Combat Donald Trump’s Arch-Conservative SCOTUS Pick

Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch does not belong on the Supreme Court—and not just because Republicans stole this seat by refusing to hold a hearing (let alone a vote!) for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s supremely well-qualified and moderate nominee. Judge Gorsuch is a staunch conservative out of step with the American people.

Further complicating the confirmation process, FBI Director Comey recently made public that there is a “wide-ranging probe” into potential collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Following Director Comey’s statements, the Associated Press published new evidence about former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort’s previous professional ties to a Russian billionaire, including a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin government.”

Decisions Senators make today about who to put on the Court and how Supreme Court appointments are made will affect our democratic system for decades to come. The Supreme Court will continue to hear cases on critical issues, from protecting minority rights to ensuring free, fair, and democratic elections. Given the gravity of the confirmation process, it is imperative that Senators thoroughly vet all nominees to the Court. This is simply not possible as they work to untangle complex and rapidly evolving information about an unprecedented intrusion into our electoral process by a foreign government.

Even if the Senate insists on moving forward with the confirmation process despite overarching concerns about the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, Neil Gorsuch’s record alone should give lawmakers pause. Gorsuch has routinely put the interests of employers, institutions, and big business ahead of average Americans. 

When a company fired a trucker for leaving his cargo to seek help in subzero temperatures—after the man waited long enough for his torso to go numb—Judge Gorsuch sided with the company. When a professor recovering from cancer was fired after requesting a short period of telecommuting to protect her fragile health from a flu epidemic on campus, Judge Gorsuch concluded that her modest request imposed an unfair demand that her employer provide a “safety net.” 

He also wants judges to have greater liberty to substitute their own uninformed views for those of scientists, economists, and other technical experts who spent years meticulously crafting data-driven rules to protect our air, water, health, and safety. 

Judge Gorsuch is no champion of free and fair government, either: he has been unwilling to stand up publicly against Donald Trump’s vicious attacks on federal judges and supports an extreme view that common sense restrictions on campaign contributions should be struck down unless they satisfy “strict scrutiny”—the most difficult test the Supreme Court applies, and the same one used to protect our most sacred, fundamental rights.

In what is probably Judge Gorsuch’s most famous case, he conjured up the new theory that for-profit corporations have a right to religious freedom. This right had traditionally been reserved for individuals, houses of worship, and other religious non-profits, and Judge Gorsuch’s philosophy theory radically expands on the fiction that big businesses are people with rights as important—or even more important—than actual people.

Judge Gorsuch believes that business should be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees—even when doing so means depriving those employees of basic health care—and they should be able to use those “religious beliefs” to avoid the laws that protect the rest of us. But it’s not clear whether his expansive view of religious freedom extends beyond big business to protect, for example, Muslims’ constitutional right to an equal place in our society.

Senate Republicans have already been playing games with the Supreme Court for over a year. They only have a seat to fill today because of their unprecedented obstruction and breach of protocol last year. And those same Republicans, who used Senate procedures to block fair consideration of Merrick Garland, threaten to change the Senate rules to silence Democrats, unless Democrats rubber stamp the far-right, anti-worker, anti-women, friend of big business and big donors they have picked for the Court. 

Specifically, there is talk that Republicans will resort to the “nuclear option” of scrapping the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. With the centuries-old filibuster, any nominee requires support of 60 of our 100 senators, which nearly always means a nominee must have support from at least some senators on either side of the aisle. Without it, bare partisan preferences could select the next Justice and all who follow.

Senators who oppose Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, and those who are wavering, need our support and encouragement to demand a more moderate, consensus pick. And senators who support Gorsuch need to hear that their constituents will not tolerate short-sighted power grabs that undermine the Court in the long run. 

Call your Senators today and tell them you don’t support Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. Throughout this script, replace “[Senator Hernandez]” with the name of your Senator. 

 

Sample Call Dialogue:

  • Staffer: [Senator Hernandez’s] Office! How can I help you?

    You: Good morning/afternoon. I’m a constituent of [Senator Hernandez] and I’m calling to ask what his position is on President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Option 1: Opposes Gorsuch for Supreme Court

  • Staffer: The Senator opposes the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

    You: Great! I’m so glad to hear that. I firmly believe that Judge Gorsuch’s record shows that he is an extreme conservative who is out of step with the American people and their values. I’m pleased to hear the Senator will oppose this nominee and hope he will do so with any other nominee with an alarming history of backing corporations and big donors against average people. 

