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Listen: Political Scientist Carol Nackenoff on Neil Gorsuch Confirmation Hearings


RadioTimes (WHYY): Special coverage of the Gorsuch confirmation hearing

During the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Richter Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff joined WHYY's RadioTimes to discuss Gorsuch's record as a judge and his likely performance on the Supreme Court as Justice Scalia's replacement.

Nackenoff, who teaches constitutional law, notes that while technically there is no such thing as a republican or democrat judge, there is a lot that can be predicted about a judge's likely decisions based on knowing the political affiliation of people who appoint them.

"Most folks who have taken a look at Judge Gorsuch's record place him slightly to the right of Justice Scalia," she says. "That's extremely conservative on a number of issues." 

One difference Nackenoff notes between Gorsuch and Scalia is personality. "I think he is going to be more amiable, more collegial than Justice Scalia was... Gorsuch might be more persuasive to moderates on the court than Scalia was." (8:47)

In response to Gorsuch's claim to be a Constitution originalist, Nackenoff asks, "Is that original public meaning originalist or original intent originalist?" (19:20).

Nackenoff also discusses President Trump's antagonistic relationship to judges (16:58), the politicalization of the court (22:00), Gorsuch's voting history on religious freedom (30:12), and judicial activism (34:00). 

Nackenoff, who joined Swarthmore's faculty in 1992, is the author of The Fictional Republic: Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse (Oxford, 1994) and is co-editor and contributor to Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Her chief current research project is a manuscript on the contested meaning of citizenship in the United States from 1875-1925. In addition to constitutional law, Nackenoff also teaches American politics, environmental politics, and political theory.

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