Neil Gorsuch’s opinion presents another lesson in judicial independence
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
A nearly universal reaction to the equal rights victory for the LGBTQ community in Bostock v. Clayton County has been shock and surprise that Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Colorado native, wrote the opinion.
In an otherwise wonderful story of perseverance and triumph, that shock remains a source of tremendous disappointment and detracts from a broader understanding of how the independent judiciary is supposed to work.
It would be great service to our country’s citizenry if reporters and pundits stopped treating judges as pawns of the politicians who appointed them.
Over the past five years as a columnist, I have purposefully worked to highlight this very issue. I wrote about a Democratically appointed Colorado Supreme Court Justice who upheld the rights localities to oppose state fracking bans.
I highlighted a seven-member court filled by five Hickenlooper appointees turning the then-governor “down cold” over the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. I championed conservative Chief Justice John Roberts’ defense of the independent judiciary against attack by President Donald Trump. I hailed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for putting legal principle over personal belief.
And just over a month ago I praised the textualist interpretation by an Obama-era U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge defending the right of Democratic presidential electors to cast ballots of conscience.
Justice Gorsuch’s opinion is just one more example of a judge doing his job and putting the law above political posturing.