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Gorusch. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Prominent right-wing commentators publicly excoriated Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on Monday after he authored a 6-3 majority opinion ruling that employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Why it matters: Gorsuch was President Trump's first nomination to the Supreme Court. The successful appointments of conservative federal and Supreme Court judges have frequently been cited as one of the main reasons that conservatives have supported the president's re-election.

  • Gorsuch succeeded the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 after a lengthy career championing originalism and textualism as a conservative jurist.

What they're saying:

  • Political commentator Ben Shapiro: "This Gorsuch decision is not originalist in any way; he acknowledges as much. It is simply a bad, outcome-driven legal decision. And it throws religious liberty, free speech, and employment law into complete turmoil."
  • Radio host Mark Levin: "There will be little or any criticism of the Court's complete disregard for the actual law and its legislative activism in violation of separation of powers. These things used to matter. Not so much anymore. [Chief Justice] Roberts no longer pretends to be a judge; now Gorsuch has left his robe behind as well."
  • Political commentator Michael Knowles: "Neil Gorsuch has redefined the most fundamental aspect of our nature from the bench of the highest court in the land. No ruling he might make in the future could counteract that radicalism. Conservatives will count him among the worst jurists in the history of the United States."
  • Judicial Network president Carrie Severino: "Justice Scalia would be disappointed that his successor has bungled textualism so badly today, for the sake of appealing to college campuses and editorial boards. This was not judging, this was legislating—a brute force attack on our constitutional system."
  • The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis: "The Supreme Court is not a court of law. It is a super-legislature run by nine politicians with lifetime tenure. Conservatives need to stop picking justices based on promises from nominees about how they'll analyze cases and start picking individuals who will vote correctly."

Between the lines: The ruling was a surprise to many, but it does not indicate an overwhelming shift in the Court's ideology.

  • As Axios' Sam Baker points out: "About a year ago, the Supreme Court blocked a citizenship question on the 2020 Census and then, the same day, ruled that partisan gerrymandering can never go too far. Wait to see the abortion, DACA & Trump tax cases before you decide the conservative justices are secret liberals."

Go deeper

Sep 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Conservative group launches $2M Supreme Court ad

Screengrab of ad, courtesy of Judicial Crisis Network.

The Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $2.2 million ad campaign to put pressure on vulnerable Senate Republicans in battleground states to support a quick confirmation when President Trump announces his Supreme Court nominee.

The big picture: "Follow Precedent," previewed by Axios, is one of the first national and cable television ads to run following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death Friday.

Updated Sep 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Where key GOP senators stand on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee this week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with less than 50 days until Election Day.

Driving the news: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of the few Republican senators thought to be a potential swing vote, said Tuesday that he would support moving forward with the confirmation process before the election.

Graham says he has "different view" of SCOTUS confirmations after Kavanaugh

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a letter to his Democratic colleagues on Monday he has a "different view" of the judicial confirmation process "after the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh" during his 2018 confirmation fight.

Why it matters: Graham opposed holding a vote President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, arguing that voters should get to decide in the next election who is appointed to the court.