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LGBT, Civil Rights Groups Denounce Trump’s Choice of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

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Gorsuch Would Be the Most Conservative Justice on the Bench Except for Clarence Thomas

LGBT and civil rights groups are denouncing the choice of Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Their concerns are valid. Ranking each of the eight SCOTUS justices from most liberal to most conservative, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight shows Gorsuch would be the most conservative justice on the bench except for Clarence Thomas. In other words, Antonin Scalia was more liberal than Gorsuch is.

FiveThirtyEight senior writer Oliver Roeder posted this graphic to Twitter:

So, what are LGBT and civil rights groups saying?

Human Rights Campaign:

“Since the moment he stepped foot in the Oval Office, President Trump has attacked equality,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “He has signed executive orders that undermine our country’s most cherished values and appointed anti-LGBTQ cabinet nominees who have spent their careers undermining civil rights. And now, he has nominated Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, fulfilling his campaign promise to nominate a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia, one of the most vehemently anti-LGBTQ justices to ever sit on the court who once went so far as to compare gay people to murderers.”

Also via HRC:

Gorsuch has a long and troubling career opposing civil rights, including for LGBTQ people:

  • 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 support 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.

GLAAD:

“Neil Gorsuch’s harmful history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community renders him completely unfit to sit on the highest court in the land,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO, said in a statement. “He has record of advocating for anti-LGBTQ rhetoric or supporting candidates that are in favor of open discrimination against people and families who simply want to be treated the same as everyone else. Gorsuch’s presence on the Supreme Court will affect the law of the land for generations to come – long after Trump is out of office, and will turn back the clock on equality and acceptance.”

 

Lambda Legal:

First to take a position was Lambda Legal, which noted never before have they opposed a SCOTUS nominee before a confirmation hearing. And they very much oppose Judge Gorsuch, in a statement titled, “Neil Gorsuch Has an Unacceptable, Hostile Record Towards LGBT People.”

“Judge Gorsuch’s opinion in the 10th Circuit Hobby Lobby decision is disqualifying,” said Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal. “The Hobby Lobby decision set a terrible and destructive standard for bosses being allowed to meddle in our sex lives and decide whether or not birth control is covered by the employer’s insurance plan. In Judge Gorsuch’s decision, he calls the inclusion of health coverage that includes birth control – ‘complicity…in the wrongdoing of others.’  Even the Supreme Court, affirming that case, acknowledged how dangerous this line of thinking is: it creates a nation in which some religions are obliged to follow the law and others are not.  Troublingly, Judge Gorsuch does not even see this as a problem.

PFLAG:

“No good has ever come from using religion as a tool to perpetrate divisiveness and harm,” Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm said in a statement on Judge Gorsuch. “PFLAGers are people of faith and cannot support a nominee who seems to pass the new test imposed by the Trump Administration: Will you use the law to provide people a license to discriminate?”

Freedom for All Americans:

“With a record of defending religious liberty at the cost of infringing on individual liberties, Gorsuch’s confirmation could mean the rollback of basic freedoms and crucial protections for vulnerable LGBT people across America,” FAA’s executive director, Matt McTighe said in a statement.

OutServe-SLDN:

“We are dismayed with the actions of the Trump Administration today, in the selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch, of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to join the United States Supreme Court,” OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn said in a statement. “His record and opinions on the expansion of religious exceptions can be utilized in the marginalization and discrimination towards the LGBT and women’s communities. These opinions should be uniquely disqualifying for an appointment to our nation’s highest court. His judicial record is hostile towards members of the LGBT community, including those that have and continue to selflessly serve this great nation.”

More via Lambda Legal:

A few excerpts from Lambda Legal’s review of Gorsuch’s record:

“Judge Gorsuch has supported religious exemptions from laws based on “complicity”—the belief that adhering to the law makes the objector complicit in the allegedly sinful conduct of others.”

Lambda Legal points to Gorsuch’s opinion in the Hobby Lobby case:

“All of us face the problem of complicity.  All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others.  For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability. . . . Understanding that is the key to understanding this case.”

And they explain why his decision was wrong and dangerous:

Whereas the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby made concerns about the impact on real people central, Judge Gorsuch did not address the harmful effects of denying access to reproductive healthcare on female employees and dependents. Instead, his sole concern was for the religious objectors who alleged that “ordering their companies to provide insurance coverage for drugs or devices whose use is inconsistent with their faith itself violates their faith, representing a degree of complicity their religion disallows.”

This is a vision of a society where religion prevails over law, and where the concerns of religious parties override the concerns of other citizens. In supporting this vision, Judge Gorsuch’s opinions open the door to all manner of assaults on the civil rights of ordinary citizens – including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people and everybody living with HIV.

 

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

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OPINION

Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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Once again the Trump campaign is claiming massive attendance at his latest rally, and once again internet users are making a mockery of those claims – as a local ABC reporter reveals a few facts about attendance and the attendees.

“Trump vows to ‘save’ deep-blue New York City in massive, historic Bronx rally,” Fox News‘s Brandon Gillespie, Paul Steinhauser, and Michael Ruiz reported Thursday evening. “25,000 supporters of the former president descended on Crotona Park, Trump’s campaign said.”

The Associated Press offered a different take.

“Former President Donald Trump campaigned Thursday in one of the most Democratic counties in the nation, holding a rally in the South Bronx as he tries to woo minority voters days before a Manhattan jury will begin deliberations on whether to convict him of felony charges in his criminal hush money trial.”

ABC 7 New York’s Jim Dolan, reporting from the Trump rally in the South Bronx Thursday, served up a reality check (video below).

