Judge Neil Gorsuch is President Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a qualified and capable judge and legal scholar. Just ask the Senate Republicans and Democrats who unanimously confirmed him to serve on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
His Supreme Court confirmation faces much more opposition now, but he remains an excellent choice, and one that young Americans should support. Gorsuch recognizes that over-criminalization and burdensome regulations hamper individual freedom and erect unnecessary barriers to opportunity. Plus, like many young people, his job history includes a few humble and colorful jobs.
Here are four reasons millennials should support Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination.
1. He’s concerned about over-criminalization
Gorsuch has a record of interpreting laws in ways that don’t unnecessarily over-criminalize innocent acts. In a November 2013 speech before the Federalist Society’s National Lawyer’s Convention, Gorsuch lamented that, “It’s now a federal crime to misuse the likeness of Woodsy the Owl…. Businessmen who import lobster tails in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes can be brought up on charges. Mattress sellers who remove the little tag? Yes, they’re probably federal criminals too.”
Citing the estimated 5,000 federal criminal laws in existence, he decried the rapidly growing number of criminal penalties, asking, “What happens to individual freedom and equality when the criminal law comes to cover so many facets of daily life that prosecutors can almost choose their targets with impunity?”
What happens is that it turns regular Americans into accidental criminals. Excessive laws and harsh sentencing disproportionately affect young people, which is why we need allies in every form of government ensuring that our broken criminal justice system is fixed.
2. He’s argued against needless over-regulation and for protecting individual liberty over growing the size of government
In the same speech, Gorsuch mentioned the “thousands of additional regulatory crimes buried in the federal register.” He continued, declaring that “There are so many crimes cowled in the numbing fine print of those pages that scholars have given up counting and are now debating their number. When he led the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden worried that we have assumed a tendency to federalize ‘Everything that walks, talks, and moves.’”
From selling homemade ceviche to expired dog licenses, stories abound of how easily ordinary citizens can run afoul of the law even with no intent of criminal harm. We need judges at every level who recognize this.
3. He won’t legislate from the bench
This may seem obvious from the fact that he’s spoken out against over-criminalization and over-regulation, but it’s so important it bears mentioning.
In another speech, “Of Lions and Bears, Judges and Legislators, and the Legacy of Justice Scalia,” Gorsuch made it clear that, like Scalia, he believes judges should follow the text and original meaning of the Constitution, not their own policy preferences: “Judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views.”
4. He’s had humble jobs as a young person, too
Gorsuch has held prestigious jobs during his law career including Supreme Court clerkships and Justice Department positions. But, Gorsuch started where most young Americans do: low-profile work requiring lots of hustle. During summer vacations in high school and college, Gorsuch worked as a furniture mover and a front-desk clerk at a Howard Johnson hotel. Apparently, he has a lot of interesting stories from working the night shift at Howard Jonhson.
Everyone has a first-job story, some of which are cringe-worthy, but the skills and work ethic learned in those jobs carry throughout their career and Gorsuch is no different. Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis recently said of him in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “He is humble…and he is extraordinarily hard-working.”
Young People can surely appreciate all of these qualities and perspectives and should add their support to the bi-partisan chorus of support for Gorsuch’s nomination.