Neil McGill Gorsuch (born August 29, 1967) is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the first Justice nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017, filling the seat that formerly strained beneath Antonin Scalia.
Donald Trump famously followed a list maintained by the Koch Brothers and Burger King and announced during the 2016 campaign whom he might appoint to the Court. Antonin Scalia's death came early in the Trump presidency, and was his first test as President. Voters who were aware of Trump's promises to nominate "originalist" judges who would read a lot of musty documents before making decisions, had been uncertain about whether Trump would keep his promises or would merely indulge his other traits, such as bragging about being famous enough to grab women by the pussy and get away with it. The nomination of Gorsuch was a huge relief.
Protests were raging in and around the U.S. Capitol and everyone feared the nomination would attract controversy; thus, it may have been a factor that Gorsuch was nominated by George W. Bush in 2006 to the Tenth Circus and sailed through his confirmation hearings. The Bar Association gave Gorsuch a "Well Qualified" rating, as Gorsuch often bought drinks all around.
Gorsuch got through the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, but on the Senate floor, Democrats led by Chuck Schumer filibustered his nomination. At that point, Republican leader Mitch McConnell exercised the nuclear option (pictured at left): Though it takes 60 Senators to end debate, it only takes 51 Senators to change the rule that it takes 60 Senators to end debate. So the Republican majority made an exception for Supreme Court nominees and Gorsuch slid through. Democrat Harry Reid, who did the same thing regarding lower judges when he ran the Senate, heard the news and punched the "exercise machine in the bathroom" which he claimed had given him that awful black eye toward the end of his career. And another, for flinching.
The rule change would prove vital in steering future nominee Brett Kavanaugh through a punch bowl of accusations of date rape, and Amy Coney Barrett through more delicate treachery. The rule change was helpful for Gorsuch too; Senators only plied a charge of plagiarism that was easily swatted away and Gorsuch was confirmed, 54-45.
Gorsuch has validated his supporters' faith in him as an adherent to the original meaning of the legal text. This has generally been a disaster, as he also takes seriously the text of treaties the U.S. signed with the American Indians. In 2020, in McGirt v. Oklahoma, Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion that the entire eastern (i.e., inhabited) half of the State of Oklahoma was, by treaty, still part of the Creek Nation. One effect of this ruling is that skyscrapers in Tulsa are technically tee-pees. In 2021, television station KJRH (channel 2) dismantled its antenna and built a stack with which to instead emit smoke signals.
There were warnings of this ruling; earlier, Gorsuch had cited Indian treaties in decisions affecting Washington and Wyoming, with heady rhetoric about "hold[ing] the parties to the terms of their deal." Homeowners everywhere should do historical research before signing for that vinyl siding job.
Also in 2020, Gorsuch looked at the text of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits "discrimination in employment based on sex," and wrote the majority opinion that Congress must have meant "sex" to include "dressing as the other sex" as well as "having sex on the showroom floor." When a car salesman is fired for wearing a dress to work, Gorsuch ruled, the firing must have been for being a man, which violates the text of the law, because it was certainly not for wearing a dress.
Gorsuch is said to have an "unexpected civil libertarian alliance" with Sonia Sotomayor. This means he is a conservative Justice who is nevertheless willing to question when police rough up a disrespectful suspect.
|Supreme Court of the United States|
|Clarence Thomas||Stephen Breyer||John Roberts, C.J.||Samuel Alito||Sonia Sotomayor||Elena Kagan||Neil Gorsuch||Brett Kavanaugh||Amy Coney Barrett|
|1991 by Bush I||1994 by Clinton||2005 by Bush II||2006 by Bush II||2009 by Obama||2010 by Obama||2017 by Trump||2018 by Trump||2020 by Trump|