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April 06, 2017

Meet The New Supreme Court Justice

"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded/Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed/Everybody knows the war is over/Everybody knows the good guys lost"—Leonard CohenTRUMPINGTON, D.C.—As predicted by just about everyone, the U.S. Senate today did away with its rule requiring that Supreme Court Justice nominations receive at least 60 votes by members of that body before the nominee can be confirmed to the highest court in the land. What that means is that as of tomorrow, former 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch will be Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Supreme Court.In case you were wondering, that's not a good thing.First of all, a little background: Since President Donald Trump, among other flaws, is almost completely ignorant of the American judicial system, not to mention the judges that preside over it, it is unlikely that he had much to do with putting forth Gorsuch's nomination to the high bench. Gorsuch's was one of the 21 names that was submitted to Trump by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation to replace the late Antonin Scalia, and there's little doubt that the final decision of just which one to nominate was actually made by either Vice President Mike Pence, strategy advisor/former Breitbart News head Steve Bannon and/or Chief of Staff Reince Priebus or in concert with other equally conservative advisors.The reason that, more than a year after Scalia'a death, Gorsuch will become the ninth justice on the court is because Senate Republicans had decided, within days after the seat became open, that it would not be filled by anyone that then-President Barack Obama would nominate, and even though Obama did nominate Merrick Garland, then Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to give Garland a Senate hearing. McConnell claimed that no "lame duck" president—that is, one with less than a year left in office—had previously nominated a Supreme Court justice which the Senate later approved, but that was shown to be a lie.At 49, one of the youngest Supreme Court nominees in a very long time, Gorsuch was a student at Columbia University, Harvard Law School and Oxford University in England, and had clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron "Whizzer" White and Anthony Kennedy—but that's not the interesting part. Seems that while Gorsuch was a student at Georgetown Prep in D.C., he founded and led (until his graduation) a student group called the "Fascism Forever Club," which The Daily Mail (UK) described as "an anti-faculty student group that battled against the 'liberal' views of the school administration."In any case, Gorsuch is no stranger to Washington politics. His mom, Anne Gorsuch Burford, resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency after she was cited for contempt of Congress, her agency having been charged with mishandling over $1.6 billion in "Superfund" toxic waste clean-up funds. Also, as the Washington Post's Patricia Sullivan noted, Gorsuch pushed through "budget cuts for research and enforcement" at the agency, oversaw "steep declines in the number of cases filed against polluters," "relax[ed] portions of the Clean Air Act," and instituted "an acceleration of federal approvals for the spraying of restricted pesticides." What a gal! And considering her views, how likely will Gorsuch be to challenge some of those exact same measures now being proposed and acted upon by the current EPA head Scott Pruitt?In keeping with his mother's brand of conservativism, Neil Gorsuch has reaped a multitude of kudos from conservative religious groups for his willingness to obliterate the line between church and state.Perhaps the best known instances of Gorsuch sucking up to The Religious are his concurrence in the appeals decision in Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sibelius, where he bought the idea that Hobby Lobby's owners shouldn't have to provide birth control for their women employees, as required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), because to do so would violate those owners' religious beliefs—a position the Supreme Court later upheld—and his position, in Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, that his fellow 10th Circuiters should not have denied the Little Sisters a rehearing en banc after an appeals panel had denied their claim that they too could use their religious beliefs to deny employees the same contraceptive coverage."The ACA's mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong," Gorsuch wrote in his Hobby Lobby concurrence. As if allowing women access to birth control through an insurance policy is "assistance"!Those positions, plus several others Gorsuch has taken that favored religious (particularly Christian) beliefs over secular positions, led the Secular Coalition of America to state in a position paper, "The nomination of Judge Gorsuch by President Trump signals a clear intent by the Administration to shape the nation’s highest court in an ideological fashion that threatens religious liberty and pushes an agenda at odds with the majority of Americans.""American Atheists has grave concerns about the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court," said the group's national legal director Amanda Knief. "Judge Gorsuch’s expansionist view of religion as a 'Get Out of the Law Free' card is fundamentally at odds with the history of American jurisprudence and would allow religion to be used as a weapon against women, LGBT people, atheists, and others."Gorsuch's pro-religious positions should be particularly worrisome to the adult entertainment industry, since the primary meme regarding pornography among religio-conservatives today is that it has caused a "public health crisis," and since the Supreme Court in years past has had no trouble ignoring the First and Ninth Amendment proscriptions against exempting sexual speech from the Constitution's free speech protections, it is only logical to assume that Gorsuch will continue that violation of "originalism" (which both he and Scalia claimed to follow) and may seek even more inroads into the suppression of porn and related speech.And speaking of pro-religious positions, Gorsuch has also been outspoken in denying citizens their right to "die with dignity," having written a book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, in which he stated, "Human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong."Of course, another big issue with The Religious is "right to life," which for them means opposing not only a woman's right to have an abortion if she chooses, but also to use some forms of contraception generally."We want to express our thanks to President Trump for nominating a man of such stellar quality as Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court," said virulent anti-abortion-rights Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, one of those who continually pushes conservative Supreme Court members to overturn Roe v. Wade. "One 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. He has proved himself to be a man of his word."In fact, Gorsuch is such a pro-life guy, he was even willing to allow a truckdriver to freeze to death when the brakes on his trailer locked and the cab's heater stopped working in the minus-27 degree weather. The driver was told by his supervisor that he could either stay with the truck, where the heater wasn't working, and await help (which he had called for but was told was at least an hour away), or he could essentially drag the trailer to a truck stop.Gorsuch's view? The law that said that employers can't fire employees who won't operate vehicles for safety reasons didn't apply in this situation and the law needed to be changed. Or, as he put it in his dissent from the opinion in favor of the driver in TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board, "Maybe someday Congress will adorn our federal statute books with such a law. But it isn’t there yet."Gorsuch can also be counted upon to ditch his responsibility to interpret the laws passed by Congress in light of the mandates of the U.S. Constitution:"This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary," he stated. "In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there's little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs-real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce-are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers' arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide."Among the deferences that Gorsuch will likely pay to "the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation" will be when more cases of gerrymandering—that is, drawing legislative districts so as to favor one political party (vastly more often, Republicans) or one race of humans (almost always white)—come before the high court. States all over the country have created "safe districts" that will never elect a representative from the disfavored party, even though, looked at geographically, it's clear that but for some very oddly-configured districts, that disfavored party actually better represents the area than the gerrymandered one. So far, the Supreme Court has struck down gerrymandering in North Carolina, Texas and several other states, but that could easily stop and/or be reversed.Want something more to worry about? Check out this article, "Right-Wing Billionaires Are Buying Themselves a New Constitution," and pay particular attention to the constitutional amendments they passed—and then remember that if these jackholes can get enough state legislatures on board, they will call a new constitutional convention—and Neil Gorsuch will do nothing to stop them.Bottom line: Gorsuch is a disaster for the Supreme Court, a disaster for the United States and its Constitution ... and a disaster for the adult industry—and now that the Senate has ditched the 60-vote requirement for justices to be approved, industry members (and everyone else) had better hope that no other justice dies before a non-Republican gets in the White House and/or Democrats get a majority in the Senate.
Pictured: Stephen Colbert's "Doggie Supreme Court"


 
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