The Senate Can Save Women’s Lives—If They Stop Gorsuch

“Without question, Neil Gorsuch is bad for women’s rights and lives,” Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said in an email to activists this week. FMF members are mobilizing to stop Gorsuch with a filibuster in the Senate, citing the immediate threat he poses to progress for women, LGBTQ folks, people of color and other marginalized groups.

In college, Gorsuch started a club called “Fascism Forever.” As a Judge, he consistently sided with corporations over people, including ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby in their high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. By selecting an “originalist” like Gorsuch, Trump has nominated a judge who, in some cases, is even further right than Antonin Scalia—who believed the Constitution was not meant to protect women from discrimination.

Gorsuch’s record indicates that his presence on the Court would prove an obstacle to progress and could be integral in rolling back the victories of the last century for women, people of color, LGBTQ folks and more. One area of clear concern is the arena of abortion rights, where the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Roe v. Wade has shaped policy—and served as the ultimate protection in a war on women by the right—for decades. As many as 22 states that have “trigger laws” on the books—laws which, in the absence of Roe, immediately outlaw abortion.

“President Trump has long vowed to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” Smeal noted in her message, “and Judge Gorsuch’s record indicates that he would do just that.”

It takes 60 votes in the Senate to close debate and move to a vote in the Senate, and Supreme Court nominees typically meet that threshold. If 41 Senators filibuster and thereby refuse to close debate, they could block Gorsuch’s confirmation. Though Republicans, who are in the majority in the Senate, could eliminate the filibuster in what is being called “the nuclear option,” Democrats have little to lose by attempting to utilize it—and in the process, could send a message to President Trump that fringe nominees for the Court who are outside of the mainstream are unacceptable.

“Now more than ever,” Smeal added, “we must insist that Supreme Court nominees be able to earn 60 votes in order to protect the constitutional rights of everyone, including women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and all whose rights have come under attack.”




Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|