Neil Gorsuch smiles in his justice robe in front of a red curtain

Worst Part of Supreme Court Texas Abortion Ban Hearing Was Every Time Neil Gorsuch Opened His Mouth

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today challenging SB 8, Texas’ extreme six-week abortion ban. The court spent hours hearing from abortion providers in the state as well as a separate challenge from the Department of Justice. The entire ordeal raised a lot of questions but also solidified one already known fact: Neil Gorsuch is an incredible asshole.

While two conservative, Trump-nominated Justices—Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—actually indicated through some of their questions that they might possibly be open to the abortion providers’ challenges of the law, if not the DOJ’s (based solely on the bizarre construction of the Texas law, not a sudden acceptance of abortion as a constitutionally protected right), Gorsuch approached these arguments from the worst-faith position imaginable.

Gorsuch’s very first question to Marc Hearron, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, implied that the “chilling” effects of S.B. 8 on people’s Constitutional rights aren’t really that big a deal because other laws also “have chilling effects on the exercise of constitutionally protected rights that can only be challenged defensively.”

First of all, the entire point is that abortion should not be only “defensively” protected—meaning you shouldn’t have to sue to maintain the right to seek an abortion.

Second, the examples Gorsuch uses in comparison to abortion are completely off-the-wall bonkers. He references “defamation laws, gun control laws, rules during the pandemic” as some of these “defensively” protected laws that can “only be challenged after the fact.”

Gorsuch brought his bad faith arguments back when questioning Elizabeth Prelogar, the U.S. solicitor general (who, by the way, was on her first day on the job and completely killed it), and this time he did it without any of the niceties he offered to the men he spoke to earlier.

Speaking to Prelogar, Gorsuch’s questions were just as terrible as before, but his aggressively condescending tone and constant interruptions were so striking that it was all many people could notice.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently over how much and in what ways the negative public perception of the court is affecting Justices’ behavior and even their decisions from the bench. For Gorsuch to act so horribly, with such blatant sexism seething out of him, it’s hard to imagine he cares very much at all.

(image: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.