Tennessee faith leaders oppose Trump’s Supreme Court nomination

Authored By chloe.morrison

Two faith leaders, including one from Chattanooga, expressed concern Tuesday about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. 

The two pastors were speaking as part of the Southern Christian Coalition, which includes numerous faith leaders from across the state.

Bryce Current, Chattanooga’s Pilgrim Congregational Church pastor, said that Gorsuch seems to support powerful corporations over individual rights.

He said he’s worried that Gorsuch would not support civil rights, including not upholding LBGT liberties.

Current called Gorsuch, a federal judge, a “religious fundamentalist.”

And he urged people to look past Gorsuch’s charm or education and at his ruling record. 

“I am concerned about Gorsuch as a faith leader because of what he has expressed in his rulings,” he said. “He tends to vote against individuals when it relates to the more powerful corporations.”

Both Current and Nashville’s Joe Sheeran, a seminarian at Vanderbilt Divinity School, also urged Sen. Bob Corker to oppose a rule change in an effort to get Gorsuch confirmed. 

On Monday, four Democrats announced they would oppose Gorsuch, which means the Democratic caucus has enough votes to filibuster the nomination.

But Republicans could get around a filibuster by changing Senate rules and going with the so-called “nuclear option,” which means they would lower the threshold of votes needed to advance the nomination from 60 to 51, according to CNN. 

“Sen. Corker, we are praying for you,” Sheeran said. “We are praying that you will see you don’t have 60 votes and take this as a sign not to [change] the rules … This is not the time to double down … This is an opportunity to look [out] for the interests of your constituents. [Tennesseans] stand to lose a lot from Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch.”

In response to a question about whether Corker would support the nuclear option, a spokeswoman said that Corker announced his support for Gorsuch shortly after meeting with him in February. 

“He is pleased President Trump has nominated such a well-respected and qualified individual and looks forward to voting to confirm Judge Gorsuch as our next U.S. Supreme Court justice,” according to the spokeswoman’s statement. 

Democrats have also painted Gorsuch as someone who isn’t interested in supporting minorities, according to Time. 

“I have not seen that the rights of minorities are a priority for you,” Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said to Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing, also according to Time. “In fact, a pattern jumps out at me. You rarely seem to find in favor of the little guy.”

But Gorsuch defended himself against that accusation. 

“I’ve ruled for disabled students, for prisoners, for the accused, for workers alleging civil rights violations and for undocumented immigrants,” he said. “Sometimes, too, I’ve ruled against such persons. My decisions have never reflected a judgment about the people before me, only a judgment about the law and facts and issues in each particular case. A good judge can promise no more than that, and a good judge should guarantee no less.”

Click here for more background about Gorsuch and information about his views. 

Updated @ 12:15 p.m. on 4/4/17 to add more information.