Trump SCOTUS nominee is ‘Scalia clone,’ sided with ‘religious freedom’ in Hobby Lobby case
In another prime-time stunt, Donald Trump has announced his nominee to replace former judge Antonin Scalia.
Denver, CO, native and 10th Appellate Court Judge Neil Gorsuch is his name, and he’s being called a “natural successor” to replace the controversial and conservative Scalia. He’s also the youngest nominee ever at age 49.
SCOTUS Blog, an unofficial legal blog covering the Supreme Court, released a profile of Gorsuch (along with other possible nominees) ahead of tonight’s announcement and it paints 49-year-old judge similar to Scalia in both philosophy and “judicial style.”
Among Gorsuch’s background is his support for so called “religious freedom” in the famed Hobby Lobby case which held businesses do not have to offer no-cost birth control to employees.
In Hobby Lobby, Gorsuch wrote a concurrence in the en banc 10th Circuit that sided with the company and its owners. He stressed the need to accept these parties’ own conceptions regarding the requirements of their faith, and held (among other things) that they were likely to prevail on claims that the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act substantially burdened their religious exercise in violation of RFRA. This position was largely vindicated in the subsequent decision by the Supreme Court. Thereafter, in Little Sisters of the Poor, Gorsuch joined a group of 10th Circuit judges who dissented from denial of rehearing en banc when a panel of the court of appeals ruled against the Little Sisters on their RFRA claims about the same ACA mandate. There, again, the point was that the 10th Circuit had shown insufficient deference to the Little Sisters’ own articulation of the tenets of their religious beliefs. That position, too, was at least partially vindicated by the Supreme Court when it decided that the Little Sisters’ religious beliefs probably could be accommodated while still affording full and equal contraceptive coverage to their employees, and directed the parties and courts to consider such a solution on remand. Simply put, in cases that closely divided his court and the Supreme Court, Gorsuch has shown himself to be an ardent defender of religious liberties and pluralistic accommodations for religious adherents.
Gorsuch is often referred to as as a “textualists” meaning he adheres closely to the original version of the constitution and strays from amending or interpreting laws outside of what the founding fathers would have.
NPR’s Carrie Johnson called Gorsuch a “solidly conservative” pick inline with Trump’s campaign promise to offer a replacement for Scalia.
Appointed to the 10th Circuit by George W. Bush in 1996, The American Bar Association rated him as “unanimously well qualified.”
NPR dug up a speech from Gorsuch at the Federalist Society in Washington from a few years back where the possible SCOTUS judge quoted famed modern author David Foster Wallace:
“Like any human enterprise, the law’s crooked timber occasionally produces the opposite of the intended effect,” he said. “We turn to the law earnestly to promote a worthy idea and wind up with a host of unwelcome side effects that do more harm than good. … We depend upon the rule of law to guarantee freedom, but we have to give up freedom to live under the law’s rules.”
The nominee has also released a book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, in 2006. The book offers a “comprehensive argument against their legalization” and the “respect of human life.”
As for specifics on LGBTQ issues, The Human Rights Campaign has found a few Gorsuch rulings dealing with LGBTQ issues. In 2015 he ruled against giving an incarcerated transgender woman access to hormone therapy, dismissing claims that such a denial was a form of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
In a 2005 National Review OpEd, Gorsuch condemned the use of the Supreme court in “effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide.”
Written in 2005, the piece mentions the need for “the left” to persuade the public to their causes rather than going to federal court, even though Civil Rights have often found more sympathy before the high court despite changes in public attitude.
Check out more via SCOTUSBlog.
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