Action Plan on Judge Gorsuch’s Nomination to SCOTUS


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As the president leads the country in a racist, misogynist, and xenophobic direction, what role will our federal courts play? To date, the courts have already become the last bastion of hope in the time of Trump and the last defender of our constitutional system of checks and balances—a safeguard where the worst and most corrupt leanings of this Administration will be checked by an independent court system.

But with this president in charge of nominating new Justices to serve lifetime appointments on the highest court of the land, the stakes could not be higher.

Who is Neil Gorsuch? A Right-Wing Conservative

On January 31st, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge who currently sits on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch appears to have extreme leanings consistent with Trump’s own:

  • Has argued it should be harder for consumers to hold Wall Street and huge corporations legally accountable for fraud and other wrongdoing.
  • Supports legal theories that could threaten important protections for clean air, clean water, American workers, and safe food and medicine that we all depend on each day.
  • Joined the appeals court Hobby Lobby decision, narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court, which allowed employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control in the name of religious freedom.

The bottom line is that this isn’t Trump’s pick to make.

American voters did not choose Donald Trump to fill this vacancy. They chose Barack Obama and then they chose Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has no mandate to appoint a justice. With an administration committed to trampling on well-established law and protocol, we need a Court that will provide a strong check on Donald Trump. Gorsuch isn’t that check. Gorsuch’s record places him far outside the mainstream and threatens to jeopardize the rights, freedoms, and protections that Americans hold dear.

Americans want a Supreme Court justice who will make sure that the Constitution protects all Americans, not just the wealthy and powerful.  Americans want a justice who will protect voting rights, civil rights, marriage equality, and Roe v. Wade.  We cannot afford another conservative justice to take a seat on the Supreme Court for a generation and threaten these core American rights and freedoms.

SCOTUS Confirmation in the senate

Right now, Judge Gorsuch is meeting with senators and making the case for his nomination. But you have the opportunity to tell your senator why his confirmation is unacceptable -- and that you’re watching.

Why your advocacy matters:

  • Senate Democrats are the only firewall against a Supreme Court potentially shaped by a corrupt president committed to a racist, xenophobic and misogynistic agenda. By demonstrating support for Senate Democrats who oppose a Trump nominee, we can protect the will of the majority of American voters who didn’t choose Donald Trump to fill this vacancy.
  • Chuck Schumer and his colleagues have the power to block Trump’s nominee. We have to make sure they use that power to stand up for the issues that matter most to their constituents and for the defining principles of checks and balances that have made America the world’s greatest democracy.
  • Senate Democrats now face the opportunity and challenge of ensuring that seat is not filled by a Justice who will roll back progressive victories. The Roberts Court’s conservative agenda seeks to undermine voting rights, weaken civil rights, eliminate regulations for clean air and water, allow big corporate money to flood our political system, and reverse Roe v. Wade.
  • Republicans should have to change the rules to confirm Gorsuch. If Democrats stick together, they can block Gorsuch. Republicans would have to then change the rules of the Senate -- something that has never been done! -- in order to confirm him. Republicans are reluctant to change the rules and we may be able to block confirmation as a result.

After sharing your story, pose the following questions to your Senator:

  • Will you only support a nominee who will hold Wall Street accountable, and will stick up for middle-class families?
  • Will you only support a nominee who will protect existing environmental, labor, and consumer protection regulations?
  • Will you only support a nominee who stands with women and not against women, and who will not interfere with a woman’s private decisions concerning her reproductive freedom?

Take Action to Stop Gorsuch's Confirmation

Advocates need to be laying the groundwork for opposition to Neil Gorsuch’s nomination through the following actions:

Attend Your Senator’s Town Hall

  • Bring friends
  • Be polite but persistent
  • Ask a friend to record you
  • Use our talking points
  • Ask yes or no questions--if your elected official does not answer your question, stay put until they do. Make them get on the record for or against specific policies.
  • Remind them you will be watching and you will be voting
  • Reach out to local media using social media

Be Visible at Your Senator’s Public Events

  • Organize a group and make yourself visible and audible
  • Demand the elected official hold a town hall so your views can be heard
  • Be prepared to interrupt your elected official
  • Use our talking points
  • Share your own story
  • Speak to reporters who are there
  • Reach out to local media using social media

