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The Rushmore Report – Christian Responses to the Kavanaugh Vote

America’s long nightmare is finally over. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate over the weekend, by a vote of 50-48. And as expected, the reactions from across the land have been immediate and they have been strong. From the Christian perspective, no single voice speaks for all. In fact, there are strong reactions among Christians, both for and against Kavanaugh. These are some of those reactions, from leaders of Focus on the Family, National Right to Life, and more.

Jim Daly, leader of Focus on the Family, reports that his organization is “extremely pleased” with the confirmation. “Judge Kavanaugh is a man of proven judicial temperament, fair and impartial to all who appear in his courtroom. He has served almost three decades in public service. He deserves to sit on the nation’s highest court, and the nation will be greatly served because of it.”

Representing National Right to Life, Carol Tobias said, “This is a victory for all who believe that the federal courts should enforce the rights truly based on the text and history of the Constitution, and otherwise leave policy questions in the hands of elected legislators.” The group offered its strongest praise for Sen. Lindsay Graham for his strong support of Kavanaugh during the recent hearings.

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, said that Kavanugh had to overcome “an unimaginable smear campaign.” Perkins added, “For the first time in decades, this nomination brought with it the reality of returning to a truly constitutionalist court. Many on the Left couldn’t stand such a thought. And for that, he and his family have paid a tremendous price.”

However, not all Christians were happy with the Kavanaugh confirmation. Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, called the day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation a “day of mourning.” Bishop Dwayne Royster, political director for Faith in Action, agreed. He said, “The senate’s vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court will go down in history as a stain on this Court, the Congress, and this country.”

Clearly, most Christian leaders are celebrating the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Most – but not all.

The Rushmore Report – What Is the FBI Looking for in the Kavanaugh Investigation?

President Donald Trump has ordered the FBI to reopen Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s background investigation after several women accused him of sexual misconduct. Just what the FBI will investigate remains a mystery. The Senate Judiciary Committee asked the White House to ask the FBI to conduct the supplemental investigation, which will be “limited to current credible allegations” and must be done by Oct. 5.

An FBI spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions about the investigation, including how many agents would be assigned and whether it could be completed in a week.

A look at what a reopened FBI investigation would and wouldn’t do:

What’s the FBI’s role?

The FBI conducts background checks for federal nominees but does not make judgments on the credibility or significance of allegations.

Investigators compile information about a nominee’s past and provide findings to the agency that requested the background check; in this case, it’s the White House. The information would be added to the nominee’s background file, which is available to senators.

Typically, background investigations do not go back decades, but that’s what is needed in Kavanaugh’s case because the allegations are about incidents said to have happened during his teenage years. Kavanaugh is now 53.

Could the FBI investigation bring clarity to what happened?

Perhaps. The FBI has wide discretion in determining the scope of the investigation.

The committee questioned Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford during a hearing Thursday; other potential witnesses have submitted sworn statements. FBI agents could interview the other accusers and witnesses and gather additional evidence or details.

David Gomez, a former FBI counterterrorism supervisor in Seattle, said officials at FBI headquarters typically will divide up leads that get assigned to different field offices across the country for further investigation and will set a quick deadline. The local offices generally will assign as many staff as necessary to pursue those leads.

A good agent, he said, “would address Kavanaugh’s behavior and demeanor and credibility during his high school years.”

Kavanaugh’s high school friend, Mark Judge, who Ford says was in the room when a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, said Friday that he will cooperate with any law enforcement agency that will “confidentially investigate” sexual misconduct allegations against him and Kavanaugh.

Both Judge and Kavanaugh have vehemently denied any allegation of misconduct.

Lawyers for PJ Smyth and Leland Ingham Keyser, two others who Ford said were in the house when she was attacked, have said their clients are willing to cooperate “fully” with the FBI’s investigation.

Can an investigation be done in a week?

Experts say the work can be done in a matter of days in most circumstances.

Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director, said background investigations done by the bureau typically have short turnaround times because the requesting agency needs the information quickly in order to make a decision on the nominee.

The FBI cannot force someone to talk to them as part of the process.

“Based on what we publicly know as far as the universe of people, I don’t see any reason why the FBI could not complete an investigation within one week,” said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer and expert in security clearance and background investigations. “Remember, they’re not reaching a decision or recommendation. They are just compiling the investigation and reporting on it.”

