Trump Announces Supreme Court Pick
President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch of the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to fill the vacancy on the US Supreme Court. The seat, once occupied by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, has been vacant since early 2016.
AAUW believes that, as with all nominations, a full and fair vetting process is vital to determine the nominee’s qualifications and temperament. After reviewing Gorsuch’s judicial background, AAUW has grave concerns about what his nomination will mean for women and their families. Gorsuch has been described as “a predictably socially conservative judge who tends to favor state power over federal power.” He has consistently shown hostility to women’s right to access reproductive health care and has supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood. In light of these and other concerns, the Senate confirmation hearings will be all the more important.
“Federal judges have demonstrated time and time again the critical role our courts play in our system of checks and balances, and the Supreme Court is the final stop when it comes to many of the most important legal challenges our country faces,” said Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations and advocacy for AAUW. “The American people deserve to thoroughly understand Gorsuch’s qualifications and judicial temperament to determine whether he should be afforded the honor of a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land.”
The US Constitution lays out the need for the “advice and consent” of the Senate in all federal judicial nominations. The person who fills the vacant seat must not have any conflicts of interest or policy biases that would affect their ability to issue an impartial judgment on any given case. Further, a qualified nominee will have proper respect for precedent, or stare decisis, the legal principle by which judges are obligated to respect the precedents established by prior decisions. Trump’s nominee could influence important precedents in cases concerning women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration, health care, reproductive health access, voting rights, and many more civil rights issues. The public must know Gorsuch’s full background and credentials in order to determine if he is indeed the best candidate for the job.
“The nominee stands to influence cases for multiple generations of Americans. The Senate must do its due diligence and conduct a thorough examination of Gorsuch,” said Maatz. “AAUW will be watching the hearing with keen interest to hear Gorsuch’s candid responses to critical questions and will make our own judgment regarding what his confirmation could mean for women and families — positive or negative.”
AAUW members can play an important role in informing the public about the constitutional process for filling vacancies.
AAUW supports “a fair, balanced, and independent judiciary” to ensure constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been operating with a vacancy all year long. That vacancy will continue to hinder the court for the rest of the year — and possibly even longer.