Neil Gorsuch, the man chosen by President Donald Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Antonin Scalia, has deep ties to the Centennial State. A fourth-generation Coloradan -- and an avid hunter, fly-fisher and skier -- who left to attend Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, he eventually returning to serve on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Janie Nitze, one of Gorsuch’s clerks in Denver from 2008-2009, told Colorado Matters her former boss is brilliant, a talented writer and well-loved by his former clerks. Here’s a look at what else can be gleaned from his rulings, dissents and public comments.
A “mixed bag” on environmental and public lands disputes: In his position on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch hears disputes about public lands ranging from energy companies' drilling rights to the use of off-road vehicles in national forests across six Western states. The Associated Press reports he’s shown a willingness to limit the participation of environmental groups in lawsuits involving public lands. But one legal scholar predicts all sides may find him “confounding” at times.
Conservative on social issues: "On issues like abortion and affirmative action and gun rights and states' rights, we can expect him overall to be a reliable conservative vote and someone who is going to forcibly and eloquently put forward conservative positions on the court," Richard Hasen, a law professor at U.C. Irvine tells NPR. Not that Gorsuch has ruled on all these issues. He has not. But the legal road signs are there.
Skeptical of federal agency power: Perhaps no Gorsuch opinion sticks in the craw of liberals more than the so-called frozen trucker case. The trucker, Alphonse Maddin, was transporting cargo through Illinois when the brakes on his trailer froze in sub-zero weather, NPR reports. He called the company and was told help was on the way. But after three hours, he was desperate, unhitched the trailer and drove away, returning about 15 minutes later when help arrived. He was fired. The Department of Labor ruled that was a violation of federal law. A 10th Circuit panel agreed. Gorsuch dissented.
View on scope of the Second Amendment: Despite strong endorsements from some gun rights advocates, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has a sparse appeals court record on gun policy -- one that leaves his view on how far the Second Amendment extends a judicial mystery. In endorsing him, the NRA cited a 2012 case Gorsuch wrote that "the Supreme Court has held the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own firearms." What is not clear, the Associated Press reports, is how far Gorsuch believes the Second Amendment extends -- to assault rifles, for example.
Calls Trump tweets about judges “demoralizing” and “disheartening:” Gorsuch told a U.S. senator in February that he found President Trump's recent attacks on judges to be "demoralizing" and "disheartening." NPR reported that Gorsuch made the comments during a private meeting and was quoted later by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Blumenthal told reporters, "He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by the demoralizing and abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary."
Gorsuch Hearings - Day 1
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner's Gorsuch Remarks
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet's Gorsuch Remarks
Gorsuch Hearings - Day 2
Gorsuch Hearings - Day 3
Gorsuch Hearings - Day 4