The president has a constitutional obligation to nominate justices to serve on the Supreme Court. The political leanings or judicial outlook of the nominee to this lifelong post will shape the American legal landscapes for a generation. This is a weighty presidential power. But, let’s be clear — it ends there. Basic eighth grade civics taught most of us that an independent judiciary is essential to promoting our dearest constitutional principles and safeguarding our way of life. Unfortunately, it looks like President Trump and his Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, must have missed a few of those classes.
Last night, the president’s top senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, assured a reporter that President Trump and Judge Gorsuch “support each other. That’s very clear to us.” “Supporting” the president is not in a Supreme Court nominee’s job description, and such blind public support of a president who has engaged in constitutionally questionable actions in the first few weeks of his term is troubling at best and disqualifying at worst. A Supreme Court Justice serves one of our nation’s most honored, powerful, and trusted institutions. We demand that they embrace fairness and are able to arrive at impartial decisions based on law and facts and not on bias. We demand that they serve the people, not the president who nominated them. President Trump’s inability to respect the precious system of checks and balances created by our founders is alarming and calls into question his nominee’s ability to serve.
LGBTQ people are no strangers to the courts, and we understand the importance of a fair and independent judiciary. Two years after the landmark marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges we will be back on the steps of the Supreme Court this spring supporting a transgender student demanding equal access to an education free from discrimination — a right he has under the law. This case, Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board raises very real questions about the obligation of schools to ensure that everyone, regardless of their gender identity, has access to the education they deserve. During his campaign, President Trump directly supported now-unseated North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and the state’s shameful law, HB2, that places LGBTQ North Carolinians at risk of discrimination, particularly targeting its transgender citizens. Given Judge Gorsuch’s record on the bench, it looks like he already supports the president’s harmful views on legal protections for transgender people.
We deserve and demand a Supreme Court Justice who will evaluate these cases on their merits, who will refuse to succumb to presidential pressure to import a dangerously exclusionary ideology into the fabric of our nation’s highest court. Too much is on the line for our community and for our nation’s civil rights safety net to allow this tainted nomination to proceed. We deserve a Justice who is independent, not co-dependent.