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Manhattan Institute

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MI Responds: Gorsuch Nominated to the Supreme Court


MI Responds: Gorsuch Nominated to the Supreme Court

February 1, 2017
Legal ReformOther

From James R. Copland, Senior Fellow and Director of Legal Policy

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to nominate a justice “like Scalia” to fill the late jurist’s seat. In many ways, Neil Gorsuch fits that mold as well as anyone could imagine: Undeniably brilliant, Judge Gorsuch is noted for his judicial writing and his fidelity to constitutional intent and statutory text.

In substance, his biggest departure from Scalia’s legacy is a greater skepticism of administrative rulemaking—a salutary departure in my view. In style, Judge Gorsuch has a gentler disposition that may—along with his relationship with swing-justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom the young Gorsuch clerked—enable him effectively to forge coalitions with his colleagues.​

From Rafael Mangual, Policy Manager for Legal Policy

A committed textualist, Judge Gorsuch would fit well in the seat previously held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch also aligns with Scalia on many issues of criminal law, though the two do have their differences. They differ, for example, on aspects of the controversial doctrine of Chevron deference that is currently the target of legislation recently passed by the House.

Given that Judge Gorsuch's judicial opinions and public statements about the law place him right in the middle of the conservative mainstream, we can expect that much, if not all, of the opposition to his confirmation will stem from the type of “right vs. left” disagreements that would be present with almost any Republican appointee.

"MI Responds" features real-time commentary from MI scholars on breaking news and developing issues. 


James R. Copland is a senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute. Rafael Mangual is the project manager for legal policy.

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty