Civil and Human Rights Coalition Urges “No” Vote on Judge Gorsuch

Media 03.24,17

WASHINGTON—Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court:

“Based on his record and his testimony this week, it’s abundantly clear that Judge Gorsuch should not serve on the Supreme Court.  The Leadership Conference has been opposed to his nomination from the beginning, but this week’s hearing testimony only reinforced our concerns.

To begin with, Judge Gorsuch said nothing at the hearing to indicate that he will be an independent check on the executive branch. 

For example, Judge Gorsuch downplayed his senior policymaking role in the Bush Justice Department where he strategized a defense to President Bush’s torture scheme.  He called himself ‘just a scrivener,’ but the paper trail tells a different story.  Emails from the time show he practically begged for the job as a political appointee so he could help carry out the Bush administration’s far-right agenda.

Judge Gorsuch supported giving President Bush an override of the Detainee Protection Act, and did nothing in his hearing to demonstrate that he will disappoint President Trump, either. 

It’s also clear that Judge Gorsuch is no friend to civil rights or workers’ rights.

When asked by Senator Leahy, Judge Gorsuch refused to renounce or distance himself from Justice Scalia’s outrageous remark at the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder oral argument that the Voting Rights Act is a ‘perpetuation of racial entitlement.’

Judge Gorsuch misled the Judiciary Committee in his answer on the Luke P. case, saying he relied on precedent for his standard that students with disabilities only deserve ‘merely more than de minimus’ assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 

As the Supreme Court unanimously ruled just two days ago in the Endrew F. case, Judge Gorsuch’s standard was not based on precedent and was callously too low, resulting in children getting so little help as to be effectively getting – in the words of Chief Justice Roberts – ‘no education at all.’

In the area of workers’ rights, Judge Gorsuch offered no regrets and no remorse at the hearing for his deeply troubling dissent in the TransAm Trucking case involving the frozen trucker.

And Judge Gorsuch testified that he does not know how he would vote if a Supreme Court case presented him with the opportunity to overturn Chevron, despite having written in an opinion that it was time to overturn Chevron.  The National Federation of Independent Business must not have believed him because the organization’s testimony endorsing him was very enthusiastic.

Senator Klobuchar brought up a good point to Judge Gorsuch, for which he really had no answer:  Why does he only write separate opinions complaining the law is too liberal?

Finally, it was clear that Judge Gorsuch was highly selective about which Supreme Court precedents he agreed with and which he did not.  For example, he was willing to say that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided, but he refused to offer opinions about many other cases, making it impossible for senators to get a clear handle on his judicial philosophy.  The cases he refused to offer views on included: Gideon; Bush v. Gore; Heller; and Citizens United.

In addition, Judge Gorsuch refused to discuss his views on many issues and constitutional rights that affect all Americans, thereby depriving senators of the opportunity to understand his approach to difficult issues the Supreme Court confronts.  These topics included: dark money in elections; warrantless surveillance; LGBTQ rights; immigration bans; and the Emoluments clause.

While Judge Gorsuch may have refused to answer the many legitimate questions put to him by senators, there is one question where the answer is clear. Should Judge Gorsuch be confirmed to serve a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court?  The answer remains – No!”

Wade Henderson is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit