If you were an alien just touching down in like, Arlington, Virginia, and wanted to look around to get a sense of what kind of culture we had here (read a few blogs, pick up a newspaper at a stand, talk to any loiterers), you might believe that the only women in the world were Ivanka and Melania Trump. Not only because there are virtually no women in Trump’s cabinet, but also because the people he does promote seem dead set on removing as many rights from women (wo-men?) as possible. Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, is one of those men.
On the latest episode of Big Time Dicks, Prachi Gupta and I discuss Neil Gorusch’s upbringing (in high school he was founder and president of an “inside joke” called the Fascism Forever Club, ha ha ha ha) and briefly, his judicial history. (As an appellate judge in the 10th Circuit in Colorado, he ruled multiple times in favor of “religious freedom,” in other words, the rights of companies like Hobby Lobby to refuse to pay for employees’ birth control.) He’s never ruled on an abortion case, and said he’d “walk out” if Trump had asked him to repeal Roe v. Wade, so we’ll have to wait in suspense on that one.
We also talk about the now infamous Frozen Trucker case, in which a man whose truck had broken down by the side of the road in freezing temperatures opted to leave the trailer behind so as to avoid freezing to death. He was subsequently fired by his company for doing so, and sued. Guess how Gorsuch ruled?
Karen O’Connor, a political science professor and founder and former director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, also joins us to discuss why the originalist approach that Gorsuch (and Scalia) takes to the law, which attempts to interpret the Constitution as the framers intended, is so fucked up.
“The genius of the US Constitution has been that it has been interpreted to match the times,” O’Connor said. “If we go back to 1789, African Americans are slaves, women are pretty much chattel, don’t have the right to vote. We had never talked about anyone being a member of the LGBTQ community. The framers weren’t thinking about that. Nor were they thinking about campaign finance. Nor were they thinking about political parties. To somehow deign from what went on at the Constitutional Convention and to try to apply it today, I think is very foolhardy.”
The real fear, for O’Connor, is if Trump gets to appoint a second justice. “I’m not certain a court with two Trump appointees would even say women should get equal pay for equal work.”
But! All Gorsuch’s colleagues say he’s super nice. Which means we can expect him to be smiling as our employer legally denies us birth control and maternity leave.
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