By L Whitener
This should’ve been the year that conservatives finally learned not to trust politicians in Washington. After 8 long, miserable years of Republicans on Capitol Hill folding like cheap lawn chairs to Obama’s agenda, conservatives are still placing undue faith in those who thrust a knife into our backs in exchange for a spot at the K Street lobbyist’s dinner table. If that weren’t enough, they poured salt into the gaping wound by abandoning their conservative base to jump on board the populist Trump train.
As a God-fearing, free thinking conservative. I live by two simple rules. I put my faith in NO man and I never assume someone else’s opinion to be fact, specifically in regards to matters closest to my heart. As a principled, constitutional conservative, there isn’t a matter closer to my heart than SCOTUS.
Three weeks before Trump’s SCOTUS announcement, he confirmed that he had narrowed his list of 21 potential choices down to 3. William Pryor, Thomas Hardiman, and Neil Gorsuch.
Judge William Pryor, currently serves the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While serving as the Attorney General of Alabama, he removed Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. Pryor has also made objectionable rulings regarding transgender and gay rights that drew fierce opposition from grassroots conservatives.
Thomas Hardiman, a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, has a record of originalist rulings on 2nd Amendment cases. Also, his court rulings are known to strongly favor law enforcement.
The law enforcement community, especially from the mid-Atlantic region is aware of Hardiman through his 2007 ruling which upheld the constitutionality of strip searches of jail prisoners regardless of how minor the offense of which they were accused. The Supreme Court later endorsed his decision, 5-4. This was an extremely important ruling as it officially validated the importance of officer safety.
By all accounts, despite the fact that he has never made a ruling on the issue of life, Hardiman’s rulings appear to fall in line with many conservative views. Although, I have my reservations about him.
Trump ultimately settled on Neil Gorsuch. After countless hours of combing through court opinions, rulings and his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, I was disheartened by my findings. SCOTUS is a lifetime appointment that will serve an entire generation of Americans, my children’s generation.
Gorsuch has used pro-abortion terminology, without ever referring to the “unborn child.” He has favorably cited the Blackmun decision that gave abortionists legal standing to challenge pro-life laws.
In the case of Pino v. U.S., 507 F.3d 1233 (10th Cir. 2007), Gorsuch discussed whether a 20-week-old “nonviable fetus” had the same rights as a “viable fetus.” Gorsuch indicated that his answer is “no” unless the Oklahoma Supreme Court specially found rights for the “nonviable fetus.” Rather than render a pro-life ruling, Gorsuch sent this issue to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for it to decide. Gorsuch’s approach is similar to the unjust approach based on viability that underlies Roe v. Wade.
National Review wrote a defense of Gorsuch, with quotes from his book,”The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” to establish his pro-life credentials. When you look up the quotes in his book, however, you see that Gorsuch argues against life, because he accepts as law the Supreme Court’s opinion that abortion involves the interests of only one person. In fact, he uses Roe and Casey to argue that assisted suicide, “unlike abortion,” involves the interests of more than one single person.
Pro-life groups garnered support from pro-life activists who formed a petition to try to stop Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch.
They distributed online pleas to the pro-life community stating, “The pro-life movement has only a few hours or days to object, protest, criticize, and veto the nomination of this pro-choice candidate. Trump floats these trial balloons to see if people object. We must strongly object, and please speak out loudly now.”
And, “Evangelicals spoke out and vetoed the previous top choice, Bill Pryor. Now it is urgent that pro-lifers speak out immediately and veto Neil Gorsuch.”
Gorsuch said in his book, “Under Roe’s express holding, a fetus does not qualify as a person.” Seems like a harmless, factually accurate statement unless you are familiar with his stare decisis views.
During his 2006 confirmation hearing, which resulted in overwhelming support by Democrats, Gorsuch made clear his intent to follow “case law,” or, precedent. His book gives high regard for stare decisis, which he defines as “respect for the long-settled law.”
In a 2012 ruling against the Second Amendment rights of a man before his court, United States v. Games-Perez, 667 F.3d 1136, 1142 (10th Cir. 2012) (Gorsuch, J., concurring), Gorsuch declared, “Our duty to follow precedent sometimes requires us to make mistakes.”
TRANSGENDER SPECIAL PROTECTION
Gorsuch is a supporter of granting special rights to men who say they have a female gender identity. He sided with civil rights for “gender identity” in 2009 by adhering to a Ninth Circuit opinion by the liberal Judge Reinhardt, which held that the federal law called “Title VII” protects discrimination against gender identity. Kastl v. Maricopa County Cmty. College Dist., 325 Fed. Appx. 492 (9th Cir. 2009) (Gorsuch, J., joining the court opinion). At the time virtually every other circuit rejected this liberal view. More recently Judge Gorsuch expressed his support for referring to biological men as women.
