Democrats, progressives digging in against Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch

"He harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special interest agenda," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said Wednesday.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated March 16, 2017 at 6:41 AM
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March 15 (UPI) -- Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups mobilized Wednesday to ramp up their opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's embattled choice to fill the ninth seat on the high court bench.

The progressive coalition The People's Defense -- a bloc of advocacy groups like NARAL, MoveOn, End Citizens United, Stand Up America and People for the American Way -- organized a protest in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., which featured remarks by Democratic lawmakers and prominent advocates, and called on Trump opponents to fight harder in their efforts to keep Gorsuch off the nation's top appellate bench.

"Gorsuch's nomination represents an imminent threat to America's most cherished rights and most vulnerable citizens, and millions of Americans across the country are demanding that Democratic leadership use everything in their power to block it," the alliance said. "We must be clear: This fight is not about defensive electoral politics, it's about our rights as Americans and our democracy as a whole."

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley, outspoken critics of Gorsuch, attended the event.

During the demonstration in front of the high court, more than a million signed petitions were stacked high in dozens of boxes to be delivered to the U.S. Senate -- a measure intended to underscore resistance to the Colorado judge's nomination.

Most Democrats have signaled staunch opposition to the president's choice since it was announced Jan. 31, and although Republicans control the Senate, Gorsuch might still face an uncertain confirmation outcome.

Any Supreme Court nominee needs 60 votes in the Senate for confirmation. Last month, however, Trump asked Senate Republicans to invoke a rare procedural maneuver that would approve Gorsuch with a simple majority of 51 votes, if Democrats try to stall his nominee.

Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said if Republicans find themselves needing to call on that little-used procedure to approve Gorsuch, he shouldn't be nominated in the first place.

"If a nominee cannot get 60 votes, you don't change the rules, you change the nominee," he said at a news conference.

U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil M. Gorsuch (L) remarks to news media after his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on January 31, as President Donald Trump and his wife, Louise, listen. The Supreme Court seat has been vacant for more than a year following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

To underscore the human impact, Schumer introduced three Americans at the event who said they were negatively impacted by Gorsuch's decisions in recent years -- a man fired from his job in 2009, a woman who had a medical device implanted incorrectly and a cancer patient who was also fired from her job after treatment. In each case, Gorsuch ruled against their favor.

"Judge Gorsuch may act like a neutral, calm judge but his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special interest agenda," the New York senator said. "He enacted it time and time again on the 10th Circuit, and if given the chance I have no doubt he would do it again on the Supreme Court.

"He expresses a lot of empathy and sympathy for the less powerful but when it comes time to rule, when the chips are down, far too often he sides with the powerful few over everyday Americans trying to just get a fair shake," Schumer continued. "Judge Gorsuch repeatedly sided with insurance companies and wanted to deny disability benefits to employees. In employment discrimination cases, Bloomberg found he sided with employers 60 percent of the time.

"In one of the few cases he sided with an employee, it was a Republican woman who alleged she was fired for being a conservative."

Other Democrats echoed the minority leader's remarks Wednesday.

"We can't let Judge Neil Gorsuch become the crucial ninth vote on this Supreme Court," Markey tweeted. "In the Hobby Lobby [case] he ruled that corporations are people whose religious beliefs are more important than rights and health of women."

Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned craft chain, sued the federal government in 2013 over a federal mandate that forced it to provide health coverage for emergency contraception, or the "day after pill," for female employees. Appellate courts and the Supreme Court ultimately struck down the federal mandate.

Trump has said he is confident Gorsuch, an appellate judge in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, will be confirmed.

"We have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law," Trump said last month during an address to a joint session of Congress. "He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination."

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