Tester: Gorsuch would not answer important questions

by Sen. Jon Tester, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

As Montana’s senator, one of my most important responsibilities is to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominees.

I took my time with this process because the Supreme Court is too important to play politics with and my decision needed to be informed by Montanans, our shared values, and due diligence.

This decision was not easy. It came with thoughtful deliberation, late nights, and the counsel of thousands of Montanans.

After meeting with Judge Gorsuch face-to-face, giving him a fair hearing, and reviewing his qualifications, I cannot support his confirmation.

Judge Gorsuch is a smart man but that doesn’t make him right for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

I cannot support a nominee who refuses to answer important questions.

With Judge Gorsuch on the bench, I’m deeply concerned that dark money will continue to drown out the voices and votes of citizens, the court will stand between women and their doctors, and the government will reach into the private lives of law-abiding Americans.

These are not Montana values.

Lawyers with degrees from Ivy League schools often get good at dodging questions, but a judge cannot hide from his opinions.

Over the years, Judge Gorsuch gave corporations the same constitutional rights as a nurse from Plentywood, a teacher from Kalispell, or a farmer from Fort Benton.

In the controversial Sebelius v Hobby Lobby decision, he ruled that a corporation can have religious beliefs just like people.

When it comes to the letter of the law, he believes corporations are people.

If that were true, then I invite Wells Fargo out to my farm to spend a few long days picking rock in the fields.

And, according to Judge Gorsuch’s opinion in Riddle v. Hickenlooper, he believes campaign contributions deserve First Amendment protections.

Montanans know: Money is not speech.

And not only does Judge Gorsuch think corporations have the same rights as people, in Hobby Lobby he decided that the rights of a corporation outweighed the rights of Montana women.

Montana and America deserve a Supreme Court justice who will protect our freedom to make private health care decisions.

It’s clear to me that, if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would threaten our access to a doctor and endanger the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

While he is good on the Second Amendment, his views on the Fourth Amendment – guaranteeing the right to privacy – should be concerning to everyone.

In this country, we are innocent until proven guilty and we value our civil liberties.

Judge Gorsuch has argued for a narrow interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, which could subject Montanans to government overreach.

Whether it’s searching a car that was illegally pulled over or trying to meddle in a private health care decision, Montanans rightfully want to keep the government out.

This decision is about the future of this country.

I am concerned that if Judge Gorsuch is confirmed, our future will be shaped with dark money and an expanding government that violates our fundamental freedoms.

This is not a future that works for Montana, and I cannot support this nomination.