On Tuesday night, President Trump is expected to announce that Neil Gorsuch, a Denver-based judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to be his nominee for the Supreme Court. After over 200 days of obstruction by the Republicans, they’re finally going to have a nominee of their own, someone to fill a seat that Republican voters want occupied by a strong conservative. Only one question remains: Does Gorsuch fit the bill?
If you’re a religious conservative, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.
Gorsuch has a long, well-known history of writing in favor of “religious liberty”, the kind of religious liberty that allows public courthouses to display statues of the Ten Commandments outside on the lawn. His most high-profile ruling in favor of religious interests came in the Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius case against the Affordable Care Act. It was a case in which the Hobby Lobby company was objecting to a provision in the ACA that would have mandated contraception coverage be included in the health care plans of their employees.
In Hobby Lobby, Gorsuch came to the defense of the religious owners of the company, finding that “the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act substantially burdened their religious exercise in violation of RFRA” (Religious Freedom Restoration Act).
Also stemming from his conservative baseline of thought, Gorsuch has been very public about his feelings that the judiciary has been overused by liberals as a tool for social change. In an article for the National Review titled “Liberals’N’Lawsuits,” Gorsuch criticizes the left for being overly litigious and appears in favor of limiting the scope of what the Supreme Court actually handles.
But rather than use the judiciary for extraordinary cases… American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.
With an attitude like that, it doesn’t seem likely that Gorsuch would be friendly at all to cases brought before the Court on issues like civil rights, immigration, and religious diversity.
If there’s one area where Gorsuch might give hardcore conservatives pause, it’s abortion. He hasn’t ruled on the issue before and has said very little to indicate where he stands on the issue. One anti-abortion group went so far as to say Trump nominating Gorsuch would be a violation of his earlier promise to put a strong anti-abortion justice on the bench. Still, given Gorsuch’s opinion on related issues, like religion, it doesn’t seem like anti-abortionists will be given too much to worry about.
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