Donald Trump just announced his pick to fill the empty seat in the Supreme Court, and it doesn't bode well for women.
Judge Neil Gorsuch, who attended Harvard with President Barack Obama, has landed the coveted nomination. Gorsuch has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado since 2006, and has distinctly Scalia-like leanings.
"The real appeal of Gorsuch nomination [sic] is he's likely to be the most effective conservative nominee in terms of winning over Anthony Kennedy and forging conservative decisions on the court," Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center told Politico. "He's unusual for his memorable writing style, the depth of his reading and his willingness to rethink constitutional principles from the ground up. Like Justice Scalia, he sometimes reaches results that favor liberals when he thinks the history or text of the Constitution or the law require it, especially in areas like criminal law or the rights of religious minorities, but unlike Scalia he's less willing to defer to regulations and might be more willing to second-guess Trump's regulatory decision."
And the announcement will be in primetime! https://t.co/cVRYIz1yLW— Yashar (@yashar) January 31, 2017
Trump chose to make his announcement with a splashy primetime reality TV special à la The Apprentice, and two potential nominees, Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, were brought to Washington, D.C., ahead of the announcement. Presumably, they were locked in a boardroom together and forced to compete in a cookie-selling operation then face off in a swimsuit competition.
"So was that a surprise? Was it?" Trump demanded after announcing the decision.
Jokes aside, this pick is deadly serious for the country as a whole, but women in particular. If approved by the Senate, Trump's pick — who will definitely be conservative — will sit in the seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year, a seat for which the Republican-controlled Senate refused to even consider President Obama's more liberal nominee, Merrick Garland.
Once Trump's pick is approved, the court will again be closely divided, tilting right, with the crucial vote belonging to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Unfortunately, that all could change if another seat is vacated in the next several years because Trump will undoubtedly once again choose a very conservative judge.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old. Justice Stephen G. Breyer is 78. Both are reliably liberal judges, but if one or both retires or dies while Trump is president, the court will swing far right. And this would spell bad news for women's rights.
Roe v. Wade is the obvious bull's-eye for this particular court, and Trump has pulled no punches when it comes to his disdain for the rights of women. Beyond his repugnant approval of sexual assault with his "grab ‘em by the pussy" comments, he said on the campaign trail that women who have abortions should be punished. His vice president, Mike Pence, is an ardent anti-abortion advocate and spoke at last week's March for Life in D.C. The Supreme Court may ultimately choose to hear cases that have the potential to whittle away at a woman's right to decide the medical care her body needs. In some cases, that right could be completely decimated, as with the so-called "heartbeat bills" that would outlaw abortion as early as six weeks.
If the court does make such a decision, Trump has said the issue would "go back to the states," which would leave a wide swath of women all across the country at the mercy of their mostly male, mainly conservative legislatures.
But the danger goes far beyond reproductive rights. Trans women could be forced back into dangerous situations by having to out themselves using restrooms. Gay mothers could lose the right to adopt their own children; gay women could lose the right to be insured on their wives' health insurance plans. Parental leave and equal pay could lose traction. If any cases involving these issues come in front of a conservative court, it's pretty clear what the outcome would be.
And it's not pretty.
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