Democrats are gearing up to fight Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago.
We are prepared to oppose every name on Trump’s list, The progressive, civil rights community will be united in opposition to either of those prospects or anyone else on the list.
When you look at Trump’s short list of Supreme Court nominees, you realize it’s a good thing someone is paying attention. The Alliance for justice reviewed all of the known nominees for consideration on an issue by issue basis and it is not pretty.
Trump has narrowed it down to three white men with a proven potential to take a wrecking ball to the Constitution, as we know it. Every one of them is a far right judicial activist and a member of the far-right Federalist Society.
The three federal appellate judges under consideration are 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit, 51-year-old Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd Circuit and Bill Pryor, aged 54 of the 11th Circuit. All of them are young, all but assuring Trumpism’s influence will be felt in Supreme Court rulings for a very long time.
Leonard Leo, a Trump advisor and a top official in the Federalist Society told Politico: Trump hopes to have a nominee next week. Based on Leo’s other comments as quoted in Politico’s report, it’s likely that Gorsuch and Hardiman are the front runners.
One quote, in particular, stands out:
Under our Constitution, the power rests with the people, and that was at the core of Justice Scalia’s legacy, and you heard from President Trump’s inauguration that is the core of Trump’s agenda.
Also, reported criticism of Pryor suggests Gorsuch and Hardiman have the inside track. The reason why Pryor is considered a dark horse should concern us all. Conservatives, reportedly, criticized him for ruling with the majority to protect trans-genders from workplace discrimination in Glenn v. Brumby.
When taken with the reasons Leo praises Gorsuch and Hardiman, Trump’s top priority is to nominate a rubber stamping Justice. Unless you are white and male, your rights and protections under the constitution are very likely to be on the endangered species list for a very long time.
Throughout the campaign and during the brief time since Trump took the oath of office, the only thing predictable about Trump is his unpredictability. So even if Gorsuch and Hardiman are front-runners we should know why William Pryor remains as a possible nominee.
Recently Josh Gerstein described the judge from Alabama as “staunchly conservative”. He should appeal to Trump because like incoming Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, Judge Pryor was considered too extreme to pass confirmation for a seat on the appellate court. His nomination was stalled for a year, but he got confirmation through the “Gang of 14” deal that also made Justice Alito’s confirmation possible.
But being too extreme to be confirmed by the Senate isn’t enough to satisfy Mr. Trump. So what else should we know about the rumored front runners?
Neal Gorsuch’s resume reveals a rare quality in a Trump nominee – a background suited to the job he is seeking. Gorsuch clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. A graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford he, he spent a decade in private practice. He held a top position at the Justice Department. He was confirmed, to serve on the 10th circuit in 2006. However, this does not make him less extreme than Trump, as reflected in his rulings.
Nominating Gorsuch amounts to a declaration of war on women. Gorsuch was responsible for the lower court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. You may recall that case provided privately held corporations with religious freedom protections as a basis to deny employees access to reproductive healthcare under the company’s healthcare plan. His strongest draw is perhaps as an opponent of the Chevron Doctrine, which holds that courts “should generally defer to agencies when the law authorizing a regulation is ambiguous.”
This brings us to the other top contender, Thomas Hardiman, a graduate of Georgetown law. Like the other three, Hardiman was appointed by George W. Bush.
Hardiman is a longtime member of the conservative Federalist Society and has spoken at four Federalist Society panels since joining the Third Circuit. Hardiman is known for his dissent in B.H. v. Eastern Area School District where the majority held that breast cancer awareness bracelets are protected speech under the First Amendment.
He argued the bracelets fall under an exception to the First Amendment’s free speech protections for student speech that is “lewd, vulgar, indecent, or plainly offensive” because the word “breast” was on them.
His views on gun safety align with the NRA and anyone else with a gun fetish. In Drake v. Filko, Hardiman was the holdout in a ruling that upheld a New Jersey law requiring someone who wants a license to carry a firearm in public to demonstrate they have a justifiable need.
All extreme, all guaranteed to crush constitutional protections for women, minorities, the LGBT community, and immigrants. All guaranteed to weaken federal agencies. It is therefore guaranteed that whatever regulations survive the Trump regime’s wrecking ball will be interpreted to give corporations as much power and the people as little power as possible.
This is too serious to suggest that Trump and his nominee should get a chance to make a civil rights something people say used to exist in America.