Neil Gorsuch addresses packed house of McConnell Scholars

By on September 21, 2017

By Shelby Brown–

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch packed Comstock Hall Sept. 21 to speak about the court and constitutional originalism. He visited as part of the McConnell Center’s Distinguished Speakers Series.

Prior to the event, the McConnell Scholars had a private session with McConnell and Gorsuch. McConnell Scholar Nicole Fielder attended.

“It was incredible,” Fielder said. “Getting to see that more personal side of him in a private setting was a real treat.”

Following in the late Antonin Scalia’s footsteps, Gorsuch is also a constitutional originalist. Gorsuch called it common sense.

“There’s a difference between what the law should mean and what the law does mean,” Gorsuch said.

There has been debate about updating the Constitution or reinterpreting it. Gorsuch said other interpretations force judges to make policy decisions. He believes the judicial and legislative branches should not mix.

If originalism is rejected, he said laws could be interpreted incorrectly.

“The constitution should remain the same as it was yesterday, today and forever,” he said.

Gorsuch said sometimes the good guy loses and the bad guy wins under originalism. He didn’t say all of the laws Congress writes are just. Judicial non-partisanship is key, he said.

Gorsuch said only the hardest cases make it to the Supreme Court. Of those, 40 percent of the time, the nine judges arrive at a unanimous decision.

“Judges should wear robes, not capes,” he said. “I don’t believe in red judges or blue judges, we wear black.”

Many students left feeling inspired. Senior Michael Knopf said Gorsuch was an inspiration to the McConnell and Harlan Scholars.

“It’s great to hear a justice speak, especially in the legal career path as we are,” Knopf said.

“It’s an extremely rewarding opportunity for students at U of L to have word-class and national leaders come in and talk to us about leadership and their vision of the United States government,” Senior Robert Gassman said.

President Greg Postel said the event allows for non-partisan conversation.

“We can have political figures here who can give messages in a peaceful environment and share their thoughts and we can all learn from each other,” Postel said.

Gorsuch paid homage to Scalia, who  died Feb. 13, 2016. His seat was open nearly a year before Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump.

Gorsuch was confirmed April 7, 2017.

The McConnell Center series has hosted dozens of Washington power brokers like Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Photo by Arry Schofield/ The Louisville Cardinal

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