Rally against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, in front of the United States Supreme Court. Washington DC January 31, 2017.
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, a Constitutional “originalist,” has taken an expansive view of corporate rights as a federal judge on the Tenth Circuit. Women have not fared as well in his court, where Gorsuch has demonstrated a commitment to curtailing workplace protections for female employees, not to mention aggressive opposition to reproductive freedom.
The contrast between Gorsuch’s record of coddling corporations and his rebuff to women’s basic rights, shows a big-business bias that crushes actual human beings and humane, progressive values.
As a Tenth Circuit judge, Gorsuch joined the majority in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, which argued that corporations are persons and have a right to exercise their religious beliefs under the Religions Freedom Restoration Act. Based on this doctrine, Hobby Lobby won the freedom, upheld by the Supreme Court, to withhold birth control coverage from its female employees.
Thanks to that case, soulless corporations can assert spiritual rights that trump the health care needs of women.
And that’s not all. Gorsuch has a long record of protecting big companies from consumers, workers, and employees whose claims of fraud and discrimination threaten to make a dent in profits.
A fact sheet put together by People for the American Way outlines Gorsuch’s pro-corporate, anti-human-rights record.
In a working paper for the Washington Legal Foundation, Gorsuch staked out the opposite end of the ideological spectrum from consumer financial protection advocate Elizabeth Warren, lamenting securities class-action fraud claims that “prompt corporate defendants to pay dearly to settle,” and recommended making securities fraud class actions more difficult to pursue.
In an article titled “Liberals’N’Lawsuits” for National Review, Gorsuch argued that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
Besides lashing out at the “liberal agenda,” including defending the rights of minorities in the courts, Gorsuch has sought to make it more difficult for federal agencies to enforce clean air and water standards, as well as food and drug safety.
All of this is part of an ideology that elevates the rights of businesses over those of individual human beings.
Gorsuch’s position that courts should be able to overrule federal agencies that seek to enforce basic health, safety, and environmental protections goes further than Justice Antonin Scalia, People for the American Way notes. “It is difficult to overstate the damage this would cause our nation,” the groups states.
His rulings against employees include a dissent in a case imposing a Labor Department fine against a company whose failure to train a worker caused his death. He also dissented from a decision upholding an National Labor Relations Board back pay order for an employee whose wages were improperly reduced.
Most worrisome to advocates for women’s rights is the Hobby Lobby case, along with Little Sisters of the Poor, a case in which Gorsuch dissented from the majority and held that religiously affiliated organizations that refuse to provide birth-control coverage should not have to sign a form allowing their female employees to get birth-control coverage elsewhere.
Gorsuch also dissented in a case that stopped the Governor of Utah from defunding Planned Parenthood, based on a phony sting operation that presented false evidence that Planned Parenthood was engaged in illegal, underground trafficking in fetal tissue. That opinion led his colleague Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, to accuse Gorsuch of mischaracterizing the case in order to get to a desired result.
Gorsuch’s record shows a failure to grasp the simple principles that women’s rights are human rights, and that corporations are not people.