WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2017 – In a comprehensive report released today, Alliance for Justice reviews the career and rulings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch and concludes that “on the merits, Judge Gorsuch is not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.”
The report relies on an extensive review of Judge Gorsuch’s record both before and after he joined the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, with a focus on cases Judge Gorsuch has decided on the bench. The report does not address his record while serving at the Department of Justice during the administration of President George W. Bush, as the relevant papers have not been made public.
“We’re issuing this report to sound the alarm,” said Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice. “In delving deeply into his record, it’s clear that Judge Gorsuch’s views are on the far right fringe of legal thinking. His vision of America is one in which big corporations run roughshod over working people, women go without safe and accessible reproductive health care, and people with disabilities are relegated to second-class citizenship. When the public and Senators review our report, they will understand how wrong he is for the Supreme Court.”
“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for the Constitution,” added Daniel Goldberg, Legal Director for Alliance for Justice. “So it’s not very surprising that he has nominated someone who also doesn’t share core constitutional values of the American people. A nomination to the Supreme Court carries lifetime tenure. It is vital that this nomination not be rushed. The American people and our elected representatives must be able to fully scrutinize Judge Gorsuch’s record, and Judge Gorsuch must fully address questions about his philosophy and answer for his continual disrespect for essential rights and protections.”
In analyzing Judge Gorsuch’s qualifications, AFJ attorneys examined his record in numerous areas of the law that illustrate his judicial philosophy and his approach to legal rights and protections. Most notably, AFJ found the following:
- Worker and consumer rights: Judge Gorsuch embraces an extreme agenda that favors corporations and special interests over everyday people, and joined a ruling (the original Hobby Lobby case) embracing the view that corporations are people.
- Reproductive health care: Judge Gorsuch’s writings suggest that he does not view the right to decide whether to have an abortion as constitutionally guaranteed, in such landmark abortion rights cases as Roe v. Wade. Also, in his rulings and writings, he indicates he would have permitted defunding Planned Parenthood, as well as let corporations deny contraceptive coverage.
- Disability rights: Judge Gorsuch has consistently ruled against rights and protections for people with disabilities, including private sector employees and public school students.
- LGBTQ rights: Judge Gorsuch has openly expressed his disapproval of LGBTQ Americans’ pursuit of equal rights via the federal courts. His ruling in Hobby Lobby, that corporations are people and can claim religious rights, has been used to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.
- Immigration: Judge Gorsuch habitually takes a dim view of immigrants’ legal claims in agency proceedings and against law enforcement authorities, typically ruling against immigrants in these cases.
- First Amendment: Judge Gorsuch’s view of monetary political contributions as a form of free speech deserving the utmost constitutional protection would dramatically increase the influence of money in politics. At the same time, his rulings and writings have shown strong support for allowing various forms of religious displays by government authorities.
- Criminal justice: Judge Gorsuch’s views on criminal justice are harsh. He has often sided with police on excessive force claims, dismissed the harm caused by a botched execution, repeatedly declined to hold government authorities accountable for improper searches of people and property, and maintained a very limited view of federal appellate courts’ ability to review convictions, including in death penalty cases.
- The environment: Judge Gorsuch’s legal philosophy on environmental regulation places him firmly on the side of polluters versus agencies charged with protecting clean air and water. In addition, he has repeatedly turned away challenges by environmental groups seeking to protect natural resources and public land.
In addition to reviewing Judge Gorsuch’s record, the report makes note of the exceptional circumstances surrounding his nomination. Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. President Trump has also made numerous public comments disparaging the federal judiciary, while promising prior to his nomination of Judge Gorsuch that “evangelicals” would “love” his nominee, and that he would choose a justice under whom Roe v. Wade would “automatically” be overturned. AFJ believes that these circumstances raise the bar for Senators evaluating Judge Gorsuch, who must prove beyond a doubt that he will be an independent and fair-minded jurist.