Religious Right leaders have been celebrating last Friday’s Senate vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. While Gorsuch refused to answer many questions about his approach to the law, the Religious Right had no doubts about where he stands, thanks in large part to his pre-approval by the right-wing Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. Religious Right leaders were thrilled by his nomination from the beginning and described his confirmation as the key to achieving their policy goals. Gorsuch was sworn in on Monday morning.
Here’s a round-up of some post-nuclear-option-and-confirmation gloating:
“We did it!” exulted National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown in a Friday email celebrating the Gorsuch win as a nail in the coffin for marriage equality:
This development is a huge boost for NOM and for the prospects of restoring true marriage to our nation’s laws by reversing the illegitimate, anti-constitutional Obergefell ruling of 2015 redefining marriage. Justice Gorsuch shares Justice Scalia’s judicial philosophy and we are confident he will rule to overturn the illegitimate marriage decision.
That means we are likely only one vote short of reinstating marriage in our nation, with rumors flying that another Court vacancy could occur soon with the retirement of one of the justices who voted to redefine marriage!
Liberty Counsel celebrated Gorsuch’s confirmation, noting, “As a federal appellate judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch sided with the state of Utah’s defunding of Planned Parenthood and supported the religious liberty arguments against forced abortion mandates under ObamaCare in Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor.” The Liberty Counsel statement also quoted from Gorsuch’s book on assisted suicide and euthanasia, which anti-abortion activists have taken as a signal that Gorsuch will help them overturn Roe v. Wade: “Human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Religious Right strategist Ralph Reed said in a press release that Gorsuch’s confirmation had been “the number one legislative priority” of his Faith & Freedom Coalition. “Millions of voters, including voters of faith, cast their ballots in 2016 based on Donald Trump’s promise to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in the model of Antonin Scalia,” said Reed. “He has done so, and Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation is therefore a major victory for his Administration and the American people.”
Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom was a big fan of Gorsuch based on his decision in the Hobby Lobby case granting for-profit corporations the right to seek exemptions from laws based on the religious beliefs of the company itself, as well as its owners. ADF President Michael Farris cited Gorsuch rulings in favor of the Religious Right’s interpretation of religious liberty as reason to celebrate his confirmation.
Leonard Leo, who has played a central role in the right-wing Federalist Society and its long campaign to achieve ideological dominion over the federal courts, and who shepherded Gorsuch’s nomination on behalf of the Trump administration, was likewise thrilled by his confirmation. “Today’s vote is the culmination of over 30 years of abuse and obstruction by Democrats in the judicial confirmation process,” said Leo. “Republicans have restored the long-standing tradition of the Senate of having a simple majority, up or down vote for Supreme Court nominees.” Leo’s comments about Democratic obstruction are hard to take seriously, given the historic levels of Republican obstruction against President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees and the Republican refusal to even grant Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing.
Similarly, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said: “It is shameful that the Left blew up the confirmation process in the U.S. Senate in order to protect their efforts to legislate through the courts”—a ridiculous statement given Republicans’ actions against Obama nominees. Judicial Watch, which continues to wage a scorched-earth campaign against Hillary Clinton, called the Gorusch confirmation “a great victory for constitutional government.”
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for making it all possible by preventing Senate consideration of Garland’s nomination, in his words, “not allowing an outgoing president to pack the Court with ideological jurists on his way out of the White House.” Perkins, of course, is delighted with the ideological jurist chosen by Trump, who courted Religious Right leaders with his promise to give them the Supreme Court of their dreams.
In a Friday email to activists, Heritage Action’s Michael Needham also praised McConnell for refusing to consider Garland’s nomination and declared, “Judge Gorsuch is an excellent jurist who is poised to follow in the footsteps of Antonin Scalia.” Needham said “the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court shows what can be accomplished when conservatives and Republicans stand firmly together.”
Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance also praised McConnell and included a nod to Sen. Chuck Grassley for holding the Supreme Court seat open for Trump. She gushed about Gorsuch, “His constitutional jurisprudence makes him an ardent defender of the rights that keep us free.”
The right-wing Catholic Vote celebrated Republicans’ rule change to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, saying in a Friday email to supporters that it will be extremely valuable in future confirmation battles, “especially if one of the five pro-Roe justices is replaced.” The group warned Democratic senators who voted against Gorsuch’s confirmation that “payback is coming next November!”