Commentary

Home state editorial: SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch is “perfectly qualified but fatally flawed”

There’s a fine editorial today in the Aurora, Colorado Sentinel on the nomination of Coloradan Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. In it, the authors offer a powerful takedown of Gorsuch’s extreme views on religious freedom, which were best evidenced in his actions in the infamous Hobby Lobby case.

Here’s a powerful excerpt from “Gorsuch is a perfectly qualified but fatally flawed candidate for the Supreme Court”:

“We do not doubt his command of the law and language to make his case. But it’s that very eloquence that betrays his insistence that nothing weighs on his judgment other than the practical nature of the law. On the bench, Gorsuch wrongly allows the courts to protect the religious freedom of one citizen by denying the same rights of another. The most egregious example came in 2013 Hobby Lobby v Sebelius ruling.

That’s the landmark case trumped by conservatives that says, in certain cases, corporations can violate the rights and privileges of others if owners feel their religious freedoms are infringed upon. In the case of Hobby Lobby, owners David and Barbara Green objected to paying for employee health insurance that provided benefits for birth control, a component of Obamacare. Using some commonly accepted methods of birth control offended the religious sensibilities of the Greens. So they sued, and they won.

Gorsuch was a large part of that victory….

What Gorsuch implied is that the company’s religious convictions — an extension of the owners — trump those of an employee. In this case it was 13,000 employees. It’s not enough that the people who own the company be allowed to practice their faith any way they like. That’s never been questioned. Gorsuch argued that their faith extended to a legal instrument created to pay taxes and create commerce. He said the government can’t impose a religion on a business, but a business can impose its religion on anyone, no matter how far out of line the weirdness may be — as long as the convictions are genuine. Gorsuch said the government and the courts shouldn’t evaluate or judge “the correctness or the consistency” of what people say are religious objections, instead the courts should ensure they can claim whatever they like.

All well and good — until your religious rights impose on the rights of others. Weirdness, as we all know, is in the eye of the beholder.

Under Gorsuch’s ruling, if the Greens were to become devout Jehovah Witnesses, they could insist that company health insurance not offer medical treatment for leukemia that involves human blood components.

Gorsuch’s ruling would allow Westboro Baptist Church to create a corporation and buy up ambulance services across Kansas — and refuse to provide aid to homosexuals. The Gorsuch ruling would allow David Duke and his wife to buy up hotel chains across the South and refuse to rent rooms to blacks and other minorities.

No? Even proponents of the Hobby Lobby victory say such things would be unlikely. Talk all you want, but allowing some devout Christians objecting to having a hand in birth control is an easy sell in America. Had the Greens been Muslims who refused to hire women who shunned wearing burkas to work it’s unlikely this case would have gotten this far.”

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