    If [Senator Hernandez] is opposed to the nominee, will he do everything in his power to prevent Gorsuch from being seated, including using the filibuster and voting against cloture?

    Staffer: Well, he hasn’t taken a position on Senate procedures..

    You: I appreciate that [Senator Hernandez] says he’s opposed, but I expect him to use the filibuster and then vote against cloture. I hope he demonstrates that he has the courage of his convictions, and I will be watching closely to confirm he does.

    Staffer: Thank you for your message, I’ll pass it on to the Senator.

    You: Thank you very much. I look forward to having the Senator do everything in his power to defeat this nominee.

Option 2: Supports Gorsuch for Supreme Court

  • Staffer: The Senator supports the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

    You: Thank you for letting me know that. Will the Senator publicly pledge that Judge Gorsuch will only be confirmed to the Supreme Court if he receives a filibuster-proof majority (60 votes) in the full Senate?

    Staffer: We haven’t reached that point yet in the process.

    You: Are you telling me that [Senator Hernandez] is open to using the “Nuclear Option” to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees? If that’s true, this is a shocking departure from centuries-old norms, and I’m worried that it could permanently damage the fairness and legitimacy of the Supreme Court This should be a simple question: Can you give me a yes or no answer on whether the Senator opposes the Nuclear Option?

    Staffer: The Senator hasn’t taken a position on that issue.

    You: Please let the Senator know that I expect him to uphold the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. In the history of our country, every single justice to sit on the Supreme Court has received the approval of a filibuster-proof majority. This is a vital check-and-balance in our democracy, and an important function of the United States Senate. Supreme Court Justices enjoy lifetime terms, and they should not be selected on the temporary whims on on political party or the other. I will be watching closely what the Senator does on this issue and will cast my vote accordingly.

    Staffer: I’ll pass that message on to the Senator.

    You: Thank you.

Option 3: Wait and See

  • Staffer: The Senator is withholding their judgement on Judge Gorsuch until the nomination process has run its course.

If Democratic Office

  • You: That is disappointing to hear. Judge Gorsuch has a long track record of decisions that put corporations above regular Americans like me. He also has extreme views on campaign finance reform and women’s and worker’s rights, and he wants judges to be able to scrap environmental and labor regulations made by scientists experts to protect our health, safety, and financial well-being. I expect the Senator to take a firm stance on nominees, like Judge Gorsuch, who sit far outside the judicial mainstream.

    Staffer: Thank you for your message, I’ll pass it on to the Senator.

    You: Thank you. I hope [Senator Hernandez] will reconsider his position, oppose Judge Gorsuch, and work to defeat his nomination. But if he doesn’t, will he at least take a public stand against any threats to use the “nuclear option” to get rid of the filibuster?

    Staffer: We haven’t reached that point yet in the process.

    You: Please tell [Senator Hernandez] that I expect him to take a strong stand in support of the filibuster, no matter how he decides to vote on Judge Gorsuch. In the history of our country, every single justice to sit on the Supreme Court has received the approval of a filibuster-proof majority. This is a vital check-and-balance in our democracy, and an important function of the United States Senate. Supreme Court Justices enjoy lifetime terms, and they should not be selected on the temporary whims on on political party or the other. I will be watching closely what the Senator does on this issue and will cast my vote accordingly.

    Staffer: I’ll pass that message on to the Senator.

    You: Thank you.

If Republican Office

  • You: Thank you for letting me know that. Please tell [Senator Hernandez] that I am worried that Judge Gorsuch is out of step with my values, and I expect [Senator Hernandez] to take a close look at Judge Gorsuch’s record before deciding how to vote.  

    Staffer: I’ll pass that message on to the Senator. 

    You: Thank you. I’m also worried about threats I’ve hard to use the “nuclear option” to push through Judge Gorsuch’s nomination on a purely partisan vote. Will the Senator publicly pledge that the Judge Gorsuch will only be confirmed to the Supreme Court if he receives a filibuster-proof majority (60 votes) in the full Senate? 

    Staffer: We haven’t reached that point yet in the process.

    You: Please let the Senator know that I expect him to uphold the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. In the history of our country, every single justice to sit on the Supreme Court has received the approval of a filibuster-proof majority. This is a vital check-and-balance in our democracy, and an important function of the United States Senate. Supreme Court Justices enjoy lifetime terms, and they should not be selected on the temporary whims on on political party or the other. I will be watching closely what the Senator does on this issue and will cast my vote accordingly.

    Staffer: I’ll pass that message on to the Senator.

    You: Thank you.