Union-Funded Dems Slam Gorsuch's Labor Record

Murray, Merkley, and Markey have received $3 million from unions

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch / Getty Images
March 7, 2017

The three Senate Democrats who criticized Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's record on labor issues have collected millions from unions.

Democratic Senators Patty Murray (Wash.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Ed Markey (Mass.) are spearheading the fight over Gorsuch's bid to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the court after his sudden death in 2016. All three have expressed support for filibustering the nomination in retribution for Senate Republicans' refusal to vote on President Obama's Supreme Court pick, Judge Merrick Garland.

They criticized Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, for his approach to labor law on Tuesday.

"I have serious concerns with moving forward with the president's Supreme Court nominee," Murray said. "I also have serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch's clear record of siding with corporations and big business over workers."

Murray said that Trump had broken his pledge to protect American workers by "nominating a judge with such a distinctly anti-worker record." She pointed to several cases in which Gorsuch ruled against the Labor Department's enforcement actions against companies, as well as his approach to anti-discrimination statutes.

Murray is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and is one of the top recipients of campaign donations from labor unions. She has received $2.15 million from labor groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Merkley and Markey echoed those criticisms during their brief remarks on Gorsuch's record. Merkley, a two-term senator, has received $683,068, while Markey, who was elected in 2013 to replace Secretary of State John Kerry, has received $823,800 from labor groups.

"Regular working Americans need a champion on the bench who believes in the founding philosophy of our nation," he said. "They're not going to get that with Neil Gorsuch."

The group then turned the microphone over to Guerino Calemine, chief counsel for the Communication Workers of America and a former top aide on the House Education & Workforce Committee. Calemine's union has contributed $71,000 to Murray, Merkley, and Markey over the course of their careers. CWA spent more than $8 million on the 2016 election with almost all of its contributions going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

He pointed to Gorsuch's dissent in a wrongful termination case, in which a truck driver was fired for ditching his cargo in frigid temperatures.

"We have grave concerns about this Supreme Court nominee, his preference for corporations over the rights of working people, and what this means for something as basic for workers, health, and safety," Calemine said.

Conservative judicial activists said that the Democrats are distorting Gorsuch's record for political gain. Carrie Severino, a former Supreme Court law clerk and chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, accused the senators of "cherry-picking" cases to appease hardline Trump opponents. Severino cited Gorsuch's history as an anti-trust lawyer, including his successful $1.05 billion suit against U.S. Tobacco Co., as evidence of his willingness to take on major corporations.

"Sens. Murray, Merkley and Markey have made it apparent they are more interested in playing trivial political games to cater to the extreme left wing of their party and creating gridlock in Washington than getting the Supreme Court back to full capacity for the spring term," Severino said in a statement.

Gorsuch is meeting with senators across Capitol Hill ahead of his March 20 confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.