Judge Gorsuch's Natural Law Views Should Be a Concern

By Oman, William | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), March 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Judge Gorsuch's Natural Law Views Should Be a Concern


Oman, William, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The current nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, wrote a doctoral thesis on assisted suicide and euthanasia at Oxford based on "natural law" principles.

Natural law is derived from the assumption that "nature" has an inherent "purpose" or "rationality" which is intuitively known to every human being and from which universal and absolute principles that all are bound to uphold can be inferred. At any point where natural law and civil law come into conflict, natural law would prevail because its adherents claim to be acting in keeping with the purpose of nature itself, not just of society. Judge Gorsuch's mentor at Oxford was the Catholic scholar and expert in natural law, John Finnis. For Finnis, following Catholic teaching, natural law always constitutes a "higher law" to which civil law must give way. Judge Gorsuch would seem to agree.

Civil law and natural law differ in profound ways. Civil law is written, enacted on a certain day and time by a specific authorized body of legislators, promulgated in specified ways and enforced with external sanctions or punishments. …

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