Read a PDF of our statement here.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Releases Comprehensive Report on the Civil Rights Record of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, Nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States
LDF Opposes Gorsuch Confirmation and Requests a Delay of his Confirmation Hearing
With confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch set to begin next week, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has released an in-depth report analyzing his civil rights record. Based on the report’s comprehensive analysis, LDF opposes Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our opposition to his confirmation is based on our review of the available judicial record. However, Judge Gorsuch’s overall record is, unfortunately, incomplete. Thus, we also request that the committee delay Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing to allow sufficient time to review and consider outstanding documents from the period in which Judge Gorsuch served at the Department of Justice, which may reveal additional matters that should be examined by the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of any hearing.
“LDF is committed to protecting the central role courts play in the enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws and the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, and our extensive report is an integral part of this process,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “Judge Gorsuch’s ten-year record of judicial decision-making offers no clear demonstration that he understands the importance of courts in vindicating the rights of those most dependent on the promise of equal justice under law. To the contrary, his record reflects a propensity toward minimizing equality protections across various areas. For these reasons, LDF must oppose the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.”
We do not reach this conclusion lightly. In fact, LDF does not take a position on every Supreme Court nominee. However, a hard and careful review of Judge Gorsuch’s record raises serious concern about how he will approach cases involving civil rights issues of great import to the communities we serve. Without question, the findings also suggest that he is deeply ideological and conservative. Across different issues, including when race is directly and indirectly implicated, Judge Gorsuch has regularly favored the interests of the privileged and powerful—whether the government, corporations, or wealthy individuals—at the expense of equality and inclusion.
While serving on the bench, Judge Gorsuch has expressly praised the legal philosophy of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose opinions took a hostile position toward civil rights issues, including Justice Scalia’s adherence to a judicial philosophy—originalism—which by its very nature and in practice, has embraced a cramped view of the civil rights of racial minorities and other marginalized individuals. In fact, we have found Judge Gorsuch’s record mirrors and, in some areas, may exceed, the conservativism of Justice Scalia, most prominently in his opposition to the longstanding Supreme Court precedent on the role of federal agencies.
Specifically, the report lays out LDF’s research and concerns in the following areas:
There remain outstanding questions about Judge Gorsuch’s record, including issues that he hasn’t addressed as a judge, and his work as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice. Access to information about Judge Gorsuch’s tenure at DOJ has been limited. DOJ did not respond to the Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan request for material until it produced 144,000 pages of documents on March 8. And even that production has proven incomplete, as Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein described in a March 14 letter requesting additional material related to Judge Gorsuch’s work at DOJ. LDF believes the committee should delay Judge Gorsuch’s hearing so that it may fully review the documents that were just produced and receive the additional documents described in Senator Feinstein’s letter.
With the release of this report, LDF reminds the Senate that a strong and independent judiciary is critical to the functioning and legitimacy of our democratic government and the rule of law and urges the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional responsibility to thoroughly examine the complete record of Judge Gorsuch.
Read our full report.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.