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Several Montana organizations held a phone conference Wednesday to explain their opposition to President Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who has been lauded by Republican leaders in the state and nationwide.  

The Montana Human Rights Network, Forward Montana and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana said they disapprove of Gorsuch’s record siding with employers of Hobby Lobby, who religiously objected to providing some forms of contraception to employees.

“We need a Supreme Court nominee who is going to stand up for the rights of all of us, not just some of us,” Rachel Huff Doria, executive director of Forward Montana, said.

The organizations are worried the rights of women, LGBTQ equality and civil liberties will be in jeopardy if Gorsuch takes the bench.

Gorsuch hasn’t ruled on an abortion rights case, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana is worried his past decisions, like with Hobby Lobby, could mean he’s in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Opposing Roe v. Wade is a disqualifier,” Laura Terrill, VP of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana PAC, said. “It’s part of the fabric of this country.”

She said 70 percent of the country supports Roe v. Wade, the highest percentage since the decision was made in 1973.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, co-director of Montana Human Rights Network, said more than 10,000 people came to the Capitol for the Montana Women’s March to voice their support for protecting reproductive rights.

All three organizations said they were organizing to call U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines and ask them to vote against Gorsuch.

A spokesman for Tester, a Democrat, said the senator does not plan to play politics, and will give Gorsuch a fair shake. Tester requested a meeting with Gorsuch and plans to ask tough questions, but won’t oppose him unless he sees a valid reason to do so.

“It’s critically important that he has an understanding of the Constitution and is willing to defend it,” Tester said in a statement. “I look forward to sitting down with Judge Gorsuch, looking him in the eye, asking him tough questions, and finding out if he shares our Montana values.”

In a statement, Daines, a Republican, voiced his support for Gorsuch and said he won’t legislate from the bench.

“I know that Judge Gorsuch will interpret the rule of law in accordance to the original intent of our founding document, the Constitution,” he said.

Jeff Essmann, Montana GOP state chair, issued a statement supporting Gorsuch, and called on Tester to “respect the will of the American people and treat Gorsuch with the same respect the Senate has shown nominees of other newly elected presidents.”

Over the past year, some Republicans refused to hold confirmation hearings for former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, whose record was praised by Democrats.

Some Republicans are calling Gorsuch a near-perfect nominee deserving a quick green light, but some Democrats are calling his nomination a stolen seat and are expected to challenge him on principle.


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