A Disastrous Choice

To put it mildly, Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court is a disastrous choice.

The stakes could not be higher. As it stands, there’s already a paper-thin margin on the Court between conservatives and progressives. Time and again, Justice Anthony Kennedy is often the only 'swing vote' that prevents horrific rulings like the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which would set our country back half a century when it comes to reproductive rights.

With Gorsuch, Donald Trump is attempting to follow through on his promise to pack the court with right-wing, ideological extremists; justices who will guarantee government overreach on issues from reproductive rights to marriage equality. From his pre-judicial activity to his work on the bench, Gorsuch more closely resembles a strict adherent to Republican Party orthodoxy than a constitutional originalist.

One need not look far for supporting evidence. This is a man who contradicts even himself on matters of life and death – staunchly opposing euthanasia on the basis that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable,” while consistently upholding the death penalty.

In the famous Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, we saw Gorusch rule that employers are allowed to deny employee access to basic healthcare needs because of personal religious beliefs. In 2015, Gorsuch joined an opinion which denied a transgender woman access to medically necessary hormone therapy while incarcerated.

He opined in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch that the power of federal agencies – indirectly appointed through the election process – need to be curbed and shared with the courts, which could have disastrous effects on our labor and environmental standards.

Meanwhile, in 2005, Gorsuch implied that issues like marriage equality have no place in the courtroom and should be determined in the election process.

It’s the kind of hypocrisy we might expect to see from a staunch Republican who prioritizes party over justice, and who wants to avoid the issue of marriage equality because deep in his heart, he knows it’s protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Legal commentators agree that in Gorsuch, Trump has found a nominee in the mold of Antonin Scalia, the classic "originalist." Let's review the landmark LGBT victories in which Scalia was a dissenting vote:

  • Romer v. Evans (1996) which struck down anti-LGBT laws forbidding equal rights ordinances
  • Lawrence v. Texas (2003) which struck down sodomy laws nationwide
  • United States v. Windsor (2013) which required federal recognition of same-sex marriages
  • Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) which guaranteed a constitutional right to marry nationwide

The Constitution requires that we have a branch of government that is responsible to our Constitution and its core principles, including liberty, freedom of expression and privacy. Like his hero, Antonin Scalia, Judge Gorsuch’s history shows us that these principles are of no interest to him when they contradict the Republican Party line.

When President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, he showed us what a non-partisan pick looks like. Neil Gorsuch fails this test, and it is wildly inappropriate for the Trump Administration to continue dividing our country by nominating a judge who values conservative politics over constitutionality.

So, to all citizens who value liberty, privacy, and freedom from government interference in the most intimate details of your personal lives, I urge you to call your Senators immediately to demand that they reject the nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

<em>Council Member Corey Johnson represents District 3 in the New York City Council, which covers the neighborhoods of Hell’s
Council Member Corey Johnson represents District 3 in the New York City Council, which covers the neighborhoods of Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village, and parts of Flatiron, SoHo and the Upper West Side.‎
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