Op Ed

Why Gorsuch’s Wrong for Supreme Court

He favors corporations over people and holds radical views.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Mar 13th, 2017 04:22 pm
Neil Gorsuch. Photo from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shows Judge Neil Gorsuch. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Neil Gorsuch. Photo from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shows Judge Neil Gorsuch. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on hard facts about Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, given the deluge of tweets, executive orders, ripostes and other news coming from Washington these days.

If you ignore all the chatter and study Gorsuch’s record, however, what emerges is a portrait of a far-right judge who is even more extreme than Justice Antonin Scalia, and whose legal views would harm Wisconsin workers and families.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin reviewed his record, realized its implications for the future if Gorsuch is confirmed, and stated her opposition to that confirmation. She was elected to make decisions like this and to explain them. She did her job.

What do we know about Neil Gorsuch? Well, he favors bosses over workers.

Gorsuch sided with the employers most of the time when deciding discrimination cases. His 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a truck driver who was fired for unhitching his truck from a broken-down trailer and driving away to avoid hazardous winter conditions. Gorsuch dissented.

He ruled against an African-American employee in Oklahoma who claimed he was fired because of his race, and he dissented from another ruling that gave a woman UPS driver a chance to prove sex discrimination against her.

Regarding women’s right to reproductive health care, he sided with a challenge brought by Hobby Lobby stores to a mandate of the federal Affordable Care Act for providing birth control coverage to company employees. He said closely held corporations are people and their religious beliefs could exempt them from the provision. It will take years for the full implications of that one to play out.

Gorsuch would put federal agencies in the crosshairs over their regulations that protect the air that Wisconsinites breathe, and the safety of our water, our food and our medicines. He has criticized a legal principle called the Chevron doctrine that requires courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous laws.

Not only is Gorsuch’s philosophy here more radical than that of Justice Scalia, it would jeopardize Wisconsinites’ health and safety if it became law. And not surprisingly, limiting the right of agencies to regulate has been a priority of right-wing groups. It has been championed by speakers before the Federalist Society, an ultraconservative organization of lawyers that gave guidance to the president in selecting a Supreme Court nominee.

When Gorsuch was a lawyer in private practice, he wrote a 2005 article saying the Supreme Court ought to restrain class-action securities lawsuits that he termed “frivolous.” These lawsuits allow Wisconsinites and other Americans to band together in groups to demand accountability from corporations that harmed them. Gorsuch labeled the cases a “free ride to fast riches” for lawyers representing the plaintiffs.

These are some telling samples of his record. The bottom line on Gorsuch is becoming increasingly clear. President Trump may have saluted “the forgotten men and women of our country” on his way to the White House. But in naming his first justice for the Supreme Court, something changed. Trump decided in favor of employers, corporate interests and Wall Street and against workers and families in Wisconsin and around the country.

Sen. Baldwin has taken a stand against confirming Neil Gorsuch, an extremist who would erode some of our most fundamental rights and protections. That’s a fact, and it’s why all senators must look closely at his record as they proceed to weigh the Gorsuch nomination.

Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.

This column originally ran in The Cap Times.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

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