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Statement on Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch

February 1, 2017

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College express grave concerns over the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court to fill the seat left empty by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost one year ago. 

The Supreme Court plays an indispensable role in our democracy. It is the final arbiter of the Constitution and our ability to uphold fundamental American values that guarantee every person equal justice under the law. The American people deserve a Court that will protect our Constitution, adhere to mainstream political thoughts and serve as an independent check on the President and Congress. 

The radical actions taken so far by President Trump – including banning immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries and reshaping the national security apparatus of our country – makes clear that the next Supreme Court Justice must be willing to serve as a check on extremist and unconstitutional policies that undermine our systems of justice and governance. 

Judge Gorsuch’s record does not demonstrate respect for our constitutional values of liberty, equality, and justice for all, nor has he shown respect for the belief that the Constitution protects all of us, not just the wealthy and the powerful. His troubling record of hostility to women’s reproductive rights and to issues of discrimination and police brutality raises very significant concerns about his ability to be open-minded, fair, and guided by the Constitution and the law instead of his own political agenda. It’s also of great concern that he was hand-picked by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, right-wing organizations funded by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch. 

We believe the process of nominating and confirming justices to the Supreme Court is important. It is the President’s prerogative to nominate and the Senate's responsibility to provide advice and consent. That is why we advocated for a timely hearing and vote on Judge Merrick Garland, whose nomination languished for an unprecedented period of time. The Senate’s refusal to move Judge Garland’s nomination forward was an abdication of its responsibility and has done significant damage to our judicial system. Similarly, we now urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct a complete and full hearing on Judge Gorsuch. He must be given the opportunity to explain his views and be heard by the Senate and the American people. 

However, it is also absolutely crucial that whomever joins the highest court in the land is a person who will defend the Constitution, promote equal rights and opportunity for all and approach legal interpretation with the reverence and care it deserves. The burden is on Judge Gorsuch to prove to the American people that he will uphold the Constitution and dispense justice fairly to all, not just to the wealthy. He must prove that his record demonstrates a respect for our constitutional values of liberty, equality, and justice for all. He must show he can be open-minded, fair, and guided by the text and history of the Constitution, not his own political agenda. And he must convince the American people that he has the independence to serve as a check on the elected branches when they threaten to violate fundamental constitutional rights and values, ignore structural protections against corruption and selfdealing, or otherwise act in their own instead of the public’s best interest. Until these conditions are met, we have significant reservations about his fitness for the Court.