With Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation as the 113th Supreme Court justice, it won’t be long before he starts revealing what he really thinks about a range of hot topics coming before the court.
In less than two weeks, the justices will take up a Missouri church’s claim that the state is stepping on its religious freedom. It’s a case about Missouri’s ban on public money going to religious institutions and it carries with it potential implications for vouchers to attend private, religious schools.
Other cases the court could soon decide to hear involve gun rights, voting rights, and a Colorado baker’s refusal to design a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding.
Some of those cases may come up Thursday, which could be Gorsuch’s first private conference — where justices decide whether to hear a case. It takes four votes to do so, though the court does not generally announce each justice’s decision.
Arkansas’ intention to execute up to eight men over 10 days beginning April 17 also could land at the court in the form of last-minute pleas for a reprieve.
By late spring or early summer, the court might be asked to consider President Trump’s proposed ban on visitors from six majority Muslim countries.
The Senate confirmed Gorsuch, 54-45, yesterday for the seat that had been open since the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican-led Senate had refused last year to consider President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, fueling partisan rancor and Democratic opposition to Gorsuch.
Only three Democrats joined Republicans in voting to confirm Gorsuch — Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) who is recovering from surgery, was absent.
The 49-year-old Gorsuch, who will be sworn in at the court on Monday, is a respected conservative who has worked for a decade on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He is expected to bring a “textualist” approach to the court, relying on an exact reading of the law.
Trump called Gorsuch the “perfect choice” for the court. “Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction,” the president said.
Gorsuch will restore a narrow conservative majority on issues such as campaign funding, religious liberty and support for gun ownership rights. The new justice is expected to join his conservative colleagues in upholding further restrictions on abortion.
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