Neil McGill Gorsuch is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to this, he served as a federal appellate judge. He was nominated by United States President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Antonin Scalia. In his first full Term on the Court, according to Reason Magazine, Gorsuch had a more liberal voting record than even the centrist Justice Anthony Kennedy.
- When [Gorsuch] met with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) earlier [in February], she pressed him on his views on judicial precedent: If five current justices disagree with a previous Supreme Court decision, is that sufficient grounds to overturn the ruling? Gorsuch said no.
- “It’s important to me generally, but it also is important to me because of Roe v. Wade,” Collins, who supports abortion rights, said of asking Gorsuch about precedent. “It’s an important principle.”
Gorsuch is active in an ultra-liberal Episcopalian church whose woman pastor marched against Trump in Washington, D.C. in January. More generally, the Episcopal Church is officially on record as being strongly against pro-life laws, though TEC's official statement says that abortion "should be used only in extreme situations.”
After Scalia unexpected passed away, Gorsuch began positioning himself for the vacancy by aligning himself with originalism. He supposedly opposes judicial activism as an underhanded method to bring about social change, but sided with inventing new rights for transgenders under a federal law passed years ago.
Neil Gorsuch was born in Colorado on August 29, 1967, to two lawyers. He spent increasing time in Washington, D.C. as his mother Anne became the first woman to run the EPA. He went to Columbia University, where he wrote for the Columbia Daily Spectator and co-founded The Federalist Paper, and later attended Harvard Law School.
The "Frozen Trucker" Case
- See also: Frozen Trucker case
Judge Gorsuch rendered several opinions after the vacancy arose on the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as a way of enhancing his own candidacy. Often for the first time, Gorsuch used language in these opinions to position himself closer to Justice Scalia's philosophy. One of these opinions, a dissent by Gorsuch, occurred in the so-called "frozen trucker" case, TransAm Trucking, Inc. v. Admin. Review Bd., United States DOL, 833 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2016).
This so-called "frozen trucker" case emerged during Gorsuch's confirmation hearings as an example of his favoring powerful corporations over the "little guy." A trucker whose rig had broken down was stuck in freezing weather and told to remain with his rig until help arrived. After waiting in vain for more than two and a half hours, he unhooked his trailer and drove it to safety, and was fired for disobeying orders.
Gorsuch dissented passionately from a panel decision that upheld an administrative ruling reinstating the employment of the trucker.
Supreme Court nomination and confirmation
On January 31, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The nomination was well received by many conservatives. Others, however, most notably Andrew Schlafly, disagreed with the nomination due to concerns about Gorsuch's position on abortion. The Senate ultimately confirmed Gorsuch on a vote of 54–45, even though the GOP was forced to initiate the nuclear option and remove the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees due to Democrat obstructionism.
Tenure on the Court
After assuming office, Gorsuch was frequently described as generally positioning himself along with conservative justices, though Reason Magazine's analysis found that in his first full term, he positioned himself as slightly more liberal than even Justice Kennedy, the swing vote. On June 26, 2017, Gorsuch joined a dissenting opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas opposing the Supreme Court's decision to reject hearing two cases in which gun rights groups appealed and which meant that anti-gun and -Second Amendment laws would prevail. The Court assigned Gorsuch to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
On subsequent Second Amendment petitions for cert, however, Gorsuch sided with the liberal wing of the Court in denying cert and thereby allowing anti-Second Amendment appellate rulings to stand. For example, on Feb. 20, 2018, Gorsuch refused to join a dissent by Justice Thomas which sought to invalidate a 10-day waiting period gun control law in California:
|“|| The Second Amendment protects “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” and the Fourteenth Amendment requires the States to respect that right, McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 749-750, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (plurality opinion); id., at 805, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (Thomas, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment). Because the right to keep and bear arms is enumerated in the Constitution, courts cannot subject laws that burden it to mere rational-basis review. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 628, n. 27, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008).
