With Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing set to begin in less than one week, advocacy groups are highlighting the federal judge’s troubling record on issues ranging from reproductive rights to labor protections to campaign finance law.
Gorsuch will sit before the Senate Judiciary Committee starting Monday, March 20. According to Politico on Tuesday, “some Democrats are privately beginning to believe that Gorsuch—barring a blunder at his Senate confirmation hearings next week—will clinch the 60 votes he needs to be approved without a filibuster.”
“Based on his record, writings, and the circumstances of his nomination, we believe Gorsuch would put reproductive freedom in grave danger and pose an imminent threat to our constitutional rights.”
—50+ women’s rights groups
But that’s not stopping progressives from voicing their opposition, as more than 50 abortion-rights groups did in a letter (pdf) sent Tuesday to to all 100 Senate offices.
“Gorsuch has demonstrated he will go to extraordinary lengths to reach a result that would block women’s access to basic reproductive healthcare,” the groups wrote, noting that Gorsuch appears set to pass the “outrageous litmus test” established by President Donald Trump that any Supreme Court nominee be committed to overturning Roe v. Wade.
“By selecting Gorsuch, a candidate put forward by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, Trump made it clear he believes Gorsuch passes this dangerous test and earned the applause of anti-abortion groups—including Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, and the extremist group Operation Rescue,” the letter reads. “Based on his record, writings, and the circumstances of his nomination, we believe Gorsuch would put reproductive freedom in grave danger and pose an imminent threat to our constitutional rights.”
Also Tuesday, 121 democracy, civil rights, environmental, and labor organizations separately asked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to probe Gorsuch’s position on the role of big money in politics. The letter (pdf) coordinated by Demos and Every Voice urges senators to ask this “essential question”:
(The groups’ call is perfectly timed. A Demos investigation published Tuesday “shows that 77 percent of money spent in competitive races in 2016 was directly attributable to Supreme Court rulings striking down basic protections against big money dominating our politics.”)
“Time after time, Judge Gorsuch has sided with the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone else,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO at Every Voice. “If promoted to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch could hand even more influence to big donors and corporations in our elections. Senators have a responsibility to press Judge Gorsuch at his hearing on whether he will side with everyday Americans and ensure the influence of money in politics is kept in check.”
This argument is in keeping with elected Democrats’ planned “line of attack,” identified by the New York Times on Monday. Democrats plan to suggest, the Times wrote, that “Judge Gorsuch’s rulings have favored the powerful and well connected.”
The Times reported:
Furthermore, the Times added, “Mr. Trump’s decision last week to ask for the resignations of dozens of United States attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama—a prerogative of any president—is expected to sharpen Democrats’ focus on Mr. Trump’s respect for legal processes and Judge Gorsuch’s degree of independence.”
“We must have a Supreme Court that acts a check and balance, not a rubber stamp. Gorsuch has shown he is not up to the task.”
—Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Voces de la Frontera
As Voces de la Frontera executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz declared Tuesday, “Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on immigrants show that now more than ever, we must have a Supreme Court that acts a check and balance, not a rubber stamp. Gorsuch has shown he is not up to the task.”
Indeed, following last month’s public battle between Trump and the judiciary, GQ writer Jay Willis predicted that the matter of judicial independence will almost certainly feature prominently during Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing.
At the hearing, Willis wrote at the time, “[t]his question…will be near-impossible to duck”:
Left-leaning groups aren’t the only ones organizing around Gorsuch’s pending hearing. The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Freedom Action Foundation has reportedly made a $1 million ad buy highlighting how gun rights hang in the balance given the current composition of the Supreme Court. The ads are set to run Tuesday through March 22, according to McClatchy, which also reported:
Tuesday’s efforts come on the heels of a letter sent earlier this month to Senate Democrats by 11 leading progressive groups, urging lawmakers to “do better” in resisting Gorsuch’s nomination.
“As a judge, Gorsuch opposed reproductive freedom and women’s rights; LGBTQ rights; civil rights; workers’ rights; immigrants’ rights; disability rights; environmental protections; and sought to increase the influence of corporate money in our elections,” they wrote. “Imagine how much damage he could do with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”