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Court Nominee and Religious Freedom!

February 13, 2017

On February 1st, President Trump nominated a federal judge from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals as his pick in replacing the seat left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.  Neil Gorsuch is a “textualist” (meaning he believes in the intent of the original words found in the Constitution).  In doing so, the President kept a campaign promise by nominating a Constitutionalist from his pre-submitted list of prospective nominees.   

During his tenure elsewhere, Gorsuch’s record speaks loudly in defending religious freedom (i.e. Hobby Lobby), and in applauding Justice Scalia for his efforts in defending the words and meaning of the Constitution.  In his acceptance speech, Gorsuch vowed to be a “faithful servant” adding “It is the role of judges to apply,” not alter the law.  

If confirmed, the 49 year old Gorsuch will likely serve many decades and exert influence much longer than the President.  Strangely, the single issue which dominated voters this election was this issue.  Twenty-five percent of voters voted for their particular candidate almost solely on whom they believed the President would nominate for the Supreme Court.  This was amplified among those concerned about religious freedom.  Catholics, in spite of their heavy Hispanic numbers, voted for Trump by a margin of 52-45.  Evangelicals voted for Trump 80-15.  These numbers illustrate the concern American’s religious have in defending their privilege and rights to believe and practice their religion.   Gorsuch’s involvement in the Hobby Lobby case -- where the rights of individuals to defend themselves from furthering what they view as a further decay in society  through the practice of almost unrestricted abortion -- brings hope for religious freedom.  

With this announcement came a fire storm from the Democrats particularly in the Senate where they have a role in confirming him.  We find this more than hypothetical because many of these same Senators were present when they unanimously confirmed Gorsuch in his current position on the 10th Circuit.  Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer said he had “serious doubts.” 

Ron Wyden (D-OR), “issued a scathing statement” on Gorsuch’s stance of assisted suicide claiming that “no one who believes individual rights are reserved to the people” could vote for this nominee.  We find this comment of most interest.  A “textualist” believes in “original meaning.”  The Constitution originally granted all powers for defining moral law to states or the people of the states.  Federal law or rulings claiming to grant national rights on moral issues such as free abortion, defining marriage, or other moral societal behavior were nonexistent.  By Gorsuch’s admission and past stance, Ron Wyden ought to find hope with Gorsuch’s personal beliefs.  As an originalist, Gorsuch could not find himself reading into the document non-existence powers 

With only 52 Republican Senators, eight short of defeating a Democratic filibuster, either eight Democrats most crossover to vote with Republicans or Republicans may be forced to the use the nuclear option instituted by former Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to confirm Gorsuch. We encourage both parties to join together and confirm this nominee.

Mark, Bill and John

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