Justice Gorsuch confirms conservatives' hopes, liberals' fears

Headline News

Neil Gorsuch became the Supreme Court’s newest member a year ago this Tuesday. President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court, its 113th justice, has now heard more than 60 cases on issues including gerrymandering, fees paid to unions and the privacy of certain cellphone records.

It’s generally unwise to predict anything about a justice so early into his or her tenure, with few opinions written and votes in a small number of cases. But so far Gorsuch has been what Republicans believed and hoped he would be — a reliably conservative vote.

Beyond that, the public has gotten a glimpse of what Gorsuch may be like as a justice, from chances to see him spar with lawyers in court arguments, speak to groups and even tackle his first issue on the cafeteria committee.

A look at what observers have seen from Gorsuch inside and outside the court in the past year: Frequent readers of Gorsuch’s writing as a justice say his style is designed to attract attention and reach an audience beyond law professors and experts.

So far, he’s written three opinions, two separate opinions where he agreed with the majority’s result and several dissents.

Earlier this year Gorsuch began a dissent by citing English writer G.K. Chesterton, an opening that drew mixed reviews. He started an opinion involving water rights with a humorous quote attributed to actor Will Rogers, who is said to have called the Rio Grande “the only river I saw that needed irrigation.”

In some cases, Gorsuch has been criticized for seemingly talking down to readers or to his colleagues on the opposite side of an issue, but he’s also won praise for being clear and engaging. Opinion writing isn’t new for Gorsuch, who spent a decade as a federal appeals court judge before joining the Supreme Court. Now, however, it comes with higher stakes and a broader audience.

Court observers caution against reading too much into Gorsuch’s first Supreme Court writings. “One year is not that much of a sample size on a justice,” said Dan Epps, who co-hosts the First Mondays podcast about the court.

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