HPAE’s Ann Twomey Responds to President Trump’s Supreme Court pick

A Supreme Court Nominee for Corporations, Not America’s Working Families

Neil Gorsuch, nominated by President Trump for the Supreme Court, poses a threat for the future of women’s health, for the health and safety of healthcare professionals and our workplace rights.  The Supreme Court is expected to make decisions on cases dealing with the rights of union workers, access to reproductive services and women’s healthcare and the future of our nation’s healthcare programs such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid.

Gorsuch has taken positions radically at odds with longstanding precedent regarding employment discrimination and judicial respect for separation of powers. Because employer bad actors so often force unions to seek administrative remedies at the National Labor Relations Board, Gorsuch’s disregard for administrative expertise could mean that as a Justice, he would ignore important recent Board rulings protecting employees’ rights to bring class actions, and protecting employees when their employer changes ownership and attempts to eliminate their hard-won contract rights.  Gorsuch’s dismissive attitude toward employee civil rights is even more disturbing; if confirmed, he would likely decide whether sexual discrimination protections should extend to workers who are being targeted because of their sexual orientation.

As a labor union, HPAE has advocated for workplace protection through legislation as well as stronger regulations.  Recently nurses at Virtua Health in Burlington County moved one step closer towards a safer workplace after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reached a settlement with the hospital after the hospital was cited for various violations on safe patient handling.

During these times, healthcare workers must be assured that the next US Supreme Court will protect workers who are harmed in the workplace. Yet, Gorsuch’s record shows he dissented in a case where the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission investigated a worker’s death and fined the employer.  Gorsuch said the case was overreach of an administrative agency wielding ‘remarkable power’.

Working families in New Jersey are struggling to get by and many do not even earn a living wage, in a state ranked as one of the seven most expensive states to live in.  When workers do not receive adequate pay workers must make difficult choices whether to pay their rent, medical bills, school supplies for their children and other daily living expenses.  Yet Gorsuch’s dissent in a case where a hospital was penalized over how it reduced hours and handled employee back pay is another example that Gorsuch is not the right choice for the US Supreme Court.

As a 10th Circuit Court Judge, Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, putting a corporation’s beliefs before a patient’s right to access medical treatment.  Healthcare workers are required to treat every patient, whether they have coverage or not.  Patients without healthcare coverage will often avoid accessing care even if their health may worsen.  Gorsuch has a history of misplaced priorities placing the interests of a corporation above the interest of patients whose health may be at risk.

Senate Democrats have an opportunity to protect working families by making a commitment to stop the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, just as their Senate counterparts blocked the President Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland.