The Case for Gorsuch

Many liberals dislike Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch for a number of reasons, whether it be his more Conservative stances or the fact that his seat was stolen from Merrick Garland. However, despite these things, I think we should take a breath and, although it seems uncommon in politics these days, think about our situation. Gorsuch is by no means the perfect candidate for any liberal but there is most definitely a case to be made for him. His education is exemplary, he has a strong record of previously held positions with few controversial rulings, and most of all, he is one of the least political judges in modern history, which in a government that is currently dominated by Republicans, having one less political judge would actually be a good thing. This scenario is most definitely a pick your battles type situation for the Democrats, and they should be careful when using their political capital against the Supreme Court Nominee. These are the many things one must consider before you decide to vote against Gorsuch.

Firstly Gorsuch is extremely qualified from his education alone. Gorsuch attended Columbia University for his undergraduate degree where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. After that, he received his Juris Doctor from Harvard and finally he received a Doctor of Philosophy in Law from University College, Oxford.  He joined the two-year-old law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel. He did a lot of trial work and, after winning, his first trial was likened to the classic TV lawyer Perry Mason. He made his first splash into politics by publishing an op-ed article about the 2002 Senate delaying the nomination of John Roberts and, ironically, Merrick Garland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, saying “the most impressive judicial nominees are grossly mistreated by the Senate.”

He had a very successful career at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel. After this he was appointed Principle Deputy to the Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department where he served in this capacity until 2006. On May 10th, 2006 he was nominated to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals by George W. Bush and on July 20th he was confirmed for the position. He clearly has a very strong past in the court and is qualified for a position on the Supreme Court. Perhaps his most controversial case is known as the Frozen Trucker case. While I do disagree with his ruling, it is both an understandable reading of the law and a well-defended position. Overall, for a Trump nomination, he is a normal nominee; he is qualified and doesn’t have a lot of controversies associated with his rulings.

All observable signs point to Gorsuch being a non-political judge. He views judgeship as less of a political position and more of a justice position. He says he doesn’t believe in intentionally overturning precedent and that it is not the purpose of a judge. When asked by Sen Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) during his confirmation hearing if he planned on or was asked by President Trump to overturn Roe v. Wade, he answered, “Senator I would’ve walked out the door if he had.” When asked by Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) about precedent in general he answered: “part of being a good judge is coming in and taking precedent as it stands, and your personal views about precedent have absolutely nothing to do with the job of a good judge.”

When Grassley pressed further about comparing one precedent, for example a Gun Rights precedent, against Roe v. Wade, Gorsuch responded by saying that “a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.” He clearly doesn’t prefer one precedent to another publicly and is willing to give each one a fair shake regardless of his personal opinion. Gorsuch also displays a fervent respect for his position and the position of others in the Judiciary, unlike our President. When asked about Trump’s tweets against judges who ruled against his Immigration Ban, he said that the attacks were “disheartening” and “discouraging;” thus he is willing to show respect to others and not just acting as Trump’s latest yes man/woman.

Gorsuch clearly states that he is against judges legislating. Regardless of whether or not you actually believe judges aren’t legislators, it is a benefit for liberals to have a non-political Republican Supreme Court Justice. He won’t be there to overturn Roe v. Wade or to pass the Immigration Ban, he is there to judge laws based on their Constitutionality and legality, nothing more, nothing less. He shows a respect for his office and the office of others and, accounting for human error, rules consistently and fairly.

The last angle I’m asking you to consider is that this may not be the best time to stall a Supreme Court pick. As I stated in my previous article on the Supreme Court, it is very much within the realm of possibility that at least one more Supreme Court Justice will either resign or pass under a Trump administration, even if he only gets one term. All things considered, Gorsuch is a very non-partisan, qualified pick, especially coming from the administration who nominated Betsy DeVos. Democrats may want to save their protest for a worse Supreme Court pick, or one closer to the end of Trump’s presidency like Sen. McConnell led the Republicans to do towards the end of Obama’s presidency. Then the Democrats could strategically steal back their seat, similarly to what the Republicans did to Garland in the first place.

If you’ve gotten this far in the article thank you; in the current political climate it is very hard to listen to each other’s opinions. The last thing I will ask you to consider is the fact that even though the seat is a stolen spot, Gorsuch had nothing to do with the stealing itself. If you really want to respond to the stolen seat, respond in 2018, respond with your vote, don’t protest a perfectly good nomination because of anger from a stolen seat. Please don’t think that I am simplifying all protests to unreasonable anger as there are perfectly good reasons to dislike Gorsuch. However, all things considered, he is an excellent nomination for the President we currently have. As I said before thank you for listening, and please leave your opinion in the comments below.

-Publius Admirer

Marijuana: Devil’s Lettuce or Miracle Crop?

