Let me start off with this ad (and others like it)
March 16 marked the one-year anniversary of Garland’s nomination. Republicans argued that with 11 months left on his second term, Obama was too close to the end of his tenure to be nominating judges. The GOP slow-walked the process into 2017, vowing in last year’s elections to take up the matter with a new president, regardless of who won.
“The American people have already begun voting on who the next president will be, and their voice should continue to be reflected in a process that will have lasting implications on our nation,” Montana’s Republican Sen. Steve Daines, said last spring.
In the process, Senate Republicans created a presidential campaign issue, upon which Trump vowed to appoint a justice who let the legality of abortion be decided on a state by state level. For 44 years, abortion has been recognized as a Constitutional right under the 14th Amendment, a right that states couldn’t deny.
A Billings Gazette article states that over $900,000 dollars have been spent on ads urging Montanans to call Tester and tell him to vote for Gorsuch. They are painting it as obstruction and that the Democrats are blocking his nomination. It’s literally been 3 weeks since the nomination and they are freaking out about it, yet the Republicans blocked anything related to the Merrick Garland nomination for over a year!
So to start off, whether I like Gorsuch or not, this partisan game was bad for our democracy. Even more, the dark money that is allowed to pour into the country through the Citizens United ruling, has allowed people with a lot to gain to run ads for whatever they want under the guise of free speech.
Tester said Montanans should know who is paying for the ads attacking him. He’s introduced legislation that would require social welfare groups to reveal the people funding their organizations. The bill, titled the “Sunlight for Unaccountable Non-profits Act,” was introduced before JCN ads attacking Tester began appearing in Montana.
Tester said he doesn’t think advertising will persuade Montanans to support Gorsuch. They’ll find their own reasons to support or oppose the nomination.
“Montanans are independent people, we wouldn’t buy a pickup because the commercial’s got a catchy jingle, we buy one when we know it can get the job done,” Tester said. “Montanans expect the same thing from their senators. That’s why I am kicking the tires on Judge Gorsuch and waiting for his public hearing. I have to see if he’s up to the task.”
So where is this money really coming from?
To fill its own coffers, JCN has increasingly relied on funding—to the tune of nearly $4 million, according to IRS documents—from another non-disclosing group, the Wellspring Committee, that’s run by Corkery and was founded seven years ago with the help of conservative donors in the network led by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch (According to this article, which has more info)
So there you have it, the Koch Brothers are behind this, as with most conservative causes. They are pushing an agenda that includes tax cuts for the wealthy and big oil, eliminating the minimum wage, slashing Medicare and dismantling Social Security. You know, the usual agenda of the extreme, tea party (Koch Brothers Agenda)
Why are they pushing Tester?
Getting a U.S. Supreme Court justice seated takes 60 Senate votes. And with only 52 Republicans in the Senate, pro-Gorsuch groups have been throwing everything at Democrats like Tester in states President Trump won.
Montana voted strongly enough for Trump that statistician Nate Silver, of the FiveThirtyEight blog, predicts that Tester should be voting with Trump about 92 percent of the time. The senator’s votes are in line with the president 44.8 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight
So who is Neil Gorsuch?
Pro: He’s a true Westerner, born and raised in Denver, an avid skier who used to go fishing with Scalia. For a court dominated by New Yorkers and with only one Californian, he brings geographical diversity.
Pro: He’s Scalia Light. A firm adherent of the late justice’s belief that the Constitution and laws should be followed rather than liberally interpreted, Gorsuch seems like a deserving recipient of Scalia’s seat.
Pro: He’s a gifted writer who goes out of his way to make his opinions accessible to average readers, in the tradition of Scalia and the most recent Supreme Court nominee, Justice Elena Kagan.
Pro: He’s been around the block. Even at 49, Gorsuch boasts considerable experience in Washington, D.C., where he worked in private practice and at the Justice Department.
Pro: He appears to be well qualified and well liked amongst his peers
Con: He isn’t Merrick Garland. Most Senate Democrats likely will argue that no Trump nominee deserves their support after Republicans refused to grant a hearing or a vote to Garland, President Obama’s compromise choice last March to replace Scalia.
Con: His connection to GOP Billionaires (Concerns regarding Judge Gorsuch’s independence also have been magnified by the recent New York Times discovery that conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz “successfully lobbied Colorado’s lone Republican senator and the Bush administration to nominate Judge Gorsuch to the federal appeals court) Article
Con: His comments about Maternity Leave- the judge told his class that employers, specifically law firms, should ask women seeking jobs about their plans for having children and implied that women manipulate companies starting in the interview stage to extract maternity benefits. (article)
Con: Several of his rulings has favored corporate interests over individual rights
- Frozen trucker Transam Trucking Inc v. Department of Labor, 2016
This case shows, liberals say, that Gorsuch rules for employers at the expense of workers. In it, he dissented from a three-judge panel that ruled in favor of truck driver Alphonse Maddin. He was fired after he disobeyed a supervisor and abandoned his trailer at roadside after its brakes froze. The panel ruled he was wrongly terminated. Gorsuch disagreed.
Chevron deference’Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch (2016)
In an immigration case, Gorsuch criticized the “Chevron deference” legal doctrine that says courts should defer to federal agencies on interpreting the law. Gorsuch said it concentrates federal power “in a way that seems more than a little difficult to square with the Constitution.” If the court were to roll back the doctrine, presidents would have less leeway to interpret the law when issuing regulations through agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Transgender rightsDruley v Patton (2015)
In a ruling highlighted by liberal activists as a sign he may be hostile to gay and transgender rights, Gorsuch joined a ruling against a transgender Oklahoma state prisoner who claimed prison officials violated her rights by denying her adequate hormone therapy and housing her with men. The court rejected her claims, saying she had not proved she would be “irreparably harmed without her requested hormone treatment.”
Employee rightsHwang v. Kansas State University, 2014
In a case criticized by liberals, Gorsuch wrote the opinion when a three-judge panel ruled against Kansas State University professor Grace Hwang. She got six months of sick leave from the school when she was diagnosed with cancer. When she asked for more time, Kansas State refused. Hwang alleged illegal disability discrimination. Gorsuch said Hwang was a capable teacher and was legally disabled. But he wrote: “There’s also no question she wasn’t able to perform the essential functions of her job even with a reasonable accommodation.” He said the law was not intended to “turn employers into safety net providers for those who cannot work.” Hwang has since died.
Religious freedomHobby Lobby v. Sebelius, 2013
Liberals say this case shows Gorsuch sides with corporations over people and favors religious liberty over other interests, including womens’ contraceptive rights. Retailer Hobby Lobby argued it should not have to provide insurance coverage for female employees’ birth control, defying a rule by the administration of former President Barack Obama. Gorsuch concurred in an opinion favoring the company and expressed sympathy for evangelical Christian business owners. The Supreme Court later upheld the decision for the company.
I have not made a formal opinion on Gorsuch, but I do have cause to worry. I worry he would side on things like Citizens United which gives corporations the same rights as individuals and has really opened up corruption and dark money in politics. I also worry about his propensity to use his religious lens to form his opinions. While I share his religious beliefs, our country is not founded or governed by a particular religious ideology and should not be judged that way. When I look at the Hobby Lobby case in particular, he sided with corporate interests in the name of religious freedom over the rights of the individuals who work there, even when it was something that was covered for their employees for years, but was pushed in our current political climate due to corporations not liking the Affordable care act’s mandates.
I will update this as I learn more about him.