American news outlets are covering Justice Neil Gorsuch for all the wrong reasons.
Last month, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Sessions v. Dimaya. Justice Neil Gorsuch was the deciding vote, and in this instance he sided with the liberals on the court. Gorsuch argued that the statute in question was vague to the extent that it violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. (Whether Gorsuch was right or wrong in his decision is not the purpose of this article. Plenty of those articles have been written elsewhere.)
This week, however, Gorsuch again sided with the majority in another 5-4 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis. This case involved relations between employers and employees. Gorsuch ruled with the majority that federal law required courts to enforce arbitration agreements in employment contracts where disputes arose between employers and their employees.
This time, Gorsuch wasn’t praised with headlines like “Justice Neil Gorsuch Gives Immigrants Big Win Against Trump’s Deportation Machine.” Now, there are headlines such as “Gorsuch comes through for Trump and big business.”
Ignoring the Constitution
The headlines regarding Gorsuch’s votes are not about the Constitution. Rather, they focus on whether he is voting in a way that aligns with Trump’s policy goals. This is true even though deportation proceedings against Dimaya, the appellant in Sessions v. Dimaya, began under Obama.
As long as Trump is President, and likely even longer, Gorsuch will be judged on the political repercussions of his rulings. This is not new for Republican-appointed justices. John Roberts had to be careful to consider the reputation of the Court when Obamacare was challenged. If the Court overturned Obama’s number one domestic achievement, the Court would be seen as political. Similarly, if the Court were to issue a ruling deemed to be pro-life, then it would be imposing religious or political views on the country.
This is a major double standard. Liberals love to say “precedent” over and over again when it comes to Roe v. Wade. However, they never have to explain why they want to overturn D.C. vs. Heller or Citizens United. Their legal philosophy of a “living Constitution” can warp the document into saying anything they want it to say. However, the liberal justices never have to face the scrutiny that conservative justices do. They simply cite how this impacts some group, as if that mattered to the Constitutional question before them.
The judiciary is supposed to be independent of political influence. This is why they have life term appointments. However, a major part of America has taken a view of the Constitution that conforms to their own biases. The Constitution, in their view, mandates everything they like and prohibits everything they do not.
The media plays a role in this bad perception of the Supreme Court. They focus on how a given ruling will impact the President’s policy agenda or legacy, or how it impacts a certain subsection of the population. Granted, it can be hard to have an intelligent conversation in only a couple of minutes of cable news. But it’s nearly impossible in 280 characters on Twitter, and click-bait headlines further distort the Court’s mission.
Gorsuch is a case study for how America misunderstands the Supreme Court. As our coverage of the Court gets more and more biased, its independence–and the public’s belief in the Court–erodes.