Without exception, every one of Donald Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees had a record of hostility towards LGBT citizens. Neil Gorsuch is no exception. Worse yet, with his support of Hobby Lobby's ridiculous claim that for profit business corporations can hold religious beliefs, Gorsuch has signaled that he is all in favor of granting special rights to Christian extremists and that should the "First Amendment Defense Act" be enacted and come before the Supreme Court, that he would rule for special rights for right wing Christians and uphold a blanket licence to discriminate law such as that act. Lambda Legal has taken the formal position of opposing Gorsuch and lays out an explanation of why it has done so. Here are excerpts:
Following President Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, to the U.S. Supreme Court today, Lambda Legal took the difficult step of formally opposing his nomination, citing his record of hostility towards LGBT people and other marginalized communities. This is the first time Lambda Legal has opposed a Supreme Court nomination before a confirmation hearing.In opposing Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, Lambda Legal cited his anti-LGBT rulings as well as his record on critical issues like religious exemptions.
“Judge Gorsuch’s opinion in the 10th Circuit Hobby Lobby decision is disqualifying,” said Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal. “The Hobby Lobby decision set a terrible and destructive standard for bosses being allowed to meddle in our sex lives and decide whether or not birth control is covered by the employer’s insurance plan. In Judge Gorsuch’s decision, he calls the inclusion of health coverage that includes birth control – ‘complicity…in the wrongdoing of others.’ Even the Supreme Court, affirming that case, acknowledged how dangerous this line of thinking is: it creates a nation in which some religions are obliged to follow the law and others are not. Troublingly, Judge Gorsuch does not even see this as a problem.
“We absolutely must not confirm a Supreme Court nominee who has ruled that the religious beliefs of employers can trump the law. It is a short hop from birth control restrictions to restrictions on the intimate relationships and health care needs of LGBT people.
“Through his decisions, Judge Gorsuch has promoted a vision of a society where some religions prevail over others, and are invited to flout the law. Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record is hostile toward LGBT people and his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is unacceptable—we oppose.”
Lambda Legal also cited a troubling ruling from Gorsuch in a recent transgender rights case in Oklahoma.
Additionally, protections against employment discrimination affecting LGBT people are likely to come before the Court very soon, as cases Lambda Legal has filed on behalf of math teacher Kim Hively and security guard Jameka Evans—both fired for being lesbians—make their way through the federal court system.
“Judge Gorsuch may very well be the decisive vote in these cases and others, and his extreme record suggests he could roll back the tremendous progress our country has made towards recognizing the fundamental rights LGBT people and everyone living with HIV,” said Tiven. “While any nominee would be difficult to accept given that this is a seat stolen from a democratically-elected president, we believe that Judge Gorsuch is an especially dangerous jurist to place on the highest court in the land.”
Judge Gorsuch has supported religious exemptions from laws based on ‘complicity’—the wrongheaded idea that adhering to the law makes the objector complicit in the allegedly sinful conduct of others. He troublingly described the issue in his 10th Circuit Hobby Lobby opinion as follows: ‘All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others.’
Judge Gorsuch has expressed disapproval of civil rights impact litigation, writing in 2005 that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom … as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage” to other issues. It is telling that Judge Gorsuch saves his criticism for “American liberals,” even as the U.S. Supreme Court routinely has heard conservative challenges to constitutionally protected rights.
One set of religious belief should never trump non-discrimination and other laws. Yet, this is what Gorsuch's record shows he believes to be perfectly fine. The perverse part of me longs for the day when Christians are a minority in America and when perhaps they will have to face the legal discrimination that they have dished out to others for so long. That would be divine justice.