What does Kavanaugh say about this?

Kavanaugh wouldn’t answer directly when he was asked Thursday if he would agree to an FBI investigation, but said he would do whatever the Judiciary Committee wanted.

In a statement released by the White House on Friday, Kavanaugh said he was interviewed by the FBI throughout the selection process and participated in several background calls with the Senate.

“I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate,” he said.

About the Author

Michael Balsamo writes for the Associated Press.

The Rushmore Report – Four Things to Watch in the Kavanaugh Hearings

The U.S. Senate is holding hearings on President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh this week. Of course, liberal Democrats will do anything they can to derail the nomination, for fear of the court shifting to the right. Conservatives, on the other hand, are generally supportive of the pick, recognizing that if Kavanaugh is not approved, there will not be enough time to nominate another candidate before the November elections, which could shift the Senate into Democratic hands. So what should we be watching for his week? I see four things.

1. Abortion

This will be the main focus of contention. Expect Democrats to try to pin Kavanaugh down on whether he would vote in a pro-life manner. Dawn Leguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Federation of America was clear. “There’s no way to sugarcoat it: with this nomination, the constitutional right to access legal abortion in this country is on the line.”

On the other side, Susan B. Anthony President Marjorie Dannenfelser said that Kavanaugh “is an experienced, principled jurist with a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights.”

Expect Senator Susan Collins to go hard on this issue, as a pro-choice Republican. The legalized right to take the lives of the unborn remains a party plank for Democrats and liberal-leaning Republicans. So abortion will clearly be the issue that receives the most attention.

2. Religious liberty

In June, the Supreme Court voted 7-2 that a baker named Jack Phillips was wrongly punished for refusing on religious grounds to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. As other potential cases are going through the courts on the extent to which Christian business owners can refuse service on the basis of religious objection, expect dozens of questions to come to Kavanaugh on religious liberty issues.

3. Process complaints

When Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced that the committee hearing on Kavanaugh would begin on September 4, Democrats objected over what they viewed as a rushed process. They have since demanded to view documents on past Kavanaugh lower court rulings. While they have received half a million such documents, they insist on more. This is, of course, simply a delay tactic. But expect it to continue.

4. Swing votes

A few senators have yet to play their hand and reveal how they will likely vote on the Kavanaugh nomination. At the top of that list is Susan Collins. But add three red state Democrats to that list: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV), and Joe Donnelly (IN). All three voted for the Gorsuch nomination and are running for re-election this fall.

 

The Rushmore Report – Crunch Time at the Supreme Court

Justice Kennedy has retired from the U.S. Supreme Court, creating the opportunity for President Trump to nominate a second justice for Senate confirmation to the highest court in the land. This event has triggered a political frenzy on the American political left. They are racing around with their hair on fire on all forms of media doing their best impressions of “Chicken Little,” exclaiming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”Why the volcanic emotional eruption from the political and cultural left-wing establishment? The reason is simple — this vacancy furnishes President Trump with the rare opportunity to shift the Supreme Court’s delicate ideological balance in the direction of a strict-constructionist, original intent court that asks, “What was the original intent of the founding fathers?” — not what the current justices decide is best for the nation.

The chief consequence of such a shift would be a much less intrusive, interventionist, and arrogant Supreme Court and a rebirth of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

For much of the latter half of the 20th century and the first quarter of the 21st century, the Supreme Court majority has viewed the U.S. Constitution as a “living document” into which the justices were free to read their own convictions, values, and beliefs and to discern previously undiscovered (some would say utterly fabricated) “rights” into the Constitution. These newly discovered “rights,” by the way, would have shocked and dumbfounded the Constitution’s original authors.

The liberal social and political establishment thoroughly enjoyed imposing their social and cultural agendas on the rest of the nation for at least two generations through a liberal judicial imperium that too often short-circuited the political process and frustrated the political will of the American people.

Polling shows that one of the major reasons cited by millions of Americans in their decision to vote for President Trump was his promise to remake the court system from top to bottom in a more strict-constructionist, originalist posture.

Now, thanks to President Trump’s ability to replace Justice Kennedy with a strict-constructionist, original intent justice, that elitist, liberal judicial hegemony is crumbling — thus the collective panic attack on the left-wing of American thought.

