In nominating 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump followed a script and well laid strategy. And, he hit a home run. The single best strategic decision Donald Trump made during his presidential campaign was to release a list of his potential Supreme Court appointees, should he be elected president. After releasing 11 names in May of 2016, he put out 10 more possibilities last September. This second list included Neil Gorsuch.
After much derision by many establishment Republicans and social conservatives alike during the primaries, Donald Trump put forward actual candidates and gave skeptics a reason to support him in November. It worked. Twenty-one percent of voters said the single most important decision in determining their vote was the Supreme Court and Donald Trump handily won those voters, according to a CNN exit poll.
In choosing Neil Gorsuch, a widely respected Circuit Court Judge, Trump appointed a strict constructionist. This decision has implications for the broader business community and particularly anyone battling onerous regulations from federal agencies. Gorsuch has been a leading questioner of the so-called Chevron doctrine – a doctrine that says the courts should defer to federal agencies when there are vague laws defining their role and responsibilities. He made his views on the separation of powers in a widely acclaimed speech he gave entitled "Of Lions and Legislators," "[C]ombining what are by design supposed to be separate and distinct legislative and judicial powers poses a grave threat to our values of personal liberty, fair notice, and equal protection."
As the Trump administration begins to dismantle Obama-era regulations around labor and the environment, around immigration, health care, insurance, and even securities, these battles will surely make their way to the courts. And, this "Gorsuch doctrine" will be critical in the battle over what is the appropriate size and scope of the federal government. This is important not just because the past eight years have seen an unprecedented abuse of power by the executive branch, but as precedent for future administrations.
After nearly a year with a vacancy in our nation's highest court, it is essential that a new justice be in place as soon as possible. This past November, millions of voters made their voices heard on the future they want for this country. As President Trump continues to make good on his campaign platform, it is the duty of the U.S. Senate to honor the American people. We must have a court that errs on the side of personal liberty, the rule of law, and strict adherence to the Constitution. We can rest assured that Judge Gorsuch will preside over our highest court with dignity and commonsense judgment. It is vital that the Senate confirm him quickly.