With the addition of Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court will be comprised of four relatively reliable liberals and five likely consistent conservatives. This stands as a campaign promise fulfilled by President Donald Trump, one in which he promised to select a Justice who’s thinking mirrored the late Antonin Scalia. Scalia, whom Gorsuch called “a lion of the law”, was a reliable opponent on any question of expanding abortion rights, according to The Guardian.
David S. Cohen, a constitutional law professor in Drexel’s Kline School of Law, anticipates that the court will swing back to the right – and Gorsuch, at 49, is the youngest nominee in decades, with the potential to influence the Court into the 2050s.
Cohen spoke to Fox29’s ‘Good Day Philadelphia’ about Gorsuch’s history and potential impact on the Court:
First, Gorsuch, an intelligent and highly respected conservative, has spoken strongly in favor of originalism — that the constitution should be viewed and interpreted as it was understood at the time it was adopted, rather than changing with the times. He will likely be a far-right conservative.
Gorsuch in the past has also spoken out against using the courts to bring about social change. He has written against contraceptives and written against Planned Parenthood. Specifically, Gorsuch sided with Utah’s governor in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood in the summer of 2015. Roe V. Wade, after 44 years, is upheld by the Court time and time again – and while Gorsuch may vote to overturn it, Justice Kennedy’s views will still decide abortion cases.
Gorsuch also participated on the state level in the Hobby Lobby lower court case that led to the Supreme Court’s decision against contraception coverage in 2014. Affirmative action in limited form will still be safe, as will LGBT rights; however, labor and environmental protections will be in danger.
Differing perhaps the most from Justice Scalia is Gorsuch’s view of administrative regulations. The Supreme Court has a history of generally deferring to administrative interpretation of the law, which means that the Court will usually side with the expertise of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor when they interpret statutes in order to advance their mission. Justice Scalia had largely followed this precedent, but this could be a point where Gorsuch differs.
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