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Donald Trump can now say he held a rally in the South Bronx, home to immigrants and minority communities, and that it was well attended. It’s just not clear that the people who attended were from the Bronx. The campaign controlled who got in and the campaign of course, picked only supporters,” Dolan revealed. “Trump’s motorcade arrived in Crotona Park tonight. The crowd surged to get a look at him, more like a pop star than a politician. Not everyone wants a pop star for President.”

One person in the park told ABC 7, Trump is “a big fat bigot. And he just doesn’t have any love in his heart, for anyone, anyone of color. Anyone who’s in the LGBTQ plus community.”

Another called Trump, “a crook, a liar, and he tries to make money off people. And that’s what he’s doing right now,” and claimed the attendees are “all from out of state.”

“Go out there and look at all them cars that are parked and check where they came from? Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas.”

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who represents the South Bronx, was also at the park and told ABC 7, “If you did a poll about who’s more popular, Donald Trump or lead paint. I suspect lead is more popular than Donald Trump in the Bronx.”

READ MORE: ‘Not an Accident’: Trump’s ‘Unified Reich’ Video Alarms Historians and Fascism Experts

Congressman Torres also posted this commentary to social media:

The Trump campaign’s claim of 25,000 in attendance was belied by ABC 7’s aerial photography (screenshot, above), which was from Dolan’s report:

Meanwhile, some internet users had a good time mocking the Trump campaign’s claims by posting images clearly not of Trump’s Bronx rally.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

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News

‘Will You Accept the Results?’: Cruz’s Election Denialism Shut Down in ‘Brutal’ Interview

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) promoted Donald Trump’s false election denialism and was challenged by a CNN anchor in an interview being praised by several media watchers.

During the Wednesday interview Cruz suggested to host Kaitlan Collins that Democrats or Hillary Clinton criticizing election results was equivalent to Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” campaign, which included over 60 legal challenges and countless false allegations of massive fraud. He also insisted there was a “peaceful transfer of power” after the 2020 presidential election despite the violent and deadly January 6 insurrection for which more than 1200 people have been criminally charged and for which the ex-president is facing several indictments. In the end, Collins appeared to cut the interview short.

“Will you certify the election results?” in the November election, Collins asked the Texas Republican on Wednesday, noting he was the first in the Senate to say he would not certify the 2020 election results. “Do you plan to object or will you accept the results regardless of who wins the election?”

“So Kaitlan,” Cruz replied, “I gotta say, I think that’s actually a ridiculous question.”

“It’s a yes or no question,” Collins replied.

“No it’s not that let me explain why it’s a ridiculous question,” Cruz alleged combatively. “It’s not a question – have you ever asked Democrat that?”

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

“Of course,” Collins replied.

“What Democrat?” Cruz demanded to know.

After a short back-and-forth, Collins said, “I know, I know, I’ve been on this road many, many times, but no Democrat – you can not compare the two situations. We have talked about that, we’ve seen the audio of that when they protested,” Collins said,  appearing to refer to Hillary Clinton having called the 2016 presidential election “stolen,” which she did three years after the election, in 2019.

“Have you ever had a sitting president who refused to facilitate the peaceful transition of power refused to acknowledge that his successor won the presidency?” Collins asked Cruz.

“So, A, we did have a peaceful transfer of power. I was there on January 20. I was there on the swearing in,” Cruz insisted, ignoring the January 6 insurrection.

“Barely,” Collins replied..

Cruz continued to refer to individual “objections” Democrats have made about results of elections – not formal, legal objections (except Al Gore in 2000) but comments or remarks, or individual objections to one state elections – not organized campaigns.

So you’re asking, ‘Will you promise no matter what to agree an election is illegitimate regardless of what happens?’ and that would be an absurd thing to claim,” Cruz said.

Again, after some back-and forth, Collins said, “This isn’t a game. There was no widespread voter fraud.”

“It is a game,” Cruz responded. “You only ask Republicans that.”

It November of 2022, the right-wing Cato Institute published an opinion piece titled, “Yes, Democrats Have Called Some Elections Illegitimate. GOP Election Denialism Is Far Worse,” and added: “It’s not even close.”

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

Collins later pointed out that it is only Republicans who have “tried to block the transition of power. You have to acknowledge that.”

“So my question for you again: free and fair election. Will you accept the results regardless of who wins?” Collins again asked.

“Look, if the Democrats win, I will accept the result, but I’m not going to ignore fraud regardless of what happens.”

“Was there fraud in 202o?” Collins pressed.

“Of course there was fraud,” Cruz insisted.

“No, that wasn’t and you still objected,” Collins pointed out.

“Oh, you know, for a fact there was zero voter fraud really? What’s your basis for that? Show me your evidence,” Cruz demanded, inserting “zero” when Collins meant fraud “that would have changed the outcome,” as she noted later.

Commenting on the interview, writer Charlotte Clymer, a former press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign said, “This is brilliant.”

“I seriously cannot remember the last time any journalist on cable news confronted the bad faith of a MAGA politician this insistently,” Clymer remarked. “For five minutes (!), Kaitlin Collins pressed Ted Cruz and demanded a good faith answer.”

Democratic strategist and former DNC official Adam Parkhomenko commented, “this is just brutal.” He added Cruz was “being humiliated.”

Calling it, “Well done,” journalist Ahmed Baba wrote: “Kaitlan Collins interjecting with fact-checks multiple times and ending the interview after Ted Cruz refused to engage in the facts and continued to spread his propaganda.”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

 

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