The People’s Defense: Why Senators Must Reject Gorsuch

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 20, 2017, for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee begins meeting to consider whether Judge Neil Gorsuch should be awarded a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court. While senators should rightfully use this opportunity to uncover more about the nominee and his background, progressives are delivering a clear message to Capitol Hill: Gorsuch must never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.

President Trump's Supreme Court nominee lands in the Senate at a time of unparalleled public angst and amidst a surge of civic engagement. Americans in communities coast to coast have been speaking out to their congressional offices, at town halls, and in the streets. The message these actions send is unequivocal: Trump and those who enable his dangerous agenda will be held accountable, every step of the way.

Now, these same Americans—including NARAL members, Indivisible groups, and concerned citizens across the nation—are standing up to oppose the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, the most extreme Supreme Court nominee in recent memory. Judge Gorsuch has a history of ruling against women and working families. And when asked to disavow Trump's most obvious and dangerous violations of our constitutional system, Gorsuch has refused. This is not the record of a principled jurist; it's the record of a nominee who fails the basic test for appointment to the Supreme Court.

In the days leading up to this week’s hearings, our organizations helped to deliver more than one million petitions to the Senate in opposition to Trump's nominee. Americans are fired up for a simple reason: They demand a fair and independent judiciary capable of standing up to an out-of-control president who threatens to trample our essential liberties. With Trump in the Oval Office, Americans know they cannot afford a Supreme Court that will rubber stamp his extreme agenda, that will shrink away as he attacks women's rights, increases corporate power, and refuses to safeguard citizens against the president's unconstitutional overreach. In red states and blue, it is becoming clear that this nomination battle is about nothing less than the independence of our nation's highest court for decades to come.

While supporters of Judge Gorsuch have tried to pass him off as a “mainstream” nominee, his record is just the opposite. In fact, Gorsuch's history makes clear that he would ratify the most dangerous and discriminatory parts of Trump’s agenda.

Like Trump, Gorsuch has consistently stood with powerful institutions over the needs of Americans. He has ruled to allow corporations like Hobby Lobby to discriminate against women. He favored giving police forces and prosecutors more unchecked power, including for the use of physical force on suspects. He wants to continue unfettered corporate spending under Citizens United, and often sides with employers over the rights of workers. He favors slashing the authority of public agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Communications Commission—threatening advances in health care, environmental protections, and even access to high-speed internet.

Given his fringe beliefs, Judge Gorsuch does not look like someone who would stand up to President Trump’s darkest impulses. And given the assertion of the White House chief of staff that Gorsuch “represents the type of judge that has the vision of Donald Trump,” the prospect of a Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court looks dangerous indeed.

Since coming to office, Trump has put forward an unconstitutional travel ban on Muslim nations, pulled back protections for transgendered students, and spurred his congressional allies to dismantle a health law that has given millions access to affordable health care. He has done this while promising over and over to appoint Supreme Court justices who will work to overturn Roe v. Wade.

This radical agenda has no place on the Supreme Court. Our constitutional system doesn't exist to advance partisan agendas or support the dystopian worldview of an unstable president. It exists to stand up to these pressures, to be an independent check on power in order to uphold the basic rights and freedoms of all Americans.

The good news for progressives is that Americans overwhelmingly oppose confirming a Supreme Court justice who allows Trump to run roughshod over our constitutional rights. Advocacy groups with friends and allies in every state have risen up to defend the core values of our democracy: freedom, equality, and the checks and balances that ensure our government reflects the will of the people. Any senator, Republican or Democrat, who votes to put Trump's agenda on the Supreme Court will be held accountable.

With Judge Gorsuch’s hearing beginning Monday, NARAL members and Indivisible groups across the country have flooded Congress with calls of opposition. This outpouring will only continue, as activists gather around kitchen tables, at town halls, and in the streets to protest the dangerous agenda of Donald Trump and his Supreme Court nominee. Under the banner of "The People’s Defense," this explosion of grassroots power will ensure that government, with all its checks and balances, remains a tool of the people.

Americans want their courts to defend their common values, not to wage ideological fights against their rights. The American people are demanding that senators join them as partners in this defense of our most basic values. And if senators, especially Democrats, are too tired to fight for these values, voters will replace them with those who will.

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