Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated last night by President Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Antonin Scalia’s untimely death last February. At forty-nine years of age, he is the youngest nominee in twenty-five years. The New York Times notes that Judge Gorsuch’s “conservative bent and originalist philosophy fit the mold of the man he would succeed.”
Ed Whelan, a former law clerk for Justice Scalia, calls Judge Gorsuch “an eminently worthy successor to the great justice.” According to Whelan, “Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist and dedicated originalist and textualist. He thinks through issues deeply. He writes with clarity, force, and verve. And his many talents promise to give him an outsized influence on future generations of lawyers.”
The judge’s story is quite interesting. He grew up in Denver, where one of his grandfathers worked his way through law school as a streetcar conductor. Both his parents were lawyers; his mother became President Reagan’s first head of the EPA. In his youth, Gorsuch worked shoveling snow, moving furniture, and staffing the front desk at a Howard Johnson’s hotel.
He attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School, graduating from both with honors. He then achieved a PhD in legal philosophy from Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He was nominated by President George W. Bush to the Tenth Circuit in 2006 and was affirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate.
What do we know about his theological convictions?
Judge Gorsuch has written several books opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide. He wrote a concurrence in the Tenth Circuit Hobby Lobby case that supported the company in its fight not to pay for abortion-causing drugs for employees. The Supreme Court later came to the same decision.
He has written several First Amendment opinions that would allow for more public displays of religion than are currently permitted under Supreme Court precedent. This morning’s Wall Street Journal applauds his strong defense of religious freedom at a time when “so many progressives want to subjugate religious practice to the will of the state.” At the same time, he is a collegial judge who favors “respecting your colleagues and trying to reach unanimity where possible.”
As the president’s nomination moves forward, it is vital that Christians not lose sight of what matters most. At stake is not just Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation or rejection by the US Senate. The larger issue concerns the millions of lives touched daily by the United States Supreme Court.
Debates on abortion, euthanasia, genetic medicine, and religious liberty will loom large in coming years. While I seek to avoid partisan positions in my Daily Article and larger ministry, I believe strongly in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. I also embrace the urgent priority of religious liberty as the freedom upon which all our other freedoms stand.
I therefore applaud the president for his nomination of Neil Gorsuch and am praying for a successful confirmation process. And I am praying that Judge Gorsuch will be faithful to the supreme Judge of the universe.
Ponder this fact: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Being ready is our most urgent priority. You and I are one day closer to eternity than ever before.
NOTE: I encourage you as the Lenten season approaches to consider encountering God through one of my devotionals. You can order my latest book and download previous Lenten guides here.
ALSO: I invite you to join the Dallas Baptist University Institute for Global Engagement and the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture for the Leadership Lecture Series featuring Matthew Dowd. Mr. Dowd is a political analyst for ABC News. He will reflect on the 2016 presidential election as well as the current state of American politics. I will then lead a time of discussion with him.
We will meet on Monday, February 6, at 7 PM in Pilgrim Chapel on the DBU campus. Tickets are $5.00 per person. For more information or to register for this event, please visit www.dbu.edu/ige.