Visit Your Senator’s District Office

  • Bring friends
  • Politely insist on speaking with the senator
  • Speak with staff if a member is unavailable
  • Use our talking points
  • Share your own story
  • Ask yes or no questions--if your elected official does not answer your question, stay put until they do. Make them get on the record for or against specific policies
  • Ask if the senator will have a town hall or public event
  • If none is scheduled, ask why the senator is not holding these events
  • Reach out to local media using social media

Phone the District Office

  • Ask if the senator will have a town hall or public event
  • If none is scheduled, ask why the senator is not holding these events
  • Ask to speak with the district director
  • Share your views on this issue. Note that district staff generally handle local constituent casework and not all caseworkers will be able to answer your questions (or want to!)
  • When making policy calls, it is most effective to reach out to your senator’s judiciary staff in DC
  • Report back to your local group and media
  • Use social media about your contacts with staff

Phone the DC Office

  • Ask if the elected official will have a town hall or public event
  • If none is scheduled, ask why the senator is not holding these eventsAsk to speak with the judiciary staffer. Note they will likely prevent you from speaking with staff, and a staff assistant or or intern will take your call
  • Share your views on this issue. Not all staffers will be able to answer your questions (or want to, or will be advised not to speak to the senator’s views)
  • Insist on a written response
  • Report back to your local group and media
  • Use social media about your contacts with staff
  • Maintain a log of your contacts to DC staff

Gorsuch Confirmation Process

Gorsuch will first need to get through the Senate Judiciary Committee, then the full Senate. Below are Senators currently on Judiciary. Make sure you let them know you’re watching them.

But even if your Senators aren’t on this committee, it’s STILL IMPORTANT that you let them know you oppose Gorsuch.

Senate Judiciary Committee

Majority- Republican

  • Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman
  • Orrin Hatch, Utah
  • Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
  • John Cornyn, Texas
  • Mike Lee, Utah
  • Ted Cruz, Texas
  • Ben Sasse, Nebraska
  • Jeff Flake, Arizona
  • Mike Crapo, Idaho
  • Thom Tillis, North Carolina
  • John Neely Kennedy, Louisiana

Minority- Democrat

  • Dianne Feinstein, California, Ranking Member
  • Patrick Leahy, Vermont
  • Dick Durbin, Illinois
  • Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
  • Al Franken, Minnesota
  • Chris Coons, Delaware
  • Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
  • Mazie Hirono, Hawaii

Town Hall Questions For Senators on gorsuch

Gorsuch will first need to get through the Senate Judiciary Committee, then the full Senate. Below are Senators currently on Judiciary. Make sure you let them know you’re watching them.

Sample Town Hall Questions

  1. Senator, as a woman, I value my right to make my own choices about my body, and about whether and when to have children. It is incredibly important to me to have affordable access to whatever methods of contraception will work best for me to achieve those goals, no matter who I work for. I also value my right to be able to obtain a safe abortion should I need one, no matter where I live. Neil Gorsuch is an extreme nominee who has ruled against affordable contraceptive access and against a woman’s right to choose. Will you ensure that any nominee to the Supreme Court commits to upholding my reproductive rights?
  2. Senator, in the history of our country, every single justice to sit on the Supreme Court has received the approval of a filibuster proof majority -- at least 60 votes in the Senate. This has been important in protecting our democratic institutions, and our system of checks-and-balances. The Senate is now threatening to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees -- what they call the “nuclear option.” Can you promise me that you will support our democratic institutions by opposing the nuclear option?
  3. FOR DEMOCRATS: Senator, American voters did not choose Donald Trump to fill this vacancy. They chose Barack Obama and then they chose Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has no mandate to appoint a justice. With an administration committed to trampling on well-established law and protocol, we need a Court that will provide a strong check on Donald Trump. Senate Democrats are the only firewall against a Supreme Court potentially shaped by a corrupt president committed to a racist, xenophobic and misogynistic agenda. Will you promise to use the Filibuster against Gorsuch and any other Trump nominee?

Calling your Senator to oppose gorsuch

Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. Gorsuch does not belong on the Supreme Court—not just because he’s a conservative firebrand, far from the mainstream of American jurisprudence, nor solely because he’s been a hardline opponent of reproductive rights—though both of those things are deeply worrisome. No, Gorsuch doesn’t belong because Donald Trump should not have a vacancy to fill.