Seldom, if ever, has the arrogance of the imperial judiciary and its radical departure from the founders’ intent been more accurately dissected and described than in Chief Justice Roberts’ blistering, incandescent dissent in the Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) decision that by a 5-4 vote legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states by judicial edict.

Chief Justice Roberts does not mince words in his disdainful dissent to the court’s majority opinion, declaring,

“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial ‘caution’ and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own ‘new insight’ into the ‘nature of injustice.’ . . . As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia. . . . Just who do we think we are? It can be tempting for judges to confuse our own preferences with the requirements of the law.”

Then the Chief Justice summarizes the issue both frankly and succinctly:

“Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples. It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through their elected representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer.”

Roberts speaks to the dangerous usurpation of power symbolized in the Obergefell decision and the damage it does to America’s political freedoms. As Chief Justice Roberts observes, “The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And they know it.”

Chief Justice Roberts also notes, “Nowhere is the majority’s extravagant conception of judicial supremacy more evident than in its description — and dismissal — of the public debate regarding same-sex marriage” and their conclusion that it “is high time for the Court to decide the meaning of marriage based on five lawyers’ ‘better informed understanding.’ …”

The conclusion of Chief Justice Roberts’ Obergefell dissent should be chiseled into a marble wall in some public place:

“In the face of all this, a much different view of the Court’s role is possible. That view is more modest and restrained. It is more skeptical that the legal abilities of judges also reflect insight into moral and philosophical issues. It is more sensitive to the fact that judges are unelected and unaccountable, and that the legitimacy of their power depends on confining it to the exercise of legal judgment. It is more attuned to the lessons of history, and what it has meant for the country and Court when Justices have exceeded their proper bounds. And it is less pretentious than to suppose that while people around the world have viewed an institution in a particular way for thousands of years, the present generation and the present Court are the ones chosen to burst the bonds of that history and tradition.”

Supporters of the strict-constructionist, original intent judicial philosophy like the present writer should take comfort in the fact that Chief Justice Roberts will now be the “swing” vote on the new, post-Kennedy court.

We will increasingly have courts that interpret the law and decide what the Constitution says, not what they would like for it to have said. That is what a judge is supposed to do. In his confirmation hearing, now Chief Justice Roberts was asked by Senator Schumer, “Are you going to be for the ‘little guy’ or the ‘big guy’?” Roberts replied that his client would be the Constitution. If the Constitution said the big guy should win, he would be for the big guy, and if the Constitution said the little guy should win, he would be for the little guy. Bravo!

My advice to activist judges who feel the Constitution or a law is wrong is simply this: if you want to change the Constitution or the law, don’t abuse your judicial office by imposing your view by judicial fiat. Instead, resign from your judicial position and run for Congress. That’s where laws are to be made, by the people’s duly elected representatives.

About the Author

Dr. Richard Land is President of the Christian Life Commission, the ethics arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Rushmore Report – The Five Senators Who Will Decide Fate of Supreme Court Nominee

Last night, President Trump announced his new Supreme Court nominee on national television. In case you missed it, Trump just named Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Anthony Kennedy. Now the real work begins. The United States Senate will now decide Judge Kavanaugh’s fate. But we already know where 95 senators stand. We know that of the 49 Democrats, 46 already decided to oppose the Trump nominee, no matter who it was. And on the other side – with John McCain unable to be present – 48 of the 50 Republicans were solid votes for the nominee, no matter what.

That leaves five senators who are somewhat persuadable. The future of the Supreme Court, controversial cultural issues, and perhaps legalized abortion – is in the hands of Judge Kavanaugh, and therefore in the hands of these five senators.

Three Red-State Democrats

There are several Democratic senators up for re-election in just a few months, who come from states carried by Donald Trump in 2016. These include Joe Tester (Montana) and Claire McCaskell (Missouri). But there are three others, who are most vulnerable to defeat if they don’t support the Trump nominee.

These three are: Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), and Joe Manchin (West Virginia).

Each of these has a complex relationship with President Trump. They try to find a balance between never supporting Trump (which would alienate their voters) and always supporting Trump (which would alienate their party). While they voted for Judge Gorsuch last year, their votes didn’t really matter, as he had the full support of the Republican Caucus. But this time, their votes will matter.

