From A Conversation with Justice Neil Gorsuch by Charles Cooke in National Review:
Justice Gorsuch’s animating conviction is that judges are there to understand and to enforce the Constitution as it was understood at the time of ratification, rather than to read their own views — or the views that they imagine are held by a majority of the citizenry — into the text. Or, put another way, Justice Gorsuch believes that the Constitution is a legal contract, rather than a vague and protean guidebook that should be interpreted and altered by a revising committee responsive to the democratic passions of the day. “When we depart from the original meaning of the Constitution and hand it over to judges,” he proposes, “we weaken our habit of self-government and we atrophy a muscle that Madison wanted us to exercise. It used to be that we had an amendment every ten or so years. We haven’t had an amendment since 1992. The amendments have dropped off in number since about the same time as the rise of ‘living constitutionalism.’ I don’t know if one can say that’s purely an accident or coincidence.”
Either way, Justice Gorsuch will not be helping to amend that Constitution himself. “The whole point” of his branch, he says, is to “uphold the Constitution and laws even — and especially — when they are unpopular. It would be easy for a judge to uphold the Constitution and laws when it’s popular. You wouldn’t need a judge for that. You can just get a legislator or politician to do that. The whole point of a judge is to take the slings and arrows — is to be unpopular a lot of the time. That’s my job.”
This theme, of the importance of protecting minority rights, is one that comes up frequently. And, in Gorsuch’s view, there is no better mechanism for that protection than the separation of powers. “This was the Madisonian insight,” he contends: “that you can make all sorts of promises on a piece of paper, and call it a ‘bill of rights,’ and it’s not worth the paper it’s written on unless you have some means to enforce it. Like any good contract, it’s only worth the enforcement mechanism it stands on. A lot of countries have bills of rights. In [my new] book, I talk about North Korea’s. It’s great! It’s got everything you want. My favorite is the ‘right to relaxation.’ I want that! It sounds great. But when power is all concentrated in one hand, it’s meaningless. It’s only as good as the whims of the dictator, the king.
”When this delegation of power is combined with laws that are sufficiently vague as to permit those agencies to fill in the blanks, and with a judiciary that is overly deferential to that blank-filling, the threat to liberty becomes obvious — especially when the rules change so frequently that it is hard for even the most diligent citizens to comply. “Madison recognized that if you don’t have written law, that’s an invitation to tyranny,” Gorsuch tells me. “The law is just whatever the king wants. If you have too much written law, you have a similar problem: a paper blizzard, so that nobody can be sure what their rights are. I wonder if, sometimes, we may be getting there.”