Column: Why I oppose Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Cortney Sanders

As a graduate student in public policy, a black woman, and a proud progressive, I know what freedom, opportunity and justice look like — both in the abstract and in the material. At this turning point in our country’s history, we’re all in desperate need of judges and justices who understand these concepts and their impact on everyday people. Neil Gorsuch is no such justice.

Time and time again, Gorsuch has put conservative ideology above fidelity to our core constitutional values — elevating ideology over the rights and well-being of those materially affected by his rulings. In Gorsuch, I see a willing collaborator in President Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine our democracy, pit members of our communities against another, and profit from the chaos which ensues. For these, and many other reasons, I urge Sen. Debbie Stabenow to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination to the highest court in the land.

Gorsuch’s record is clear and his ideological commitments striking. Throughout his legal career, he’s attempted to undermine social progress at every turn — arguing against a women’s right to access the reproductive health care she needs and against the rights of LGBTQ people to live free from discrimination. What’s more, he’s shown himself to be a friend of major corporations and hostile to employees, consumers and working-class Americans. In short, he’s revealed himself to be as, if not much more, conservative than the late Antonin Scalia, an arch foe of civil rights and justice.

To begin, Gorsuch’s positions on reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality are so far outside the mainstream as to roll back the clock on the significant gains of civil rights movements over the past 40 years. To have advanced through President’s Trump’s vetting process, we can assume he promised to reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark case which afforded women the right to terminate a pregnancy without the interference of others. And we know that Gorsuch has publicly admonished the LGBTQ movement for the gall of attempting to vindicate their rights in court, as if no minority group has ever had to appeal to the courts for relief when continually wronged by the majority.

Perhaps most disturbingly, though, Gorsuch has shown himself to be an ally of Wall Street and an enemy of working people. In a paper he wrote for the Washington Legal Foundation, he argued that consumers should be limited in their ability to band together and bring class-action suits against major finance houses who’ve wronged them. He’s also joined decisions holding that for religious reasons employers need not provide their employees with health care plans which include access to contraception and took steps to prevent women bringing employment discrimination cases from having their cases heard.

To be sure, it is the duty of each president to nominate qualified, consensus nominees to the Supreme Court. Any moderate nominee whose jurisprudential philosophies fall within the mainstream of America warrants careful consideration. Sadly, Gorsuch is no such nominee. Hand-picked by organizations funded by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, Gorsuch is committed to advancing a clear ideological agenda while on the bench. And what’s more, that agenda stands to cause tangible harm to members of our community — myself included.

As I contemplate all we’ll have to confront over the next four years, my only solace comes from a closely held belief that there are good people out there who’ll ensure that people like me will always be able to access the same fundamental civil rights as everyone else. In Gorsuch, I don’t see someone I can trust to uphold that mantle.

I urge Stabenow to make her voice heard on my behalf and that of all Michiganians. Neil Gorsuch is wrong for us and wrong for this country.

Cortney Sanders is a graduate student at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy in Ann Arbor.