President Donald Trump’s nomination of federal judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is but the latest in a series of ongoing battles to fill top government positions.
Gorsuch, whose 2006 appointment to the Tenth Circuit court of appeals was mostly unopposed, has been hailed by conservatives who see him as someone to carry on the torch of originalist legal interpretation, a role left vacant by the passing of longtime Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.
Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, spoke on Thursday’s Access Utah. He said that originalism sees the Constitution’s meaning as fixed by its authors.
“Justice Scalia was an originalist. He believed that the Constitution ought to be interpreted consistently with its original meaning, it shouldn’t be remade in the mold of whoever was reading it, and that it was our fundamental charter,” Cassell said. “I think Judge Gorsuch is going to be a worthy successor to Justice Scalia’s position and very excited to see that he was nominated.”
Dr. Michael Lyons, a professor of political science at Utah State University, said that originalism’s claim to have ownership of the original intent of the Constitution does not hold up.
“Quite frankly, I question the entire validity of the concept of originalism and take the position that, really, almost every justice in the Supreme Court is trying to adhere to the intentions of the people who wrote the Constitution,” Lyons said. “But the language is so murky that there’s a great deal of variation in terms of what the intentions are carried forward.”
Last year, Senate Republicans refused to consider the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland while President Barack Obama was in office.