Nurses Statement on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

For Immediate Release

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Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246

Nurses Statement on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

“National Nurses United will oppose the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and called on Democratic members of the Senate to follow the standard set by the Senate majority last year in taking whatever steps they can, including the use of the filibuster, to block the confirmation of Gorsuch.

“With the refusal of the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on the last Presidential nominee for the Court, there can be no justification for a rush to judgment on this nominee. A new standard has been set that no howls of ‘obstructionism’ today can obscure,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN.

“Gorsuch should also be opposed because of a far right record that is consistently hostile to the rights and protections of working people,” said Burger. "Last year in blocking President Obama's nomination, Republicans said the court could function just fine with only eight members. Let's hold them to that now."

Over the past 10 years with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch has written at least 15 labor and employment rulings. Twelve of those rulings involved federal race, sex, age, disability and political discrimination and retaliation claims. Gorsuch's opinions aligned with employers in eight of the 12 cases.

Additionally, Gorsuch wrote three opinions upholding National Labor Relations Board rulings against both employees and unions.

NNU cited several examples of Gorsuch positions in cases, including on healthcare, for the nurses’ opposition:

1- NLRB v. Community Health Service d/b/a Mimbres Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home (2016).

The case stemmed from CHS unfair labor practices by unilaterally reducing hours of respiratory department employees represented by the United Steelworkers in 1999. After years of National Labor Relations Board and repeated court delays, the NLRB determined that the employer had to repay employees for loss of earnings and benefits caused by the employer’s unilateral actions, a decision upheld by the circuit court majority.

In his dissent, Gorsuch wrote that “allowing the employee in these circumstances to keep both her ‘interim earnings and a full backpay award would mean she’d be paid twice for the same hours, leaving her better off than she would have been but for the employer’s misconduct.”  

What Gorsuch advocated, said NNU, is a green light for employers committing wage theft, says NNU, to cynically exploit the delays intrinsic to NLRB and court procedures to violate worker rights.

2- Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch (2016)

The case involved an interpretation of a 1984 precedent, Chevron Inc., v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. Gorsuch took the position that it is time to stop deferring to precedent and the expertise of agencies charged with drafting regulations implementing laws enacted by Congress. He claimed that allows an administrative agency to “swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power” – essentially advocating overturning judicial and core administrative functions.

In the context of the full scale attack on established public protections and rights that are a high priority in the Trump administration, it is likely that on the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a consistent vote in favor of overturning workers’ rights, healthcare protections, and environmental standards, said NNU.

3- Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sibelius, (2013)

Gorsuch was on the majority side in this notorious case that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote finding that employers could not be required to cover a workers’ contraception costs under the Affordable Care Act.

“All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others,” Gorsuch wrote in his opinion. “For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability.”

In short, Gorsuch said employer rights take precedence over federal law, workers’ rights, and the separation of church and state, all positions that should also disqualify him confirmation to the Supreme Court, said NNU.

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

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