An Originalist Sin

US Supreme Court (credit: Senate Democrats)

Let’s be honest, Judge Gorsuch, you are going to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

You seem to be a genuinely good person and eminently qualified for the position of Supreme Court Justice. You are fairly widely described as an “originalist” and a “textualist.” You might call yourself differently than others label you. Many of us do.

However, your appointment, sir, is completely unprincipled. It isn’t your fault this is true, and it doesn’t make you unqualified, but, your appointment is an exercise of power and power alone. It is a grievous violation of the the very Constitution we are told you hold in reverence. You know this, and many of us do, but, most people will forget, and I am here to tell you that you never should.

“How? How can I become integral, return to integrity, after I have received something due to someone else?”

You will occupy that seat on the court that is rightly due to the equally qualified Judge Merrick Garland. Whether you are an originalist or a textualist or whatever your interpretive method might be, his denial of a hearing and a vote was in clear violation of the Constitution.

This should give you pause. I am not asking you to be forever haunted by a Dickensian ghost. Rather, I am asking you to use this fact to inform your future self. You got where you are through unearned privilege and pure base exercise of power.

The nation you are now going to represent is filled with communities that regularly are denied access to the same power and privilege you are fully going to enjoy. So the question is, “How? How can I become integral, return to integrity, after I have received something due to someone else?”

In accepting this appointment, and who can blame you, perhaps a clue for how to live in integrity comes from another original text:

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. (KJV Genesis 3:22)

You will not live forever, but as a Supreme Court justice, your voice and your actions will outlive you. And you, sir, are East of Eden.