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Gorsuch confirmed; LGBT equality groups critical of decision
2017-04-07

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Filling a space created by the death of Antonin Scalia, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch, 49, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The vote was 54-45, largely along party lines.

Gorusch's confirmation happened after Republicans triggered what has been called the "nuclear option," in which a simple majority was needed. Gorsuch, a Denver-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, will become the 113th person to serve on the Supreme Court.

LGBTQ groups criticized the confirmation. National LGBTQ Task Force Deputy Executive Director Russell Roybal said in a statement, "Taking their lead from the Bully-in-Chief Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell twisted and turned the rules of the Senate to ram this extremist nominee through—slashing and burning safeguards for moderation, such as the rule calling for a 60 votes threshold needed to confirm an Associate Supreme Court Justice. We now have a new Justice who is so conservative that he makes Antonin Scalia look moderate."

"We are deeply disappointed by the Senate Republicans' decision to pave the way for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, who throughout his career has dismissed the role of the courts in protecting individual and civil rights," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

"He does not believe the Constitution protects marriage rights for same-sex couples. He has twice ruled in cases that undermined equality for transgender people. In his Senate testimony, he repeatedly dodged answers about the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people. If you harbor any remaining doubt about his dangerous worldview, consider for a moment that Judge Gorsuch's idol is none other than Antonin Scalia."

PRESS RELEASES

Statement from National LGBTQ Task Force on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court:

Washington DC, April 7, 2017— The National LGBTQ Task Force is making the following statement on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.

"Neil Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court represents the triumph of bullying over moderation. Taking their lead from the Bully-in-Chief Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell twisted and turned the rules of the Senate to ram this extremist nominee through — slashing and burning safeguards for moderation, such as the rule calling for a 60 votes threshold needed to confirm an Associate Supreme Court Justice. We now have a new Justice who is so conservative that he makes Antonin Scalia look moderate," said Russell Roybal, Deputy Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.

From HRC President Chad Griffin, a statement on Gorsuch confirmation:

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), denounced the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch, an ardent opponent of equality, to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

"We are deeply disappointed by the Senate Republicans' decision to pave the way for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, who throughout his career has dismissed the role of the courts in protecting individual and civil rights," said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. "He does not believe the Constitution protects marriage rights for same-sex couples. He has twice ruled in cases that undermined equality for transgender people. In his Senate testimony, he repeatedly dodged answers about the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people. If you harbor any remaining doubt about his dangerous worldview, consider for a moment that Judge Gorsuch's idol is none other than Antonin Scalia."

Gorsuch's history of opposing civil rights for the LGBTQ community triggered historic opposition from HRC and many civil rights organizations. HRC previously took unprecedented action by opposing Gorsuch prior to his confirmation hearing, calling for a filibuster on the Senate floor, and testifying against Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Gorsuch's record, coupled with Trump's discriminatory executive actions, his other anti-LGBTQ appointees, and the campaign promise to appoint a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia leave no room for anyone to doubt that as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, Gorsuch will be dangerous for the LGBTQ community.

Gorsuch has a long and troubling career opposing civil rights, including for LGBTQ people:

Gorsuch's 2004 dissertation from Oxford University revealed that he did not think the United States Constitution protected the right to marriage equality.

Gorsuch called marriage equality part of the liberal social agenda, saying, "American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom… as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide…"

He joined the Tenth Circuit's decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, which asserted that that some private corporations are "people" under federal law and have a right to deny basic healthcare coverage if it violates their religious belief. This expansive ruling could allow employers to deny transgender employees access to hormone treatment, access to birth control and other crucial health care for LGBTQ people.

Hobby Lobby could have negative long-term consequences beyond health care for the LGBTQ community. There are those who are already trying to use the decision to advance discrimination against LGBTQ workers.

In 2015, Gorsuch joined a ruling against a transgender woman who was denied consistent access to hormone therapy while incarcerated. The ruling dismissed the prisoner's claims that the denial of care amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution.

He has advocated for eliminating Chevron deference, a critical administrative law doctrine that allows our federal system of regulations to function, which could result in the significant loss protections for LGBTQ people.

From The American Constitution Society President, a statement on confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court:

Washington, D.C. — Today Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to be an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The American Constitution Society ( ACS ) President Caroline Fredrickson made the following statement:

"The nomination process for the Supreme Court is broken. When the Republican Senate majority couldn't win by the rules, they changed them. First, the Senate majority stole Chief Judge Merrick Garland's seat. For President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, the Republican majority said there would be no courtesy meetings, no hearing, and no vote. After holding the ninth seat open for a year, they rushed through the confirmation proceedings for Judge Gorsuch. Finally, in another power play, they changed longstanding senate rules in place to give the minority a voice — a tenet of our democracy — by invoking the nuclear option. Politics reigned supreme over justice in this case. So what happens next time? Today's largely single-party confirmation of a lifetime appointment sets a dangerous precedent."

From PFLAG National, a statement on Gorsuch confirmation:

WASHINGTON, DC—PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ )—issued the following statement from Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm in response to the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court:

"We remain concerned that Judge Gorsuch will now have a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. We thank our friend Senator Jeff Merkley ( D-OR ) for his heroic efforts to elevate Judge Gorsuch's longtime opposition to discrimination protections, which are so crucial to the wellbeing and safety of LGBTQ people and other similarly marginalized communities . PFLAGers everywhere will continue to educate about the real impact of decisions made in the judicial branch of government. Additionally, we will continue to participate in amicus briefs to the court to raise the unique and crucial family and ally voice by sharing the real stories of harm done to our LGBTQ loved ones."


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