Guest Commentary

Alison Dreith: Neil Gorsuch is not the independent voice Missouri needs

Judge Neil Gorsuch is President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. The Associated Press

The Trump administration is off to a rough start. With his presidency in upheaval over weeks of scandals, national security crises, and unconstitutional power grabs, the question now is how we ensure that rigorous checks and balances are in place to rein in his most outrageous abuses.

A critical component of holding President Donald Trump accountable is an independent court system that can stand up to his rampant overreach. Most of all, this requires a Supreme Court that will defend our rights as Americans regardless of the political pressure coming from the White House. Unfortunately, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court would not be the independent voice that Missourians need to stand up to Trump’s dangerous agenda.

It’s no surprise that Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, represents the fringe of the conservative movement. After all, Trump campaigned on promises to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, so it’s little wonder that his nominee seems to fit this out-of-touch worldview.

In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen how much is at stake. The dangerous travel ban on several majority-Muslim nations, an ongoing cover-up of Russian infiltration of the White House, and a presidential Cabinet now run by billionaire cronies of a power-hungry president — all are matters capable of provoking an unparalleled constitutional crisis. To confront such crises will require a principled response from an independent Supreme Court.

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Yet Gorsuch threatens that judicial independence.

After Trump announced Gorsuch’s nomination, Operation Rescue, an organization whose president has openly advocated for the execution of doctors who provide abortion care, celebrated the selection and lauded Trump for his anti-choice pick. The president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, who recently admitted that she would like to make birth control and IUDs illegal, said she was “thrilled” by Gorsuch’s nomination. And the Daily Stormer, a white-supremacist website, lauded Gorsuch as a “hardcore right-winger, which is exactly what we wanted.” The glee with which these dangerous groups endorsed a nominee for the Supreme Court is chilling.

In addition to earning the adulation of anti-choice extremists, Gorsuch’s record itself is a testament to the fact that he was handpicked by Trump to undermine women’s rights and roll back the clock on access to basic health care, including abortion and contraception. Gorsuch has ruled against women and Americans’ personal liberty in favor of corporations, government interference, and those who seek to impose their narrow ideologies on the rest of us.

He ruled that employers should be allowed to decide whether they’ll provide their female employees with access to birth control. He has donated to anti-choice politicians going back decades. And he went out of his way to defend a politician when he tried to defund Planned Parenthood after viewing a series of deceptive, heavily edited videos that lied about the work the health centers provide for their patients.

Missourians are ready to stand up against the hateful and un-American agenda put forth by Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. After Trump’s inauguration, over 5,000 women and their allies marched in Kansas City to show that we will not be silenced as this new administration makes a mockery of our values.

Now, we, the people, have to ensure Congress knows we will oppose Gorsuch and Trump’s agenda on our Supreme Court. There is simply too much on the line to elevate Trump’s dangerous ideology with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.

Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill should think twice before they push through Gorsuch’s nomination.

If the protests and activism of the last month have proven anything, it’s that Missourians are watching and prepared to hold our elected leaders accountable.

Many say that Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, is a natural replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Alison Dreith is executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.

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