Religious Right Praises Gorsuch As Key To Its Policy Goals

Family Research Council's Tony Perkins talks about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Fox Business, February 1, 2017.

Religious Right groups and leaders have been cheering Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court since it was announced, and they have continued praising him up to and through the first days of his confirmation hearing this week.

Last Friday, Focus on the Family’s “Thriving Values” newsletter compared Gorsuch to Robert Bork—in their opinion, a compliment—whose Supreme Court nomination was rejected by a bipartisan Senate majority in 1987 after an exploration of his extreme judicial philosophy. Focus on the Family declared that “there are many similarities between these two judges.” Focus said it had created an online “Action Center” to “help prevent another 1987 nomination fiasco.”

Also last Friday, the National Organization for Marriage called Gorsuch “an intellectual giant and proven pro-family conservative who can help transform the Court” and who “has the potential of leading the Supreme Court in a conservative direction for a generation to come.” NOM specifically touted the potential for overturning the Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision:

The clearest path to reversing that illegitimate decision is, thus, changing the makeup of the Supreme Court. The confirmation of Judge Gorsuch is the first step on that path. Then we need to make sure that the next vacancy on the Court is filled by an originalist judge in the mold of Justice Scalia, as Judge Gorsuch’s background and track record show him to be.

NOM weighed in again on Monday, asking its members of sign a petition to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding that he do everything, up to and including changing Senate rules, in order to ensure Gorsuch’s confirmation. “Having a conservative, constitutionalist in the mold of Justice Scalia on the US Supreme Court is one of the most important things we can do to advance marriage, life, religious liberty, the truth of gender and all the other issues we care deeply about,” NOM president Brian Brown wrote.

On Monday, Franklin Graham slammed “atheist progressives” who he said want to “strip God and all references to Him out of our society” and “marginalize Christians to the point of making them second class citizens.” He said that, if approved, “Gorsuch will add a needed conservative voice on America’s highest court.”

Samuel Rodriguez, who like Graham spoke at Trump’s inauguration, had once expressed concern about Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric but threw immigrant families under the wheels of the Trump train once the candidate had pledged to name Supreme Court justices to the Religious Right’s liking. On Tuesday, Rodriguez “lavishly praised Gorsuch” and urged the Senate to “move swiftly” to confirm him.

Also on Tuesday, anti-gay activist and former Colorado state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt slammed LGBTQ groups for raising concerns about Gorsuch’s ruling in Hobby Lobby: “Clearly the homosexual leftists hate religious freedom as much as they hate Neil Gorsuch.” Klingenschmitt posted a picture of Gorsuch fishing with the late Antonin Scalia, adding that Gorsuch “may actually be more conservative than Scalia on issues like de-regulation.”

On Tuesday night the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who had been invited to Trump’s announcement of the Gorsuch nomination, noted (accurately) that “conservative groups like FRC are lining up behind Neil Gorsuch’s nomination” and wrote (inaccurately) that Democrats were “having trouble finding anything wrong with the Supreme Court nominee.” Perkins was among other Religious Right leaders putting stock in Gorsuch’s grounding in “natural law,” which they see providing a basis to reject reproductive choice and LGBTQ equality:

For so many Americans, who have watched as a handful of justices redefine thousands of years of tradition and natural law, listening to Gorsuch was like a breath of fresh air. Unlike so many judicial activists today, he understands his role. In a world where issues like same-sex marriage and abortion were suddenly discovered in the invisible ink of the Constitution, Gorsuch offered hope that he would not declare what he would “like the [law] to be” but “what it is.”

Dominionist Lou Engle tweeted on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, calling for people to pray for Gorsuch and his confirmation to the Supreme Court. Engle sees his confirmation as a way to “reverse Haman’s decree of ’73,” an allusion to Roe v. Wade and the evil character from the biblical story of Esther who tried to engineer the slaughter of the Jews of Persia. On Tuesday afternoon Engle tweeted:

For its part, the Republican National Committee said on Tuesday, “Our Party is launching a six-figure ad blitz in support of President Trump’s nominee in twelve battleground states where vulnerable Democrats will be up for re-election in 2018.” The email letter, sent from “Trump Headquarters,” tied the Gorsuch nomination to Trump’s broader political agenda. “If you’re sick of the way Democrats and the media have been obstructing President Trump’s agenda,” the email said, “this is your chance to fight back in defense of the American people’s mandate.”