About 50 residents and local officials gathered outside the Phoenix Municipal Court on Saturday morning to voice their concerns and dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
The downtown Phoenix demonstration was part of a nationwide effort dubbed “the People’s Filibuster,” which sought to unite Americans concerned by Trump’s agenda and his nomination of Gorsuch. Representatives from groups including Planned Parenthood and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees were present as Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo and Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, spoke.
Attendees waved signs critical of the administration and jeered Trump when his name was invoked.
“We are millions of Americans who have stood up to say ‘We object,’ ” Mendez said. “And we can all work to stop this Supreme Court nomination.”
Trump announced Gorsuch’s nomination in January, nearly a year after the death of longstanding Justice Antonin Scalia. President Barack Obama attempted to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland last year, but Senate Republicans, who hold a 52-seat majority, blocked Garland from nomination.
Gorsuch, 49, sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and could potentially restore a 5-4 conservative balance that was lost when Scalia died. He is most known for his ruling opposing the Obama administration’s requirement that health-insurance plans offer free coverage for contraceptives and that corporations could avoid the stipulation on religious objections.
The Supreme Court nominee remained tight-lipped this week when Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked tough questions on abortion, guns and campaign spending. Democratic Senate leadership has made it known they will try to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination with a procedural vote. Trump urged Republicans to change Senate rules to allow the GOP majority to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority of 51 votes.
Concerns about ripple effects of confirmation
At the protest, Vicki Belon and Terry Kilwein, both of Phoenix, said they are worried about the high court “stepping back” to a conservative majority that will have ripple effects for years to come.
“It’s a lifetime appointment from a president who I expect will only last four months,” Belon said. “What a time for him to not actually be elected by the majority of the people.”
The couple wore pins reading “George Washington For President” and Belon remarked she’d vote for Washington today because he “only chopped down a cherry tree and didn’t tell a lie.”
“Now, our president is chopping down democracy and all he can do is lie,” Kilwein said.
Many at Saturday’s demonstration were angry about the longstanding impact Gorsuch could have if he is confirmed.
“The decisions he made are indications of how he will rule on the bench. It’s unacceptable,” said Scottsdale resident Merle Lindlar, 72. “He doesn’t stand for the people; he is clearly for corporate ideas. We need fair-minded jurists.”
Lindlar said she’s been reinvigorated to protest the Trump administration. She said it was disheartening to see the unwillingness of Senate Republicans to confirm Garland at the end of Obama’s second term. Lindlar said it was inconceivable to see such a lack of bipartisanship.
“President Obama is an honorable man who was the embodiment of our ideas of democracy,” she said. “Trump is a total fraud who has no clue and the attention span of a gnat. He’s a dishonorable person who is not good for the country.”
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