Two Moderate Republicans

Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) both voted against Trump in his battle to kill the Affordable Care Act. Both are pro-choice Republicans. Collins is most at risk to the president, as she represents a moderate/liberal state, unlike Alaska, which is about as conservative as it gets.

It is certain that both Collins and Murkowski will question the new nominee hard on the subject of abortion. And it is equally certain that Judge Kavanaugh won’t take the bait. Then the two Republicans will have to decide which way to go – knowing they likely hold the future of the Supreme Court of the United States firmly in their hands.

Conclusion

We are betting that Judge Kavanaugh will win confirmation. Why? Because there isn’t enough time for President Trump to get another nominee approved before the midterm elections. Therefore, it is likely that Trump did not nominate someone who he wasn’t sure he could get through Congress.

But this will be interesting. Forget about the Senate – and watch the senators. For the next generation, the future of the Supreme Court of the United States will rest in the hands of five people – Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski.

The funny thing is that these five senators represent five of the smallest states in the country, with a combined population of about 11.2 million, or three percent of the total population of the United States. But that is what we have come down to. The future of the Supreme Court now rests in the hands of five people, who represent just three percent of America.

 

The Rushmore Report – President Trump’s Pick for the Supreme Court

After meeting with several candidates on Saturday, President Donald Trump promised that Americans will have a new nominee for the Supreme Court by July 9. The president spent this past weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, brushing up on judicial philosophy and sitting down for one-on-one meetings with at least five possible nominees. Two of the prospective jurors are women, Trump told reporters. He has reportedly narrowed his search to a handful of federal judges: Brett Kavanaugh, Amul Thapar, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge, and Amy Coney Barrett.

The pick here is Amy Coney Barrett, who is popular among conservatives, who cite her recent Senate confirmation hearings for the federal bench, where she was accused by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) of fully espousing Catholic dogma.

The reason I predict Barrett will be the President’s selection is that she was just confirmed by the same Senate that will oversee this process. It will be the height of hypocrisy for senators – who just confirmed her months ago – to turn on her now.

Trump would only say that he believes Barrett is an “outstanding woman,” when speaking with reporters on Air Force One this past weekend, careful to not reveal too much inside information about his selection process.

The July 9 deadline is ambitious; nominees for the Supreme Court must pass an FBI background check before they can even be considered for a spot on the nation’s highest court, and Business Insider reports that agents are still in the midst of vetting several possible candidates. But Trump wants to start the confirmation process as quickly as possible so Republicans can cast their votes ahead of the November elections.

Democrats are eagerly anticipating a partisan fight, but it could be over before it starts. Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) filibuster of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination triggered Republicans to use the so-called “nuclear option,” removing the “super majority” requirement of 60 votes to place a new justice on the nation’s highest court.

Now, the GOP needs just 51 votes to pass the nominee, and in the event of a tie vote, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote.

So this nomination process will likely fall to the moderate members of the Republican Party – Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME), both of whom are supporters of Roe v. Wade.

When interviewed over the weekend, President Trump said that he has no plans to ask any prospective justices how they would rule should abortion rights come before the Court again. It probably wouldn’t matter if he – or the Senate – did ask such questions, as nominees have learned to not weigh in on specific issues and cases while testifying before the Senate.

So the president is about to make his second Supreme Court nominee in just a few days. And we think that person will be Amy Coney Barrett.

The Rushmore Report: Why the Gorsuch Filibuster Is Such a Bad Idea

Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Shumer (NY) has managed to enlist enough senators to mount a filibuster against the Neil Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court. This move belongs high on the list of all-time political blunders. In their effort to shoot down the Gorsuch nomination, Democrats have formed the perfect circular firing squad. This is an unforced error of historical proportions. Let’s review.

Here’s how we got here.

1. Harry Reid (D-NV) changed Senate rules.

In 2013, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Leader Harry Reid blew up the time-honored filibuster rules on lower court appointments. From 1948 until 2013, it took 60 senators to cut off debate and force a vote on court appointments. Reid changed all that, in order to get Obama-appointed judges through on a partisan vote. Democrats liked the new rule – at the time – because they controlled the Senate.

