Justice Neil Gorsuch, evangelizing for the separation of powers

Mario Nicolais

Falling between the auditorium-busting crowds that turned out for Bernie Sanders on Sundayand President Donald Trump on Thursday, the Gorsuch event didn’t include screaming supporters, campaign paraphernalia or a sea of political placards. Instead it had neatly lined rows of ballroom chairs filled with lawyers in suits.

And it had a profound and important message.

Most prominently, Gorsuch urged his listeners to “evangelize for the separation of powers.” As a jurist grounded by an originalist theory of constitutional interpretation, Gorsuch begins all legal analysis with the concrete words of the U.S. Constitution.

It is no accident that the first three articles contained therein divide the powers of government into three separate branches – the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.

Yet as Gorsuch explained, we have become too accustomed to branches encroaching on the function of each other.

For example, the growth of the imperial presidencyhas gradually sapped much of the law-making authority from the legislative branch, particularly in recent decades.

The effect creates a government-by-administrative-agency scenario with ever-changing laws so burdensome that compliance becomes impossible. Look no further than the voluminous regulations promulgated each year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Anyone decrying the dire dangers of electing Trump, Sanders or any other presidential candidate would be better served attempting to reinvigorate the checks and balances put in place by our nation’s founders. Trading one version of tyranny for another only further adulterates that system.

Similarly, Americans have increasingly turned to courts to enact outcomes denied by the other branches. But this ignores the fundamental charge of the judiciary to remain neutral arbiters of laws enacted by the legislature and enforced by the executive. A usurper in a robe is little different than one behind the Resolute desk.

Fortunately, our country still has many extraordinary individuals working together in public service, including on the Supreme Court.

During the hour he spoke, Gorsuch relayed a collegial anecdote about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When Ginsburg arrived at the Supreme Court, Gorsuch had been clerking for her predecessor, Justice Byron White.

At the time, Gorsuch delivered Ginsburg a copy of White’s clerkship manual. When Gorsuch made the bench, Ginsburg returned an “improved” version.

Although Ginsburg and Gorsuch may be ideologically adverse – just as she was with his predecessor and her good friend Justice Antonin Scalia– both maintain strict reverence for the rule of law.

To me, there is no better example than Ginsburg’s recent comments on the Equal Rights Amendment. An icon in the pursuit of women’s equality, Ginsburg signaled that she could not look past deadlines for ratification put in place by Congress just to achieve an outcome she worked a lifetime pursuing.

That is precisely the selfless dedication to the separation of powers Gorsuch advocated on Presidents Day.

Over the next year, and likely many that follow, the political divide in our country seems destined to grow. The cure won’t be found consolidating power in the vision of one candidate or another. Instead it rests in our country’s founding documents and the separation of powers they created.

Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, healthcare, and public policy.


I have to wonder what Affirmative Action Sonia thinks of Neil’s message ?


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I’m shocked, not, that this is an issue when we have a republican in the WH but it didn’t matter when Lord King Obama inhabited the WH.

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And Obama appointed justices had a bias and retain their bias for liberalism and activist causes and vote in a block regardless of the issue.

What an obvious and stupid article from FOX.

Our courts are flooded with Obama judges and the Supreme Court appointees that see the law through liberal filtered lens . Liberals hate white males and do not care what we think .

We see black pride and Hispanic pride and Asian pride BUT being white and proud only gets you labeled RACIST, and in some areas assaulted. You should be ok with being called Redneck, Hick, Cracker, Whitey, and Honky. The accepted belief is ALL white males are privileged no exceptions !

Wells Fargo and hundreds of businesses hired less qualified Africa Americans over white men on a regular basis. They also promoted less qualified women over men for middle management positions. The police hire minorities, firefighters hire minorities. It’s all discrimination. How many “protected classes are there ? Are any poor whites protected ?


Those appointees had the easy road to confirmation unlike Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

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Gorsuch Fun Fact:

Judge Gorsuch’s mother was Ann Burford (she and his father were divorced). She was a Ronald Reagan cabinet secretary at the EPA and had been a state legislator in Colorado before that. She tried some far right things at EPA: she most notably thought that “small government” meant that the EPA should ignore its statutory duty to clean up the superfund sites. After she was convinced to clean them up, the process of awarding the clean up contracts was questioned since only republicans were able to get contracts to do the clean ups.

He lived with her in DC with her when this was all going on and attended Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit school. The publicity was ugly and she was thrown under the bus by the Reaganites and eventually resigned. It is unsurprising that the Reaganites would choose a woman to do their dirty work and then be expended, She was reportedly unhappy about the controversy since she was following orders and didn’t like it when the bus drove over her. Reportedly, she blamed the media and liberals rather than the actual driver of the bus (Reagan). She is now deceased


This isn’t about Gorsuch’s mother, or her career.

**Perhaps reading the article would be advantageous to gain an understanding of the topic.

HINT: Sepration of powers is the topic.

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The GOP was playing nice.

The Democrats play as dirty as necessary to get their way.

The recent impeachment was a replay of tactics used in the Kavanaugh appointment.

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