The rule of law — it’s one of the defining characteristics of the United States, and one of many reasons why millions of families — many of them Latino — have immigrated here for generations. Yet in recent years, the rule of law has been threatened by judges interpreting laws to achieve political ends, and with too many courts unwilling to restrain elected officials who exceed their legal authority in the exercise of power. America’s Latino community comes here from countries where the rule of law is often not respected, and therefore has a clear interest in transparency and the consistent application of the law.
That’s why it’s critical that the U.S. Senate confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has interpreted the Constitution and statutes as they were written, rather than what he thinks they ought to mean. He has also shown that he is a responsible and caring jurist who pursues what’s right.
Seeking the truth and siding with what’s right has been a hallmark of Judge Gorsuch’s career. During his days as a lawyer, he fought tooth and nail to win damages for a lower-income gravel pit owner who was owed mining royalties. As one of Gorsuch’s peers noted, “For Neil, this fight over a few thousand dollars’ worth of dirt was the most important case ever tried[.]”
Evidence of his commitment to responsible and impartial justice is abundant in his case history. One recent example is a case he presided over just two years ago.
In Gallegos v. Holder, an immigrant named Santiago Alejandre-Gallegos sought to prevent his deportation. While Gallegos lost the case, Judge Gorsuch noted the legal filing was so incomplete that it was impossible for the court to determine if the client had a good claim.
Another judge might have left it there, but Judge Gorsuch is not like most judges. He wanted to ensure others would not suffer such inadequate legal representation. Judge Gorsuch ordered a further investigation, which found the lawyer had consistently given sub-par representation to his clients, including Gallegos and many other undocumented immigrants.
Because the lawyer “failed to provide competent representation,” he was suspended from practicing law for two years. Discipline such as this sets an example: lawyers must do their utmost to zealously represent their clients—even for the least influential of clients.
Another decision by Judge Gorsuch shows his willingness to be skeptical of the power of the Executive Branch to implement major policy changes even when Congress has not changed the law. In Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, he ruled against a federal board’s denial of a petition for permanent resident status even when a prior Tenth Circuit case had interpreted immigration law to say undocumented immigrants were eligible. In his opinion, Judge Gorsuch cautioned against excessive deference to executive agencies, which may be beholden to “an avowedly politicized administrative agent seeking to pursue whatever policy whim may rule the day.”
Through fair, careful, unbiased judgment, Judge Gorsuch can help protect the rule of law that has made this country great. The U.S. Senate should confirm him as soon as they can.
Daniel Garza is president of The LIBRE Initiative.