Neil Gorsuch

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

  • A proponent of originalism, which states that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted as it was perceived at the time of enactment. Also a proponent of textualism, which states that statutes should be interpreted literally, without considering legislative history, societal context or underlying purpose. (NPR)(ABC)(National Review)
  • Early 2000s While at Kellogg Huber, is assigned to represent Philip Anschutz, a secretive multi-industry billionaire: (NYT)
    • Helps to defeat a teachers’ retirement fund that sued when Anschutz tried to extract $368 million from the fund.
    • Successfully gets Anschutz dismissed from a shareholder’s lawsuit born of an accounting fraud scandal set off by Anschutz selling off a large stake at Qwest Communications International.
  • 2002 Pens an op-ed criticizing the Senate for delaying the nominations of Merrick Garland and John Roberts to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, writing that “the most impressive judicial nominees are grossly mistreated” by the Senate. (NYT)(UPI)
  • 2005-present Owns a stake in a limited liability partnership (Walden Group) with two top lieutenants of Philip Anschutz, the secretive multi-industry billionaire. The partnership owns a vacation home in Colorado among other assets. (NYT)

As U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit Judge:

  • 2007 Dissents in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, asserting that the government’s display of a donated Ten Commandments monument in a public part does not obligate the government to display other offered monuments. The Supreme Court later upheld most of the dissent in 2009. (the case 129 S.Ct. 1125)
  • 2008 In Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P., denies funding for the special education of a severely autistic child, stating that the original public school already met its obligation of providing more than a “de minimis” standard of education. (Thompson v. NSBA)
    • 3/22/17 Overturned by unanimous decision by the Supreme Court during Gorsuch's nomination hearing. (Time)
  • 2009 In Pinkerton v. Colorado DOT, dismisses an egregious workplace sexual harassment case on the grounds that the victim waited too long (two months max) to report the abuse, and finding that the victim was fired for poor performance, not in retaliation for reporting the harassment. (Pinkerton v. CO DOT)
  • 2009 In Strickland v. UPS, dissents against the Court’s decision to consider a case of sex discrimination of a female UPS worker, stating that the evidence UPS provided as a defense was sufficient and that the supervisors were simply not motivated by sex. (Strickland v. UPS)
  • 2009 In Williams v. Jones, dissents against the Court’s decision that a defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel prior to a trial, stating that ineffective assistance of counsel only applies to trial and not pretrial plea bargaining. (Williams v. Jones)
  • 2011 In Compass Environmental v. OSHRC, where the Court decided that a mining company was in violation of federal rules for workplace safety after a trench hand electrocuted himself to death because of a lack of safety training, Gorsuch dissents and states that administrative agencies like the Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission have way too much power and made a mistake holding Compass accountable. (Compass v. OSHRC)
  • 2013 In Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, writes a concurring opinion which upholds the right of employers to deny health coverage to employees which include birth control on the grounds of religious freedom. (the case 723 F. 2d 1114)
  • 2013 In Wilson v. City of Lafayette, decides that a police officer did not act with unconstitutionally excessive force when he shot a fleeing marijuana growing suspect in the back of the head with a Taser in violation of department policy. (Wilson v. City of Lafayette)
  • 2013 In Hwang v. Kansas State University, supports the college’s decision to fire a professor diagnosed with leukemia because she needed more than six months of leave, despite the Rehabilitation Act stating that the length of leave is to be treated on a case-by-case basis. (Hwang v. KSU)
  • 2015 In Caplinger v. Medtronic, dismisses a case of extreme medical malpractice on the grounds that the plaintiff’s pleadings were not written well enough, and does not offer another chance to refile the pleadings. (Caplinger v. Medtronic)
  • 2016 In TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board, the Court sided with the Labor Board and a truck driver who got stuck in sub-zero temperatures and would not receive roadside assistance before freezing to death, so instead of dying, abandoned his trailer for fifteen minutes to get help despite company policy and was fired. Gorsuch dissented, stating that the Surface Transportation Assistance Act didn’t apply to the driver because he drove the company truck to get help rather than walk. (TransAm v. ARB)
  • 2016 In Planned Parenthood Ass’n of Utah v. Herbert, dissents against the Court’s decision to preserve state funding for Utah’s Planned Parenthood, stating that the governor who tried to pull the funds was not acting on his personal beliefs against abortion and was only doing it as a reaction to a fraudulent video filmed, edited and pertaining to another state’s Planned Parenthood program. (PPAU v. Herbert)
  • 3/22/17 SCOTUS unanimously overturns the 2008 decision of Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P. during Gorsuch's confirmation hearings. (Time)(Thompson v. NSBA)(Endrew v. Douglas County School District)
  • 4/6/17 Senate Democrats filibuster the nomination and Senate Republicans use parliamentary rules to change the number of votes need to confirm him to simple majority (the nuclear option). (NYT)

