Neil Gorsuch From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi

Neil Gorsuch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Neil Gorsuch
Neil Gorsuch 10th Circuit.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Assumed office
August 8, 2006
Nominated by George W. Bush
Preceded by David M. Ebel
Personal details
Born Neil McGill Gorsuch
August 29, 1967 (age 49)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Spouse(s) Louise Gorsuch
Children 2
Education Columbia University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
University of Oxford (DPhil)
Religion Episcopal Church

Neil McGill Gorsuch (/ˈɡɔːrsə/;[1] born August 29, 1967)[2] is an American federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.[3] On January 31, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to fill the seat left vacant after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia eleven months earlier.[4] Gorsuch is a proponent of originalism and textualism in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.[5][6][7]

Gorsuch clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1991 to 1992, and then for United States Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, from 1993 to 1994. Gorsuch was a Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice since 2005. From 1995 to 2005, Gorsuch was in private practice with the law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel. Gorsuch graduated from Georgetown Preparatory School and received a B.A. from Columbia University. He earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Harvard Law School and Doctor of Philosophy in Law from the University of Oxford supervised by Professor John Finnis.[8][9]

Gorsuch was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 10, 2006, to replace Judge David M. Ebel, who took Senior status in 2006. Gorsuch was confirmed by voice vote by the U.S. Senate on July 20, 2006. His first book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, was published by Princeton University Press in July 2006.

Early life and education

Gorsuch is the son of David Gorsuch and Anne Gorsuch Burford (née Anne Irene McGill) (1942-2004), a Republican and states’ rights proponent. Under President Ronald Reagan, his mother was the first female head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.[10][11] A fourth-generation Coloradan,[12] he was born in Denver, Colorado, but moved to Washington, D.C., as a teenager, after his mother was appointed to the EPA.[13] Gorsuch is an Episcopalian.[14]

In 1985, he graduated from Georgetown Preparatory School [15] and received his B.A. from Columbia University three years later in 1988.[2][10] As an undergraduate student at Columbia, he wrote columns for the Columbia Daily Spectator student newspaper[16].[17] In 1986, he co-founded the alternative Columbia student newspaper, The Fed.[18] He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991,[2][10] where he received a Truman Scholarship.[19] Future President Barack Obama was one of Gorsuch’s classmates at Harvard Law.[20][21] He received a D.Phil. degree from the University of Oxford in 2004 for research on assisted suicide and euthanasia.[8][2][10] During his time in Oxford, he was a Marshall Scholar at University College and was supervised by acclaimed natural law philosopher, Professor John Finnis.[8][6]


Gorsuch clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1991 to 1992, and then for United States Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy from 1993 to 1994.[2]

From 1995 to 2005, Gorsuch was a lawyer at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel.[22] He was an associate from 1995 to 1997 and a partner from 1998 to 2005.[2]

While he was a partner at the firm, Gorsuch wrote a brief denouncing class action lawsuits by shareholders. In the case of Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, Gorsuch opined that “The free ride to fast riches enjoyed by securities class action attorneys in recent years appeared to hit a speed bump” and that “the problem is that securities fraud litigation imposes an enormous toll on the economy, affecting virtually every public corporation in America at one time or another and costing businesses billions of dollars in settlements every year”.[22]

In 2002, Gorsuch penned 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.[23][24]

He served as Principal Deputy to the Associate Attorney General, Robert McCallum, at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2005 until 2006.[2]

He was a Thomson Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado Law School.[25]

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

On May 10, 2006, Gorsuch was nominated by President George W. Bush to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit vacated by Judge David M. Ebel when he took senior status.[10] Like Gorsuch, Ebel was also a former clerk of Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White. Just over two months later, on July 20, 2006, Gorsuch was confirmed by voice vote in the U.S. Senate.[26][10] Gorsuch was President Bush’s fifth appointment to the Tenth Circuit.[27] When Gorsuch began his tenure at the Denver appeals court, Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the oath of office.[23]

After taking office, Gorsuch sent some of his law clerks on to become Supreme Court clerks, and he is sometimes regarded as a “feeder judge“.[28]

Money in politics

Gorsuch has opined that giving money to politicians while running campaigns is a “fundamental right” that should be afforded the highest standard of constitutional protection, known as strict scrutiny.[29]

