Neil Gorsuch’s History

Career

  • Bachelor of Arts, Columbia University, 1988[i]
  • Juris Doctorate, Harvard Law School, 1991[ii]
  • Doctorate of Legal Philosophy, Oxford University, 2004[iii]
  • Clerk, Judge David Sentelle, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, 1991-1992[iv]
  • Clerk, Associate Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court, 1993 1994[v]
  • Attorney and Partner, Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, 1995-2005[vi]
  • Principal deputy to the associate attorney general and acting associate attorney general,
  • Department of Justice, 2005-2006[vii]
  • Thompson Visiting Professor, University of Colorado Law School, Boulder, 2012-2016[viii]
  • Judge, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2006-present[ix]
  • Nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Trump on January 31, 2017.

The Company He Keeps

  • You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep, and Neil Gorsuch is no different. Let’s meet some of the anti-choice extremists supporting Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, where they — like Donald Trump — believe he’ll rule in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • Since Gorsuch was nominated, he has received an outpouring of support from anti-choice activists and extremists.  Troy Newman, leader of the extreme anti-choice group Operation Rescue, stated “[o]ne of the reasons I endorsed Trump for president was because of the strong promises he made to pro-life leaders. Now, after less than two weeks in office, he is keeping those promises, and we are very encouraged.”
  • Since then, other groups have followed suit.  Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List and Mike Fichter of Indiana Right to Life recently penned an op-ed praising Gorsuch’s “commitment to upholding . . . the sanctity of life.”  Gorsuch has also received stamps of approval from the National Right To Life, Life News, Concerned Women For America, and the Pro-Life Court Coalition, among other groups committed to taking away reproductive freedom.  This list is a who’s-who of the anti-abortion movement.
  • Clearly, they feel confident that if Gorsuch is confirmed, he will be a reliable vote in dismantling a woman’s right to choose.

Record on Choice-Related Issues

  • In a case challenging the Utah governor’s executive action defunding Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, a panel of the Tenth Circuit overturned the lower court’s ruling in favor of the state and remanded the case to the district court, which granted Planned Parenthood a preliminary injunction. A Tenth Circuit judge called for consideration of a rehearing en banc, which was denied. Gorsuch wrote a dissent, in which he describes the motivation for the governor’s order to defund Planned Parenthood as based on the illegal activities alleged in videos released in the summer of 2015, and not because of the governor’s anti-choice position.[x]
  • Gorsuch concurred with the Tenth Circuit’s anti-choice ruling in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius. He wrote a concurring opinion that the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage policy required Hobby Lobby “to violate their religious faith by lending an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.” He continues, “the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.”[i]
  • When the Tenth Circuit decided against rehearing en banc a challenge to the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage policy (Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell), Gorsuch joined the dissenting opinion. Dissenters called the contraceptive-coverage policy a clear burden on the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion and predicted that the policy would “not long survive.”[ii]
  • Gorsuch submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the American Hospital Association in a case about assisted suicide. He referenced Planned Parenthood v. Casey and wrote, in reference to public hospitals being required to provide elective abortions, “If the courts feel free to override the conscience of health care providers in that context, there is a danger they will do so here as well.”[iii]
  • In a challenge to Oklahoma’s license-plate program, which allows for “Choose Life” license plates that fund anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, the district court dismissed the case on procedural grounds. Gorsuch ruled that although some of the charges were rightfully dismissed, others could be heard on the merits so he remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. In his opinion, he wrote: “even if [the plaintiff] were to prevail and obtain the relief sought in its amended complaint, the State would remain free to promote adoption and ensure that none of its monies go to abortion-related activities or any other activities of which it disapproves.”[iv]
  • In a case relating to the refusal of health-care services, Gorsuch concurred with the Tenth Circuit’s ruling against a transgender woman who was denied consistent access to hormone therapy while incarcerated. The ruling upheld the lower court’s decision, which rejected the claims that the denial of health-care services was cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution.[v]
  • Reproductive-rights organizations challenged a Kansas law that violated young people’s right to privacy by requiring health-care professionals, counselors, and others to report any sexual activity, including a young woman seeking contraception, under the state’s child-abuse law. The district court enjoined the law and the state appealed to the Tenth Circuit. In a ruling that didn’t reflect the merits of the case, a panel, including Gorsuch, dismissed the case as moot because the legislature amended the law to make clear it could not be applied that broadly.[vi]

Notable Positions

  • Gorsuch wrote a novel, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, which argued against legalization of assisted suicide on the principle that human life is intrinsically valuable and that terminating human life is always wrong.[vii]
  • In an article for a conservative magazine, Gorsuch criticized “the Left” for advancing too many constitutional lawsuits and described marriage equality as part of the liberal social agenda, saying, “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom…as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”[viii]

Additional Information

  • The conservative Federalist Society lists Gorsuch as an “expert” on its website.[ix]
  • Gorsuch has contributed to anti-choice elected officials including Bill Frist, John McCain, and George W. Bush.[x]

Cited Sources

[i] Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, No. 12-6294 (2013).

[ii] Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, No. 13-1540 (2015)

[iii] Brief of Amici Curiae American Hospital Association, State of Washington v. Glucksberg, et al, WL 656278 (U.S.), Nos. 96-220, 96-1858 (1996).

[iv] Hill v. Kemp, (WL 478 F.3d 1236), No. 05-5160 (2007).

[v] Druley v. Patton, No. 14-6114 (2015).

[vi] Aid for Women v. Foulston, (WL 6787808), No. 06-3187, 06-3188, 06-3202 (2007).

[vii] Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Princeton University Press, 2009, available at http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8317.html (last visited Jan. 27, 2017).

[viii] Neil Gorsuch, Liberals’N’Lawsuits, National Review, Feb. 7, 2005, available at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/213590/liberalsnlawsuits-joseph-6 (last visited Feb. 7, 2017).

[ix] Experts, Hon. Neil Gorsuch, The Federalist Society, available at http://www.fed-soc.org/experts/detail/neil-gorsuch (last visited Jan. 27, 2017).

[x] The Center for Responsive Politics, Search for donations of Neil Gorsuch, available at www.opensecrets.gov (last visited Dec. 14, 2016)

[xi] About the Court – Judges, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, available at https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/judges/judge-neil-m-gorsuch (last visited Jan. 25, 2017).

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Ibid; Profiles, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Colorado Law, University of Colorado Boulder, available at http://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/profile.jsp?id=321 (last visited Jan. 27, 2017)

[xvii] About the Court – Judges, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, available at https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/judges/judge-neil-m-gorsuch (last visited Jan. 25, 2017).

[xviii] Profiles, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Colorado Law, University of Colorado Boulder, available at http://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/profile.jsp?id=321 (last visited Jan. 27, 2017).

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert, No. 15-4189 (2016).

[xxi] http://www.demos.org/publication/judge-gorsuch%E2%80%99s-extreme-views-could-undermine-urgently-needed-money-politics-reforms