive agendas, he wrote in 2005, ‘have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.’
In my own role, I welcome collaboration with partners at the federal level ‘ be they in the executive, legislative or judicial branches ‘ who recognize the proper roles of the states and the federal government. In my 2016 campaign for Attorney General, I pledged to fight federal overreach into areas rightfully reserved for the states and the people (to paraphrase the 10th Amendment).
Judge Gorsuch has been a strong ally in fending off federal intrusion. He has correctly questioned, for example, whether the Supreme Court went too far in 1984 when it established the so-called ‘Chevron doctrine,’ which instructs federal courts to generally defer to federal agencies in interpreting laws in the agencies’ regulatory domains.
Here in Indiana, we have seen firsthand that federal agencies have far too much power to interfere in Hoosiers’ lives. Case in point: Driving recently down S.R. 37 from Indianapolis to Bloomington, I spotted signs informing me I was passing ‘Waters of the U.S’ even though all I saw was a dry ditch. Upon inquiring about the signs, I learned they amounted to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proclamation that the land was under federal jurisdiction and control because it featured navigable waters. But you could not have floated a toy rowboat down that ditch.
So, I appreciate all those serving in our national government who respect Indiana’s own prerogatives and interests. As a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch will bring a valuable perspective to that esteemed institution. I add my voice to those of all others calling upon the U.S. Senate to confirm Neil Gorsuch, without unnecessary delays or political gamesmanship, as our nation’s next Supreme Court justice.
Curtis T. Hill Jr. (R) is Indiana’s 43rd attorney general.