Local professors weigh in on Trump's Supreme Court nominee

SU and Le Moyne professors weigh in on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - President Donald Trump’s pick for United States Supreme Court Justice nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, was far from a surprise for professors from Syracuse University and Le Moyne College.

The announcement was viewed as the nominee that never was – Judge Merrick Garland— who was President Obama’s nomination after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last February.

“I didn’t expect it, but I was hoping that President Trump would show that he could, that he was capable of reaching out, recognizing that Merrick Garland has been sitting there for a year,” said Janis McDonald, a law professor at Syracuse University. “This was his nomination and he deserved hearing and didn’t get it.”

Watching the nomination live Tuesday night alongside McDonald was Le Moyne public law and American politics professor Jonathan Parent. He says nothing can be predicted if and when the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice is confirmed.

“There’s been some research that suggests that the balance of the court will be maintained one way or the other, just in the sense that the other justices will adjust their voting behavior to sort of compensate for what may be a far left, or in this case, a far right, sort of position,” Parent said.

He added that it’s difficult to tell how any member of the SCOTUS will behave once they’re on the bench and years down the road.

McDonald says it’s likely Congressional hearings for Gorsuch will be contentious.

She says Democrats won’t quickly forget the nearly year-long refusal to grant Merrick a hearing after Obama nominated him.

“This was so abnormal to not, for a whole year, to not even give him a hearing,” McDonald said. “I wonder how he’s feeling tonight watching this process.”

Parent says Gorsuch’s potential presence on the bench could open up debate on the 2nd Amendment.

“On the Second Amendment, that’s going to be definitely an area where a lot of conservatives are going to want to see more of a push to an even broader right to bear arms,” Parent said.

Both Parent and McDonald agreed that the next nomination could prove to be even more monumental, especially when it comes to women’s rights.

“If for example, Justice Ginsburg were the next to be replaced – I think that if a ‘Scalian’ sort of Justice were to be appointed then there really would be a real chance that something like Roe v. Wade would be overturned,” Parent said.

President Trump says his nomination was part of his promise to the American people.

During his campaign, McDonald said one of his platforms was to represent working class Americans. However, she says a nominee like Gorsuch is quite contradictory.

“He comes from a very privileged background,” McDonald said. “He’s somebody who went to top Ivy League schools and yet again replicating that on the Supreme Court. We have a President here who is representing the people, the working people, and this certainly isn’t someone who is finely attuned to that kind of voice.”

McDonald says this nominee could have been a chance for President Trump to nominate a judge who could add diversity to the bench.

“Judges from different racial backgrounds, different religious are important to have reflected to reflect America and I think is a very important time for that to be something we thought about,” McDonald said. “It lasts a lifetime. They are life appointments. They shape what’s going to happen in people’s daily lives.”

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