We have two flavors of background on this issue, first, immediately following, is a short backgrounder specific to this particular nominee.
After this short backgrounder and call script, we follow with a more in-depth backgrounder which goes to the heart of why Hudson Valley Strong encourages all Democrats to oppose ALL Trump SCOTUS nominees. We know this position is somewhat controversial; our analysis and rationale is explained in this ‘end plate’ backgrounder after the action call & social media information and phone numbers. Again, as action on SCOTUS could imperil us for decades, we encourage all to be fully informed and to speak with your family, friends and neighbors. Personal one-to-one influence is one of the best ways to alter others’ political views.
First this short backgrounder on this issue, here’s an excellent quote from our Senator Gillibrand, who has stated unequivocally that she will oppose the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Her full statement, quoted below, is as follows:
All branches of the federal government should stand on the side of the citizens they were created to serve. The Supreme Court is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter of justice for our citizens.
Time and again, Neil Gorsuch has put the rights of corporations over individual rights. It’s clear that his judicial philosophy is outside of the mainstream.
He has ruled that a boss should be able to make family planning decisions for an employee and that corporations are people. I disagree.
I plan to stand up for individuals over corporations. I’ll oppose Gorsuch’s nomination and insist that it meet a traditional 60 vote threshold.
As a matter of strategy, Schumer, in his capacity as Minority Leader, has not yet stated directly that he will oppose Gorsuch, but we can be sure he and Gillibrand are acting in concert. But he strongly signals his own view as Senator, laying down the markers by which all Senators should judge the nominee, and he calls for a 60-vote (filibuster) threshold.
Senator Schumer’s excellent comments on the matter are excerpted below:
A little more than a week into the Trump presidency, the new Administration has violated our core values, challenged the separation of powers, and tested the very fabric of our Constitution in unprecedented fashion. It is clear that the Supreme Court will be tried in ways that few Courts have been tested since the earliest days of the Republic, when Constitutional questions abounded.
Now more than ever, we need a Supreme Court Justice who is independent, eschews ideology, who will preserve our democracy, protect fundamental rights, and will stand up to a President who has already shown a willingness to bend the Constitution.
The Senate must insist upon 60-votes for any Supreme Court nominee, a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees. The burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and, in this new era, willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the Executive branch and protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all Americans.
Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard. Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women’s rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice on the Court.
Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice.
Sample Call Script for Senator Gillibrand
I’m [name], a constituent of Senator Gillibrand living in [town, zip code]. I’m calling to thank Senator Gillibrand and to let her know she has my full support for her principled opposition to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Her opposition is also important because, as we all know, this seat would not be vacant if Republicans had not stolen it by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
You can also post this script as a comment to her at FB.
A reminder that calls and social media are more effective than emails and letters, especially on timely issues. (Per Sen. Schumer)
Sample Call Script for Senator Schumer
I’m [name], a constituent of Senator Schumer living in [town, zip code]. I’m calling to thank Senator Schumer for his strong statement of guiding principles and strategy concerning Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. As Senator Schumer said in his 2007 speech before the American Constitutional Society, “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance,” and Gorsuch’s appointment would assure the continued reign of conservative ideology on the Supreme Court for decades. I also call upon Senator Schumer to oppose Gorsuch’s appointment and to do everything in his power to block it based not only on Gorsuch’s conservative ideology, but also because this seat would not be vacant if Republicans had not stolen it. Their raw power grab, in wanton disregard of democratic processes, must not be rewarded.
You can also post this script as a comment to him at FB.
Sample Tweet to Both Senators Schumer & Gillibrand
@SenSchumer @SenGillibrand Oppose Gorsuch as SCOTUS: we need a Justice to help people, not corps. No to bosses making wmn’s health decisions
Further Background on Complete Opposition to Trump SCOTUS Nominees
We must never forget, nor allow anyone else to forget, that our democracy has been hijacked, first by Republican obstructionism while President Obama was in office, and now as the result of a tainted election. If ideologically conservative judges are appointed to fill any vacancies on the Supreme Court, this hijack will last for decades.
Before November 8, Republican obstructionism was nowhere more apparent than in the refusal to consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. Had Hillary Clinton won the election, this obstructionism would have continued. Recall, for example, Senator John McCain’s statement in October, 2016, “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you.” While a McCain spokesperson attempted to walk back that statement, we all know Maya Angelou had it right: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
The rightward lurch of the Supreme Court majority in recent decades has brought us, among other things, a significant erosion of 4th Amendment rights, a wrongly decided 2nd Amendment case in DC v. Heller, and, with Citizens United, the ascendancy of big money polluting the democratic process as never before in our history.
Also imperiled, if this rightward lurch continues, and if an additional vacancy on SCOTUS appears, are not only Roe v. Wade, but also other significant advances in the protection of civil rights such as the right to marry in United States v. Windsor, as well as further erosion of the Voting Rights Act already begun with Shelby v. Holder. As the Notorious RBG put it in her now-notorious interview,
I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.
