Legal Policy Bulletin No. 2

What Kind of a Judge Is Neil Gorsuch?

In late March, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings to probe Judge Neil Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy and evaluate whether he is fit to be the next member of the Supreme Court. President Donald Trump picked Gorsuch after promising the American people that he would appoint someone in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who is best known for his devotion to the original meaning of the Constitution, his textualist approach to interpreting legal statutes, and his commitment to ordered liberty through constitutional structure. This policy bulletin weighs Judge Gorsuch’s record with respect to those ideals, ultimately asking whether a Justice Gorsuch would uphold the Constitution’s protection of individual liberty. A survey of Gorsuch opinions in cases involving criminal procedure, constitutional structure, and individual rights reveals an adherence to the rule of law. Moreover, Gorsuch has questioned legal precedent on the separation of powers—especially when it comes to the administrative state—in a way that shows a commitment to the judicial duty to check the other branches of government.

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Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Frank Garrison is a legal associate at the Cato Institute.