Judge Gorsuch joined in an opinion, United States v. Rodriguez, 739 F.3d 481 (11th Cir. 2013), which concerns me deeply about his understanding of the relationship between the government and an armed citizenry. Judge Bobby Baldock, authored an opinion and Gorsuch joined the opinion. He could have filed a principled dissenting opinion, or even a concurring opinion agreeing only in the judgment. But, he didn’t.
The facts of the case are these. A New Mexico policeman observed Mr. Rodriguez, a convenience store clerk, carrying a concealed handgun. Carrying a concealed loaded handgun is illegal in New Mexico without a permit but legal if one has a license to do so. The officer, upon seeing Rodriguez’s handgun, detained him, then forcibly disarmed him. After determining that Rodriguez did not, in fact, have a license to carry and, indeed, was a convicted felon, the officer placed him under arrest.
The precedent from the Rodriguez opinion will affect police-citizen relations in New Mexico, and possibly elsewhere in the Tenth Circuit, for many years to come.
According to the 10th Circuit’s opinion, the police are justified in forcibly disarming every armed citizen based on nothing more than the presence of a concealed firearm. This allows the police to treat every law-abiding gun owner like a criminal. Under the Rodriguez ruling, only after being forcibly disarmed and detained would a citizen be entitled to prove that he was lawfully exercising his Second Amendment rights.
The Circuit Court based this decision on Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) – the “stop and frisk” doctrine. One of the holdings from Terry is that, if the police have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is both “armed and dangerous,” they can temporarily seize his weapon to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, this ruling allows the police to conflate the two concepts and treat all armed persons as if they were automatically dangerous.
According to the panel opinion joined by Judge Gorsuch, the mere presence of a loaded concealed firearm “alone is enough to justify [the officer’s] action in removing the handgun from Defendant’s waistband for the protection of himself and others.”
The court cited various Fourth Amendment cases to justify its bad decision. But judges cannot completely hide behind precedent. Judge Gorsuch was free to express his disagreements with those precedents, even if he felt obliged to concur in the decision. But that is not what he did. Instead, the court went so far as to quote Justice John Marshall Harlan II in Terry for the pre-Heller assertion that “concealed weapons create an immediate and severe danger to the public.”
Fortunately, the Framers disagreed, emphasizing in the Second Amendment that an armed populace is not only beneficial to but indeed “necessary to” the preservation of a “free state.”
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
In his book, Gorsuch misrepresents the Declaration of Independence. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, we hold it as ‘self-evident’ that ‘all men [and women] are created equal’ and enjoy ‘certain unalienable Rights,’ and ‘that among these is Life.’
Gorsuch omits “truths” and “endowed by their Creator.” The removal of these words changes the primary thrust of the Declaration–which is the American claim to the truth that God has endowed human beings with rights that government cannot alienate legitimately, and that government is instituted to protect.
While Gorsuch omits that concept, he focuses on the “enjoyment” of rights. This is strange because before we can “enjoy” our rights, they must be protected by the government.
Elsewhere in the book, Gorsuch again misrepresents the Declaration of Independence.”And our most basic principle of government, as embodied in the Declaration of Independence, squarely rests on the conviction that there is inherent (not merely instrumental) value in PERMITTING individuals liberty enough to pursue their own visions of happiness.”
The statement “permitting individuals liberty enough” implies that liberty is a right given by the government. Gorsuch uses the word “value” to mean “there is value to the state in allowing the people a little liberty.
Although religion is not a test for public office, Gorsuch attends and is listed as an usher at the radically pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gender identity protection, St. John’s Episcopalian Church. The church has publicly declared its “unequivocal opposition” to pro-life laws. The church also openly and very vocally opposes gun rights. The senior clergy of his church, Susan Woodward Springer, marched in the recent Women’s March. Why is this significant? Perhaps for the same reason, Obama’s church led by Jeremiah Wright was significant.
On Thursday, there was a collective gasp throughout the grassroots conservative movement when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court’s liberal wing, during an appearance at George Washington, offered high praise to Gorsuch.
“I’ve worked with him and I think he’s very easy to get along with,” she said. “He writes very well.”
Yet, one by one, conservative leaders line up for news interviews to express their approval of Trump’s pick, claiming Gorsuch’s strong conservative record favoring religious liberty. His role was, no doubt, vital in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases involving the Obama care contraception mandate that would’ve forced them to pay for morally objected birth control. However, he has never ruled on religious liberty as it pertains to the same-sex marriage and transgender agenda. Frankly, according to his record, there is much to fear.