While LGBT, reproductive rights, and civil liberties groups are denouncing Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, the far right is over the moon about the choice.
"I'm very pleased," Family Research Council president Tony Perkins told Fox News host Lou Dobbs Tuesday night. "I think the president has done exactly what he said he was going to do on the campaign trail. ... He said he was going to pick pro-life judges that were strict constructionists, and that's what we appear to have in Judge Gorsuch."
Perkins, who was in the White House's East Room with Trump when he made the announcement, predicted Gorsuch would "read the letters on the page and not try to find things within the shadows of the Constitution." Dobbs, for his part, said Gorsuch is an "absolutely ideal candidate, but you and I both know that the left will try to smear him."
"The left and the Dems in this country ... have turned to subversion, for crying out loud, and obstructionism as much as opposition," Dobbs continued. Perkins responded that Democrats will have a hard time opposing Gorsuch.
Todd Starnes, a contributor to Fox News and other conservative outlets, characterized Gorsuch's opponents even more colorfully in a column published on Townhall,calling them a "liberal hate mob" that will descend on the nominee "like a pack of rabid jackals." He further wrote, "Liberals are genuinely repulsed by any judicial appointee who values life and liberty."
Several other far-right activists and commentators lauded Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit who has, among other things, denounced the Affordable Care Act's mandate for employer-provided health insurance plans to cover contraceptives with no cost-sharing by employees. The right-wingers usually didn't mention specific issues like the contraceptive mandate, abortion rights, or marriage equality, instead using code words such as "judicial activism" or "social engineering."
"It's time to return this country back to the rule of law where judges interpret the original meaning of the Constitution and the laws before them," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, in a press release. "Judicial activism is destroying the judiciary and will ultimately weaken the role of the judicial in the eyes of the people. The only power that courts have is the trust of the people that judges will act fairly and put aside personal bias. From the Supreme Court to the state courts, the role of judges is to judge fairly. If they want to be legislators, then let them run for office. Judicial activism has no place on the bench." Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit legal group, has represented numerous anti-LGBT clients, including Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis and Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
From Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, which opposes abortion rights and contraception, came this statement: "We are excited about the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. We firmly believe that he will be a fitting person to fill the seat formerly occupied by Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch shares the same values and commitment to life as American Life League and its supporters. We look forward to doing everything we can to see that this exemplary man is confirmed by the Senate and takes his seat as soon as possible."
The American Family Association, which is virulently anti-LGBT, "applauds President Trump's choice of Judge Gorsuch and urges you to thank him," the group's president, Tim Wildmon, said in a press release. He called Gorsuch "a believer in a broad definition of religious freedom" and applauded him for supporting "Christian employers and religious organizations in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Little Sisters of the Poor," the challenges to the ACA mandate. Roman Catholics oppose all methods of contraception, and some other religious conservatives consider common contraceptives such as the pill and intra-uterine devices to be abortion-inducing agents.
American Values president and onetime presidential aspirant Gary Bauer called Gorsuch "a distinguished jurist who will protect the law and the United States for years to come," adding in his press release, "For too long, activist judges have shredded the U.S. Constitution, making us all vulnerable to political whims and social engineering. As a result, the political left has imposed its agenda on the public without respect for the will of the voters, common sense or the law itself."
FreedomWorks, which advocates for conservative economic policies, sent out an email calling on supporters to urge their senators to confirm Gorsuch. FreedomWorks president and CEO Adam Brandon noted that Gorsuch has criticized a 1984 Supreme Court decision that "requires federal courts to defer to regulatory agencies' interpretations of 'silent or ambiguous' statutes." This "has allowed federal bureaucrats to enact law without judicial review," Brandon wrote.
Gorsuch does not have an extensive paper trail on LGBT issues, but in a 2005 National Review article, he wrote, "American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education." Also, he joined two unpublished opinions that opposed transgender rights.