Neil Gorsuch thru the lens of Shakespeare



“Questioned by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch promised to uphold the law as it is written.”    []


This distinction Judge Gorsuch does rigidly draw:

No matter who suffers, the law is the law.

Like so in the play,

Portia gave Shylock sway

O’er Antonio’s flesh without blood on the saw.




Filed under: Interpreting the law


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    What an interesting perspective. Of course what isn't said is what says the most. In his/Gorsuch answers, what he provides sounds to be seemingly solid positions or stances and yet they do not in any way reveal his slant on how he interprets the law, which of course is the question at hand. His overall position: is he ultra conservative, mildly conservative, somewhere in the middle or over the edge? None of this is revealed. Only is record of judicial rulings can tell us that.

  • My Shakespearean reaction to Judge Gorsuch is: Out Out Damned Spot!!

  • When Gorsuch talked about the choice the freezing trucker on I-88 had, I was reminded of something from Dickens' Oliver Twist. I found the line.

    In talking about the Poor Law Boards, Dickens said, "So, they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they), of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it."

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Damned if you do, or damned if you don't. Great find, jnorto. Thanks.

  • The law is the law, but as Kai points out, what counts as how you interpret it, given that the Supreme Court is going to get cases where it hasn't been interpreted.* Other than the frozen driver case, the thing that has been pointed out about Gorsuch is his special concurrences where he says something for his bosses above [noting that the Court of Appeals is not to overule the Supreme Court]. But the intended path is to be one of the bosses.

    *For instance, there isn't a 37th Amendment that says "states may not prohibit marriage among persons of the same sex" nor a 42nd saying "Anything in this Constitution notwithstanding, Dennis Byrne shall have binding authority on abortion."

  • In reply to jack:

    In addition to the point Kai makes and you endorse, that courts interpret laws, courts also apply law that is found in neither the statute being interpreted nor the constitution. Courts apply principles of accountability and defenses that are found nowhere in the U.S. Code, but have evolved from common law. Federal courts have applied such matters as mens rea, duress, entrapment and self-defense, even though there are no statutes dealing with these.

    To use again the example of the freezing trucker, whether he can seek safety is not exclusively a matter of what is found in the federal statute at issue. The Supreme Court has recognized the common law defense of necessity in both criminal and civil cases.
    Gorsuch never even considered this potential in his dissent. Even an originalist--perhaps particularly an originalist--should have done so.

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