Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation: The ‘think of the children’ appeal
Neil Gorsuch is going to be a justice on the Supreme Court, and it is likely that he is going to be there for three to four decades. That is a chilling prospect. Long after the Donald Trump presidency becomes a dark memory, Gorsuch’s name will continue to appear in the headlines. I have no doubt he is both qualified and exceptionally intelligent, but after sitting helplessly through Judge Merrick Garland’s blocked nomination, Gorsuch’s confirmation is a hard pill to swallow. So what is the lesson to be learned? Assuredly there are many, but one stands out to me: The abortion debate will continue to divide us for generations to come.
I know religious voters who held their noses as Trump repeatedly demonstrated his misogynistic inclinations, xenophobic beliefs and general stupidity on the campaign trail. They knew that should Trump win the presidency, he promised to appoint a pro-lifer in the late Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court. That is an important piece of the puzzle in answering the impossibly complicated question, “Why did Trump win?” Whether you agree or disagree with the religious right’s desire to put Trump in the Oval Office and get Scalia 2.0 on the highest court in the nation, it demonstrates the steadfast resolve of the pro-life movement. Despite Gorsuch saying he would have “walked out the door” if asked to overturn Roe v. Wade, he has previously sided with the pro-life movement as evident by his opinion that all human life is “inherently valuable” in a book he authored. He has also ruled against Obamacare’s contraception coverage requirement twice.
For good reason, abortion is a highly contentious political battle in modern America. The pro-choice movement advocates for the rights of women, while the pro-life movement advocates for the rights of the unborn. The argumentative dissonance of these two pursuits yields a perpetual conflict. I don’t believe that babies are being murdered in the same way that some members of the pro-life movement believe they are, but I recognize that if I were convinced that was the case, anything less than an unending political fight would be morally unacceptable. Of course, women having anything less than complete control of their own bodies is equally unacceptable. Regardless, it goes to show that in American politics, it is all about the babies.
The “think of the children” appeal is strikingly effective in United States politics. President Trump spoke candidly about the horrible images of infant victims after the chemical attack on Syrian civilians. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. Why shouldn’t we set out to prioritize the wellbeing of the innocent? Though, considering the state of education in this nation, or the impending effects of global climate change, the definition of what endangers children is far from uniform.
I do not fear for the future of liberal ideals; Gorsuch is not the harbinger of the liberal end-times. If the election results in November are any indication, the future is bright. The demographics are shifting: young voters lean to the left. All that is done today may be undone tomorrow, should it be fitting and necessary for the country. But as Gorsuch’s confirmation demonstrates, discussion and conflict over abortion is unending, and inspires such passion that it brings people to compromise themselves for the sake of the children. It is our duty to leave the world better for the next generations, for the young children, but fixating on the rhetorical appeal of saving the children blinds us to the realities of the world, and the realities of what should actually be done to save children.
Dan Riley is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.