Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch decries lack of access to justice for many Americans. (USA Today)
More good reason to feel comfortable with Justice Neil Gorsuch. I was impressed with his having helped win a $1.06 billion dollar jury verdict against a tobacco company as trial lawyer in an antitrust case. I read his Senate Judiciary Committee questionaire and watched the confirmation hearing. I was impressed by his advanced legal education and his scholarship. He's right about the dearth of jury trials and the problem of access to justice for average Americans.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's new book calls for civility, and better access and understanding of the legal system for Americans. Hannah Gaber, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Lawyers cost too much. Getting to trial takes too long. Juries promised by the Constitution are rarely used. And just try counting all the criminal laws on the books.
Those are among the provocative criticisms made by the Supreme Court's youngest associate justice, Neil Gorsuch, in a USA TODAY interview and his new book, "A Republic, If You Can Keep It."
Gorsuch, 52, is convinced that warning – reportedly issued by Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention – can be met, and the republic will be preserved. But the problems he observes in the justice system and what he describes as the nation's "crisis in civility" are obstacles he would like to see removed.
That Gorsuch would highlight civility and kindness as prescriptions for what ails us might seem counterintuitive. His was the seat that Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama from filling in a vituperative, year-long battle in 2016. The president who chose him, Donald Trump, berates in harsh tones the federal judges Gorsuch extols.
The book is, like the justice himself, a study in contrasts. Folksy and self-deprecating, the court's lone westerner came from Colorado in 2017 with rhetorical guns blazing, amply filling the late conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the bench. It took him only two terms to lead his colleagues in dissents.
At the same time, Gorsuch has made peace with the court's liberals, often siding with Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in defense of the "little guy" being surveilled, accused, tried or convicted of a crime.
Gorsuch doesn't offer solutions for all the problems he identifies in the book. But he expresses confidence that his judicial methodology – strictly following the words in the Constitution and federal laws rather than his preferred policies – is winning the day. It's a method decried by many liberals as a means to produce conservative results, to which Gorsuch has a simple reply: "Rubbish!"
“We got this thing called a Constitution, right? And it starts with the three words, 'We the People' – not 'We the judges,' not 'We in Washington,' not 'We nine old folks' are going to rule the country," he says.