He’s with Trump.
After dodging questions about where he would stand on President Trump’s travel ban, Justice Neil Gorsuch — Trump’s recently appointed Supreme Court pick — was one of three justices on Monday to fully support it.
Gorsuch’s endorsement of the ban is his first major decision that could answer long-running questions about where the young conservative judge will stand on some of Trump’s most controversial ideas.
If Monday’s ruling is any indication, Trump can count on his new guy on the bench.
When Trump nominated Gorsuch in January, he said he saw the federal judge from Colorado as an heir to the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most stalwart conversative and Constitutional originalist.
That raised questions on how Gorsuch would handle Trump’s far-right policy proposals. At 49, it was hard to gauge the scope of Gorsuch’s legal principles, and the judge himself offered few answers.
During his Senate confirmation hearings, Gorsuch came off as a blank slate. He tiptoed away from direct questions about how he would rule on Trump’s travel bans, which were halted by federal courts that deemed them discriminatory to Muslims.
President Trump with Justice Neil Gorsuch in the Rose Garden.
“I’m not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I’d rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said in one hearing.
He argued that any answer would compromise his independence before he began on the bench. But he also refused to make any judgment on any part of the ban at all, such as whether he saw it as a religious test.
Similarly, Gorsuch did not entertain senators’ questions about whether he would support overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, another one of Trump’s most explosive campaign ambitions.
Since getting confirmed in April, Gorsuch has sat out on many of the Supreme Court’s decisions, often because he was not there to hear entire arguments.
There was little information, then, to get a read on how he will rule. Until Monday.
The court decided that it will hear the case over Trump’s travel bans — which called for blocking travelers from several majority-Muslim countries — in October. Until then, only part of the bans — a restriction on people with no direct ties to the United States — will be enforced.
But three of the nine justices — Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — wrote that they supported upholding Trump’s bans in their entirety.
“I agree with the Court that the preliminary injunctions entered in these cases should be stayed, although I would stay them in full,” Thomas wrote in an opinion that Gorsuch and Alito joined.
The opinion argued that the court’s compromise will be “unworkable” and create even more legal confusion than the full ban.
Monday’s decision indicates that if only two more justices jump behind the ban, it will become the law of the land.
But it already seems that, without any changes, the ban sits just fine in Gorsuch’s legal mind.