On January 21, 2017, over four million people marched in more than 600 U.S. cities and over 80 countries across the world to express growing alarm over the persistent inequality and increased hostility faced by women. The Women’s March, in some ways, was a direct response to the election of Donald Trump, a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has made so many degrading comments about women that it is impossible to include them all here. At a time when it is critical for all Americans to stand up for women’s rights, President Trump has nominated a man to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, who has a long history of expressing contempt and hostility toward women.
As a young man studying at Columbia University, Gorsuch was a member of the fraternity on campus known for its degrading treatment of women. Among other things, the fraternity celebrated each time one of its members had sex with a virgin by painting a fire hydrant on frat row. Students on campus targeted the fraternity during a Take Back the Night march because of its reputation as the “date-rape fraternity.” Gorsuch was an ardent supporter of both his fraternity and fraternity culture on campus. He dismissed women who spoke out against the fraternity’s violent misogyny, saying that their “demonstrations and rallies are causes that inspire no one and offer no fresh ideas or important notions for the students or school to consider.”
Lest one believe that Gorsuch left his reprehensible views about women in the past, letters have emerged from law students claiming that Gorsuch made inappropriate comments last year about women seeking time off to have children. The students allege that while teaching a course on professional ethics, Gorsuch accused women of abusing employers by joining law firms with the intention of immediately getting pregnant to take advantage of the maternity benefits. Gorsuch went as far as to say that employers must protect themselves from such conniving women by asking about their plans to start a family during the job interview.
And on the bench, Gorsuch has consistently ruled against women. He has turned away women seeking redress for sexual harassment and sex discrimination. He joined the original Hobby Lobby decision holding that corporations are people whose religious beliefs trump the right of women to receive insurance coverage for contraceptive care. And he voted to uphold the actions of the Governor of Utah when he eliminated federal funding for Planned Parenthood; the programs that would have lost funding supported health education and STD testing.
We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. The Trump Administration, and the people it has nominated to fill the most important roles in our government, must be held accountable for their views on women’s rights. We cannot move backward to a time when women were denied critical protections and the opportunity to participate equally in our society. Neil Gorsuch’s long-held, antiquated views about women put at risk their hard-won rights and freedoms. And as a member of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would have the unrivaled ability to ensure that women are denied equality throughout the country. He cannot be confirmed as the next member of the Supreme Court.