Neil Gorsuch was praised by President Trump as having “outstanding legal skills,” there may be no doubt in the assertion, but how he’s going to rule on important issues is not going to be simple.
His ten years tenure as a federal judge earned him the label “originalist” somewhat resembling late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Although Mr. Gorsuch has not ruled directly on the most controversial issues of the legal system, some hints could be gathered from his tenure on how he will rule in the future.
Immigration is one area where there is a marked difference between Mr. Gorsuch and the first runner-up for the post, Thomas Hardiman. Mr. Hardiman had worked with the immigrants looking for political asylum.
Although it is still unclear how the nominee will rule on important immigration issues, or on a number of executive orders from the President, he did write an opinionated article last year which focused on federal agencies’ power in immigration cases and the so-called “Chevron doctrine.”
Mr. Gorsuch wrote against the SCOTUS precedent from the 1980s that directs the judges to defer to federal agencies in case the laws from Congress are ambiguous.
There’s no particular mention of immigration in that piece, but the nominee has made a point that the ruling is against the way the Constitution was framed to maintain a balance of power between different branches of government.
He said that the ruling added to the powers of an already “titanic state” and the court had the responsibility to review how the agencies implement laws.
Abortion and Reproductive Rights:
During his time at the bench, Gorsuch has not spoken about Roe v. Wade, a case that legalized abortion in the United States in 1973.
Pro-life activist, Andy Schlafy said last year that Gorsuch would not be as pro-life as he wants because he has avoided using the word “unborn child” in his opinions. Mr. Schlafy also stated that being an Episcopalian, Mr. Gorsuch will not be as vocal about anti-abortion.
Mr. Gorsuch has also written a book in which he opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius was another high-profile case in which Mr. Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby. The case was centered on access to contraception and plaintiffs’ religious views. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court, and it was decided that businesses are not mandated to provide contraceptive insurance to employees if they think it violated their freedom of religion.
The nominee doesn’t have a record ruling directly on issues such as firearm bans. But the “textualist” reading of his Constitution did come into play in a 2012 case where he made a gun-related opinion in a trial about whether a felon had to know about his conviction in order to be prosecuted for having a firearm.
Mr. Gorsuch asked the court to review the decision on this basis, which led legal observers at SCOTUS blog to note that he may side with criminal defendants and their rights, like Scalia.