Weekly Roundup – February 3, 2017

Did you miss your Supreme Court news this week? Let our Weekly Roundup help. (To stay on top of the latest Supreme Court happenings, follow @ISCOTUS on Twitter.)

The Court did not issue decisions or hear arguments this week, but President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Court has the news buzzing. Gorsuch has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver for the past ten years. He was appointed to the Tenth Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2006. SCOTUSblog profiled him in mid-January, and has also compiled a list of some of his important cases here. The Washington Post also takes a look at some of Gorsuch’s key decisions, including Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, where he argued that “Chevron deference” has gone too far. (Chevron deference requires a court to defer to an executive agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute.)

Numerous other news outlets and commentators describe Gorsuch’s background and jurisprudence, some emphasizing his views about religious freedom as reflected in his opinions in two cases involving the Obamacare contraception mandate. This week, Nina Totenberg at NPR also discussed Gorsuch’s originalist tendencies, and suggested that, if confirmed, Gorsuch likely will rule similarly to Scalia. Elsewhere, in response to claims about Gorsuch’s originalism, ISCOTUS Co-Director Carolyn Shapiro argues that originalism does not provide the objective answers its proponents claim.

Much coverage and commentary have focused on the confirmation process and the Democrats’ response to the nomination. On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said that he expects a confirmation hearing in about six weeks. CNS news reports that Grassley has suggested that the Senate should work through Easter break if necessary for a prompt confirmation. Meanwhile, some Democrats and their allies are urging a filibuster of the nomination, at least in part because of the Republicans’ refusal to even consider President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has hinted that a filibuster could follow if the hearings reveal that Gorsuch is outside the mainstream.  The New York Times reports that President Trump encouraged the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on Wednesday to invoke the “nuclear option” and abandon the 60-vote requirement for confirmation, but Senator McConnell has not made his intentions clear, and some warn that the nuclear option could have deleterious consequences. CBS News discusses both sides of the argument here.

Finally, on Friday the Supreme Court announced its March argument calendar. To the surprise of some, the calendar includes arguments in two of the cases the Court had not previously scheduled (Murr v. Wisconsin on regulatory takings and Microsoft Corp. v Baker, on appeals of denials of class certification) because, people thought, they were likely to result in 4-4 splits, and it also includes argument in the very high profile case about transgender students’ access to bathrooms, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.  But even if there are no delays in Senator Grassley’s confirmation schedule and even if the Senate promptly confirms Judge Gorsuch, he is very unlikely to be on the bench in time to hear those cases.

Return to ISCOTUS on Wednesday of next week to view our first weekly installment of “The Gorsuch Report,” where we survey the latest news on Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.

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