Freedom of religion

Gorsuch advocates a broad definition of religious freedom and sided with Christian employers and religious organizations in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and the case of Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, later consolidated into Zubik v. Burwell. In the Hobby Lobby case, Gorsuch held that the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers provide insurance coverage for contraceptives (in the case of Hobby Lobby only post-conception drugs that the employer viewed as causing abortion were in dispute) without a co-pay violated the rights of those employers that object to use of contraceptives on religious grounds.[30] He wrote: “The ACA’s mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct what their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.”[31]

In 2007 in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, Gorsuch dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc, taking the view that the government’s display of a donated Ten Commandments monument in a public park did not obligate the government to display other offered monuments.[32][33] Most of the dissent’s view was subsequently adopted by the Supreme Court, which reversed the judgment of the Tenth Circuit.[33]

Gorsuch has written that “the law … doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance”.[34]

Administrative law

In a concurring opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, Gorsuch suggested that the 1984 case of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.—in which the Supreme Court ruled that the courts should defer to federal agencies’ interpretation of ambiguous laws and regulations—should be reconsidered.[35] In his opinion, Gorsuch wrote that the practice of administrative deference established by Chevron is “more than a little difficult to square with the Constitution of the framers’ design.”[36] Overturning Chevron would lead to shift in power from federal agencies to the courts.[35]

In the 2008 case of United States v. Hinckley, Gorsuch argued that one possible reading of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act likely violates the nondelegation doctrine.[37] Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg held the same view in their 2012 dissent of Reynolds v. United States.[38]

Interstate commerce

Gorsuch has been an opponent of the dormant commerce clause, which allows state laws to be declared unconstitutional if they too greatly burden interstate commerce. In his opinion for the 2015 case of Energy and Environmental Legal Institute v. Joshua Epel, Gorsuch opined that Colorado’s mandates for renewable energy did not violate the commerce clause by putting out-of-state coal companies at a disadvantage. Gorsuch wrote that the Colorado renewable energy law “isn’t a price-control statute, it doesn’t link prices paid in Colorado with those paid out of state, and it does not discriminate against out-of-staters”.[39][40]

Criminal law

In the 2012 case of United States of America v. Miguel Games-Perez, Gorsuch ruled on a case where a felon owned a gun in a jurisdiction where gun ownership by felons is illegal; however, the felon did not know that he was a felon at the time. Gorsuch concurred with the opinion that “The only statutory element separating innocent (even constitutionally protected) gun possession from criminal conduct in §§ 922(g) and 924(a) is a prior felony conviction. So the presumption that the government must prove mens rea here applies with full force.”[41]

In 2016 the Tenth Circuit ruled, in a 94 page majority opinion, in A.M., on behalf of her minor child, F.M. v. Ann Holmes, that disrupting school by burping in class can be punished with jail time. Gorsuch in a four page dissent disagreed with the majority opinion by stating that the New Mexico Court of Appeals, “long ago alerted law enforcement” that the language the officer relied upon for the child’s arrest does not criminalize noises or diversions that merely disturb order in a classroom.[42][43][44]

Death penalty

Gorsuch favors a strict reading of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.[45] In a 2003 case, Gorsuch denied requests of death-row inmates seeking to escape executions.[46]

List of judicial opinions

During his tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming), Gorsuch has written the following opinions:

Nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court

During the U.S. presidential election in September 2016, candidate Donald Trump included Gorsuch, as well as his circuit colleague Timothy Tymkovich, in a list of 21 current judges whom Trump would consider nominating to the Supreme Court if elected.[47] After Trump took office in January 2017, unnamed Trump advisers listed Gorsuch in a shorter list of eight of those names, who they said were the leading contenders to be nominated to replace the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.[48]

On January 31, 2017, President Trump announced his nomination of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.[4] Gorsuch is 49 years old at the time of the nomination, and he is the youngest nominee to the Supreme Court since the 1991 nomination of Clarence Thomas at age 43.[1]

Legal philosophy

Gorsuch is a proponent of originalism, the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted as perceived at the time of enactment, and of textualism, the idea that statutes should be interpreted literally, without considering the legislative history and underlying purpose of the law.[5][6][7]

Opposition to “judicial activism”

In a 2005 speech at Case Western Reserve University, Gorsuch said that judges should strive

“to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be—not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.”[49]

In a 2005 article published by National Review, Gorsuch argued that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda” and that they are “failing to reach out and persuade the public”. Gorsuch wrote that, in doing so, American liberals are circumventing the democratic process on issues like gay marriage, school vouchers, and assisted suicide, and this has led to a compromised judiciary, which is no longer independent. Gorsuch wrote that American liberals’ “overweening addiction” to using the courts for social debate is “bad for the nation and bad for the judiciary”.[50][26]

