Let me stipulate some important things at the outset.
First, Judge Neil Gorsuch, from every indication, is a fine man, a fine judge, and would be a fine colleague for the eight Justices now on the Court. Jack Goldsmith of Harvard, a man of terrific judgment, tweeted last night that “Neil Gorsuch is immensely qualified for the Supreme Court -- an outstanding lawyer, and judge, and person.” Gorsuch is, on the question of qualification, nearly as good an appointment as was Judge Merrick Garland. So stipulated.
Let me stipulate something else: the Gorsuch nomination breaks the emerging Trump pattern of appointments in a welcome way. Most of Trump’s important appointments have gone to scary haters like Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Jeff Sessions, or to flagrant incompetents like Ben Carsons, Betsy Devos, and Rick Perry. A nomination that fit that pattern would have begun at the level of William Pryor and possibly moved down to the level of Peter Thiel or even to some wretched shyster who has spent his career screwing drywall contractors out of monies owed them by the Trump Organization. In this one area, thus far, grownups seem to be in charge.
Third, I disagree with his judicial philosophy. On issues like reproductive rights and choice, the proper role of religion in law, the environment, his presence on the bench would help propel this country in a retreat from freedom and liberty we cannot afford to make. Any progressive (no matter how mild his or her inclination) has ample evidence to, and should, oppose this nomination on the merits. The groups issuing anguished criticisms of his nomination have every reason to worry that his vote may move the Court to violate treasured constitutional values. (In particular, Gorsuch’s views on the individual’s bodily autonomy—in reproductive choice and contraception and in end-of-life issues—are alarming and need to be aired thoroughly during a confirmation.)