Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch explained why those who stray from originalist interpretations of the Constitution could be making things worse in the United States.
Constitutional originalists believe that the articles and amendments to the Constitution should be considered to mean what they meant at the time they were written. Justices like Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia champion this view, while others, like Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, believe the Constitution is a “living, breathing document” and can adapt to present-day situations.
During an interview with the Washington Examiner, Gorsuch outlined why he believes viewing the Constitution as a “living document” could result in rights being “diminished” because the courts write into the Constitution something the original writers never intended.
“When that happens, your rights get diminished and the Constitution gets amended in ways you never agreed to,” said Gorsuch, later adding, “Your rights get lost when you depart from the original meaning. And then sometimes, wait, it gets worse. Not only does it take stuff away, it puts stuff in there that isn’t.”
He noted that he doesn’t believe important legal outcomes should be interpreted into law by “nine older people sitting in Washington making stuff up.”
Gorsuch explained that he believes Supreme Court justices should be thought of as “custodians,” not legislators. He noted that justices should just keep laws in their original form, rather than rewriting them to whatever the current time demands.
“Our job is to make sure this amazing Constitution and the laws that other people have adopted, not us, they’re not ours, we’re just custodians,” Gorsuch told the Examiner. “We’re keepers of that.”
Gorsuch is one of two justices placed on the bench by President Donald Trump. His seat was vacated by the death of Justice Scalia and kept open by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who refused to hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, a nominee chosen by President Barack Obama at the end of his presidency.