Why I Cannot Support Judge Gorsuch’s Nomination for the Supreme Court
Judge Gorsuch Has Consistently Sided with Big Corporations, Showing a Disregard for the Impact His Decisions Have on the Lives of Real Americans
At the foundation of our American democracy is the principle that every person counts. While our founding fathers did not count everyone at first, they established a system of self-government that would allow us to continue striving to do so — and we have.
An independent judiciary is critical to that system and to our march toward progress. Our founders established our court system to serve as an independent arbiter. In the Constitution, they gave Supreme Court justices secure posts — free from political winds — so they could stand up for equal justice under the law and protect the rights of every American, even when those rights may conflict with the interests of those in power.
In our judicial system, equality and justice are not cold concepts to be approached as academic exercises divorced from reality. They are fundamental to the ability of people to live their lives with dignity, opportunity, and freedom.
Dignity to marry the person you love. Opportunity to live with a disability as a full member of your community. Freedom to make your own health care decisions.
There is perhaps no position that requires a greater commitment to the pursuit of justice and protecting the rights of all Americans than a lifetime-appointed justice to the United States Supreme Court.
Cases that come before the Supreme Court touch countless lives, and each of those lives counts. Our system only works when Supreme Court justices consider the impact of their rulings on real people.
The Senate has a constitutional duty to provide its advice and consent on the President’s nominees to the Supreme Court. It is one of a senator’s most solemn responsibilities.
Over the past weeks, I have carefully considered the record of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. I studied Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record and his testimony before my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, I met with him in my office, and I have heard from people across New Hampshire regarding his nomination.
After considering the totality of Judge Gorsuch’s record and judicial philosophy, I have concluded that at this critical moment in our nation’s history, Judge Gorsuch has failed to demonstrate the judicial approach needed in a Supreme Court justice. While Judge Gorsuch is by all accounts a man of great integrity in his personal life, his record demonstrates that he has too often shown a disregard for the impact that his decisions have on the lives of real Americans, consistently putting big corporations before the rights and liberties of hard-working people and families.
Take for example, the case of Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver whose bosses ordered him to stay with a broken-down trailer on the side of the road in subzero temperatures. As the feeling began to leave his body, Maddin left his trailer for a short time in order to save his life. His company fired him as a result.
Maddin sued his company and seven judges heard his case. Only one of those judges — Judge Gorsuch — sided with the corporation over an employee who acted to save his own life.
In another ruling, the Supreme Court just this month unanimously rejected Judge Gorsuch’s narrow view of the educational rights of people who experience disabilities and their families under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
As the mother of a son who experiences severe disabilities, I know that these are not abstract legal issues. If not for the IDEA, my son would not have had the opportunity to go to school, to learn and make friends in our community, opportunities we all want for our children. Yet throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly ruled against the rights of people with disabilities.
Judge Gorsuch’s disregard for individual rights also extends to the rights of women, and I have deep concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s failure to commit to upholding the precedent of Roe v. Wade. On the bench, he has taken the side of large, for-profit corporations who have denied birth control coverage to women workers.
For women to participate fully in our democracy, they have to know that their government respects their capacity and right to make their own health care decisions. I am not confident Judge Gorsuch will uphold women’s constitutionally protected right to reproductive freedom and full participation in the economic and civic life of our country.
Additionally, Judge Gorsuch’s history of siding with corporations and his vague responses on the Citizens United decision suggest that he would rule to continue allowing unlimited, dark money to overwhelm our political system and the voices of everyday Americans.
At a time when our country all too often feels deeply divided on the critical issues we face, we need a Supreme Court justice who will rise above partisanship and protect the core values that we hold dear. President Trump can truly honor his pledge to be a president for everyday Americans by nominating a mainstream, consensus Supreme Court justice who would put the rights of hard-working Americans ahead of big corporations and ahead of a cold judicial philosophy.
Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch is not that nominee.
Judge Gorsuch is not in the mainstream. He has not shown a commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans, and he does not seem to always fully consider the consequences his decisions have on real lives. I will vote against this nomination, and I support maintaining the traditional 60-vote threshold for confirming Supreme Court nominees.