Neil Gorsuch not fit for Supreme Court, unions say
Neil Gorsuch reaches for door that shut on his escorts during a meeting with senators. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

WASHINGTON— Citing his record of opposition to working people, civil rights and women’s’ rights, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the National Education Association (NEA) and six AFL-CIO constituency groups joined 107 organizations signing a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing Neil Gorsuch’s joining the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gorsuch, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, has been nominated by President Trump to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

CWA President Chris Shelton and NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia had previously expressed grave doubts about him.

Aside from the CWA and NEA also signing the letter opposing Gorsuch are the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Asian-Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Pride at Work and Labor’s Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).

Other notable signers include the National Organization for Women, 9to5, the National Partnership for Women and Families and the Democracy Initiative, founded by former CWA President Larry Cohen.

The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights crafted the letter.

It cites decisions and dissents by Gorsuch and his public opposition to women having the right to make decisions about their own health care.

That letter calls Gorsuch “a judge with an agenda.”

“His frequent dissents and concurrences show he is out of the mainstream of legal thought and unwilling to accept” legal precedents and adherence to prior decisions “when they dictate results he disfavors,” the letter says.

It continues, “If confirmed…Judge Gorsuch would tip the balance” on the High Court “in a direction that would undermine many of our core rights and legal protections. He lacks the impartiality and independence the American people expect and deserve from the federal bench.”

The letter includes cases where Gorsuch ruled for corporations and against workers:

  • In one opinion dissenting from the majority of the judges on the 10th Circuit, Gorsuch wrote that Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver for TransAm trucking, “should have followed orders even at the risk of serious injury.”

TransAm had fired Maddin for leaving the rig he was hauling on the side of the road. He had to pull his rig off the road in Illinois in subzero weather because the trailer’s brakes froze up. No help came, so he detached the cab and drove to a heated service station. After the company fired him for doing this, a Labor Department administrative law judge reinstated him.

TransAm took the case to the appellate court. All the judges but Gorsuch ruled against the company.

  • In NLRB v. Community Health Services, Gorsuch again dissented from a majority opinion that awarded 13 respiratory department workers in the Mimbres Nursing Home, $105,000 in back pay. The nursing home broke labor law by cutting their hours. It wanted to deduct from back pay the money workers earned in “interim employment.” The majority ruled for the workers. Gorsuch didn’t.
  • Gorsuch backed the company in a 2011 case involving a worker who was fatally electrocuted in Fort Lupton, Colo. Because the firm, Compass Environmental, had not trained the worker in proper safety procedures. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld OSHA’s fining Compass $5,500.

“Judge Gorsuch issued a dissent and voted to throw the case out of court,” the letter to the senators states.

Gorsuch’s “recurrent dissents in workers’ rights cases suggest a refusal to follow binding case law when it leads to results that favor workers rather than businesses and employers,” the letter says.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on Gorsuch’s nomination March 20-23.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C.

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