3/24/2017 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) announced his decision to vote “no” on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court:

“I will not support Judge Gorsuch for the highest court in the land.  After carefully examining his judicial record and listening to his testimony, I believe he is a poor choice for the United States Supreme Court.

“Equal Justice Under Law is engraved on the front of the Supreme Court.  But Judge Gorsuch seems to favor the expansion of corporate power over individual rights.  His interpretation of the Constitution would further rig the system to expand corporate power at the expense of people.  The Founders’ original intent was never for corporations to become more powerful than citizens.  Under a Justice Gorsuch, companies could increase their influence over our elections.

“Judge Gorsuch has a propensity for ruling against workers in labor and employment disputes.  In the so-called “frozen trucker case,” he twisted a statute to insist that a trucker stranded in sub-zero conditions should have been fired for seeking safety.  Fortunately, Judge Gorsuch was not in the majority on that case.  But if he was elevated to the Supreme Court, I worry his pro-corporate tendencies would make it harder for workers, consumers, and citizens to seek justice.

“Many of Judge Gorsuch’s legal decisions are based on an overly narrow view of our laws.  Indeed, during his hearing, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected his legal theory that would have gutted the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”).  Judge Gorsuch ruled against the family of an autistic child who sued the child’s school for failing to provide the legal minimum accommodations the child needed.  Judge Gorsuch ignored the history and purpose of IDEA to hold that the school needed only provide the child non-trivial benefits.  The Supreme Court unanimously rejected this view – thankfully, as many of my colleagues and I urged in an amicus brief.  As a result, and in spite of Judge Gorsuch’s opinion, lower courts will now hold schools to a higher standard of education for children with disabilities, as the law clearly intended and indeed requires. 

“Judge Gorsuch is intellectually gifted, but I was not reassured by the substance of his answers, or lack thereof.  During his hearing, and in our meeting, he repeatedly declined to answer even basic questions.  This shortcoming was particularly driven home by Senator Whitehouse's questions related to the Citizens United decision, which has unleashed a torrent of problems and only increased political cynicism.

“It is clear that Judge Gorsuch has a not-so-hidden agenda.  His record as a judge shows he repeatedly used concurring and dissenting opinions to go well beyond the facts of a case to make broad, ideological statements.

“If Judge Gorsuch is confirmed to the Supreme Court, I worry he would try to circumscribe voting rights and consumer protections and impose new constraints on civil liberties and women’s health care and roll back clean air laws. 

“I will vote no on cloture and no on his nomination.”