A sad, lonely group of American atheists is expressing “serious concerns” about Neil Gorsuch, the federal appellate judge Donald Trump nominated on Tuesday to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The secular, humanist Center for Inquiry expressed its “serious concerns” in a lengthy statement sent to The Daily Caller just hours after the Gorsuch nomination was announced.
“Judge Gorsuch’s prior rulings, along with his expressed philosophy, indicate a dangerous antipathy towards the protections of the First Amendment for nonreligious Americans and those of minority religious faiths,” said Center for Inquiry spokesman Nicholas Little.
The secular group also has “grave doubts that Judge Gorsuch is someone who will weigh his duty to the Constitution over ideological loyalty to an administration that has already proven its hostility to secular government and tolerance of dissent.”
The Center for Inquiry aligns itself with “the religiously unaffiliated” and calls this contingent of Americans “the largest ‘faith’ group in the United States.”
“So it is essential that the Supreme Court defend Jefferson’s Wall of Separation between church and state,” Little, the Center for Inquiry, pontificated. “The history of Judge Gorsuch’s decisions shows a disturbing preference for religion over nonreligion, and for Christianity in particular over other beliefs. It is an attitude that is contrary to Supreme Court precedent and fundamental American values.”
The Center for Inquiry notes that Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by George W. Bush in 2006.
Since then, the judge has penned a number of majority opinions, concurring opinions and dissenting opinions.
In a 2013 case, Hobby Lobby v. Sibelius, Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion as part of a deeply divided appellate decision.
Gorsuch wrote that the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — infringes on the religious beliefs of the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby “by requiring them to lend what their religion teaches to be an impermissible degree of assistance to the commission of what their religion teaches to be a moral wrong.”
At issue in the case, which Hobby Lobby eventually won in the Supreme Court, was whether the federal government can force a for-profit corporation to provide contraceptive health coverage to employees if the corporation’s owners have religious objections.
Gorsuch, 49, has degrees from Oxford and Harvard Law School. He clerked for Justices Anthony Kennedy and Byron White on the Supreme Court before entering private practice in Washington at litigation law firm in Washington, D.C. He served in the U.S. Department of Justice for two years prior to his 10th Circuit nomination. He was approved by the Senate on a voice vote, as he was not considered a controversial nominee. (RELATED: Meet Trump’s Supreme Court Pick)
Gorsuch is also the author of two books. His first book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” was published by Princeton University Press in 2006. He contributed to a second book last year, “The Law of Judicial Precedent,” a treatise on the doctrine of precedent assembled by Black’s Law Dictionary editor Bryan Garner.
Last year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, another national organization dedicated to atheism, requested that then-President Barack Obama offer official religious recognition for Americans who are not religious. The February 2016 request, made via a letter, insisted that it is time for an American president to “reach out to secular America.” (RELATED: Sad, Lonely Atheists Long For Obama To Acknowledge Their Spiritually Empty Lives)