Oppose Judge Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court
The importance of a Supreme Court Justice’s commitment to protecting civil rights cannot be overstated. Much of the progress this nation has made on issues of equal opportunity are due to Supreme Court rulings such as Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, Obergefell v. Hodges and Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch has not met the civil rights standards to earn our support and must be opposed.
If confirmed to this lifetime appointment, the 49-year-old Judge Gorsuch would be the ninth justice on a Supreme Court that is already closely divided on many important issues. At stake are the civil rights of an entire generation Americans in areas such as the right to vote, the use of force by police, discrimination against workers and consumers, the rights of people in the criminal justice system, access to equal education, and more. The Senate is expected to vote on his nomination in the coming weeks. With the balance of the Court at stake and a nominee with a record hostile to civil rights, the Senate must hold Judge Gorsuch to a super-majority, 60-vote standard for confirmation.
Key Facts on Judge Gorsuch’s Judicial Record
- Judge Gorsuch has praised the philosophy and jurisprudence of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice he is nominated to replace. Justice Scalia embraced a limited view of civil rights, and took positions that would undo progress and move the law backward in areas such as fair housing, diversity in higher education, school desegregation, voting rights, marriage equality, and others.
- Judge Gorsuch favors restricting access to justice in federal courts, preventing people seeking civil rights protections from fully presenting their claims to a judge and jury. He has been highly critical of some who rely on the courts to protect equal rights, writing that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom,” improperly using constitutional litigation to “effect their social agenda[.]”
- Judge Gorsuch holds views on government regulation that could undermine civil rights enforcement and deepen racial inequality. His views regarding the important work of federal agencies could lead to fewer and weaker protections for workers, the environment, consumers, and public health—resulting in harms that would disproportionately impact African Americans and other people of color.
- Judge Gorsuch has often ruled against claims of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation and breathed new life into the long-discredited notion that personal religious beliefs can justify discrimination against others—reasoning that has had profound and dangerous consequences for racial minorities.
- Judge Gorsuch’s anti-equality approach is revealed in his record on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Judge Gorsuch has ruled against students with disabilities in 8 out of 10 cases, and his narrow view of IDEA’s protections was recently overturned by the Supreme Court 8-0. He has also narrowly interpreted statutes designed to protect workers.
·Judge Gorsuch has been opposed to granting relief to prisoners facing execution and has a troubling record in other criminal justice contexts, especially in policing and civil suits that challenge the violent conduct of law enforcement—a widespread problem that disproportionately affects people of color. For example, over a dissent, Judge Gorsuch held that a police officer was immune from suit after killing a 22-year-old man with a Taser. The man had done nothing violent, was accused of a non-violent crime (possessing marijuana), and was fleeing when the officer fired the Taser at his head and neck. Judge Gorsuch has also dissented when the Tenth Circuit has ordered relief for capital defendants who claim ineffective assistance of counsel during the critical sentencing phase of capital trials—suggesting that he has little regard for the due process rights of criminal defendants facing execution.
- At his confirmation hearing, Judge Gorsuch refused to provide his views on vital legal questions, making it impossible to conclude that he would fairly enforce civil rights protections and further equality as a Supreme Court Justice. He even refused on multiple occassions to unequivocally say that Brown v. Board of Education was rightly decided. This is in contrast even to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito—both staunchly conservative jurists—who each squarely testified that Brown was a correct decision before they were confirmed.
Oppose Cuts to Key Human Services Programs
Federal budgets are policy statements about the direction our leaders wish to take our nation. President Trump’s FY2018 “Skinny Budget” proposals take our nation into a dangerous direction that, if enacted, would have a devastating impact on communities across the country and especially on our most vulnerable populations. Overall, due to the budget’s proposed massive increase in defense spending, non-defense programs would be cut in the coming year by approximately $54 billion. For example:
- Cuts programs for the Department of Labor by 21% below current funding levels, thus starving key workforce training programs for the unemployed and under-employed under the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) enacted into law in 2014.
- Completely eliminates the Senior Community Service Employment Program for poor and low-income older workers.
- Cuts all funding to 21st Century Community Learning Centers currently funded at $1.2 Billion.
- Cuts funding for college ready access programs like TRIO to $808 million and reduces funding for Gear UP from $322 million to $219 million.
- Reduces Federal Work Study.
- Requests $1 billion in federal Title I funding for school choice for low income students.
Housing and Community Development:
- Devastates housing programs for the poor by cutting $6.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), severely impacting homelessness and deepening poverty.
- Included in the HUD cuts is the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a critical program that funds programs that assist low-income people with housing issues, including the elimination of urban blight and other community programs.
- Also included in HUD cuts is the elimination of the HOME program that provides block grants to state and local governments to create affordable housing solutions for low-income households.
- By removing all funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), the proposed budget would severely undermine economic opportunity by ensuring that underserved communities have access to financial services.
- Eliminates the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) which has over 40 business centers across the United States that help large, growth-oriented minority businesses grow to scale. It is the smallest federal agency.
Health and Human Services:
- Unspecified cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Cuts National Institutes of Health (NIH) spending by $5.8 billion.
- Cuts programs in the Office of Community Services including Low Income Energy Assistance Program and the Community Service Block Grant.
- Cuts $403 million to health profession and nursing training programs.
- On the positive side, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would receive $500 million to expand Opioid misuse prevention.
Access to Justice:
- Devastates access to legal services for the poor by eliminating the Legal Services Corporation.
- Cuts $1.1 billion or 3.8 percent from the Department of Justice.
- Places emphasis on national security, public safety, and supports for law enforcement.
- No mention of how it would treat the Civil Rights Division.
Save Our Health Care – Reject Repeal of Obamacare
On March 24th, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Trump were forced to pull the so-called “American Health Care Act,” (AHCA) a horrendous bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA/ Obamacare) and replaced with a bill that threatened the health care of the most vulnerable among us including children, people of color, the elderly, and low income families.
According to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the AHCA would have resulted in:
- 14 million uninsured by 2018.
- 21 million uninsured by 2020.
- Increased healthcare premiums by 15-20%.
The bill would have turned Medicaid into a block grant program:
- Block granting for Medicaid to states means that the federal government would give each state a predetermined amount of funds. This means if a state’s cost exceeds the amount of the block grant, it will have to use its own funds, or cut services to low income residents who need health care the most.[i]
The AHCA would have added a work requirement to receive Medicaid.
- This would set up a serious barrier to health care access for poor, working class families.
[i] FamiliesUSA. See more about block grants at: http://familiesusa.org/product/block-grants-bad-idea-medicaid