2. Republicans denied Obama’s nominee a hearing.

In March of 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Republicans refused to hold hearings for two reasons. Their stated reason was that no Supreme Court nominee had ever been considered during an election year. Republicans said the next president should make this appointment. The other reason for their opposition – unstated and often denied – was purely political. They wanted the get a conservative as Scalia’s replacement. And while Democrats have attacked this decision, it is clear that they would have done the same thing if circumstances were reversed. Joe Biden even said so.

3. Trump nominated a really good candidate.

Democrats have been unable to offer any real reason to oppose the Gorsuch nomination. His credentials are beyond reproach.

4. Democrats have decided to filibuster the nomination.

For the first time in American history, a Supreme Court nomination will be filibustered for purely partisan reasons. For Democrats, this is payback for the treatment Republicans gave Judge Garland.

5. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will invoke the “nuclear option.”

Senator Schumer said – amazingly – that he will oppose “any nominee President Trump brings before the Senate.” By “oppose,” he means filibuster. That leaves McConnell two options: either change the filibuster rule or agree that for the next four to eight years we will not add anyone to the Supreme Court under any circumstance. Schumer’s game of chicken has given Republicans no choice. The only way they can get a nominee confirmed is by changing Senate rules to allow for a simple majority vote.

Here’s why this is such a dumb move by Democrats.

Judge Gorsuch is, by all accounts, a mainstream judge. He has voted with the majority on 97 percent of his lower court rulings. He has never ruled on abortion or other issues that would tag him far right. In short, he is the most acceptable nominee Democrats will ever get from Mr. Trump.

By forcing McConnell to make the rule change, when one of the octogenarian liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer) retires, Trump will nominate a replacement who is acceptable only to Republicans. By no longer needing Democratic votes, the next nominee will likely be more conservative.

On the other hand, had the Democrats not threatened to filibuster, Republicans would have not changed the rules. Had that happened, Republicans would have looked really bad changing the rules for a future nominee.

Said simply, Democrats picked the wrong fight. They played all their cards, knowing they would lose anyway. Now they are out of moves.

I’m an old chess player. What Senator Schumer is doing this week is akin to a chess player moving his queen to a position to be captured, when it accomplished nothing in return. Can a chess player still win without his queen? Yes, but it suddenly gets a whole lot harder.

So why did Schumer and the Democrats do this? It’s simple. They are placating their base. And that makes sense for the most nearsighted of politicians. But give Trump one or two more far-right nominations, and the Democrats will look back and ask, “What were we thinking?”

The Rushmore Report: Democrats Delay (Get Used to This) Gorsuch Nomination

On Monday, Senate Democrats forced a delay of the nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Neil Gorsuch. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced that, as expected, Democrats have requested a postponement, as allowed under the archaic rules of the Senate. Thus, in effect, the Democrats have decided the best way to serve the American people for the next seven days is to do nothing.

Though committee hearings have ended, and there is no more inquiry or work to do except vote, the Democrats have stalled the inevitable nomination of Judge Gorsuch. The only question that remains is whether they can muster enough support to mount a filibuster of the nomination – something never done against a Supreme Court nominee.

When President Obama nominated two liberal justices to the court, Republicans did not filibuster. Nor did Republicans ever – in American history – change the filibuster rule for lower court appointments.

But under Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Democrats blew up 200 years of precedent, meaning all judges other than on the Supreme Court, need only 51 votes to be confirmed, as opposed to 60. Since it is clear that the Democrats will not vote for any candidate Trump might nominate, the Republicans have no choice but to do to the Supreme Court what Democrats, under Reid, already did to the other courts. They will employ the “nuclear option,” meaning a rule change that will allow for Supreme Court justices to win nomination by a simple majority vote of the Senate.

But none of this will happen this week. Why? Because the Democrats have taken the position that the best way they can serve the American people is to put their work on hold and do nothing. After all, they need the break. With a week off over Easter (Who doesn’t get a week off for Easter?) and an entire month off this summer, what’s one more week of doing nothing going to hurt?

The worst part of it is that when Chuck Schumer and his Democratic colleagues made this decision to do nothing for a week, most of the media didn’t care. And most of America will not notice.

The Rushmore Report: The Faith of Judge Neil Gorsuch

President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch as the newest member of the United States Supreme Court. There are five things to know about his faith.

1. Gorsuch was raised Catholic, and is now Episcopalian.

He studied at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland, while his mother, Anne Gorsuch, served as President Reagan’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. After college and law school, he clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is Catholic. Gorsuch, his wife, and two daughters now attend St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado.

