President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has been approved by the Senate after Republicans changed the rules to railroad through a vote.
President Trump has picked appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, citing his conservative values.
Judge Gorsuch is a strict originalist who is likely to reject arguments that interpret the Constitution as affording protections for LGBT rights, and is likely to upset the fragile balance between liberals and conservatives on the court.
During his confirmation hearing in the Senate, Gorsuch avoided questions on LGBT rights, simply stating that “the Supreme Court of the United States has held that single-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution.” He did not clarify his actual legal viewpoints.
Democrats had vowed to block his confirmation in the Senate, but Gorsuch was confirmed today after Republicans changed the voting rules to force him through with a simple majority. The vote passed by 54-45. Previous Senate rules would have required 60 votes.
Gorsuch’s confirmation is likely bad news for LGBT rights cases that are expected to end up before the SCOTUS.
The court is expected to hear a case regarding discrimination protections for transgender children in schools, while lower courts are divided on whether civil rights protections extend to LGBT people, signaling scope for Supreme Court review. Issues relating to ‘religious freedom’ following the equal marriage ruling may also end up back before the court.
LGBT rights groups, like the Human Rights Campaign, had strongly opposed his nomination, while GLAAD also voiced concerns.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “We are deeply disappointed by the Senate Republicans’ decision to pave the way for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, who throughout his career has dismissed the role of the courts in protecting individual and civil rights.
“He does not believe the Constitution protects marriage rights for same-sex couples. He has twice ruled in cases that undermined equality for transgender people. In his Senate testimony, he repeatedly dodged answers about the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people.
“If you harbor any remaining doubt about his dangerous worldview, consider for a moment that Judge Gorsuch’s idol is none other than Antonin Scalia.”
HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow had entered testimony against the confirmation of Gorsuch.
She warned: “Areas of the law that the majority of Americans view as settled, including marriage equality, are being litigated and debated by groups who are emboldened that a Supreme Court Justice like Judge Gorsuch will re-open settled law. The Supreme Court will be asked to hear cases such those that could decide whether public school counselor in Mississippi can turn away LGBTQ youth in need, whether City of Houston employees who may be
“The Supreme Court will be asked to hear cases such those that could decide whether public school counselor in Mississippi can turn away LGBTQ youth in need, whether City of Houston employees who may be stipped of their spousal benefits, or whether moms like Marisa and Terrah Pavan must both be listed on their daughter’s birth certificate.”
Anti-LGBT activists are jubilant at the news.
The National Organisation for Marriage has been reported as saying: “This development is a huge boost for NOM and for the prospects of restoring true marriage to our nation’s laws by reversing the illegitimate, anti-constitutional Obergefell ruling of 2015 redefining marriage.”
The anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel added: “With the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, today could be a red-letter day in U.S. history, one that could define the direction of our High Court and our nation’s culture for decades to come. But the confirmation vote is still hours away.”
Gorsuch will now take the lifetime appointment to the court.