We Know Judge Gorsuch Supports Sweeping Religious Exemptions. Now We Need Answers.

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March 14, 2017
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The moment Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project released a comprehensive review of Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record.

We found that his views on civil rights issues are antithetical to Lambda Legal’s mission. His anti-LGBT record drove our decision to oppose his nomination from that first moment, before confirmation hearings, a first for our organization.

In the weeks ahead, the Senate has the responsibility to closely scrutinize Judge Gorsuch’s record and to use the confirmation hearings to ask him serious questions — and get answers. The burden is on Judge Gorsuch to demonstrate that he is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

Below are questions emerging from Lambda Legal’s scrutiny of Judge Gorsuch’s record on religious exemptions to which LGBT people and everyone living with HIV need answers.

We need to know. We are not going back.

Judge Gorsuch’s Record

  • Judge Gorsuch has supported religious exemptions from laws based on "complicity" — the idea that adhering to the law makes a religious objector complicit in the allegedly sinful conduct of others.
  • He troublingly described the issue in his 10th Circuit Hobby Lobby opinion as follows: “All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others.”
  • How will Judge Gorsuch balance religious freedom and the civil rights of LGBT people, including the right to marriage equality?

Why It Matters

  • This is about more than wedding cakes. Lambda Legal represents people who have been denied medical care because they are gay. The pain, harm, and profound sense of being treated unfairly are real.
  • We are currently challenging HB 1523, Mississippi’s discriminatory anti-LGBT law that invites discrimination based on religious and so-called “moral” objections to the existence of transgender people, marriages of same-sex couples, and non-marital sexual relationships.
  • We will continue to bring lawsuits against laws and executive orders that endorse anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

We Need To Know: How will Judge Gorsuch balance religious freedom and the civil rights LGBT people, including the freedom to marry?

Here are the questions Judge Gorsuch needs to answer:

  • Do you agree with the majority of the Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell that the decision in that case does not provide a “shield” for discrimination “cloaked as religious practice” and with Justice Kennedy’s analysis in his concurrence, that the exercise of one’s religion may not “unduly restrict other persons…in protecting their own interests,” and that those interests are “compelling”? 
  • Do you agree with the analysis of the majority of the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas that, under the U.S. Constitution, religious or moral beliefs cannot be the sole basis for the enactment and enforcement of criminal laws?
  • Do you agree with the majority of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges that the right to marry is a fundamental right under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and that same-sex couples may not be deprived of that right?
  • Do you agree with the analysis of the majority in U.S. v. Windsor that, where a law is enacted for the sole purpose of imposing a disadvantage, inequality, or a separate status on a class of people, there is no legitimate state interest to warrant the law’s enactment?
  • According to your judicial philosophy, what if any limitations does the U.S. Constitution impose on government funding and government sponsorship of religious activity?

What You Can Do

Our best opportunity to find out what Judge Gorsuch believes is at his Senate confirmation hearing on March 20th. Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the ones asking him questions during his hearing.

Tweet at them now to make sure they ask Judge Gorsuch these extremely important questions addressing his anti-LGBT record!

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

.@SenBlumenthal #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

.@SenatorDurbin #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE)

.@ChrisCoons #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

.@JohnCornyn #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

.@MikeCrapo #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

.@SenTedCruz #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, Ranking Member)

.@SenFeinstein #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

.@JeffFlake #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

.@senfranken #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

.@LindseyGrahamSC #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA, Chair)

.@ChuckGrassley #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

.@orrinhatch #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

.@maziehirono #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

.@senjohnkennedy #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

.@amyklobuchar #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

.@SenatorLeahy #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Michael Lee (R-UT)

.@senmikelee #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)

.@bensasse #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

.@thomtillis #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

.@SenWhitehouse #SCOTUS declared religious/moral beliefs can't be sole basis for laws. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mODESG

Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project works to advance an independent, diverse and well-respected judiciary that upholds the constitutional and other legal rights of LGBT people and everybody living with HIV.