Neil Gorsuch is the last man standing who can protect women’s liberty

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Coloradan whose nomination we enthusiastically supported in 2017, is the one person remaining who can protect the reproductive freedom of American women.

We implore Gorsuch, a man we put our trust in with unwavering support, to not upend almost 50 years of Supreme Court precedent guaranteeing women the autonomy to make the most crucial personal decision they will ever consider – whether or not to carry a pregnancy for nine months and give birth to a child.

“We are not afraid of a judge who strictly interprets the Constitution based solely on the language and intent of our nation’s founders, as long as he is willing to be consistent even when those rulings conflict with his own beliefs,” we wrote in the weeks leading up to Gorsuch’s appointment as President Donald Trump considered a host of less appetizing judges.

But a large crack has been struck in the rock of our faith in Gorsuch.

Gorsuch sided with the conservative majority on the court in a 5-4 decision to allow a Texas law to take effect that we believeis unconstitutional on its face.

That 5-4 ruling is forcing women in Texas to continue unwanted pregnancies. Today, as you read this, women in the very earliest stages of pregnancy are denied abortions in Texas, contrary to the court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that the government could not ban abortions until after the point of fetal viability outside the womb.

The court essentially decided that it cannot rule until plaintiffs with standing bring the case.  While women in Texas must either have babies or flee the state in search of medical care, the court decided to hear oral arguments in December on another abortion ban, this one in Mississippi.

Gorsuch must, for the good of women and families across this nation, join the minority of jurists and strike down these unconstitutional laws. Not only are women’s rights under assault, but religious freedom (or rather freedom from religion) is also under attack.

In Mississippi and Texas, a gaggle of mostly conservative Christian men is forcing religious practices, beliefs and views on every woman and doctor in their states. If the newly appointed Christian majority of the Supreme Court upholds those laws, trust in America’s greatest secular institution will be irreparably harmed. Gorsuch and his colleagues are called upon to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not the word of God. Regardless of the legal hoops the conservative majority will attempt to jump through in any opinion they write abandoning Roe and the cases that have built upon its foundation, Americans will struggle to draw any conclusion other than that the separation of church and state has officially ended.

Here’s the legal problem Gorsuch would have with attempting to say Roe v Wade was based upon a faulty interpretation of the 14th Amendment — the court has upheld that interpretation numerous times and not just with regard to abortion. In the 1992 ruling of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the court addressed skepticism about Roe v. Wade head-on.

“Roe determined that a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy is a ‘liberty’ protected against state interference by the substantive component of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” wrote justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter in the majority opinion.  “Neither the Bill of Rights nor the specific practices of States at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment’s adoption marks the outer limits of the substantive sphere of such “liberty.” Rather, the adjudication of substantive due process claims may require this Court to exercise its reasoned judgment in determining the boundaries between the individual’s liberty and the demands of organized society. The Court’s decisions have afforded constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, see, e.g., Loving v. Virginia; procreation, Skinner v. Oklahoma; family relationships, Prince v. Massachusetts; child rearing and education, Pierce v. Society of Sisters; and contraception, Griswold v. Connecticut and have recognized the right of the individual to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child, Eisenstadt v. Baird. Roe’s central holding properly invoked the reasoning and tradition of these precedents.”

Gorsuch cannot unwind such a legal opinion woven into so many decades of court precedent and still expect Americans to have faith in the highest court in the land. For a judge or justice who has pledged an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, upholding women’s liberty – even if he or she is ethically or religiously opposed to abortion – is what is required of them.

Do the right thing, Gorsuch, for this country.

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