Alphonse Maddin likely started his job with TransAm Trucking probably like we all do with new jobs – a mixture of hope, anticipation, and anxiousness. How long was it until he realized TransAm was a horrible place to work, and why didn’t Neil Gorsuch help? These are but a few of the opposition concerns to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yesterday opening statements in the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation hearings got underway on Capitol Hill, and opening statements were about as far as they got in the proceedings. So, no fireworks, but the parties have laid out their respective cases; Republicans will support the nomination because Gorsuch is of fine character, has distinguished himself thus far in a stellar career, and has sworn to uphold the law absent any personal opinions otherwise. Democrats will not support him. They are troubled that his opinions are not mainstream, and he especially seems to take sides against the little guy.
Case in point, Alphonse Maddin. If you just heard about Maddin from Democrats, you would think Gorsuch simply doesn’t care about truck drivers or whether they live or die. That’s because Gorsuch ruled against Maddin and for the evil trucking company for which he worked.
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Maddin had problems with the tractor-trailer he was driving and was on the side of the road with no heat. He repeatedly requested assistance and was repeatedly told to stay put. Finally, fearing hypothermia, Maddin unhooked the trailer and drove off. TransAm then fired him for not following their directive.
In any other job, this would not be a federal case, literally or figuratively. Employee believes employer issues unacceptable demands; employee refuses them, employee is dismissed. What’s the issue? Well, some clever lawyer got hold of Maddin and convinced him to sue TransAm based on a law to protect drivers from being compelled to operate unsafe vehicles. Because Gorsuch thinks the law did not apply here, he loathes Maddin, rank and file workers – you know — the little guy. Well, that’s essentially the case made by the fine Democrat Senators today.
What about Gorsuch – what does he say? Quite simply, he says it flawlessly in his dissent against Mr. Maddin’s case:
It might be fair to ask whether TransAm’s decision was a wise or kind one. But it’s not our job to answer questions like that. Our only task is to decide whether the decision was an illegal one. The Department of Labor says that TransAm violated federal law, in particular 49 U.S.C. § 31105(a)(1)(B). But that statute only forbids employers from firing employees who “refuse to operate a vehicle” out of safety concerns. And, of course, nothing like that happened here. The trucker in this case wasn’t fired for refusing to operate his vehicle. Indeed, his employer gave him the very option the statute says it must: once he voiced safety concerns, TransAm expressly — and by everyone’s admission — permitted him to sit and remain where he was and wait for help. The trucker was fired only after he declined the statutorily protected option (refuse to operate) and chose instead to operate his vehicle in a manner he thought wise but his employer did not. And there’s simply no law anyone has pointed us to giving employees the right to operate their vehicles in ways their employers forbid. Maybe the Department would like such a law, maybe someday Congress will adorn our federal statute books with such a law. But it isn’t there yet. And it isn’t our job to write one — or to allow the Department to write one in Congress’s place.
That’s what it means to follow the unambiguous language of the law. Gorsuch is not going to do the legislators job for them – if they want a law that covered the incident that Maddin was involved in, they should write another statute. But just because Gorsuch isn’t willing to invent such a law does not make him anything other than a fine judge. The start of this hearing speaks to past U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing, such as the case with Judge Robert Bork.
One of the reasons Judge Bork was successfully “Borked,” is that leftists were able to dehumanize him. From NPR:
Known as a charming and witty man in private, Bork was dour and humorless in public, and his answers seemed to play into the stereotype liberals were painting of a man who cared little for the public. When Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming pitched a softball to Bork, asking him why he wanted to serve on the Supreme Court, the nominee replied that “it would be an intellectual feast.”
Well, Gorsuch did something I have not seen another nominee do – it was an act that should yield a big return in the humanizing department. When he offered his own opening statement following the Senators, as he was thanking his wife, they hugged. As much as one may despise touchy-feely-ness in such a hearing, one must also recognize a turn well played. The hearings – and the drama –continue tomorrow. Stay tuned to Liberty Nation for the latest.