Neil Gorsuch: An Eloquent Intellectual

Judge Gorsuch’s approach has led him to defend the constitutional autonomy of the states – whether exercised by a conservative Republican governor in Planned Parenthood v. Herbert (2016) or a liberal Democratic governor in Kerr v. Hickenlooper (2014). In light of the recent revival of interest in local autonomy in progressive circles, these power-devolving doctrines may win newfound respect. The genius of our system is to empower conservative states like Texas or West Virginia to resist progressive presidencies, and liberal states like California or Washington to resist conservative ones.

Judge Gorsuch’s opinion for the court in Energy & Environment Legal Inst. v. Epel (2016) has received little attention from his progressive critics. In it, Judge Gorsuch rejected a highly plausible challenge by a corporation to Colorado’s renewable energy rules, based on his reading of the historical meaning of the Commerce Clause. The case was a three-fer: it was against a corporation, in favor of environmental laws, and based on originalist interpretation. No wonder progressives prefer to ignore it!

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