Neil Gorsuch, the American Federal Appellate Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit is in the battle of his judicial career as he is before the Senate Confirmation Hearings who will decide if Gorsuch will be the next member of the United States Supreme Court. So, who is Neil Gorsuch?
Gorsuch graduated from Georgetown Preparatory School and earned his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University, Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and Doctor of Philosophy in Law from University College, Oxford. As a federal appeals court judge, Gorsuch has not ruled extensively on national security issues. Prior to taking the bench, while he was serving at the Justice Department as the principal deputy attorney general from 2005-2006, he was charged with reviewing and editing legal briefs and developing case strategy on several national security issues. At the time of the original development, the George W. Bush Administration was grappling with several post 9/11 cases and challenges to its detention policies and claims of executive power.
Another rule that Gorsuch has never ruled squarely on is the Second Amendment. Although Gorsuch’s record on the Second Amendment is very sparse, gun control advocates are concerned about his opinions and actions. Adam Winkler, a professor of law at UCLA School of Law said, “Although Gorsuch’s exact views on the Second Amendment remain a mystery, several of his decisions made it harder to keep guns out of the hands of felons.”
One case that has brought attention to the Gorsuch hearings is the TransAm Trucking v. Dept. of Labor. This case has given the Democrats something to go after Gorsuch due to his dissention in the ruling. The case pitted a hard-working trucker, Alphonse Maddin, who sued to save his job after being fired by the trucking company. Maddin’s side of the story is that he broke down on a freezing Illinois road, at night, out of gas. He called TransAm, they told him to wait with his load. He found that the brakes had frozen. The cab of the truck was unheated. He called TransAm again, who told him to wait again. Hours passed. He called TransAm again, explaining that he had symptoms that sound a lot like the early onset of hypothermia. TransAm told him, per court records, “to either drag the trailer with its frozen brakes or stay where he was.”
Maddin left the truck in search for gas and because he left the truck alone was fired from his job. Maddin sued, and an arbitrator ruled that his termination was illegal. That case was appealed to the federal level with the Tenth Circuit ruling in Maddin’s favor 2-1. Gorsuch decision went against Maddin. Gorsuch dissention stated that, “It might be fair to ask whether TransAm’s decision was a wise or kind one. But it’s not our job to answer questions like that. Our only task is to decide whether the decision was an illegal one.” Gorsuch ruled that the company was correct in firing Maddin because Maddin did not follow company policy staying with the truck until help came and abandoned the trailer which broke the rules.
Judge Neil Gorsuch testified at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing that while he is acutely aware of his imperfections as a federal judge, he has spent his career presiding over cases with open-mindedness and tolerance for different opinions with respect to the rule of law. Tuesday, Gorsuch was asked difficult questions by Democrats but he said time and time again as a Judge he may not use his personal feelings about a subject blur the line of his judicial decisions. Gorsuch was asked directly if President Trump asked him if he had been questioned about how he would rule to overturn Roe v. Wade and if there was a litmus test on abortion he had to pass. Gorsuch stated if the President had asked him that he would have been out the door. Time will certainly tell the character and integrity of Judge Gorsuch. He will need to prove himself to the American people, and show us that he is for the bettering of this country.