Donald Trump elevated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court thanks to the theft of the seat from President Barack Obama, and Justice Gorsuch has been annoying the rest of the court ever since. During oral arguments in a landmark gerrymandering case Tuesday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg managed to shut him down with one question.
As he did in his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch has continued to rely on absurd textual arguments, with the added douchebaggery of that obnoxious guy on your debate team who thinks “ad hominem” wins every argument. On his very first day on the court, the other justices fairly mocked him for repeatedly claiming a “simple” meaning to an extremely convoluted statute, and demonstrated a love of the sound of his own voice that continued throughout the term.
Such was the case during Tuesday's Gill v. Whitford oral arguments, where Gorsuch produced his “plain text” crutch, and Justice Ginsburg knocked it right out from under him. As Jeffrey Toobin explains, Gorsuch started in with his douchey originalist patter, and ran smack into RBG:
Gorsuch went on to give his colleagues a civics lecture about the text of the Constitution. “And where exactly do we get authority to revise state legislative lines? When the Constitution authorizes the federal government to step in on state legislative matters, it’s pretty clear—if you look at the Fifteenth Amendment, you look at the Nineteenth Amendment, the Twenty-sixth Amendment, and even the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 2.” In other words, Gorsuch was saying, why should the Court involve itself in the subject of redistricting at all—didn’t the Constitution fail to give the Court the authority to do so?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is bent with age, can sometimes look disengaged or even sleepy during arguments, and she had that droopy look today as well. But, in this moment, she heard Gorsuch very clearly, and she didn’t even raise her head before offering a brisk and convincing dismissal. In her still Brooklyn-flecked drawl, she grumbled, “Where did ‘one person, one vote’ come from?” There might have been an audible woo that echoed through the courtroom. (Ginsburg’s comment seemed to silence Gorsuch for the rest of the arguments.)
Indeed, Gorsuch only piped up one more time during arguments, and that was so Attorney Paul Smith could smack him down:
SMITH: And the fact that Congress could conceivably regulate this problem under the Fourteenth Amendment does not mean that the Court should not.
There is a number of cases, the term limits case, Cook vs. Gralike, where Congress could have used the elections clause to fix a problem, but the Court said, well, in the absence of Congressional action we're going to regulate an abusive, a misuse of the power to run federal elections, and in this case it is state elections, you would have to rely, Congress would have to rely on Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and maybe they could in theory, but this is a problem which —
GORSUCH: Do you see any impediment to Congress acting in this this area?
MR. SMITH: Other than the facts that politicians are never going to fix gerrymandering. They like gerrymandering. (Laughter.)
The case at hand has monumental implications for voting rights in America, and for now, rests in the hands of a Supreme Court with the familiar 5-4 swing we've all become accustomed to.
But Trump/Pence has three more years to shift the balance, unless Democrats can take the Senate and pull off their own theft. God help us with a court full of justices who rely exclusively on a text that was written by slave owners who wouldn't let anybody vote, and who lived in a world where guns took two minutes to load, and held one round of ammunition.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.