Over a year after the untimely passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court once again has nine justices, as Neil Gorsuch was given the oath of office by Justice Anthony Kennedy – for whom he clerked after law school – in the White House Rose Garden on Monday.
You can watch the full ceremony here:
But now, in the same spirit as the president’s countless unhinged opponents, who’ve wailed “Not My President” well after the election, the cries that Gorsuch is somehow an illegitimate justice have begun. It began shortly after Gorsuch’s confirmation Friday, but has carried on through his swearing-in this week.
(Author’s note: This particular tweet got trolled in a truly beautiful fashion.)
Self-styled constitutional scholar George Takei also managed to drop this analysis on the eve of the vote:
But what precisely is so illegitimate about Gorsuch’s nomination? For all of the screeching and mewling that the seat was somehow stolen from Obama-nominee Merrick Garland, the screechers and mewlers have yet to point to anything remotely unconstitutional or delegitimizing (aside from some nebulous Russian conspiracies) about the process by which we got from nine to eight and back to nine again on the SCOTUS bench.
So, to clarify, here’s a quick recap, from the beginning …
In the 1780s, a group of men drafted a national constitution in Philadelphia because the Articles of Confederation were a train wreck. This framework gave the president the power to nominate judges and the Senate the power to confirm them to the Supreme Court.
Democrats lost the Senate majority in 2014.
This means that they no longer had the ability to push their party’s nominee through the hearing process.
(The power to advise and consent isn’t a rubber stamp; this is part of that checks-and-balances thingy that you’re really going to want to brush up on for the next four years, at least.)
Antonin Scalia passes away in his sleep last year.
GOP leadership decides it will not hold a hearing for Scalia’s replacement during Obama’s lame-duck year.
The issue of which president and Congress would be given the duty of filling the seat became one of the biggest issues of the 2016 general election.
And – by the rules of the game – the people chose Donald Trump’s vision over that of Hillary Clinton’s.
President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch.
A Republican Senate confirmed him by a parliamentary procedure pioneered by Democrats in 2013. (If Gorsuch is illegitimate because of the nuclear option, so are quite a few Obama appointees on the federal circuit.)
Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in by his former boss in the White House Rose Garden on a sunny Monday morning.
If you can, with a straight face, claim that any of this process was illegitimate or unconstitutional, congratulations; you stand as a living testament to the absolute failure of American civic education.
Contrary to the bastions of progressivist autocracy that liberals have built up in the courts and federal bureaucracy for decades, Gorsuch’s nomination proves that elections, in fact, still come with consequences.
If you can’t deal with the consequences of said elections, you should stop your party from being a regional voice for coastal elites and figure out where you went wrong in 2016. If you see these consequences as illegitimate, then maybe a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” just isn’t your kind of thing.