Bad news for LGBT equality as Trump’s Supreme Court justice confirmed by Senate
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has been approved by the Senate after Republicans changed the rules to railroad through a vote.
President Trump has picked appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, citing his conservative values.
Judge Gorsuch is a strict originalist who is likely to reject arguments that interpret the Constitution as affording protections for LGBT rights, and is likely to upset the fragile balance between liberals and conservatives on the court.
During his confirmation hearing in the Senate, Gorsuch avoided questions on LGBT rights, simply stating that “The Supreme Court of the United States has held that single-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution”. He did not clarify his actual legal viewpoints.
The Human Rights Campaign has opposed Gorsuch’s nomination, while GLAAD also voiced concerns.
Democrats had vowed to block his confirmation in the Senate, but Gorsuch was confirmed today after Republicans changed the voting rules to force him through with a simple majority.
The vote passed by 54-45. Previous Senate rules would have required 60 votes.
Gorsuch’s confirmation is likely bad news for LGBT rights cases that are expected to end up before the SCOTUS.
The court is expected to hear a case regarding discrimination protections for transgender children in schools, while lower courts are divided on whether civil rights protections extend to LGBT people, signalling scope for Supreme Court review. Issues relating to ‘religious freedom’ following the equal marriage ruling may also end up back before the court.
Anti-LGBT activists are jubilant at the news.
In a statement to PinkNews, the National Organisation for Marriage said: “This development is a huge boost for NOM and for the prospects of restoring true marriage to our nation’s laws by reversing the illegitimate, anti-constitutional Obergefell ruling of 2015 redefining marriage.”
The anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel added: “With the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, today could be a red-letter day in U.S. history; one that could define the direction of our High Court and our nation’s culture for decades to come. But the confirmation vote is still hours away.”
LGBT rights groups had strongly opposed his nomination.
In a statement to PinkNews, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: 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.
“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.”
HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow had entered testimony against the confirmation of Gorsuch.
She warned: “Areas of the law that the majority of Americans view as settled, including marriage equality, are being litigated and debated by groups who are emboldened that a Supreme Court Justice like Judge Gorsuch will re-open settled law. The Supreme Court will be asked to hear cases such those that could decide whether public school counselor in Mississippi can turn away LGBTQ youth in need, whether City of Houston employees who may be
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“The Supreme Court will be asked to hear cases such those that could decide whether public school counselor in Mississippi can turn away LGBTQ youth in need, whether City of Houston employees who may be stipped of their spousal benefits, or whether moms like Marisa and Terrah Pavan must both be listed on their daughter’s birth certificate.”
Gorsuch will now take the lifetime appointment to the court.
HRC previously made an explainer of his record on LGBT rights.
They summed up:
* 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.