Even before President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court in January, I knew that I would oppose his appointment. By stealing a Supreme Court seat for the first time in American history, the Senate Majority is profoundly politicizing our highest court and deeply damaging its integrity. This assault on our democracy demands the most robust resistance possible.
But in the past two months, I have become more and more convinced of the necessity of blocking his nomination for reasons completely unrelated to Republicans’ shameful refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination in order to pack the Court.
First, as every day goes by, it becomes clearer and clearer that a very dark shadow hangs over this President and this administration. Every day seems to reveal another angle on the coverup of Trump campaign officials’ contacts with Russian officials. Then, on March 20, the FBI Director testified to Congress and the American people that the Bureau has been investigating Trump campaign officials’ potential collusion with Russia to influence and undermine our election. With that announcement, the shadow took on a new and ominous shade.
“As every day goes by, it becomes clearer and clearer that a very dark shadow hangs over this President and this administration.”
If the Trump campaign colluded or coordinated with Russia to change the outcome of the U.S. elections, that would be traitorous conduct. For the sake of our nation, and the integrity of our “We the People” government, we cannot and should not be confirming this President’s nominee to a lifetime appointment while he and the campaign that got him elected are under investigation.
Second, as more of Judge Gorsuch’s record has come to light through media reports and through the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings, it’s become clear that Gorsuch’s views are far out of the judicial mainstream. In fact, The Washington Post recently analyzed Gorsuch’s record and found that, if confirmed, he would be by far the most extreme member of the Court — substantially more conservative than Justice Scalia, and even well to the right of Justices Alito and Thomas.
A look at Gorsuch’s decisions shows a disturbing pattern of a conservative activist twisting the law to find in favor of corporations and the powerful.
In the infamous Hobby Lobby decision, Gorsuch embraced the disturbing philosophy that corporations are people. Then he extended that philosophy to say that corporations should be able to impose their owners’ religious views on their employees’ medical care — preventing women from accessing contraception through their insurance plans.
In his dissent in the “frozen trucker case,” Gorsuch ruled that even though Congress passed a law that explicitly protects a trucker from being fired for refusing to operate a truck when it might imperil the driver’s or the public’s safety, the company was free to fire a trucker with frozen trailer brakes for unhitching his cab to drive to safety. If he hadn’t, he risked freezing to death in subzero weather, or imperiling himself and the public by trying to drive a fully-loaded trailer without working brakes.
Gorsuch went to extreme lengths to twist the law to find for the corporation and against the worker, even though it was clear that Congress had written the law to apply to exactly the kind of situation the trucker found himself in.
“Will we allow powerful special interests to subvert our courts and our system of governance into one of, by and for the privileged and powerful?”
But maybe the best example of Gorsuch’s extreme activism was his effort to rewrite the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). This special education law was expressly crafted to ensure that children with disabilities get an “appropriate education.” Yet Gorsuch ruled that an autistic boy’s public school had only to provide him with “merely more than de minimus” education under the law. In other words, despite the clear intent and language of the law to educate students, Gorsuch again twisted the law to say that warehousing these children is fine.
This decision is both offensive and far outside the mainstream. Don’t take my word for it: Less than two weeks ago the Supreme Court overturned Gorsuch’s decision on an 8-0 vote. In the words of Chief Justice Roberts: “When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.” Even the most conservative justices recognized the Gorsuch decision as changing the entire intent of the IDEA.
Our Constitution makes the core founding principle of our nation easy to see: In big, bold script, ten times the size of the text that follows, the Founders made clear that our government was for “We the People.” Today, with this Supreme Court nomination, we face a pivotal battle in the fight for this founding vision. Will we continue to be a nation of, by and for the people, as so eloquently stated by Abraham Lincoln? Or, will we allow powerful special interests to subvert our courts and our system of governance into one of, by and for the privileged and powerful?
Our “We the People” government is at stake. That is why we must oppose Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation with everything we have.