DENVER POST: America needs Neil Gorsuch

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For anyone left wondering whether they should accept President Donald Trump’s foolish and bizarre attacks against our nation’s court system, we suggest they listen to the blustery billionaire’s own pick for the highest court in the land.

In case you missed it, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, called the president’s vicious attacks against judges involved in reviewing his travel ban “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

Though the remarks were made in private to a Democratic senator considering the judge’s nomination, Gorsuch’s spokesman confirmed them.

As the dust settles from this political bombshell, at least a couple of points become clear: Conservatives have a real winner in independent-minded Gorsuch; Democrats would be wise to let his nomination through.

Yes, some might question whether the comments leaked to reporters amounted to shrewd stagecraft. But even if that were the case, how does one shrug off that Gorsuch would wish for his criticisms to become public? The comments only underscore his willingness to be critical of poor thinking and bad actions toward the sanctity of the rule of law.

Even before the biggest bully in the land, Gorsuch took a principled stand.

Trump’s desperate attempts this week to blame others for the fantastically botched rollout of his executive order on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, portray a man fundamentally at odds with our country’s cherished beliefs in the separation of powers. It happens, however, that Gorsuch’s defining work to date has been his clear thinking on just this topic.

As former Denver Post editorial page editor and contributing columnist Vincent Carroll noted recently in our pages, Gorsuch is straightforward when it comes to restraint of government overreach. In his writing he questions a pair of Supreme Court rulings that gave additional powers to federal agencies. The judge argues: “The founders considered the separation of powers a vital guard against governmental encroachment on the people’s liberties.” And: “A government of diffused powers, they knew, is a government less capable of invading the liberties of people.”

Refreshing concepts to remember, following Trump’s tirade against appellate judges considering Judge James Robart’s blocking of the president’s order restricting travel from seven majority Muslim countries, and access for refugees.

“I don’t want to call the court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” Trump said Wednesday. “Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.”

Translation: Shut up and do whatever I tell you.

What a remarkable time for our country, and the world.

As Michael McConnell, a former federal judge appointed by George W. Bush, told The New York Times: “Judges who hear criticism of this sort are not going to be inclined to knuckle under; it’s going to stiffen their spines to be even more independent.”

Indeed. If our country is to function as the framers intended, we’re going to need clear and strong minds like Gorsuch’s.

We hope Trump stands by his nomination, listens to his wisdom, and that Democrats put down legitimate anger over the GOP’s stalling on a Supreme Court replacement and show the same kind of independence the Colorado native is exhibiting.

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