But the decision below did just that. Purporting to apply intermediate scrutiny, the Court of Appeals upheld California’s 10-day waiting period for firearms based solely on its own “common sense.” Silvester v. Harris, 843 F. 3d 816, 828 (CA9 2016). It did so without requiring California to submit relevant evidence, without addressing petitioners’ arguments to the contrary, and without acknowledging the District Court’s factual findings. This deferential analysis was indistinguishable from rational-basis review. And it is symptomatic of the lower courts’ general failure to afford the Second Amendment the respect due an enumerated constitutional right.
On April 17, 2018, Gorusch joined the liberal wing of the Supreme Court by casting the deciding vote against deportation of an illegal alien who broke the law, and thereby invalidated a key part of immigration law.
On the Fourth Amendment, Gorsuch alone espouses a view that it should be reinterpreted based on property ownership, rather than privacy expectations. Litigants in Fourth Amendment cases, including the one decided by the Supreme Court in June 2018, do not typically assert such an argument.
- United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit: Appeal from the Department of Labor (ARB No. 13-031) (pdf)
- Criticism of Judge Gorsuch's dissent
- Klukowski, Ken (January 31, 2017). Trump Nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court. Breitbart. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Hurley, Lawrence; Holland, Steve (January 31, 2017). Trump picks conservative judge Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court. Reuters. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Chamberlain, Steve (January 31, 2017). Conservatives hail Trump's Supreme Court pick. Fox News. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Ertelt, Steven (January 31, 2017). President Donald Trump Nominates Pro-Life-Friendly Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. LifeNews.com. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Dannenfelser, Marjorie (January 31, 2017). The Truth about Trump’s Pro-life SCOTUS List. Townhall. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
- Berger, Judson (April 7, 2017). Gorsuch confirmed to Supreme Court. Fox News. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
- Multiple references:
- Pollak, Joel B. (June 28, 2017). Democrats Despair over Neil Gorsuch: ‘We’ve Got Another Scalia’. Breitbart News. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- Dinan, Stephen; Swoyer, Alex (June 26, 2017). Justice Gorsuch immediately asserts himself on right of Supreme Court. The Washington Times. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- Lovelace, Ryan (June 26, 2017). Conservatives cheer Gorsuch amid flurry of decisions on final day of Supreme Court term. Washington Examiner. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- Wheeler, Lydia (June 28, 2017). Gorsuch starts to show his conservative cards. The Hill. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- Mears, Bill (July 6, 2017). Gorsuch already making conservative mark on Supreme Court, amid Kennedy rumors. Fox News. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Wheeler, Lydia (April 4, 2018). A year in, Trump’s pick makes waves at high court. The Hill. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Swoyer, Alex (April 8, 2018). Justice Gorsuch forms conservative triumvirate on Supreme Court. The Washington Times. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
- Quinn, Melissa (April 10, 2018). Neil Gorsuch thrills conservatives in first year on Supreme Court. Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Wolf, Richard (April 8, 2018). Justice Gorsuch confirms conservatives' hopes, liberals' fears in first year on Supreme Court. USA Today. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Severino, Carrie (April 10, 2018). One year in, Trump's Gorsuch nomination may be his longest lasting legacy. Fox News. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Klukowski, Ken (April 10, 2018). Klukowski: Gorsuch 1st Year on Supreme Court Begins Lasting Legacy for President Trump. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Slattery; Elizabeth; Bates, Tiffany (April 12, 2018). A look back at one year of Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. LifeSiteNews (from The Daily Signal). Retrieved April 14, 2018.
- Dias, Elizabeth; Ember, Sydney (June 26, 2018). Abortion and Travel Ban Rulings Are Victory for G.O.P. Tactics on Gorsuch. The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
- Justices Thomas, Gorsuch blast court decision to reject gun rights appeal. Fox News. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- Klukowski, Ken (June 26, 2017). Justices Thomas and Gorsuch: Supreme Court Should Take More Second Amendment Cases. Breitbart News. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- Lovelace, Ryan (June 27, 2017). Supreme Court gives Neil Gorsuch a Midwestern circuit in new assignments. Washington Examiner. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- Silvester v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct. 945, 945 (2018).