What Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court rulings so far tells us (Hint: It’s not good)

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is leaning hard right out of the gate. Associated Press

President Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he wanted to appoint judges in the mold of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. It was a scary prospect to progressives and moderates alike, as Scalia went far right plenty and was anything but a friend to the LGBTQ community.

Gorsuch admired Scalia, as is evidenced in a memorial lecture he gave in the man’s honor. Not only did he sing Scalia’s praises, as is to be expected in such a speech, but he also showed that his concept of how a judge should interpret the law and deliver rulings was similar to that of the late justice.

As if that weren’t frightening enough for progressives, it seems from his recent decisions that Gorsuch might end up being an even more conservative justice than was Scalia.

Related: Justice Thomas urges conservatives to carry on anti-LGBT work of Antonin Scalia

The Supreme Court said on Monday it would take up a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. Colorado offers protections for LGBTQ people, meaning the baker was penalized in spite of claiming the act would go against his religious beliefs. As Think Progress notes, this could mean Gorsuch is to the right of Scalia on this issue, which many see as offering businesses and other establishments a license to discriminate.

“We cannot know for sure whether Gorsuch voted to take up this case — but it is notable that the Court decided not to consider this issue when Justice Antonin Scalia was still alive, ThinkProgress notes.

Gorsuch wrote the dissenting opinion in a case granting the right of same-sex parents in Arkansas to have both of their names on their children’s birth certificate, wherein he argued that, “Nothing in Obergefell indicates that a birth registration regime based on biology…offends the Constitution…Neither does anything in today’s opinion purport to identify any constitutional problem with a biology based birth registration regime.”

Gorsuch also backed Trump’s travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries, as well as another “religious freedom” case stating taxpayer funds could go to a school run by a church looking to build a playground.

In both of those cases, the Supreme Court ruled as Gorusch did, allowing Trump’s travel ban to take partial effect while we await a hearing, and clearing a path for a dismantling of the separation of church and state by, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor said from the bench, “profoundly” changing the relationship between church and state “by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church.”

As FiveThirtyEight reports, Gorsuch has voted in line with the court’s most conservative justice, Justice Clarence Thomas, 100 percent of the time in the 15 cases he has weighed in on so far. He has also joined every concurring opinion issued by Thomas thus far, meaning he not only agrees with Thomas on the outcomes but on the reasoning used to reach those conclusions.

Politico has published a piece outlining the Democrats reactions to Gorsuch’s voting record during his still nascent Supreme Court career, and needless to say, they aren’t pleased.

Any hope that he might not be as conservative as feared has left Washington.

Now the best the left can hope for is that Justice Anthony Kennedy keeps making liars of those who keep claiming he is retiring any day now, while they try to keep out thoughts of how Merrick Garland would have ruled in these cases.

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9 States And DC Are Standing Up For These Transgender Veterans In A Case Against The Feds

Nine states and the District of Columbia took a stand in federal court on Wednesday to support transgender military veterans who are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs to make the agency pay for gender-transition treatment in their health care coverage.

The states say in a brief, led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, that “there is no legitimate basis for the Department’s refusal to cover sex reassignment surgery to transgender veterans who need it.”

Some of the states, including Washington and California, have their own health care policies that provide transition-related services, which can include hormone treatment and surgery, and they contend they have an interest in seeing a ban at the VA overturned.

“Our experience demonstrates that ensuring equal access to health care helps us all without imposing significant costs or meaningful financial burdens,” the states write in their amicus brief.

A 2013 rule says “sex reassignment surgery cannot be performed or funded by the VA.”

By failing to cover these costs for transgender veterans, the federal government imposes a burden on states to provide those medical services themselves, the states argue. And yet, they say it’s a small expense for a humane, worthwhile cause.

The states behind the brief — filed in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit — are Washington state, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

The underlying lawsuit, filed by two transgender veterans and the Transgender American Veterans Association, challenges policies by the VA that ban “gender alterations” from being included among the services granted to eligible military veterans. A rule from 2013 adds that “sex reassignment surgery cannot be performed or funded by the VA.”

However, as Dee Fulcher and Guiliano Silva wrote in a request to repeal the ban last year, similar procedures — such as hysterectomies — are covered by healthcare plans for veterans who are not transgender.

Still, Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Nov. 10, 2016, that while officials have “begun considering factors impacting this rulemaking process, it is not imminent.”

Backed by lawyers at the LGBT group Lambda Legal, the transgender veterans appealed their case in January to the Federal Circuit, arguing that the Nov. 10 letter constituted a denial of their request. Rejecting transition-related care denies them needed services, is arbitrarily applied to transgender people, discriminates on the basis of sex, and violates rules created by the Affordable Care Act.

