We Know Judge Gorsuch Thinks Constitutional Values Are Frozen in Past. Now We Need Answers.

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March 17, 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 judicial philosophy 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 is commonly described as an originalist and a textualist: someone who claims to interpret legal provisions as their words were originally understood. 
  • In his 2016 tribute to the late Justice Scalia, Judge Gorsuch wrote: “Judges should [] strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and 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 ....”
  • Does Judge Gorsuch believe that the Constitution requires the protection of LGBT and HIV-related civil rights?

Why It Matters

  • The Supreme Court’s four-decade evolution on LGBT rights has been entwined with our nation’s growing recognition of the shared humanity and dignity of LGBT people.

We Need To Know: Does Judge Gorsuch believe that the Constitution requires the protection of the civil rights of LGBT people and everyone living with HIV?

Here are the questions Judge Gorsuch needs to answer:

  • Do you agree with the analysis of the majority of the Supreme Court in each of the Obergefell, Windsor, and Lawrence v. Texas decisions that the scope and understanding of liberty may evolve over time and the Court has the responsibility of discovering and affirming emerging claims by minority groups that may not have been understood before?
  • Do you agree with the analysis of the majority of the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas that “[a]s the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom”?
  • Do you think the Supreme Court was correct to overturn Bowers v. Hardwick in Lawrence v. Texas? Why or why not?

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 must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

.@SenatorDurbin #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE)

.@ChrisCoons #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

.@JohnCornyn #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

.@MikeCrapo #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

.@SenTedCruz #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

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

.@SenFeinstein #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

.@JeffFlake #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

.@senfranken #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

.@LindseyGrahamSC #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA, Chair)

.@ChuckGrassley #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

.@orrinhatch #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

.@maziehirono #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

.@senjohnkennedy #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

.@SenatorLeahy #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Michael Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)

.@bensasse #SCOTUS must respect the constitutional rights of #LGBT people. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mPlq3p

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

.@thomtillis #Transgender rights are protected by federal law. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mkHGo6

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

.@SenWhitehouse #Transgender rights are protected by federal law. Does Judge #Gorsuch agree? http://bit.ly/2mkHGo6

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.