Editorial: Democrats, be leaders; confirm Gorsuch, pick better fights | PostIndependent.com

Editorial: Democrats, be leaders; confirm Gorsuch, pick better fights

We urge Colorado’s Michael Bennet and other Senate Democrats to approve Judge Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court for two primary reasons:

1. Democrats do themselves and the country no good by becoming the party of no, as the Republicans were for the past eight years.

2. It’s a foregone conclusion that Gorsuch will be confirmed. As divided as Congress is, as the country is, this is one fruitless partisan fight we can skip.

Yes, Republicans’ obstructionism was unprecedented in refusing for months to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Antonin Scalia on the court.

Garland, like Gorsuch, was supremely qualified and, like Gorsuch, was confirmed to the federal bench with unanimous bipartisan support.

Gorsuch, a Colorado native on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, graduated from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, and clerked for two Supreme Court justices.

What the Republicans did with Garland’s nomination was bad precedent, bad for the country and unbecoming of national leaders.

But it happened. Politics ain’t beanbag, and the Republicans’ bet that they would win the White House and maintain control of the Senate paid off.

It’s time for Democrats to make their rhetorical points and then put this sorry episode behind us and let the country move on.

Nancy Pelosi immediately said that Gorsuch is “well outside the mainstream.” He’s no doubt conservative, but that doesn’t disqualify him from the court.

Perhaps more importantly to Democrats, if they were able to block Gorsuch, which they can’t, they have absolutely no reason to think another nominee from President Donald Trump would be more to their liking.

Yes, Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby in its fight against being required to provide contraception for employees covered by its group health insurance, which had been required under Obamacare. Liberals don’t like that.

He has challenged federal agencies’ regulatory power and opposed assisted suicide.

While he has not spoken, ruled or written directly about abortion, his book on assisted suicide argued that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

He’s regarded as an “originalist” heir to Scalia, seeking to determine the Founding Fathers’ intention when interpreting the Constitution.

Conservatives hope, because he clerked for Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the court’s swing vote, that he can persuade Kennedy to side with other conservative justices and create a reliable majority.

Nonetheless, Neal Katyal, who was an acting solicitor general for Obama, argues for his confirmation.

“I have seen him up close and in action, both in court and on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee (where both of us serve); he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation’s highest court,” Katyal wrote in the New York Times.

“I have no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law,” Katyal wrote. “His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence — a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him.”

Justices can surprise people, as Chief Justice John Roberts did in upholding Obamacare, concluding that the mandate to have insurance was in effect a tax policy within Congress’ purview. The important consideration is that Gorsuch is qualified and serious about interpreting the law.

Democrats have many better fights to pick than this one.

They risk losing credibility and undercutting what effectiveness they might have if they act like the Republicans did for the past eight years and oppose everything Trump proposes simply because Trump proposed it.

That doesn’t mean to capitulate, but to be realistic and attempt to be productive.

There are plenty of worthwhile battles and plenty of opportunities to have constructive input.

The nomination of billionaire donor and for-profit school supporter Betsy DeVos, who demonstrated not only that she is hostile to public education but also knows next to nothing about it, is one example. Two Republican senators have said they cannot support her; with one more GOP defection, her nomination will be defeated and public schools dodge a bullet.

The Affordable Care Act is going to be repealed, but the Republicans continue to struggle with how to replace it. While it might be tempting to let the majority party craft a plan, pass it with no Democratic votes (as the GOP proudly did with Obamacare) and watch it fail, lives are at stake.

Not politics but morality requires that Democrats elected to serve the people seek to help create a plan that won’t cost people coverage or wreck the health-care industry.

The nationwide opioid crisis, a well-designed infrastructure program and sane energy policy all are critical issues where the parties can find common ground. Democrats do themselves and the country more good by seeking to be leaders than by copying the GOP’s anti-Obama template. We wish for leaders, not obstructionists.

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