During His Confirmation Hearings, Judge Gorsuch Discusses the Role of the Judiciary

March 22, 2017 | By JEFF MCCOY

I had the honor of learning from Judge Neil Gorsuch while I attended the University of Colorado Law School, both as his student in the classroom and as his intern for a semester at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Because Judge Gorsuch has had a big influence on my legal education and career, I have watched his confirmation hearings with great interest.

During day two of the hearings, Judge Gorsuch faced many questions about his approach to interpreting law and deciding cases. Although he would not answer questions about what outcome he would reach in specific cases, he did offer some insight into how he approaches the job of being a federal court judge.

Judge Gorsuch repeatedly stated that it was his job to apply the law as written, and treat all litigants that come before him fairly. “Anyone, any law is going to get a fair square deal with me,” he said. “My job is to treat every litigant as I would wish to be treated.” He stressed that, before making decisions, he analyzes all sides of the arguments and does not hastily jump to conclusions.

These answers reiterate the comments he made in his opening statement on Monday. When speaking of his former boss (and possible future colleague) Justice Kennedy, Judge Gorsuch said that he learned “that judges can disagree without being disagreeable” and that “everyone who comes to court deserves respect.” Judge Gorsuch also spoke of the late Justice Scalia, calling him a mentor, and said that Justice Scalia “reminded us that words matter. That the judge’s job is to follow the words that are in the law, not replace them with those that aren’t.”

While I can only offer my own impressions of him, his statements during the confirmation hearings are consistent with how he appeared to approach his work. Both in the classroom and in the courtroom, Judge Gorsuch was tough, but fair. He would ensure that all sides of an argument were considered before reaching a decision, and was humble about his role as a judge. If confirmed, I am confident that he will continue this approach as a Supreme Court Justice.