States’ rights and federalism

Gorsuch was described by Justin Marceau, a professor at the University of Denver‘s Sturm College of Law, as “a predictably socially conservative judge who tends to favor state power over federal power”. Marceau added that the issue of states’ rights is important since federal laws have been used to reel in “rogue” state laws in civil rights cases.[51]

Social issues

Gorsuch has never had the opportunity to write an opinion on Roe v. Wade.[49] However, in his 2006 book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Gorsuch wrote that he opposed euthanasia and assisted suicide[52] and that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”[34]

Personal life

Gorsuch and his wife, Louise, have two daughters, Emma and Belinda, and live in Boulder, Colorado.[25][13]

He enjoys the outdoors and fly fishing and on at least one occasion went fly fishing with Justice Scalia.[12][53] He raises horses, chickens, and goats, and often arranges ski trips with colleagues and friends.[45]

He is the author of two books. His first book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, was published by Princeton University Press in July 2006.[31] He is also one of 12 co-authors of The Law of Judicial Precedent, published by Thomson West in 2016.[22]

Awards and honors

Gorsuch is the recipient of the Edward J. Randolph Award for outstanding service to the Department of Justice, and of the Harry S. Truman Foundation’s Stevens Award for outstanding public service in the field of law.[25]


See also


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Davis, Julie HIrschfeld; Landler, Mark (January 31, 2017). “Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court”. The New York Times. New York. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Congress (July 16, 2010). “Congressional Record (Bound Volumes)”. Government Printing Office – via Google Books.
  3. Jump up^ Neil Gorsuch at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b Barnes, Robert (January 31, 2017). “Trump picks Colo. appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court”. Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b Totenberg, Nina (January 24, 2017). “3 Judges Trump May Nominate For The Supreme Court”. NPR.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c Karl, Jonathan (January 24, 2017). “Judge Neil Gorsuch Emerges as Leading Contender for Supreme Court”. ABC News.
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b Ponnuru, Ronesh (January 31, 2017). “Neil Gorsuch: A Worthy Heir to Scalia”. National Review.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c Gorsuch, Neil McGill (2004). The right to receive assistance in suicide and euthanasia, with particular reference to the law of the United States. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 59196002.
  9. Jump up^ “Judge Neil M. Gorsuch”. Administrative Office of the United States Courts. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f “Hon. Neil Gorsuch”. The Federalist Society.
  11. Jump up^ Savage, David G. (January 24, 2017). “Conservative Colorado judge emerges as a top contender to fill Scalia’s Supreme Court seat”. Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b de Vogue, Ariane (February 1, 2017). “Meet Neil Gorsuch: A fly-fishing Scalia fan”. CNN.
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b Aguilera, Elizabeth (November 20, 2006). “10th Circuit judge’s oath a family affair”. The Denver Post.
  14. Jump up^ Shellnutt, Kate. “Trump’s Supreme Court Pick: Religious Freedom Defender Neil Gorsuch”. Christianity Today. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  15. Jump up^ “Notable Alumni – Georgetown Preparatory School”.
  16. Jump up^ “Columbia Daily Spectator 1 October 1985 — Columbia Spectator”.
  17. Jump up^ “Columbia Daily Spectator 1 October 1985 — Columbia Spectator”.
  18. Jump up^ Marhoefer, Laurie (December 1, 1999). “The History of Columbia’s Oldest Student Paper”. The Fed.
  19. Jump up^ “Joseph E. Stevens Award – The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation”.
  20. Jump up^ Gerstein, Josh (January 31, 2017). “Neil Gorsuch is Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. Background, bio, facts and political views”. Politico. Washington, DC. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  21. Jump up^ “Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch: Who is Trump’s nominee?”. BBC. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  22. ^ Jump up to:a b c Mauro, Tony (January 24, 2017). “Three Things to Know About Neil Gorsuch, SCOTUS Front-Runner”Free access subject to limited trial, subscription normally required. The National Law Journal.
  23. ^ Jump up to:a b Liptak, Adam (January 31, 2017). “In Judge Neil Gorsuch, an Echo of Scalia in Philosophy and Style”. The New York Times. New York. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  24. Jump up^ Gorsuch, Neil (May 4, 2002). “Justice White and judicial excellence”. UPI.
