Today, while driving for lunch, I heard some of the Neil Gorsuch testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The job of an appointed Supreme Court judge is often very politically heated, however, in our current climate it is even more so. What struck me today, was despite the consistent baiting from the senators, Mr. Gorsuch seemed to stand up for what the judiciary should be.
Obviously, he could simply be playing politics to get approved, but I always find it fascinating when a judge is asked political questions, and they can turn those questions around to being one of law and precedent. This is the real purpose behind our judicial system, and sometimes that comes into direct opposition with the will of the legislative or executive branch (as we’ve seen demonstrated recently). What really impresses me about many of these judges are are nominated for high level positions is their adherence to the law, and their willingness to stand by their interpretations, despite political fallout.
It’s not unlike the theological career I trained for. Pastors who are trained in hermeneutics follow a similar tactic. They follow the path that the text leads them in, hopefully interpreting it in a manner that is as accurate as possible. Judges do the same thing with legal statute and precedent, following and interpreting the text as best they can, based on the context that they exist in. It’s why religions change over time the same way that laws evolve. Nothing can be read or written in a vacuum, and everything is subject to the biases of those who are reading or writing it. How we act upon those biases is what makes for good pastors and good judges.
It was fun today to hear some of these arguments and linguistic gymnastics played out. I really haven’t read much about Gorsuch, so I have little opinion about him as a judge, but I enjoyed listening to the conversation and debate.