Unions expose Gorsuch’s anti-worker record
Judge Neil Gorsuch (left) accepts Donald Trump’s nomination to fill vacant Supreme Court seat. | AP

WASHINGTON – Leaders of the union movement are publicizing the fact that Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s pick for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, has a long history of making rulings favoring corporations over workers, consumers, women and families.

Shortly after Trump announced he was nominating Gorsuch to fill the seat on the Court left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined a protest demonstration on the steps of Supreme Court building here.

“Judge Gorsuch does not seem to appreciate the issues and challenges facing working families and the importance of upholding and enforcing our rights. His rulings to date raise very serious concerns about where he stands on issues like worker health and safety, equal opportunity in the workplace and the ability of agencies to adopt rules to protect workers’ rights,” Trumka said.

Gorsuch served for two years in George W. Bush’s Justice Department before Bush appointed him in 2006 to a seat on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several western states.

His mother, Anne Gorsuch, was Ronald Reagan’s first Environmental Protection Agency administrator and an open foe of her own agency. She was convicted of contempt of Congress and was forced to resign in 1983 amid a scandal involving the mismanagement of a $1.6 billion program to clean up hazardous waste dumps. Anne Gorsuch refused to turn over Superfund records.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said in a written statement that “Gorsuch will only help rig the system even worse against working families and communities. People could lose the ability to join together at work and have a voice in a union. Grandparents who fought for the right to vote could see that sacred right taken away. Women could find it more difficult to access necessary reproductive healthcare.

“Gorsuch’s record,” she continued, “does not demonstrate the depth of commitment to these people, our values or the belief the Constitution protects all of us. … He’s willing to decimate clean air and water laws and consumer and worker protections from the bench. He consistently rules against workers and for corporations …”.

“Gorsuch,” Henry said, “holds the extreme view that judges can ignore the agencies that interpret and enforce laws.”

Legal analysts back Henry’s point.

For example, the labor law blog On Labor reported that last year Gorsuch dissented from a 10th Circuit Court ruling in favor of a whistleblower who had been fired by the TransAm Trucking Corporation. In its decision, the Circuit Court said that a Labor Department review board had already decided in favor of the worker and that for 33 years Courts have followed a Supreme Court ruling that judges should defer to the expertise of professionals serving in federal agencies.

In his dissent, Gorsuch said, in effect, that courts were not bound to take anybody’s advice.

In another case, the majority of the court followed the Labor Board’s decision that an employer must give full back pay to workers it had illegally fired for union activity. Again, Gorsuch sided with the employer, saying that the Labor Board’s decision didn’t mean anything.

What’s more, Gorsuch’s decisions reflect his opposition to family planning and reproductive healthcare. In two prominent cases, both of which reached the Supreme Court, he sided with employers who claimed they had religious objections to providing some forms of contraception coverage to their female workers.

He voted in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores, a company that objected to regulations under the Affordable Care Act requiring many employers to provide free contraception coverage. Similarly, he dissented from a decision not to rehear a ruling requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns, to comply with an aspect of the regulations.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in 2014 and vacated the decision concerning the Little Sisters of the Poor in 2016.

“Gorsuch’s record raises significant concerns about his ability to be fair and to respect and follow the law rather than his own ideology, including repeatedly taking the side of corporations over consumers and workers,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a press release.

SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry concluded, “Judge Gorsuch would not bring the change the American people want: his confirmation would result in a Supreme Court that would rule in favor of lawless executive actions, corporate CEOs and extremists to rig our economy and democracy even further against working families. The Senate must reject this nominee.”


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.