On April 10th, 2017, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to become the United States’ latest Supreme Court Justice. Who exactly is Justice Gorsuch, and how will his legal philosophy impact the American judiciary?
Replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia, 49-year-old Justice Gorsuch ascended to America’s highest court after a long and bitter conflict in the US Senate regarding his nomination. The nearly 14 month-long confirmation process, which captured headlines and inspired partisan fervor on both sides of the aisle, reached its conclusion when the Harvard Law School graduate was sworn in as the 113th Justice at a public ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
Justice Gorsuch received a “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association leading up to his confirmation, the highest such rating given by the association. Nominated by President Donald J. Trump, Gorsuch had previously served on 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for over a decade, having been nominated to said court by President George W. Bush.
Like Justice Scalia before him, Justice Gorsuch identifies as a strict “originalist”, believing there is little room for interpreting the constitution in legal rulings, opting instead to adhere to the original intent of the constitution’s framers at the time of its writing. To Justice Gorsuch, legal statutes are to be read narrowly, with little wiggle room allowed for modern reinterpretation or dispute.
The ascension of Justice Gorsuch to America’s highest court broke the deadlocked 4-4 court, and will permit our nation’s chief judiciary institution to have votes with all 9 members present.
One of the more notable aspects of Justice Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is his ardent opposition to the Chevron deference. This principle, established in a 1984 Supreme Court case, posits that courts and judges should leave interpretation of legal statutes to regulatory agencies, rather than weighing in on the issues themselves. Vehemently dissenting to this principle in a 2016 dissent, Justice Gorsuch put forward that such a deference put far too much power in the hands of un-elected bureaucracies.
Highly lauded by conservatives, Justice Gorsuch’s first issued opinion for the Supreme Court was regarding the definition of a debt collector. In a unanimous decision, the court decided that debt collector’s regulations are not applicable to companies that purchase debts.
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