Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his decision to vote “no” on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court of The United States. Casey has used the weeks since the nomination was announced to thoroughly review of Judge Gorsuch’s record, meet with Gorsuch and judicial experts, and most recently reviewed his hours of testimony from his hearing. Below is a statement laying out Casey’s rationale on this decision:
“In order to properly discharge the constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on judicial nominees, I believe it is my duty as a U.S. Senator to evaluate the nominee based on several key criteria: character, temperament, professional and personal experience, judicial philosophy and, of course, prior judicial rulings. With respect to the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, I took this process seriously. I spent hours studying his decisions as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. I consulted a variety of legal scholars and practitioners to understand the nuances and implications of his approach to the law. I met him personally to discuss his work and his nomination. And I watched closely his testimony before the Judiciary Committee this week.
I have serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy, manifest in a number of opinions he has written on the 10th Circuit. It is a judicial philosophy that employs the narrowest possible reading of federal law and exercises extreme skepticism, even hostility, toward executive branch agencies. Judge Gorsuch opinions often reflect a commitment to satisfy his judicial philosophy more than to grapple with the complex circumstances faced by ordinary Americans. Disproportionately, powerful interests are the beneficiaries while workers, consumers and those with disabilities are the losers of this approach.
This is cause for particular concern at a time when the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roberts, has become an ever more reliable ally to big corporations. A major study published in the Minnesota Law Review in 2013 found that the four conservative justices currently sitting on the court, Justices Alito, Roberts, Thomas and Kennedy, are among the six most business-friendly Supreme Court justices since 1946. A review by the Constitutional Accountability Center shows the consequences of the court’s corporate tilt, finding that the Chamber of Commerce has had a success rate of 69 percent in cases before the Roberts Court, a significant increase over previous courts.
Judge Gorsuch’s record indicates that he would only exacerbate this problem and further stack the deck against ordinary workers and families. One illustrative case, TransAm Trucking, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, involved a truck driver who was stranded on the side of the road at night in subzero temperatures with the brakes on his trailer frozen and the heater in his cab broken. He called dispatch for help multiple times, but after hours of waiting in the freezing cold, he was having trouble breathing and his torso and feet were numb. Worried about his safety, he unhitched his trailer and drove the truck away. The company fired him for abandoning his load. Two different authorities within the DOL ruled the firing was illegal and the trucker was protected under federal law. Judge Gorsuch disagreed, parsing a federal statute to argue the driver was not protected in his decision to drive away, despite the risk of freezing to death if he stayed put. Fortunately, the majority of the court disagreed, describing Judge Gorsuch’s labored interpretation of the statute as “curious” and ruling in favor of the driver.
Judge Gorsuch’s opinion in this case and many others show how his judicial philosophy produces rulings disconnected from the lived experience of those they impact. It’s in that disconnect that ordinary people get hurt – they lose their livelihood, find their rights curtailed or see the courthouse doors closed in their face.
After considering his nomination seriously and without pre-judgement, and mindful of the awesome responsibility of passing judgement on nominees to the highest court in the nation, I do not believe Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach will ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania. We cannot demand perfection from Supreme Court justices. But we can demand a constant commitment to fairness, to protecting all Americans regardless of power or wealth, to that guiding creed: equal justice under law. I have concluded that Judge Gorsuch is not the right choice to fulfill this commitment. I will not support his nomination.”
Full statement can be found here.