Conservative Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote this weekend that “to review the left’s reaction to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is to infer he’s the spawn of Dracula — a cruel and bloodless beast who shrinks from the light and plays havoc with history.”
Though Parker is dismissive of the negative feedback toward Gorsuch’s nomination, Democrats do have a right to be frustrated. Had it not been for Republican antics during the Obama administration — namely, refusing to hold a hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for a record-breaking 293 days — there would not even be a seat for Gorsuch to fill. But let us bracket that for a moment.
Parker attempts to dismiss liberal objections against Gorsuch as “a distortion.” But liberals are not distorting the facts; they are simply reading his work. Gorsuch has written that he is opposed to assisted suicide for the terminally ill, and he argued in the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case that corporations could deny contraception coverage to employees based on religious objections.
It is true that Gorsuch has never explicitly ruled on abortion, but it does not require mental gymnastics to say that if Gorsuch does not believe in a right to die, he probably does not believe in a woman’s right to choose an abortion. To be fair, that is speculation, but it is still not “distortion.”
Republicans can say that Gorsuch is qualified for the seat. Parker is unfounded in her dismissal of their disappointment.
However, while Democrats have every right to be upset, there is essentially nothing they can do to stop Gorsuch from being confirmed.
While they could filibuster, that would likely cause Republicans in Congress to “invoke the nuclear option,” which, in Capitol Hill parlance, means voting to permanently change the Supreme Court confirmation threshold from 60 votes to a 51-Senator simple majority vote to confirm the nominee. With 52 members, Republicans could easily vote in Gorsuch.
So what should Democrats do?
Democrats can bring back the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment.
An Equal Rights Amendment has been introduced every session since 1982, but, with the exception of one near-passage in the 1980s, Congress has infuriatingly left the ERA to die in committee year after year.
Though the language of the Equal Rights Amendment has changed slightly over time, it basically states that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
According to a recent ERA coalition poll, 94 percent of Americans would support an amendment that declares equal rights for men and women. While women have gained certain rights over the years, no constitutional guarantee of equality leaves women vulnerable to changes in the law, and, as is the case today, changes in the composition of the Supreme Court.
So, Democratic members of Congress should stop complaining about Gorsuch’s nomination, which is beyond their control, and act to make meaningful change for women, channeling all the rage for Gorsuch’s stolen seat into fighting to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In a 2016 speech honoring Justice Scalia, Gorsuch stated that he believes that “judges should strive — if humanly and so imperfectly — to apply to law as it is … looking to text, structure, and history.” If Gorsuch wants to spend the next 40 years looking specifically to the text of the Constitution, Democrats in Congress should fight to add some words that force him to consider women, too.
Emma Lux is a junior in the Colllege. STILL HERE appears every other Tuesday.
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