Justice Neil Gorsuch focuses on separation of powers during Louisville speech

Neil Gorsuch speaks at UofL

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The newest US Supreme Court Justice, selected by President Donald Trump, spoke Thursday at the University of Louisville. The man arguably most responsible for Justice Neil Gorsuch getting appointed was right there with him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced Justice Gorsuch before his speech to U of L’s McConnell Center. Mr. McConnell’s political power move last year made it possible to fill an open seat on the high court, a decision then taken out of President Obama's control.

Justice Gorsuch spent a large portion of his 32-minute speech focusing on the importance separation of powers holds to our form of government. There were no video or audio recordings of the speech allowed.

The Colorado native, Gorsuch, opened with light-hearted stories of appreciation for his colleagues. He jokingly comparing himself to Justice Antonin Scalia's mounted elk named "Leroy" and referenced Cardinals Quarterback Lamar Jackson during a joke about overreaching executive powers.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lead Justice Neil Gorsuch onto the stage at U of L in a moment together that spotlighted a major achievement from last political season.

Without the power play by Senator McConnell it's likely someone else, potentially a President Obama appointee would be the newest member of the high court.

The silver-haired associate justice described getting settled in at work, a role with such great responsibility that he suggested, "no one could really prepare for a job as a Supreme Court Justice.”

After words of admiration for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whom he called "thoughtful" and "inspiring,” he expressed appreciation for the late Antonin Scalia. Scalia’s sudden death opened a seat on the high court that Gorsuch would fill.

Justice Gorsuch made a case for separation of power as a keystone to democracy. He called dispersal of power the "genius of America's constitutional system" and “otherwise the Bill of Rights were just words on paper.”

The audience laughed when Justice Gorsuch described an overreaching executive branch would be like having Lamar Jackson “even do the kicking.”

Afterwards, it was hard to find anyone unimpressed.
           
“I thought it was a wonderful speech, “said Jerry Reynold. “It was a history lesson basically going back, explaining what our structure, the benefits that our structure of government provides.”

Anna Pepper is a McConnell Scholar who brought her brother, a high school sophomore, to the event. Anna and her classmates also took part in a private meeting with Justice Gorsuch.

“He addressed to with us that he feels like executive power has grown a lot, in terms of war powers, and I thought that was really interesting that he highlighted that with us then again in his speech,” Anna said.

“It was amazing,” exclaimed Charlie Pepper. “And he was talking about how the separation of powers is such an important aspect of our government and the way that he talks about that is very convincing, very moving.

A group of military students presented Justice Gorsuch with a challenge coin. Justice Gorsuch said he would keep it in a place of honor in his office then told the students, "I can't do my job if you don't do yours.”

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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