U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., says he cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice.
On a call with reporters Thursday, Casey laid out his reasons for opposing President Donald Trump’s pick to fill the seat left vacant by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I have serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy, manifest in a number of opinions he has written on the 10th Circuit,” Casey said. “It is a judicial philosophy that employs the narrowest possible reading of federal law and exercises extreme skepticism, even hostility, toward executive branch agencies.”
Casey also pointed toward decisions that he says have hurt real people.
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“Judge Gorsuch’s opinions often reflect a commitment to satisfy his judicial philosophy more than to grapple with the complex circumstances faced by ordinary Americans. Disproportionately, powerful interests are the beneficiaries while workers, consumers and those with disabilities are the losers of this approach,” he said.
One of those was a case decided Wednesday, when the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that went against Gorsuch’s own decisions.
The court sided with a family in the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District case, overturning a lower court’s decision on the family’s suit to have private school tuition paid for their autistic child who was not making progress in public school.
“The goals may differ but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives,” the court said.
Gorsuch did not rule on the lower court case, but a 10th Circuit decision he wrote in 2008 was part of the case. Gorsuch’s interpretation was that a “free and appropriate public education” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act “must merely be more than de minimis.” De minimis is a Latin term meaning minimal. The IRS defines it as “so small as to make accounting for it unreasonable or impractical.”
Gorsuch said in his opinion that he “sympathized” with the family in his case, but was “constrained” by the law and prior interpretations.
In another decision, Casey said Gorsuch put business interests ahead of the welfare of a truck driver who almost froze in a cab with a broken heater.
“Two different authorities within the (Department of Labor) ruled the firing was illegal and the trucker was protected under federal law. Judge Gorsuch disagreed, parsing a federal statute to argue the driver was not protected in his decision to drive away, despite the risk of freezing to death if he stayed put,” Casey said.
His Republican counterpart, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, has offered wholehearted support for Gorsuch.
“It’s very clear to me Judge Gorsuch understands the proper role of a judge. He will apply the law and the U.S. Constitution as they are written and not as someone might wish they had been written. He’s not going to be picking winners and losers based on his personal or partisan policy preferences,” Toomey said earlier in a video conference.
Toomey said Scalia left “big shoes to fill.”
“I am confident Judge Gorsuch is up to the task,” he said.
Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing continued Thursday while Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Senate Democrats would attempt a filibuster to block the move. Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s attempts to confirm Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat last year.