GOP backs Gorsuch's LGBTQ decision after conservative blowback
Conservatives are seething about Justice Neil Gorsuch's opinion, which cemented new protection for LGBTQ people. The Senate Republicans who confirmed him? Not as much.
Seven years ago, only nine Senate Republicans supported a bill codifying workplace protection for sexual orientation and gender identity. And after it passed the Senate, the GOP-controlled house never accepted it.
But on Monday, the Republican Party appeared to broadly support both the substance and the process by which the Supreme Court extended the protection of the Civil Rights Act to gay, lesbian, and transgender workers. President Donald Trump declined to dismiss the decision and called it "powerful" - and his party broadly agreed with the Supreme Court's surprising decision.
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"It is important that we recognize that all Americans have equal rights under our constitution," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). "I agree."
In addition, Congress's decision could be a dividing social problem - five months before the 2020 elections. Congress has repeatedly failed to address the issue.
The passing of the anti-discrimination law by the Democratic Senate in 2013 was the last serious effort in the Senate to legislate on LGBTQ issues, and only four GOP senators who supported this bill remain in office. The Republican Senate has shied away from taking up the matter, reflecting the divisions in the GOP over how - or whether - to tackle the problem.
"It is the law of the country. And it is likely to make what many states have already done uniformly and is likely to negate the need for Congress to act," said Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who during Gorsuch's confirmation of the Justice Committee Senate headed, saying he was not disappointed with Gorsuch's decision, and alongside Gorsuch, Chief Justice John Roberts also joined the judges appointed by the Democrats in the 6-3 ruling.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is coming to a Republican lunch on Capitol Hill, Washington, on Friday, March 20, 2020, to work on a comprehensive economic rescue plan amid the pandemic crisis and nationwide shutdown. (AP Photo / Susan Walsh)
However, many conservatives in the Republican coalition were angry with Gorsuch's opinion, which came just two days after Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) Lost his renomination offer, partly because he was head of a same-sex wedding.
Carrie Severino, president of the conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network, said: "Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor botched textualism so much today to appeal to universities and newsrooms." The group spent millions to confirm Gorsuch and block Merrick Garland's appointment in 2016.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) repeated her remarks.
"This judicial revision of our laws has short-circuited the legislative process and the authority of the electorate," he said. "Six unelected and non-accountable judges have instead taken on the task of acting as legislators, and that undermines our democratic process."
And the president of the Evangelical Family Research Council activist group, Tony Perkins, said the court's efforts "to rewrite the civil rights law to add gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes pose a serious threat to religious freedom." Sean Davis, a writer for the federalist, said conservatives should "start picking people who vote right".
But that's not how most Republicans in the Senate see it. Not only did they defend Gorsuch, they also said that judges should not be expected to govern automatically in one way or another.
While most Democrats rejected Gorsuch's claims to independence of the judiciary during his 2017 confirmation, the Republicans confirmed that his leadership on the LGBTQ issue confirmed that Gorsuch was his own judge.
"It demonstrated Gorsuch's independence," said John Thune, Senate majority whip. "The country has obviously changed a lot on this issue. And I assume that he looked at the facts and the law and came to this conclusion. And that's exactly what we wanted when we nominated and confirmed him."
Even those who disagreed with the court's decision questioned the process far more than the substance. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said no one should lose his job due to sexual orientation, but wished the "decision was made by Congress rather than the court".
“The court determines what they think is a good policy. And that's really not her role for me. I mean, I'm not particularly interested in their views on politics, ”said Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), A former court clerk. "The correct answer is" Over to Congress "to do something about it."
However, it is not always successful if the Supreme Court asks Congress difficult questions. In 2013, the Supreme Court suppressed important parts of the Voting Rights Act and asked Congress to write a new law if the legislature believes that voting rights are still an issue. Congress did not address it.
Just like the court's same-sex marriage decision in 2015, the decision on homosexual and transgender rights could be the last word on an issue that the federal legislature has avoided. And the finality of the Supreme Court's view made it easier for the handful of long-standing GOP supporters to end discrimination against LGBTQ people through legislation.
"It could change some of the momentum here," said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). "Now there's a Supreme Court case where the civil rights law applies to part of discrimination based on sexual orientation, so it's a big deal."
Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.
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