President Donald Trump on Monday fulfilled his campaign promise to nominate a conservative judge to replace the late Judge Antonin Scalia in the United State Supreme Court.
Judge Neil Gorsuch “is universally respected for his integrity, fairness, and decency,” the White House said in a statement. “And he understands the role of judges is to interpret the law, not impose their own policy preferences, priorities, or ideologies.”
Gorsuch, 49, is the youngest nominee the court has seen in many years. The youngest person currently sitting on the Supreme Court is 56-year-old Justice Elena Kagan.
“Depending on their age, a justice can be active for 50 years. And his or her decisions can last a century or more, and can often be permanent,” Trump said Monday night.
Gorsuch is a known conservative and a believer in originalism, meaning the Constitution should be interpreted the way it was intended at the time it was written.
He believes judges should be “focusing backward” when interpreting and applying the law, “looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.”
The same day, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a statement opposing Gorsuch’s nomination — the first time the organization has made such a move — calling Gorsuch “a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia.”
“The Supreme Court has played a central role in advancing the promise of equality for LGBTQ Americans, and Judge Gorsuch’s anti-equality record — from opposing crucial medical treatment for a transgender person to supporting a license to discriminate for private corporations — make him unfit to sit on the nation’s highest court,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
After Scalia’s death Gorsuch expressed his admiration for the judge.
“Though the critics are loud and the temptations to join them may be many, mark me down too as a believer that the traditional account of the judicial role Justice Scalia defended will endure,” he said.
Gorsuch joined the conservative majority in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, determining that religious beliefs are grounds for challenging government rules regarding healthcare.
“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,” he said.
The ruling could impact LGBT workers in the future, serving as the precedent to allow corporations to deny transgender workers coverage for hormone therapy. Additionally, it allows for discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.”
“There are those who are already trying to use the decision to support discrimination against LGBTQ workers,” HRC stated.
In 2015 Gorsuch joined a decision stating that a transgender woman’s constitutional rights were not in violation when she was rejected hormone therapy while in prison.
“To date, this court has not held that a transsexual plaintiff is a member of a protected suspect class for purposes of Equal Protection claims,” the opinion (which was not written by Gorsuch) stated.
Gorsuch also once said in an op-ed, “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
Trump’s commitment to LGBT rights has largely been in question, a concern that resurfaced over the weekend when rumors swirled that his administration would roll back some of former President Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT people. His nomination of Gorsuch fits Trump’s pattern, according to HRC’s Griffin.
“Since the moment he stepped foot in the Oval Office, President Trump has attacked equality,” Griffin said.