- Charles Blow (New York Times) makes the case in full in his February 2 opinion piece:
This seat on the Supreme Court was stolen from Barack Obama when Republicans refused to even hold hearings for his nominee, and the election was stolen from the American public by maleficent figures, foul of motive and moving in shadows.
This nominee is the fruit of a poison tree and no amount of educational pedigree or persuasive elocution can cleanse him of that contamination . . . .
Some people worry that if the Democrats filibuster this nomination in the Senate, it will only force the Republicans’ hand to employ the “nuclear option” . . . .
I say let them. In fact, make them. They are likely to confirm this nominee anyway. What liberals don’t want is to have Democratic fingerprints on this political crime scene. Make the asterisk president’s nominee become an asterisk jurist, the only one confirmed under an altered set of rules.
- E. J. Dionne (Washington Post) on opposing Gorsuch’s appointment:
At least I understand Republican and conservative hypocrisy on this subject: They are focused on power and who will wield it. I find it harder to understand well-meaning people who were appalled by the hyper-politicization involved in the Garland blockade but now claim that an effort to stop Gorsuch’s confirmation will only make matters worse. . . .
The Rubicon was crossed with Garland.
Dionne concluded: “There comes a time when the only way to stand up against future abuses is to insist that there will be no reward for the abuses that have led us to this point. If not now, when?”
- Senator Schumer has also made statements that are pertinent to our stand against confirmation of all Trump SCOTUS nominees.
Senator Schumer’s 2007 speech at the ACS, the import of which is every bit as applicable today.
Recall the confirmation hearings and the assurances given. First, we were promised an era of gentility and consensus if the affable John Roberts were confirmed as Chief Justice. Roberts portrayed himself-to use a term we’ve heard before-as a “uniter rather than a divider.” He would be the consummate Chief, we were told, because he understood the importance of respecting the other Justices’ points of view. He would be a consensus builder.
Unfortunately, that portrait bears no resemblance to the bitterly divided Supreme Court we saw last term:
We saw fully a third of the Court’s docket decided on a 5/4 basis;
We saw normally placid Justices taking the unusual symbolic step of reading their dissents aloud from the bench;
And we heard astonishingly harsh rhetoric – by Court standards – from the increasingly marginalized liberal wing of that Court.
One assessment, from Justice Breyer, overnight became the most pithy and poignant indictment of the new Court’s direction: “It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.”
Senator Schumer offered four lessons learned from the confirmation hearings of Roberts and Alito. Here is Lesson 3:
Lesson Three: Ideology matters. It stands to reason that a conservative lawyer who has represented the most conservative Administrations and taken the most conservative positions as a lawyer is likely to be a very conservative jurist.
Senators have an obligation to scrutinize the character and philosophies of judicial nominees, and nominees have an obligation to cooperate. This is especially when a nominee’s ideology, judicial philosophy, and constitutional views are central considerations in the President’s decision to nominate.
There is an inherent illogic in preventing the Senate from considering the one factor – ideology – that is central to the President’s own nomination decision. It is best for the Senate and the country when this scrutiny and debate occurs in an open and rational way.
We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts; or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.
Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least: I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee EXCEPT in extraordinary circumstances.
Commentary on Specific Supreme Court decisions
- Citizens United
In its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, the court opened the campaign spending floodgates. The justices’ ruling said political spending is protected under the First Amendment, meaning corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities, as long as it was done independently of a party or candidate.
The result has been a deluge of cash poured into so-called super PACs – particularly single-candidate PACs, or political action committees – which are only nominally independent from the candidates they support. What’s more, the legal protections for corporations mean much of this spending, known as “dark money,” never has to be publicly disclosed. [citation]
- 4th Amendment Rights
Justice Sotomayor on erosion of 4th Amendment rights:
“We can’t keep bending the Fourth Amendment to the resources of law enforcement,” [Sotomayor said to a] Justice Department lawyer. “Particularly when this [search] is not incidental to the purpose of the stop. It’s purely to help the police get more criminals, yes. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper.”
- Gun Control
Justice Ginsburg, among others, said of D.C. v. Heller, one of many decisions decided by a 5-4 vote, that it was “a very bad decision.”
The Stevens dissent (to Heller decision) rests on four main points of disagreement:
1. that the Founders would have made the individual right aspect of the Second Amendment express if that was what was intended
2. that the “militia” preamble demands the conclusion that the Second Amendment touches on state militia service only
3. that many lower courts’ later “collective-right” reading of the Miller decision constitutes stare decisis
4. and that the Court has not considered gun-control laws (e.g., the National Firearms Act) unconstitutional. . . .
Justice Breyer filed a separate dissenting opinion that, even with an individual-rights view, the DC handgun ban and trigger lock requirement would nevertheless be permissible limitations on the right. The Breyer dissent concludes, “there simply is no untouchable constitutional right to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.” [citation]