Judge Neil Gorsuch has taken his place in the Supreme Court, and as luck would have it, his skills are going to be put to the test sooner than later. In his first week after being sworn in, Gorsuch will have heard arguments on three important cases in just a few short days.
One case involves a battle for power over the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is seeking to recover illegal profit. Another concerns a hotly debated church vs state contravention.
While Gorsuch has been praised by both democrats and republicans for his experience and record, his appointment was fiercely resisted by the left- and his whirlwind introduction to the Supreme Court is likely to open him up to controversy- whether he deserves it or not.
Neil Gorsuch is the first Supreme Court Justice to be appointed in the middle of a term since Samuel Alito in 2006. Unlike Gorsuch, Alito had three weeks to prepare before hearing arguments.
But getting ready to hear arguments is unlikely to be very difficult for Gorsuch, considering the fact that he has served for more than a decade on a Denver federal appeals court.
On top of his long experience, Gorsuch is a strict Constitutionalist. This, in addition to being chosen by Trump, is a big reason why democrats opposed him so vociferously. But he is also well known for being principled and his constitutional purist sensibilities can be expected to give him a great deal of guidance as he heads into his new position.
To help him, Gorsuch will have the aid of four law clerks to help him with this challenge. Two of these clerks have experience working with him previously, while the other two have served as clerks for other supreme court justices. Gorsuch will also have secretarial help from temps until he can appoint some regulars to fill the positions.
Gorsuch will definitely experience a learning curve in growing accustomed to the culture and rhythms specific to the Supreme Court. There will be a number of rituals that do not take place in lesser courts; more private meetings and conferences which are known to be especially demanding sessions.
Gorsuch has already been invited to a few of these meetings, but he chose to spend his time getting ready for the upcoming hearings.
The first case he will hear has to do with a very contentious case out of Missouri involving a debate over whether or not the state should be allowed to furnish foam turf for playgrounds in religious schools.
The state of Missouri has stricter that usual laws concerning the separation of church and state. But the state recently started allocating money to schools all over Missouri to enable them to install soft foam turf on playgrounds around high equipment in order to make the playgrounds safer.
These turf mats have been withheld from all religious schools because of Missouri law. But religious schools throughout the state have been complaining that this uneven distribution of goods is making it harder for these religious schools to compete with other schools.
Religious schools, as a rule, are private or charter schools. These schools already do not benefit from the high antecedence numbers that state schools enjoy. On top of this, Missouri’s religious schools are complaining that they are competing on an uneven playing field against schools that are receiving publicly funded benefits.
Gorsuch has commented that cases regarding the separation of church and state can break from constitutional norms but only under very unusual circumstances and after careful consideration.
His decision in this case is likely to carry a great deal of weight for a number of reasons. For one thing, he is widely considered to be a replacement for Judge Scalia, another conservative judge with strict purist constitutional convictions. Also, because Gorsuch is Trump’s pick for a Supreme Court Justice, he represents the administration.
This case is also interesting because it is expected that people on both sides of the aisle will be willing to stray from their ordinary party lines on an issue that concerns the welfare of both public and private schools.
Whichever way Gorsuch’s opinion leans, he is likely to arouse the wrath of either one party or the other. If he appeases the democrats, it may be seen as weakness, and if his opinion leans conservative he will be called a fascist by the mainstream media. Either way, judging by his record, we trust that Gorsuch’s opinion will be based on his training, his principles, and little else.
~ Conservative Zone