Progressive labor, environmental, LGBTQ, and women's rights groups on Monday put Senate Democrats on warning over President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
"Democrats have failed to demonstrate a strong, unified resistance to this nominee despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic freedoms and threaten the independence of the federal judiciary," they said in a letter sent to the 48-member minority. "We need you to do better."
Led by NARAL Pro-Choice America and co-signed by the SEIU, MoveOn.org, 350 Action, CREDO Action, the Working Families Party, Demos Action, the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Domestic Worker Legacy Fund, and the Communications Workers of America, the letter is the next salvo in a campaign to block Gorsuch's nomination on the grounds that he is, as the groups charge, "more conservative" than late Justice Antonin Scalia.
"As a judge, Gorsuch opposed reproductive freedom and women's rights; LGBTQ rights; civil rights; workers' rights; immigrants' rights; disability rights; environmental protections; and sought to increase the influence of corporate money in our elections."
—11 progressive groups to US senators
"Judge Gorsuch is not a mainstream nominee," the letter reads. "He [...] has an extreme ideological agenda supported by some of the most dangerous ultra-conservative and white nationalist groups, and has failed to protect everyday Americans' constitutional rights in favor of propping up corporations and special interests. As a judge, Gorsuch opposed reproductive freedom and women's rights; LGBTQ rights; civil rights; workers' rights; immigrants' rights; disability rights; environmental protections; and sought to increase the influence of corporate money in our elections. Imagine how much damage he could do with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."
The letter comes two weeks ahead of Gorsuch's March 20 confirmation hearings, and amidst an increased push in lawmakers' home districts to block the nominee. As Politico notes, "Fomenting Democratic resistance to Gorsuch is the next test for a growing liberal movement that has fueled rowdy town-hall confrontations with GOP lawmakers and lured millions to anti-Trump demonstrations since his inauguration."
In Maine on Sunday night, for example, more than 600 people attended a "listening session" with Independent Sen. Angus King, who called the meeting to gather input from constituents on Gorsuch. Politico reported Monday that King is "one of about a dozen Democratic votes who will determine Gorsuch's fate."
Some signs in Hannaford Hall where Sen. Angus King about to start listening session on Judge Gorsuch nomination pic.twitter.com/CQlllVa4RK
— Susan Sharon (@SusanSharon1) March 5, 2017
Hundreds of people showed up for Angus King's "listening session" on Gorsuch. https://t.co/2G7WFGbv0d
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The Portland Press Herald reported that the majority of the speakers were opposed to the nominee. "The world has changed tremendously in 230 years," Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women's Lobby, told King. "The world is changing and it will continue to change. We need to have a judge who will keep their mind open."
Furthermore, recent questions involving the Trump administration's ties to Russia cannot be overlooked in the context of a Supreme Court nomination, journalist Dahlia Lithwick and University of Georgia School of Law professor Sonja West wrote last week at Slate.
"If the Trump victory were even somewhat abetted by shady ties to the Russians, everything he does as president is of questionable legitimacy," they argued. "Once a Supreme Court appointment is done, it cannot be undone. And the damage won't stop with Trump's judicial nominee: Having one justice serve under a cloud of doubt also threatens to harm the entire court."
"The only acceptable answer at this point is to hold off on the Gorsuch hearings until we can be sure that this president, and this nomination, are on the up and up," they continued. "The nomination of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court cannot be separated or shielded from the serious questions that plague the Trump presidency. The nomination itself does not somehow float above the fray, occurring on a parallel track of governance that is still bound by norms of respect and dignity and the benefit of the doubt."
Follow the Gorsuch opposition on Twitter under the hashtags #NotOurJustice and #StopGorsuch: