The confirmation hearings for any presidential nominee are just pantomimes of democracy, with everyone going through the motions and nothing really being learned. It’s even worse for Supreme Court justice hearings, where the party of the president who did the nominating pretty much just finger fucks the nominee while the opposing party tries to get the nominee to express an opinion on any goddamned issue and the nominee repeatedly says, “No, go fuck yourself, not gonna say it” to a series of questions that boil down to “Abortion? C’mon. Abortion? Tell us. We already know. But tell us. Goddamnit, speak!”
Every once in a while, a moment or two can rise above the drone. In the case of Judge Neil Gorsuch, the not-Merrick Garland nominee, those moments were mostly when he was a total fucking dick. For instance, he got pissy with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is a damn lawyer, when she kept telling him, politely, “Dude, you don’t have to explain a case to me because, see, I’m a damn lawyer” but Gorsuch just had to keep explaining as if that dumb chick didn’t get what he was saying.
Even more intense was Minnesota’s other senator, Al Franken, who went on the fuckin’ warpath against Gorsuch over the judge’s dissent in the TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board case. That’s the one where this truck driver’s brakes locked on his trailer in temperatures that were reaching -27 degrees. The driver was told he could either stay with the truck, where the heater wasn’t working, and await help, or he could drag the trailer to a truck stop or something. When the driver realized he was freezing to death, he said, in essence, “F-f-f-f-fuck this,” detached the cab, and drove to some place so he wouldn’t die. And his company fired him. The driver complained to OSHA, and the case reached the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided 2-1 with the driver.
Gorsuch’s dissent says, more or less, “Sorry, motherfucker. You should have become a truckersicle.” Actually, that’s a bit less dickish than the actual opinion. Because, see, any judge who starts something with “A trucker was stranded on the side of the road, late at night, in cold weather, and his trailer brakes were stuck” and doesn’t end it with either a punchline about the trucker fucking a farmer’s daughter or a conclusion that the driver should make sure he doesn’t die is just an unrepentant cock.
(Spoiler: No farmer’s daughter. Gorsuch is just an unrepentant cock.)
For Gorsuch, the law that said that employers can’t fire employees who won’t operate vehicles for safety reasons didn’t apply in this situation and that the law needed to be changed. Or, as he prickishly puts it, “Maybe someday Congress will adorn our federal statute books with such a law. But it isn’t there yet.” Gorsuch goes to great pains to be a dick about the meaning of the word “operate” as it refers to this situation. He sees the driver’s decision to drive the cab away as clearly violating what his employer told him and, you know, fuck him if he lost toes and fingers. Gorsuch uses an analogy here: “Imagine a boss telling an employee he may either ‘operate’ an office computer as directed or ‘refuse to operate’ that computer. What serious employee would take that as license to use an office computer not for work but to compose the great American novel? Good luck.” Yeah, he actually wrote “Good luck” in there. Just the kind of a “argle-bargle” to warm the hearts of Scalia corpse-fellaters everywhere.
By the way, as far as that analogy goes, it sucks. How about this: If a thief was coming at you with a knife and you used your computer to block the blow, would it be fine for your boss to fire you for misusing equipment? That’s a proper fuckin’ analogy in this situation, dickhead, because it’s life or death.
But the dick take too far, the one that Franken and others have noted, is when Gorsuch dismisses what he sees as the egregious stretching of logic by the majority for the law to include common sense notions of health and safety. Or, as he emphasizes, “Especially to ends as ephemeral and generic as ‘health and safety.’ After all, what under the sun, at least at some level of generality, doesn’t relate to ‘health and safety’?”
It’s mind-boggling that in a case that involves, beyond doubt, health and safety that you would question a person’s decision to not die. But Gorsuch wasn’t done being a dick. His job, he said, is to follow the letter of the law and “not to use the law as a sort of springboard to combat all perceived evils lurking in the neighborhood.” Again, it needs to be said, no one was asking the court to “combat” anything. He concludes, wearily, “[I]t is our job and work enough for the day to apply the law Congress did pass, not to imagine and enforce one it might have but didn’t.”
That’s the dickiest part of this. If Gorsuch sees some insidious intent, like writing laws from the bench, in this simple a situation, what’s gonna happen when it comes to things like torture? Or campaign finance? Or, well, abortion?
Watch him for five minutes in the hearing. You’ll think, “What a pompous, self-righteous, smug little…” you know.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on March 22, 2017, on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.