One of the issues that propelled real estate tycoon and reality TV star, Donald J. Trump, into the White House was his campaign promise to nominate a conservative U.S. Supreme Court judge. Trump published a short list of eminently qualified jurists and at the end of the day, Colorado’s Neil Gorsuch got the nod.
Gorsuch’s Ivy League pedigree and brilliant body of work are indisputable. He also demonstrated unflappable resolve during the U.S. Senate hearings, emerging unscathed. But what troubles left-leaning politicians and their constituents is how he might rule on social issues. As a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Gorsuch will likely tip the scales in favor of conservatism.
Will He Strike Down Roe vs. Wade?
Although President Trump vowed to appoint “pro-life” judges, abortion rulings were oddly missing from Gorsuch’s resume. However, he did decide two cases that go to the very heart of the abortion issue. In “Hobby Lobby,” the chain store owners were being forced under Obamacare to provide contraceptive services in their employees’ health insurance coverage. This mandate ran contrary to their faith and they challenged the government’s authority to override their religious beliefs.
Sitting on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby in the 5-3 majority. The case was later narrowly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, 5-4, along ideological lines. While that ruling doesn’t go directly to the abortion issue, Gorsuch’s written opinion appears to signal a willingness to reverse Roe vs. Wade. He writes that the owners of Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to lend assistance “to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.”
That reasoning forms the very basis for many pro-life thinkers as well as those who advocate for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. If confirmed, Gorsuch would rekindle the four-justice conservative block diminished by the passing of his friend and mentor Justice Antonin Scalia. However, many expect at least one justice to retire soon and that would open the door for Trump nominate a pro-life swing vote.
Will Obamacare Tax Fall?
The Hobby Lobby case was an obvious first step in unraveling some of the Affordable Care Act’s governmental overreach. But Obamacare’s most dangerous power grab was masking its ability to force people to buy a product as a tax. As the health care debate rages, we hear more and more about people who are either coerced into buying high-deductible insurance they cannot use or forced to pay a penalty in the form of a tax. In 2015, 6.5 million people had to pay the IRS a penalty to the tune of $3 billion because they couldn’t afford health insurance.
When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama’s insurance mandate, it effectively opened the door to the government being able to force citizens to buy, sell or “tax” anything. Think about the government claiming that fossil fuel cars owners would have to pay a hefty tax if they don’t buy a hybrid or electric car. What about paying a tax for not converting to costly solar panels on your home? Such political whims are enforceable based on the Court’s Obamacare tax ruling.
But Gorsuch appears unlikely to tow the Court’s party line on such federal abuses. He’s presented himself as an “Originalist” scholar, which means he looks to the Founders’ original intent and meaning. Like Trump, a self-described Federalist, Gorsuch believes firmly that states and individuals have compelling rights that cannot be snatched away by the federal government.
Again, while the U.S. Supreme Court ruled along liberal party lines on Obama’s “tax,” Gorsuch’s background positions him to strike down attempts by the federal government to use backdoor coercion the force people to buy products based on which way the political winds blow.