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Judge Gorsuch’s Out-Of-Touch Views on Money in Politics–What People Are Saying

February 1, 2017 | Adam Smith

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Based on his past record, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, could hand our elections entirely over to the wealthy and make it hard for everyday people to have a voice in our political system.

His positions on money in politics are counter to Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of big donor influence in Washington and are out of touch with mainstream America. A recent poll found that 93 percent of voters wanted Trump to appoint someone who’ll fight big money in politics. Nearly eight in 10–77 percent–believe Senators should oppose any nominee who rejects common sense restrictions in our campaign finance system.

According to analysis of his record by Demos and Campaign Legal Center:

  • Judge Gorsuch has expressed openness to a legal theory that could lead to contribution limits being overturned. Doing so would make our elected officials more responsive to the needs of their wealthy donors and less concerned with the interests of everyone else.
  • He has been hostile to regulations on the corporate sector and has a history of siding against consumers and working Americans, whether in Hobby Lobby or as an attorney for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposing accountability for companies who commit securities fraud.

His out-of-touch views on corporate power and money in politics would further our democracy down the dangerous path set in recent Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Shelby County giving more power to big donors to influence our politics. The Senate must thoroughly scrutinize his position on these issues and he should be forced to make clear whether he stands with big donors and special interests or the values of an inclusive democracy in which everyone can be heard.

So far, campaign finance experts, advocates, and elected officials have all made clear that the role of money in our political system will be a part of his path to confirmation.

Several U.S. Senators made clear the power of money in our political system and Judge Gorsuch’s opinion on it will be part of the nomination fight:

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): “Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people.”
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.): “Judge Gorsuch must explain his hostility to women’s rights, support of corporations over workers and opposition to campaign finance reform.”
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): “The next justice will have a profound impact on money in politics, voting rights, immigrant and women’s rights, and more.”
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): “the Court has shifted dramatically toward big money corporate interests at the expense of American workers and small biz.”
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): “We don’t need another justice who spends his time looking out for those with money and influence.”
  • Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.): “I question whether he will put the interests of working families in New Jersey and throughout the country before those of big corporations.”
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): “There is too much at stake – from women’s choice and immigration reform to LGBTQ rights and marriage equality to voting rights and campaign finance reform.”
  • Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.): “I am concerned that #Gorsuch has a tendency to favor the interests of big corporations & special interests over every day Americans.”
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): “I plan to stand up for individuals over corporations and oppose his nomination.”
  • Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.): “This strategy of packing the court, if successful, could threaten fundamental rights in America, including workers’ right to organize, women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections rather than being drowned out by the corrupting influence of dark money from the richest Americans.”
  • Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): “I cannot support any nominee who does not recognize that corporations are not people.”

While they won’t vote on Gorsuch, several House members have also begun speaking out on the issue, including Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-N.J.).

People outside of Congress are speaking up about Gorsuch’s radical views on our democracy too.

Every Voice President and CEO David Donnelly said, “Americans need and deserve a Supreme Court that will act as the last line of defense from wealthy special interests and unaccountable politicians.”

Demos President Heather McGhee said, “Our nation’s future should not be up for sale.  We need a justice who understands that a true democracy cannot elevate big money over the voices of ordinary people and that reasonable limits must be put in place to protect the rights and influence of all Americans – and that is not Judge Gorsuch.”

People for the American Way’s Michael Keegan said that Gorsuch “has protected the privileges of the wealthy and powerful, not the rights and freedoms of ordinary people.”

Constitutional Accountability Center’s Elizabeth Wydra said, “From being able to vindicate their rights in court instead of being forced into arbitration, to keeping big money from corrupting our political system, to protecting the environment from polluting corporations, the American people don’t want to see even more corporate influence on the Supreme Court.”

Communications Workers of America said, “Judge Gorsuch has a record of aligning with corporate interests.”

Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal said, “Confirming Gorsuch threatens to create a Court that will rubber stamp Trump’s assaults on Americans’ freedoms; a Court that will twist the First Amendment to tear down corporate accountability; a Court that will nod at the wholesale purchase of political results by the wealthy.

Will Judge Gorsuch promise to stand with the people over big donors? It’s a question Americans demand an answer to and one Senators should make sure to ask about in their meetings with Gorsuch and during his confirmation hearings.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.

Every Voice and Every Voice Center have recently come under new leadership. We will be expanding and diversifying our efforts to promote a democracy that works for all of us and responds to the voices of everyday people. Watch this space for specifics later in 2019.