2. The judge has supported religious groups against the U.S. government.

Two major religious liberty cases wound up before Denver’s 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Gorsuch has served since 2006: The Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, and Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. In both cases, religious organizations – a Catholic order of nuns and the evangelical owners of a craft store chain – sought exemptions from providing birth control under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “All of us face the problem of complicity,” he wrote in support of Hobby Lobby. Government should not force those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to comply with “conduct their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.” The Supreme Court upheld his ruling in a 5-4 decision in 2014.

3. Gorsuch opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Revealing views that are consistent with those of most Christian denominations, Judge Gorsuch wrote a book titled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, in which he argued for maintaining laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia.

4. Gorsuch has not ruled in an abortion-related case.

Though he has not ruled in such a case yet, he is lauded by many conservative religious people and groups who seek the overturning of Roe v. Wade because of how he wrote about the value of life in his book. He wrote, “All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” He continued, “The law doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs; it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.”

5. Judge Gorsuch reminds many of Antonin Scalia, a committed Catholic.

University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau told The Denver Post that Gorsuch would be Scalia’s “intellectual equal and almost certainly his equal on conservative jurisprudential approaches to criminal justice and social justice issues that are bound to keep coming up in the country.”

About the Author

Kimberly Winston writes for the Religion News Service. Based in San Francisco. She does freelance work on atheism and evidence for Christ as the Messiah. Winston is a committed follower of Christ and student of the Scriptures.

The Rushmore Report: Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch – 10 Things You Should Know

President Trump has nominated 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Antonin Scalia. The debate within the Senate will be fierce. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already responded: “If you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine, or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision.” Aside from that encouraging insight, what do we know about Judge Gorsuch? I contend there are ten things you need to know.

1. His academic credentials are unimpeachable.

Gorsuch completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University, got his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and earned his doctorate from Oxford.

2. Gorsuch is a popular choice.

The popular website FantasySCOTUS consistently ranked him first among  the 22 potential Trump nominees in voting by readers.

3. He has a famous mom.

Anne Gorsuch Burford was President Ronald Reagan’s first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was eventually forced to resign over charges of political favoritism.

4. Gorsuch detests judicial activism.

In his writings in lower court decisions, the judge has said, “The politicization of the judiciary undermines the only real asset it has – its independence.” When introduced by Trump Tuesday night, he said, “Any judge who likes all of his own decisions is probably not a very good judge.”

5. He is a textualist.

After Scalia’s death, the judge wrote, “Judges should strive to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to the text to decide a case.” In other words, he will make decisions based on the text of the Constitution as it is written.

6. The judge warns of federal overreach.

In August, 2016, Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion for a case in which he scorched the “Chevron doctrine.” According to The Washington Post, “Chevron” is “the doctrine that provides that courts must defer to permissible agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory language.”

7. Gorsuch has already been confirmed by the Senate – unanimously.

It will be awkward for the Democrats to oppose the same man they just confirmed a few years ago. The Denver Post writes that when Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, his “nomination was approved on a voice vote” in the Senate. No official tally was taken because Gorsuch’s nomination “wasn’t considered controversial.”

8. Gorsuch is a huge proponent of religious freedom.

Two major religious liberty cases wound up on Gorsuch’s desk. In both cases, he sided with groups seeking to maintain their religious liberties.

9. The judge has not ruled on abortion-related cases.

Despite this fact, he is lauded by most conservative religious groups who seek the overturning of Roe v. Wade because of how he wrote about the value of life in his book.

10. He will be confirmed – but it won’t be easy.

Clearly, the judge does not fall into the “mainstream,” as defined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY. No one on Trump’s list could gain Democratic support. So two things will likely happen. First, the Democrats will filibuster, meaning Republicans will need nine Senate Democratic votes to confirm the nomination. Second, failing to gain that number, Republicans will invoke the “nuclear option,” changing their own rules, meaning it will only take 51 votes to end the filibuster, rather than 60. This will be consistent with what Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, did a few years ago. And then Judge Gorsuch will be the newest member of the United States Supreme Court.

To quote former President Barack Obama, shortly after his election of 2008, “Elections have consequences.” One of those consequences is that President Trump will get his man on the Court. But the fun has just begun.