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How Neil Gorsuch’s Confirmation Could Affect Women

On Thursday morning, Senate Republicans went "nuclear" in order to push through President Donald Trump's pick for U.S. Supreme Court justice. On Friday, their disregard for the rules paid off; Trump's nominee, federal judge Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in a 54-45 vote, ending one of the longest vacancies on the high court. His place on the bench has progressives worried, particularly because he's expected to be another Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice whose seat he's filled. So how could Neil Gorsuch's confirmation affect women, then? Many advocates fear that Gorsuch, like Scalia, will threaten and weaken reproductive and economic rights.

There's good reason to believe he might. As Ms. pointed out, Gorsuch has a history of favoring religious freedom and employer preferences over reproductive and worker rights. Remember the infamous Hobby Lobby case of 2013? According to PBS NewsHour, Gorsuch sided with the majority on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in ruling against the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate — a move that allowed the arts-and-crafts chain to deny employees access to birth control on "religious grounds." Gorsuch has also ruled against protecting pregnant employees from workplace discrimination in two major cases, Strickland v. UPS and Weeks v. Kansas, according to the Center for American Progress.

Though he's never ruled on an outright abortion case, anti-abortion groups have praised Gorsuch's nomination as a win for their side. That could be because, last year, Gorsuch wrote a scathing dissent in Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert that defended the actions of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, according to ThinkProgress. Planned Parenthood of Utah sued Herbert in late 2015 after he defunded the organization because of deceptively edited videos that accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal remains. The 10th circuit ruled against the governor; Gorsuch and three other judges who didn't side with the majority opinion wanted the case reheard and potentially reverse the decision. That hearing was denied.

Reproductive rights groups are, understandably, steaming over Friday's confirmation. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement that

[Gorsuch] is the most far-right Supreme Court nominee in a generation, handpicked by Donald Trump to help fulfill his campaign promise of overturning Roe v. Wade, increasing the power of dark money in our elections, and ensuring powerful businesses can trample the rights of American workers and their families. By marching in lock-step with Donald Trump and his dangerous agenda, Senate Republicans showed their true colors—a fact that Americans won't soon forget.

Though it's yet to be seen if Gorsuch is indeed Scalia 2.0, his history as a federal judge and known conservative views make it likely that the rights of women and marginalized groups in the country could be affected.