Reprinted from The New York Times by its Editorial Board on January 31, 2017.
It’s been almost a year since Senate Republicans took an empty Supreme Court seat hostage, discarding a constitutional duty that both parties have honored throughout American history and hobbling an entire branch of government for partisan gain.
President Trump had a great opportunity to repair some of that damage by nominating a moderate candidate for the vacancy, which was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Instead, he chose Neil Gorsuch, a very conservative judge from the federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit whose jurisprudence and writing style are often compared to those of Justice Scalia.
If Judge Gorsuch is confirmed, the court will once again have a majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents, as it has for nearly half a century. For starters, that spells big trouble for public-sector labor unions, environmental regulations and women’s access to contraception. If Trump gets the chance to name another justice, the consequences could be much more dire.
In normal times, Judge Gorsuch — a widely respected and, at 49, relatively young judge with a reliably conservative voting record — would be an obvious choice for a Republican president.
These are not normal times. …