Commentary: Casey should back Gorsuch

Sen. Bob Casey hosts the first town hall of his reelection campaign at the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday.

As the mother of a U.S. soldier, I know what it takes to defend the Constitution. It takes honor, commitment, and the principles to do what's right in the face of unnerving adversity. That's why I'm one of the thousands of Pennsylvania military family members who supports Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court - and it's why Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) should, too.

Gorsuch has proven himself a capable defender of the Constitution and Bill of Rights that millions of veterans have sacrificed to defend. He has developed a reputation for interpreting the Constitution and statutes as they are written by lawmakers, rather than what he thinks they ought to be.

He summed up his judicial philosophy this way: "Judges should be in the businesses of declaring what the law is . . . rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views."

Such principles put Gorsuch well within the mainstream of legal philosophy. During his 11 years on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, less than 2 percent of the roughly 800 legal opinions he has written have drawn dissents from his colleagues. And of his eight cases that have been appealed to the Supreme Court, seven were upheld - four unanimously.

Gorsuch's rulings also span the legal spectrum. He has ruled in favor of causes that typically align with the political left - standing for the rights of defendants in criminal cases and the rights of immigrants in deportation proceedings - while also favoring causes aligned with the political right, namely reining in the power of federal regulatory agencies.

This signals a strong independent streak, which is welcome news for those concerned he will be a rubber stamp for President Trump's agenda.

Every one of Gorsuch's former clerks not currently clerking at the Supreme Court - 37, of all political stripes - recently signed a letter saying, "He has never feared staking out a principled position . . . even if he had to do so alone." They continued: "If confirmed, we are confident that Judge Gorsuch's independence - grounded in the limited powers granted to the judiciary by the Constitution - will never waver."

Even former officials in the Obama administration have sung Gorsuch's high praise. Neal Katyal, Barack Obama's former chief Supreme Court litigator, recently wrote, "Judge Gorsuch brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation's highest court."

Of course, this groundswell of bipartisan support is nothing new for Gorsuch. Nominated to the 10th Circuit in 2006, he was confirmed on a unanimous voice vote - not one objection from a single senator.

Despite these overwhelming qualifications, a number of U.S. senators are refusing to grant Gorsuch's nomination an up-or-down vote. Instead, they want to continue the divisive politics of the 2016 election and filibuster Trump's nominee, regardless of who it is.

Casey has yet to say where he stands, but he would do well to heed his own words from last year. He said that senators "must do their job and give [a] nominee a fair hearing and a timely vote."

What's changed?

Just as it's the job of our soldiers abroad to keep us safe at home every day, it's the job of our senators to vote on Supreme Court nominees. Casey should publicly support a vote on Gorsuch and encourage his Democratic colleagues to do the same.

Eve Allen is the Pennsylvania field director for Concerned Veterans for America (