Although a lot went wrong in 2016, progress was most definitely made for the legalization of marijuana. Four states, including California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all legalized recreational imgres-1marijuana usage. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana all legalized medical usage of the drug. Although progress has been made, there is still a lot of stigma around using marijuana both recreationally and medically. There are many benefits to legalizing marijuana including economic, civil, and medical purposes. These benefits can be seen in states that have already legalized the drug like Colorado and Washington. The Justice Department, however, has stated that there will be “a greater enforcement of federal laws,” which one can assume means a greater enforcement of federal marijuana laws. Because of this, I feel it is necessary to bring up the benefits of marijuana and why, as a country, we would be better off if the drug was legal across the board.

To start, I would like to call your attention to the economic benefits of having marijuana being legal in your state. According to the Marijuana Policy group, legal marijuana activity in Colorado, in 2015 alone, generated $2.39 billion. Not only does legal marijuana stimulate economic activity, but it also creates jobs. In Colorado that same year the marijuana industry created 18,005 full-time equivalent positions. According to this study, the industry is projected to grow 11.5% through 2020. Even considering the possibility that the industry could shrink in each state when it is eventually legalized across the country, there is still a lot of room to grow in the next 3 years. Legalizing marijuana has huge economic potential, but the list of benefits doesn’t stop there.

To compound this economic benefit, the civil benefit of not sending people to prison for possession and intent to sell charges would save the tax payers money and put less people behind bars. According to the Vera Institute of Justice the average cost per prisoner per state is $31,286. According to drugpolicy.org , in 2015 643,121 people were arrested on marijuana law violations; of those arrests 89% of them were on possession charges alone. To do some simple math that means we as a country spend about $20,120,683,606 on incarceration for marijuana charges. America also currently has the highest incarceration rate in the world of about 1 in every 111 adults , or 2,224,400 people. Not only would the legalization of the drug lower the cost of prisons, it would also award more personal freedom to each and every American.

Lastly, the medical benefits of marijuana are also great in number. According to Business Insider, marijuana has potential to treat glaucoma, alleviate harm to lungs after smoking tobacco, epileptic seizures, anxiety, and even slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also help with dieting by increasing your metabolism. It has been shown to spur creative activity and even help cancer patients with their appetite. These are only a few of the cases marijuana has been shown to help prevent, slow, or heal. The complete list of benefits of marijuana, in a medical sense, have yet to be seen and will become present when medical marijuana is legalized in all 50 states.

Legalizing marijuana in all 50 states would create a multitude of benefits for our nation. Legalization would lead to an economic boom, creating huge gains in our GDP, tax dollars for funding our government, and new jobs across the nation. Legalization would help with the ridiculously high incarceration rate in the United States. It also wraps back around to helping economically by reducing the amount of money we spend on incarceration. Lastly, the innumerable potential and proven benefits in the medical field would have an immeasurable impact on the United States medical industry. As an after thought, it is rather hypocritical of the President to enforce federal law on some issues while leaving decisions up to the states on other issues; an infamous example being the Trump administration’s rollback on transgender rights. The President is simply using the selective application of state’s rights to push his own personal, misguided agenda, and it is frankly disgusting and disappointing.

Why the “Muslim Ban 2.0” is Entirely Unconstitutional

The Free Exercise and Establishment Clause are both clauses within the First Amendment in the Constitutional Bill of Rights that pertain to the freedom of religion. The Establishment Clause proceeds the Free Exercise Clause. The Establishment Clause states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”. The Free Exercise Clause states that “[Congress shall make no law…] prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” These clauses state what we refer to as the freedom of religion established in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Donald Trump’s immigration ban, which was turned out in January as an executive order, is arguably unconstitutional due to First Amendment freedom of religion clauses. While no ruling has been handed down on the constitutionality of the ban, the 9th circuit appellate court ruled on a restraining order, essentially preventing the ban from being enforced as of yet.

Regardless of one’s views on the actions of the siting president, and regardless of how one views the interpretation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, in my opinion and interpretation, Trump’s ban violates these clauses and is therefore unconstitutional.

While many would argue that constitutional freedoms do not apply to non-US citizens, and while I will contend that legally this is true, morally I believe that is a very misguided excuse to promote hate based ideals. Anyway, I would argue that while constitutional freedoms do not directly apply to non-US citizens; many court rulings based on American soldiers’ violations of rights in the middle east and in Guantanamo Bay Cuba have said that, while every constitutional freedom does not extend to non-citizens, certain freedoms and rights do apply. Freedom of religion I would contend is part of this list. Like freedom of speech, freedom of religion is a reason to seek asylum in the US as a refugee. Therefore, I contend that freedom of religion extends to all people of the world, since our laws recognize it in all contexts, no matter the legal context.