 

As a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

  • 6/26/17 In Pavan v. Smith, Gorsuch writes a dissent which opposed forcing Arkansas to treat female same-sex couples the same as male same-sex couples in adoptions. He is joined by Alito and Thomas but not Chief Justice Roberts. (SCOTUSblog)(Bloomberg)
  • 8/17/17 Scheduled to speak to a conservative group at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in September, less than two weeks before he is set to hear arguments on Trump's travel ban. (NYT)\
  • 11/16/17 Cracks a joke in a speech to the Federalist Society, a group of conservative lawyers, about the TransAm Trucking case, in which he ruled against a trucker who saved his own life in freezing conditions rather than follow employer rules about staying with a truck load: "One, the law is telling me to do something really, really stupid. Two, the law is constitutional and I have no choice but to do that really stupid thing the law demands. And three, when it’s done, everyone who is not a lawyer is going to think I just hate truckers." (ThinkProgress) The crowd laughs and applauds.
  • 12/4/17 Votes 5-2 in favor of granting the Trump administration's request to lift two injunctions on the third version of a Muslim travel ban. (Reuters)
  • 2/27/18 Votes for the majority on a ruling to allow U.S. immigration officials to hold immigrants in detention indefinitely without bond hearings, even if they have permanent legal status or are seeking asylum. (NPR)
  • 4/15/18 Sets a precedent by hiring a Native American clerk, Tobi Merritt Edwards Young, for the first time in Supreme Court history.
  • 4/17/18 Sides with liberal judges in a ruling that reduces the number of people facing mandatory deportation for committing crimes, citing that the federal law was written too vaguely. (WSJ)
  • 6/4/18 Sides with the majority in a 7-2 decision to condone a Colorado baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, the majority opinion calling the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's decision against the baker "religious bias." (WaPo)
  • 6/4/18 Joins in an unsigned letter by SCOTUS to dismiss a lower court's decision that allowed an undocumented immigrant teenager to obtain an abortion over the protests of the Trump administration. (WaPo)
  • 6/11/18 Sides with the conservative Justices in a 5-4 decision that upholds Ohio's aggressive efforts to purge its voting roles. The ruling says that states may kick people off the rolls if they skip a few elections and fail to respond to a notice from election officials. (NYT)
  • 6/26/18 Sides with the majority in a 5-4 decision that upholds Trump's authority to ban travelers from majority-Muslim countries if he thinks it is necessary to protect the U.S. (WaPo)(Trump v. Hawaii via Oyez.org)
  • 6/27/18 Sides with the majority in a 5-4 decision that bars unions from compelling union fees, reversing a ruling from 1977 and weakening labor unions. (WaPo)(Janus v. AFSCME via Oyez.org)
  • 10/10/18 Sides with the majority in a decision not to intervene in a North Dakota voter ID law that effectively disenfranchises thousands of Native Americans since they live on reservations and have non-standard addresses that don't comport with the voter ID law. (Fortune)
  • 3/19/19 Rules with the majority in a 5-4 decision that the government can detain non-citizens indefinitely.  (Esquire)
  • 4/1/19 Overturns 60 years of precedent by legalizing an execution that would medically cause an inmate an excruciating death. (Slate)