On Day 1 as Supreme Court justice, Gorsuch has many questions

Court to hear school-funds case

WIPR recently asked whether Judge Neil Gorsuch's confirmation as a US Supreme Court associate justice is good for IP, but it seems that our readers are split.

The case before the justices involved a technical issue about the process for a federal worker to appeal his discrimination claim.

"Where in the statute is that provided?" he asked Chris Landau, a lawyer representing dismissed Census Bureau worker Anthony Perry, in his first question.

President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia 14 months ago.

Chief Justice John Roberts welcomed Gorsuch to "our common calling".

In that 2015 decision, Gorsuch was ruling on a case in which prosecutors were attempting to charge a defendant, Philbert Rentz, with two violations for allegedly firing a gun once.

By many accounts, these cases can be described as dense and littered with minutia; however, that did not stop the justices, aside from the famously silent Clarence Thomas, from asking a litany of questions from both sides.

The 49-year-old Gorsuch echoed his own confirmation hearing testimony with questions focused on the text of federal laws and rules at issue before the court. In Chester, the Court will decide if intervenors joining a suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 (a) must have Article III [LII backgrounders] standing or if standing is satisfied as long as there is a valid case or controversy between the parties. If Gorsuch participates in that one, the cases that could be in front of him include North Carolina's bid to revive its voter-ID law and an appeal by California residents seeking to carry handguns in public.

Throughout the day, Gorsuch made numerous references to the "plain text" of laws, and he quizzed the attorneys as to why the law wasn't written exactly the way they were arguing it was supposed to be interpreted.

When he wasn't asking questions, Gorsuch sat straight up with a grin on his face, appearing as exuberant as a young child on their first day of school.

Gorsuch, however, was quiet for the first half of arguments in that case, while Neal Katyal argued on behalf of the petitioner.

Gorsuch turned and said he wanted to thank "each of my new colleagues for the very warm welcome I received last week".

Justice Neil Gorsuch's first week on the Supreme Court bench features an important case about the separation of church and state that has its roots on a Midwestern church playground.

The newest U.S. Supreme Court justice at the White House last week.

"If you'd just answer my question, I'd be grateful", Gorsuch said, flashing frustration.

Gorsuch, 49, succeeds one his heroes, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who famously insisted the court should decide cases based on the literal words of the law, not its goal or how it has been interpreted by lower courts.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed to agree, at one point telling counsel, if we go down your route and I'm writing the opinion - which I hope I'm not - Justice Gorsuch at this point again suggested the simple solution is just to read the words in the statute.

"Who wrote this statute, somebody who takes pleasure pulling wings off flies?"

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