Since I have now established my basis for extending the freedom of religion to all people, I will prove why in my opinion the ban is unconstitutional:

Due to the Establishment Clause cited above, I contend the ban violates this clause because, by targeting a religion in an indirect way, the executive order is essentially establishing a state religion. By banning immigration from 6 Muslim majority countries, the government, whether intentionally or not (based on Trump’s rhetoric it is), is declaring a sentiment that Islam is somehow opposed by the government. Now I understand that this is fairly obscure. I will also contend that the ban is on countries not people in a religion. However, technicalities aside, the ban is directed to Muslims not to countries. Based on the rhetoric of Trump and his administration, his people have a strong anti-Islam stance that is bigoted and hateful. This ban comes directly out of that intent and thus has some standing regardless of how the ban is phrased. While I will state that intent is not a reason to declare an act illegal or unconstitutional, intent is a major factor in the courts to determine the validity of an act of law and therefore has certain standing. With this said, by the Trump administration directly opposing Islam, the administration and his ban give stance that Islam is not acceptable in America. His ban through intent and practice gives legal validity to his opposition to Islam. The government, by directly opposing and not accepting a religion, is establishing a state religion in its own way. By elevating and supporting all other religions over Islam and by declaring Islam and Muslims dangerous, the government establishes that a religion, i.e. Islam, is inferior to other religions and that the USA will accept a superior religion. This is directly establishing a type of religion that is permissible in the USA. This, although obscure, is establishing religion and therefore is in direct violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment and thus makes the entire ban unconstitutional.

However, whether one takes this as an “in addition” or as a “conversely”, the ban also violates the Free Exercise Clause. As with my explanation above, after establishing a basis for constitutional freedoms and rights applying to non-citizens, an argument against the ban can be supported based on a violation of this clause. By restricting who is allowed to enter and become citizens of the USA based on their religion, the Trump administration is limiting the free exercise of religion in the country. This again can be supported by intent since he has stated that he wants to make a Muslim registry. As with above, there is slight validity due to his intent and because of that, his desire to require a religious group to join a registry and be monitored, he restricts not only the freedoms of the people, but he also restricts the way Muslims could practice their religion. Now in regards to his ban, he is limiting the way people can practice religion in the USA by saying that if you are Muslim you cannot enter the USA and become a citizen. This is in direct violation of the Free Exercise and thus deems the ban unconstitutional.

In regards to the two arguments I present above, I contend that the ban is unconstitutional and thus cannot be upheld or enforced. However, if these arguments do not convince you based on whatever objection one may have, direct discrimination against a group of people based on nationality is also illegal and unconstitutional due to the 14th amendment. Thus I contend that no matter one’s argument, support of this ban is misguided, bigoted, and immoral. And despite my personal views against the ban, it is by no means legal, let alone constitutional, and should be opposed simply because one must exercise their right to oppose tyranny.

A Path Forward . . .

Have you ever wanted to get involved in politics in a more direct way than tweeting or sharing a Facebook post? While being vocal and voting (if you’re old enough to) are the best forms of action in our democracy, they often feel quite distant from directly influencing the progression of one’s favored policies. While being vocal for progressive policies draws politicians’ eyes to the issues at hand, money forces them to pay attention. As the vast majority of young adults are not millionaires, donating seems impractical; and even then, the little money most teenagers have doesn’t seem like enough to impact politics. That’s where the student-run super PAC, Path Forward USA, comes into play.

According to Ballotpedia, a super PAC “is a political committee that can solicit and spend unlimited sums of money.” Path Forward USA (https://www.pathforwardusa.org/) is a super PAC that focuses on raising money to influence progressive legislation. Their website states their mission as “to give a voice to forward thinking Americans who seek to create real change in this country. We are an independent expenditure committee that collects donations from Americans like you and uses our resources to help elect progressive candidates. We work as a connection between government and the people and we protect your interests. We care about leading America forward to be a country that works for all people.”

Now more than ever our country needs courageous young adults to stand up and organize as we lead our nation forward. Rather than watching scattered voices shout into the abyss of political gridlock, there is an opportunity to rally together to protect our interests. We all have a moral responsibility as American citizens to engage in the democratic process; we the people can take action today, make change today, unite today, and lead America forward today.

It’s time for us blue kids to further the substance of our vocal critique. Path Forward USA is a direc30e5ec_e20d5ad1823b412b95200bf11aef879a-mv2_d_1200_1200_s_2t liaison between our voice and funding the never ending fight for progress. Research Path Forward USA at their website (https://www.pathforwardusa.org/) and be sure to spread the word about their mission. As always, we welcome all readers to submit an article about any political or social commentary to bluekidredstate@gmail.com and urge young Democrats to continue to be the voice of the future!