  25. ^ Jump up to:a b c “University of Colorado Law School website: Judge Neil Gorsuch page”. University of Colorado. Boulder, Colorado. Retrieved January 31, 2017. Judge Neil M. Gorsuch was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in May 2006. His nomination was confirmed in the United States Senate by unanimous voice vote.
  26. ^ Jump up to:a b Mulkern, Anne C. (July 20, 2006). “Gorsuch confirmed for 10th Circuit”. The Denver Post.
  27. Jump up^ U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations by President George W. Bush During the 107th-109th Congresses
  28. Jump up^ “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: An Analysis Of The October Term 2016 Clerk Class”. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  29. Jump up^ Riddle v. Hickenlooper, 742 F.3d 922, 931–32 (10th Cir. 2014) (Gorsuch, J., concurring).
  30. Jump up^ Rings, Trudy (January 24, 2017). “Likely Trump Supreme Court Pick a “Religious Liberty” Champion”. The Advocate.
  31. ^ Jump up to:a b Taylor, Audrey; Geneva Sands (January 26, 2017). “Judge Neil Gorsuch: What You Need to Know About the Possible SCOTUS Nominee”. ABC News.
  32. Jump up^ “Summum v. Pleasant Grove City”. United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. February 25, 2009.
  33. ^ Jump up to:a b Citron, Eric, Potential nominee profile: Neil Gorsuch, SCOTUSblog (January 13, 2017).
  34. ^ Jump up to:a b Barnes, Robert (January 28, 2017). “Neil Gorsuch naturally equipped for his spot on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist”. Washington Post.
  35. ^ Jump up to:a b Adler, Jonathan H. (August 24, 2016). “Should Chevron be reconsidered? A federal judge thinks so.”. The Washington Post.
  36. Jump up^ “Hugo Rosario Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Loretta E. Lynch” (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. August 23, 2016.
  37. Jump up^ “United States of America v. Shawn Lloyd Hinckley” (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. December 9, 2008.
  38. Jump up^ “Reynolds v. United States”. SCOTUSBlog. January 23, 2012.
  39. Jump up^ Proctor, Cathy (July 14, 2015). “Federal judges rule on Colorado’s renewable energy mandate”. Denver Business Journal.
  40. Jump up^ “Energy and Environmental Legal Institute v. Joshua Epel” (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. July 13, 2015.
  41. Jump up^ “United States of America v. Miguel Games-Perez” (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. September 17, 2012.
  42. Jump up^ Feldman, Noah (July 27, 2016). “A Belch in Gym Class. Then Handcuffs and a Lawsuit.”. Bloomberg. New York. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  43. Jump up^ Sandlin, Scott (July 28, 2016). “Burp arrest of 7th-grader upheld by fed appeals court”. Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  44. Jump up^ “A.M., on behalf of her minor child, F.M. v. Ann Holmes; Principal Susan Labarge; Arthur Acosta, City of Albuquerque Police Officer, in his individual capacity”(PDF). United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit. Denver, Colorado. July 25, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  45. ^ Jump up to:a b “Potential nominee profile: Neil Gorsuch – SCOTUSblog”. SCOTUSblog. January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  46. Jump up^ Boczkiewicz, Robert (September 15, 2015). “Court upholds death penalty in deadly 2003 Oklahoma crime spree”. The Oklahoman.
  47. Jump up^ Carpentier, Megan (September 24, 2016). “Trump’s supreme court picks: from Tea Party senator to anti-abortion crusader”. The Guardian. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  48. Jump up^ Gerstein, Josh (January 3, 2017). “A closer look at Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominees. He was chosen by President Trump on Febuary 31 to ascend to the Supreme Court,”. Politico.
  49. ^ Jump up to:a b de Vogue, Ariane (January 25, 2017). “How Neil Gorsuch could end up as Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee”. CNN.
  50. Jump up^ Gorsuch, Neil (February 7, 2005). “Liberals’N’Lawsuits”. National Review.
  51. Jump up^ Simpson, Kevin (December 11, 2016). “Neil Gorsuch: Elite credentials, conservative western roots land Denver native on SCOTUS list”. The Denver Post.
  52. Jump up^ Gorsuch, N.M. (2009). The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. New Forum Books. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-3034-3. Retrieved 2017-02-01.
  53. Jump up^ “Supreme Court choice Neil Gorsuch draws Democrat opposition”. BBC. Retrieved February 1, 2017.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
David Ebel
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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