Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

February 1, 2017
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So, President Trump has announced his nominee for the bench: Judge Neil M. Gorsuch.

A lot can happen between announcement and confirmation, so obviously nothing is certain yet, but it’s worth taking a look.

There are a lot of potential problems with this nominee, but there are also some potential bright spots (all from a surface and cursory reading of his Wikipedia entry).

He tends to favor state power over federal power, which is a bonus in this particular phase of drug policy reform. Additionally, he has written against judicial activism – in particular the notion of using the courts as a way to change culture in a way to serve society best, when that should be done at the ballot box. That also seems positive considering most drug policy reform has been happening at the ballot box and in the states. Additionally, he has written against the notion of federal agencies interpreting ambiguous laws instead of the courts.

In criminal law, he understands the importance of mens rea (the idea that the defendant knows that they are breaking a law), something which has been noticeably disappearing from a lot of drug laws.

Again, it’s important to note that Supreme Court rulings that affect drug policy cannot be neatly categorized as right vs. left, but rather tend to focus on more complicated issue of state vs. federal power, individual freedom, the power of federal agencies, etc.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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