President Trump made a push for his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, in a Wednesday morning appearance with a group of activists reflecting several wings of the right-wing movement. Among them were anti-government activist Grover Norquist, anti-gun-regulation Wayne LaPierre of the NRA, Tom Collamore with U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Trump spiritual adviser Paula White, and a group of anti-choice activists who had served on Trump’s “Pro-Life Advisory Council” during the election: Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, and Charmaine Yoest, the former Americans United for Life leader who now works for Gary Bauer’s American Values. Trump also used the opportunity to call on Sen. Mitch McConnell to deploy the so-called “nuclear option” to change Senate rules if Democrats filibuster the nomination.
Religious Right leaders are thrilled to pieces with Gorsuch’s nomination, as Miranda reported this morning. A Who’s Who of America’s most stridently anti-LGBT, anti-choice activists are celebrating the Gorsuch nomination as justification for the work they did to help Trump get elected.
At the White House, Trump’s visuals gave lie to his rhetoric. He called for a “dignified” rather than “demeaning” process, as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre sat to his immediate left. LaPierre and the NRA are known for many things, but “dignified” political rhetoric is not high on the list. During the election, LaPierre campaigned for Trump, warning that Hillary Clinton would “come for your guns” and create “a new post-freedom America.” He also charged that Obama had been more aggressive against American gun owners than he had been against ISIS. Back in 2015 Trump had repeated gun activists’ conspiracy theories about Obama preparing to sign an executive order to confiscate people’s guns.
Norquist is also a well-known rhetorical bomb-thrower when it comes to government and taxes, perhaps most infamously for saying he wants to cut the size of the government until it’s small enough to drown in the bathtub. He has also joked that an economic recovery plan would be to put all the trial lawyers in a bag and throw them in the river. Norquist is presumably delighted Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy, which goes even further than the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s in challenging federal agencies’ ability to implement laws protecting safety and health. Rolling back the power of government agencies to regulate corporate behavior and protect consumers and communities is a major right-wing goal.
At the same time as the White House is trying to portray Gorsuch as a mainstream nominee, anti-abortion extremists are celebrating his nomination as a step toward their goal of overturning Roe v Wade. Dannenfelser, who Trump chose to head up his anti-abortion coalition, wants to go quite a bit further and criminalize all abortions. Dannenfelser stridently opposes exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape and incest and when a woman’s health is at risk.