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My view: Gorsuch’s nomination highlights contrasting views of a judge’s role

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch listens on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday, March 20, 2017, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The U.S. Constitution gives the president power to appoint Supreme Court justices with the “advice and consent of the Senate.” This week, the Senate will begin deliberations on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, currently a judge serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, to fill the position on the Supreme Court created by the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The confirmation power is important and real. The first nominee to be rejected was John Rutledge, whose name was put forward by George Washington. That rejection has not been taken by the Senate as a guide for common practice. Only 12 nominees have been rejected, compared to 124 who have been confirmed in the court’s history.

Of the eight sitting justices, three were confirmed unanimously or almost unanimously, and all but two by nearly two-thirds of the Senate. The numbers: Chief Justice John Roberts (78-22), Justice Anthony Kennedy (97-0), Justice Clarence Thomas (52-48), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (96-3), Justice Stephen Breyer (87-9), Justice Samuel Alito (58-42), Justice Sonia Sotomayor (68-31), Justice Elena Kagan (63-37).

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