The vacancy that resulted from Justice Scalia’s death last spring should have been filled by President Obama. In fact, he tried to do just that. President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, a supremely well-qualified and reasonable jurist to fill the vacancy. Senate Republican leadership, in an unprecedented breach of protocol, refused to even hold hearings, let alone a vote, on the President’s nominee! That obstructionism is the ONLY reason why Donald Trump has a vacancy to fill today.

Together, let’s make sure that Donald Trump and Republican leaders aren’t rewarded for their obstructionism.

Call your Senator today and tell them you don’t support Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court.

Sample Call Dialogue:

Staffer: Senator Bob’s Office! How can I help you?

You: Good morning/afternoon. I’m a constituent of Senator Bob’s and I’m calling to ask what his position is on President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

Option 1: Opposes Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Staffer: The Senator opposes the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

You: Great! I’m so glad to hear that. I firmly believe this vacancy should have been filled by President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. I’m pleased to hear the Senator will oppose this nominee and hope they will do so with any other nominee with a track-record in opposition to our values.

Staffer: Thank you for your message, I’ll pass it on to the Senator.

You: Great, thanks. And since Senator Bob is opposed to the nominee, will he do everything in his power to prevent Gorsuch from being seated, including using the filibuster?

Staffer: Well he hasn’t taken a position on Senate procedures [Or other word salad]

You: I appreciate that Senator Bob says he’s opposed, but I expect him to use the filibuster and every other tool available to him. I hope he demonstrates that he has the courage of his convictions, and I will be watching closely to confirm he does.

Staffer: Thank you for your message, I’ll pass it on to the Senator.

You: Thank you very much. I look forward to having the Senator do everything in their power to defeat this nominee.

Option 2: Supports Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Staffer: The Senator supports the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

You: Thank you for letting me know that. Will the Senator publicly pledge that the Judge Gorsuch will only be confirmed to the Supreme Court if he receives a filibuster-proof majority (60 votes) in the full Senate?

Staffer: We haven’t reached that point yet in the process [Or other word salad]

You: Are you telling me that Senator Bob is open to using the “Nuclear Option” to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees? If that’s true, this is a shocking departure from centuries-old norms. This should be a simple question: Can you give me a yes or no answer on whether the Senator opposes the Nuclear Option?

Staffer: The Senator hasn’t taken a position on that issue.

You: Please let the Senator know that I expect him to uphold the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. In the history of our country, every single justice to sit on the Supreme Court has received the approval of a filibuster proof majority. This is a vital check-and-balance in our democracy, and an important function of the United States Senate. I will be watching closely what the Senator does on this issue and will cast my vote accordingly.

Staffer: I’ll pass that message on to the Senator.

You: Thank you.

Option 3: Wait and See

Staffer: The Senator is withholding their judgement on Judge Gorsuch until the nomination process has run its course.

If Democratic Office

You: That is disappointing to hear. Judge Merrick Garland, who President Obama nominated and who under normal circumstances should have been confirmed, was never afforded that treatment. I expect the Senator to take a firm stance on nominees, like Judge Gorsuch, who sit far outside the judicial mainstream.

Staffer: Thank you for your message, I’ll pass it on to the Senator.

You: Thank you. I hope Senator Bob will reconsider his position, oppose Judge Gorsuch, and work to defeat his nomination.

If Republican Office

You: Thank you for letting me know that. Will the Senator publicly pledge that the Judge Gorsuch will only be confirmed to the Supreme Court if he receives a filibuster-proof majority (60 votes) in the full Senate?

Staffer: We haven’t reached that point yet in the process [Or other word salad]

You: Are you telling me that Senator Bob is open to using the “Nuclear Option” to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees? If that’s true, this is a shocking departure from centuries-old norms. This should be a simple question: Can you give me a yes or no answer on whether the Senator opposes the Nuclear Option?

Staffer: The Senator hasn’t taken a position on that issue.

You: Please let the Senator know that I expect him to uphold the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. In the history of our country, every single justice to sit on the Supreme Court has received the approval of a filibuster proof majority. This is a vital check-and-balance in our democracy, and an important function of the United States Senate. I will be watching closely what the Senator does on this issue and will cast my vote accordingly.

Staffer: I’ll pass that message on to the Senator.

You: Thank you.