Imagine Gorsuch issuing a press release on Thursday morning saying that upon reflection he has decided to decline the appointment to the Supreme Court and go back home to Colorado. In a Frank Capra film Gorsuch would announce he's stepping aside out of respect for Merrick Garland and the Supreme Court, itself.
If that could happen in real life, what would John Q. Public say if Gorsuch ended his confirmation quest by claiming his abiding hope is that what happened to Garland will never happen again?
Well, of course, extremists on the left and on the right would find something snarky to say. Some wags would feel obligated to find fault with such a selfless move. But to a lot of people, by sacrificing himself for the sake of not wanting to be part of setting a bad precedent, Gorsuch would likely become an instant hero. I think it would be uplifting to Americans who still believe that above all else, judges should be fair-minded.
Furthermore, if Gorsuch is really the wise head some of his boosters in the Senate are saying he is, he would have to grasp that the unprecedented and convoluted manner in which he's getting this job is stained in a way that will never fade away.
Gorsuch should be smart enough to know that if he takes the job, as it's being offered, he's going to go down in history as the opportunist who wanted too much. The guy who sold his soul to participate in a shameless episode of cheating – meaning he'll always have an asterisk after his name.
Which will make him the Barry Bonds of Supreme Court justices. Although I don't know how many there are, I'm sure there are still some judges in this country who are wise enough to play the long game and avoid any chance of becoming the Barry Bonds of anything, whenever they can.
Last question: By closing the door to the Supreme Court, wouldn't some other doors open for such an honorable man?