Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, attended Catholic schools growing up but now is a member of a Colorado Episcopal Church, according to Religion News Service:
He studied at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., while his mother, Anne Gorsuch, served as President Ronald Reagan’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. After college and law school at Columbia and Harvard respectively, Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is Catholic. Gorsuch, his wife and two daughters attend St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo.
RNS has published an outline of Gorsuch’s relationship with faith and religion, pointing out that he has sided with religious groups against Affordable Care Act and birth control; he “opposes euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and he has not ruled on any abortion-related cases.
The day after Donald Trump was elected president, the Rev. Susan Springer wrote to her congregation that they should strive to behave as Godly people who spread hope even though “the world is clasping its head in its hands and crying out in fear.”
Gorsuch’s conservatism could be at odds with St. John’s own leanings. For instance, he is expected to support the rights of gun owners over gun control – “His church, meanwhile, decided after 49 people were fatally shot in a gay nightclub in Orlando that it would ring its bells 49 times each Wednesday from July 6 to the presidential election, as a way of asking members of Congress to pass stricter gun restrictions.”
Religious groups of varying political persuasions expressed their opinions of Gorsuch’s nomination on Tuesday and Wednesday. Liberal faith groups and nontheistic groups including the Union for Reform Judaism, the Secular Coalition for America and the Freedom from Religion Foundation voiced strong concerns. Many evangelical Christians — who spoke frequently when they voted for Trump of their hopes for a conservative justice who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion — met the news of Gorsuch’s nomination with glee.
If appointed, Gorsuch will be the first Protestant to join the court since 2010 (currently, five are Roman Catholic and three are Jewish).
Gorsuch has ruled consistently in favor of religious rights, joining the Hobby Lobby decision later affirmed by the Supreme Court allowing religious employers to avoid paying for contraceptives.
In a case involving a Native American prisoner he stated Congress has made it clear judges “lack any license to decide the relative value of a particular exercise to a religion.”