The government has yet to reply to those allegations in court, and the Justice Department declined to respond to them in an email to BuzzFeed News. The VA did not immediately answer a request to comment.

Karen Ducey / Getty Images

The case prompted several states support the plaintiffs in a friend of the court brief on Wednesday because, as Attorney General Ferguson said in a statement, “Access to medically necessary healthcare should be available to all of those who sacrifice for our country.”

In a 20-page filing, the states say local policies have not been cost-prohibitive for coverage that includes gender transition treatments. In Seattle, the city absorbed a $200,000 cost at two-tenths of one percent of the city’s healthcare budget. In San Francisco, the city initially charged employees a $1.70 premium but then scrapped the charge due to “low utilization rates.”

If the court upholds the VA’s ban on such services, the states say, “one of the largest health providers in the country will remain free to ignore the medical community’s well-established protocols and deny needed medical care based on the person’s gender identity.”

“Such an outcome harms amici States’ transgender residents, whose gender dysphoria would be left untreated, and the amici States directly, by leaving a deprivation of civil rights in our nation’s health care system unmitigated.”

This Is What Gay Liberation Looked Like In The ’70s

A hostile crowd attempts to impede police arrests outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village during the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. The event, which came to be known as the Stonewall Riots, became a watershed moment for the push for LGBT rights in the United States.

New York Daily News Archive / Getty Images

Members and supporters of the Gay Liberation Front square off against cops at a barricade set up at Greenwich and Charles Streets to prevent the group from reaching the Charles St. Precinct House. This demonstration was organized to protest against a police raid on a gay bar earlier in the day, on March 10, 1970.

New York Post Archives / Getty Images

A large crowd participates in a gay pride parade in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, 1970.

Spencer Grant / Getty Images

Left: Three members of Lavender Menace, a group of radical lesbian feminists, advocate for lesbians’ issues at the Second Congress to Unite Women in 1970 in New York City. Right: Lavender Menace members hold protest signs.

NYPL

Left: Activists protest LGBT discrimination at the Christopher Street Day rally in New York City in June 1971. Right: A wedding cake adorned with homosexual couples is prepared to be used by activists to protest a New York City clerk’s refusal to issue wedding licenses to homosexuals in the 1970s.

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Left: Members of the Gay Liberation Front form a picket line outside of the Time Inc. offices to protest the magazine’s coverage of gay civil rights in 1969. Right: Protesters rally at a gay rights demonstration in Albany, New York, 1971.

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Demonstrators rally for LGBT civil rights in New York City on April 15, 1970.

David Fenton / Getty Images

Revelers attend Christopher Street Day celebrations on June 20, 1971.

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A large crowd participates in a gay pride parade in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, 1970.

Spencer Grant / Getty Images

Residents of the Hillburn, New York, area demonstrate against homosexuality on Sept. 22, 1977.

Ray Stubblebine / AP

Gay rights protesters comfort a colleague who was knocked down in a scuffle during a pride march up Sixth Avenue on June 8, 1977.

New York Post Archives / Getty Images

Demonstrators smash the front doors of San Francisco City Hall on May 22, 1979. About 5,000 people marched from the city’s LGBT community to City Hall, protesting the voluntary manslaughter conviction of Supervisor Dan White in the fatal shootings of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Paul Sakuma / AP

City Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver is helped after being struck by a piece of concrete during a riot at San Francisco City Hall on May 21, 1979.

Anonymous / AP

Former US representative Bella Abzug addresses a rally in New York City, where 3,000 people turned out to protest the repeal of an LGBT rights law in Dade County, Florida, on June 8, 1977.

Suzanne Vlamis / AP

Left: Demonstrators participate in a gay pride rally in Albany, New York, 1971. Right: A group of women take to the New York City streets on Christopher Street Day, June 20, 1971.

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A large crowd commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, on June 28, 1971.

Grey Villet / The LIFE Picture Collection

A line of police officers confront LGBT protesters outside the Sixth Precinct in New York on July 25, 1979, after one of the demonstrators was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

Carlos Rene Perez / AP

Left: A marcher in an LGBT rights parade up New York’s Fifth Avenue, carries a bouquet of flowers on July 7, 1979. Right: A couple share a kiss in this undated picture from the 1970s.

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Left: Partygoers dance at the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse in New York City, 1971. Right: A banner celebrates Gay Pride Week inside the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse in 1971.

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Thousands of demonstrators attend the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington, DC, on Oct. 14, 1979.

Mark Reinstein / Getty Images