- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to take a victory lap after Tuesday’s travel ban ruling, with his campaign posting on Twitter a picture of him meeting with Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

The photo of the two men reaching to shake hands wasn’t accompanied by any caption.

But Justice Gorsuch joined the 5-4 decision Tuesday that found President Trump acted within the law and the Constitution when he claimed powers to restrict the entry of people from foreign countries — including several majority-Muslim nations.

Mr. McConnell had held the seat left vacant by the passing of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia open for more than a year, refusing action on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

Mr. McConnell said the winner of the 2016 election should pick the new justice — a controversial decision that Republicans say has paid off handsomely for conservatives.

Even as Mr. McConnell was suggesting he deserved credit, liberal activists were wondering what could have been if Judge Garland had been confirmed.

They pointed out Justice Gorsuch has sided with the other Republican-appointed justices in several controversial 5-4 opinions this term.

Justice Gorsuch has regularly sided with the court’s other GOP-appointed justices in the 15 months since he was sworn in, leaving Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as the court’s most frequent pivot point.

Should Judge Garland have been confirmed, it would likely have shifted the court to the left of Justice Kennedy, analysts predicted.

During the 2017-2018 term of the court, there have been a dozen 5-4 decisions where Justice Gorsuch sided with the conservative majority. By contrast, during the court’s last term with a full nine-justice court, the 2014-2015 term, there were only four 5-4 decisions from the conservative majority that included Scalia.

Rep. Keith Ellison, Missouri Democrat, and the first Muslim elected to Congress, slammed Justice Gorsuch after the travel ban ruling came down, saying Mr. Trump’s appointee was doing what his “paymasters” sent him to do.

Gorsuch should really not be on the supreme court. In my view, he may be there, but he’s not there properly,” Mr. Ellison told CNN.

Senate Democrats had filibustered to stop Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation, prompting Mr. McConnell to use the so-called “nuclear option” to change Senate precedent and reduce the number of votes needed to head off filibusters. The Senate then confirmed Justice Gorsuch on a majority vote.

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