The man who once wrote that the ACA forced Hobby Lobby to "violate their religious faith" by covering birth control for their employees could soon be a Supreme Court Justice.
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While Trump spends US tax dollars to yet again jet down to Mar-a-Lago this weekend, Neil Gorsuch, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, will be busy preparing for his upcoming confirmation hearing next Monday. As an ardent Constitutional originalist like his predecessor Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch's nomination has already been met with disapproval by many women's rights and LGBTQ groups.
Gorsuch said just last year that courts must "apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to the text, structure and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be—not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or policy consequences they believe might serve society best." Through this proclamation, it's not difficult to guess where Gorsuch stands on many hot-button issues, but many are still unsure exactly where he falls when it comes to issues relating to gender equality.
While serving on the 10th Circuit, Gorsuch never actually ruled on the issue of abortion, and as The Atlantic reports, his stance is unclear; he hasn't come out as anti-abortion, but based on other rulings regarding women's rights, it's likely he would be pro-regulations that make it more difficult for all women to have access.
In 2014's infamous Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. case, which ruled that the corporate chain had the right to deny employees contraception coverage, even though the ACA mandated it, Gorsuch wrote that the ACA forced Hobby Lobby to "violate their religious faith" by covering birth control, and therefore, the company did not have to provide employees with medication that "destroyed a fertilized human egg."
Gorsuch could also find a new enemy in the non-profit organization serving 2.5 million men and women annually that the Trump administration has already put directly under threat: Planned Parenthood. In October 2016, he sought to rehear a 10th Circuit decision that denied Utah the right to pull funds from Planned Parenthood. "In his opinion, Gorsuch seemed to give credibility to Utah governor Gary Herbert's claims that Planned Parenthood trafficked fetal tissue, while the majority of other justices on the panel dismissed the claims as political," The Cut reports.
In general, Gorsuch's judicial past makes the future for gender equality look relatively bleak. However, it's unlikely that Gorsuch will reveal too much regarding his beliefs regarding women's rights during the hearings. As the Los Angeles Times reports, it's typical of high court nominees to avoid answering questions that clearly define their stance on issues that could come before court—such as LGBTQ rights, gun control, discriminatory voting laws, and abortion. However, senators may be able to get Gorsuch to speak to his originalism, which can give insight into how he would rule on future cases.