The Senate confirmation process is underway for President Donald Trump’s pick on Tuesday to fill the nearly year-long Supreme Court vacancy. Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee, is unknown to most Americans. However, his GOP supporters are peddling him to their political base as a solid conservative who will defend their views on reproductive rights and federal regulation.
The choice drew immediate howls of protest from Democrats and civil rights leaders, who question his fitness for the job, notes USA Today:
“The Senate must insist upon 60-votes for any Supreme Court nominee, a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “The burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and, in this new era, willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the executive branch and protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all Americans.”
“Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard,” Schumer continued. “Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women’s rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice on the Court. Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice.”
Here are five things to know about Gorsuch:
1.He fought against the Obamacare contraception requirement
Perhaps best known, Gorsuch sided with supporters of religious freedom rights in the legal battles of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor against the requirement for contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act.
2. Assisted suicide
Gorsuch wrote a book titled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, in which he argues against assisted suicide laws. According to the Washington Post, in the book he calls for a legal system that would permit terminally ill patients to decline treatment, while banning intentional killing.
The nominee’s philosophy is based in his moral belief that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable,” The Post said.
3. Federal regulations
One of the reasons conservatives back Gorsuch’s nomination is that he questions longstanding legal precedent that they believe grants government too much regulatory power, according to Politico.
His opinion in an immigration case in August 2016 pleased the right. He argued that judges—not federal agencies—should interpret ambiguous laws.
4. Using courts for liberal causes
In a 2005 article published by the National Review, Gorsuch supports the argument that liberals are “addicted to the courtroom” for social change on issues like same-sex marriage. Instead, they should focus on passing legislation and ballot initiatives.
“This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary,” he wrote.
The Alliance for Justice, an association of progressive organizations, calls the Supreme Court nominee “a friend of big business.” Among several examples, the association points to a working paper for the Washington Legal Foundation in which Gorsuch calls on lawmakers and judges to make securities fraud class actions more difficult to achieve. That move would harm workers and consumers, the alliance stated.
6. Family roots in government
The judge’s mother, Anne Burford Gorsuch, oversaw the Environmental Protection Agency during Ronald Reagan’s first term. She was pressured to step down over allegations of mismanaging a $1.6 billion toxic waste cleanup program and a pending criminal investigation.
7. Obama connection
Gorsuch attended Harvard Law with former President Barack Obama.
Trump Names Neil Gorsuch As U.S. Supreme Court Nominee