4 Lessons Conservatives Should Learn From Getting Gorsuch Through
|Kelly Ayotte helped guide Judge Neil Gorsuch|
through the Senate’s confirmation process
“I think first of all you start with an incredibly talented, well-qualified candidate like Gorsuch and that makes the whole job easier,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, told The Daily Signal in an interview.
The Judicial Crisis Network, an organization dedicated to defending the Constitution and what it calls the founders’ vision of limited government, spearheaded a national campaign in January to “preserve the legacy” of Justice Antonin Scalia and worked to help confirm Gorsuch as his successor on the high court.
The Senate voted 54-45 on Friday, mostly along party lines, to confirm Gorsuch as the 113th justice to serve on the Supreme Court. He has served on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006.
Severino and several others involved in the confirmation proceedings told The Daily Signal they saw four common themes that serve as lessons:
1. Being Highly Qualified Is Key.
Leonard Leo, an adviser to Trump on Supreme Court matters who has been on leave from the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, helped advance the Gorsuch nomination.
Leo told The Daily Signal that finding extraordinary candidates to serve on the high court is one of the most important lessons to take away from the process.
“This process confirms the fact that it’s extremely important to nominate individuals to the court who are one, extraordinarily well-qualified … [and] have a serious, demonstrated commitment to originalism and textualism,” Leo said.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview that Gorsuch’s experience was a significant ingredient to the successful confirmation process.
Judge Gorsuch is one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees in our nation’s history. I was honored to vote to confirm him. pic.twitter.com/e5XvKFNUL6— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) April 7, 2017
Jeremy Adler is communications director of the conservative nonprofit America Rising Squared, or AR2, which worked with Gorsuch’s team to ensure his confirmation. The judge’s qualifications were a significant aid to conservatives in ensuring a smooth confirmation process, Adler said.
“The person that the president chose is so beyond reproach, and that made all of our jobs much easier,” Adler said.
Kelly Ayotte, a former U.S. senator who represented New Hampshire from 2011 to 2017, served as Gorsuch’s “sherpa,” the individual who guides the nominee through the Senate’s confirmation process.
As a candidate for president, Trump released two lists of potential Supreme Court nominees before the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Trump’s combined list was a historic effort to bring transparency to the vetting process, Leo said.
“Let’s understand that this could have gone differently had we not had Donald Trump as president and had we not had Donald Trump the candidate so committed to getting it right,” Leo said. “What he did was historic and brilliant by issuing a list and by putting the issue into play in a very clear way.”
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, a former Republican congressman and senator from South Carolina, said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal that Trump’s list of candidates for the high court was an unprecedented move of transparency.
What stands out the most with #Gorsuch's confirmation is how transparent the process has been since day one. Review: https://t.co/pKU0L0Kpsq pic.twitter.com/I2Ue8buwRy— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) April 7, 2017
Trump’s decision to release the list and say his nominees would come from it, Severino said, “is something that I think handed him the presidency.”
The list engaged voters and helped them follow the vetting process, she said.
“It gave the chance to have a lot of people commenting on this list,” Severino said.
3. Conservative Unity.
The coordination of conservatives, who united forces and worked together for Gorsuch’s confirmation, is another lesson for future Supreme Court appointments, said Elizabeth Slattery, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
“One lesson is that when the conservative base is motivated, great things can happen,” Slattery said. “Grassroots activists across the country helped make it clear to senators that Neil Gorsuch is the type of justice conservatives want on the Supreme Court.”
It's a good day. The Senate just voted to #ConfirmGorsuch. Way to go @SenateGOP @SenDonnelly @Sen_JoeManchin & @SenatorHeitkamp— Elizabeth Slattery (@EHSlattery) April 7, 2017
Adler said America Rising Squared researched Sisk’s claim “immediately after that attack,” discovering that Sisk was a former staffer for Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and that her claim was a partisan smear.
“I think having her background … was really helpful to sort of just quell the attack and show this is not legitimate, this is just motivated by pure partisanship,” Adler said.
Another dubious claim was that Gorsuch plagiarized writings from the Indiana Law Journal.
Severino said the Judicial Crisis Network spearheaded efforts to research and respond to these accusations with the facts.
“While you don’t know what fake story they’re going to come up with next, you know that they’re going to try something,” she said. “So, we had a team in place ready to respond.”
Coordinated, rapid responses, Leo said, were a critical ingredient to unifying conservatives and bringing the facts to the public.
He said “a very effective operation” was dedicated to “addressing those charges quickly and with facts, not simply with rhetoric, and that’s actually a very important recipe here.”
4. Well-Allocated Resources.
Conservative supporters spent millions of dollars on TV ads and other ways to boost Gorsuch, Leo said.
“It is an unprecedented … $15 million campaign,” Leo said, “and [Judicial Crisis Network] played a role, but there were a lot of key players.”
Among them, he said, were CRC Public Relations, the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and Americans for Prosperity.
The courts have become politicized, Leo said, and as a result the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process will begin to look more like a political campaign:
One big lesson for conservatives, Leo said, is to be ready to educate the public:
Rachel del Guidice (@LRacheldG)is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.
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