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Neil Gorsuch became the Supreme Court’s newest member a year ago this Tuesday. President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court, its 113th justice, has now heard more than 60 cases on issues including gerrymandering, fees paid to unions and the privacy of certain cellphone records.

It’s generally unwise to predict anything about a justice so early into his or her tenure, with few opinions written and votes in a small number of cases. But so far Gorsuch has been what Republicans believed and hoped he would be — a reliably conservative vote.

Beyond that, the public has gotten a glimpse of what Gorsuch may be like as a justice, from chances to see him spar with lawyers in court arguments, speak to groups and even tackle his first issue on the cafeteria committee.

A look at what observers have seen from Gorsuch inside and outside the court in the past year: Frequent readers of Gorsuch’s writing as a justice say his style is designed to attract attention and reach an audience beyond law professors and experts.

So far, he’s written three opinions, two separate opinions where he agreed with the majority’s result and several dissents.

Earlier this year Gorsuch began a dissent by citing English writer G.K. Chesterton, an opening that drew mixed reviews. He started an opinion involving water rights with a humorous quote attributed to actor Will Rogers, who is said to have called the Rio Grande “the only river I saw that needed irrigation.”

In some cases, Gorsuch has been criticized for seemingly talking down to readers or to his colleagues on the opposite side of an issue, but he’s also won praise for being clear and engaging. Opinion writing isn’t new for Gorsuch, who spent a decade as a federal appeals court judge before joining the Supreme Court. Now, however, it comes with higher stakes and a broader audience.

Court observers caution against reading too much into Gorsuch’s first Supreme Court writings. “One year is not that much of a sample size on a justice,” said Dan Epps, who co-hosts the First Mondays podcast about the court.


Maryland high court issues opinion in Gray case

  Biotech  -   POSTED: 2016/05/19 17:18

Maryland's highest court has released an opinion explaining its recent decision to force an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray to testify against his colleagues.
 
The Maryland Court of Appeals issued its opinion Friday. Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbara writes that compelling Officer William Porter to testify while he awaits retrial is not a violation of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. The judge says there are ways to ensure that the testimony, which is protected by immunity, doesn't make it into his retrial. Porter's trial ended in a hung jury in December.

Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in a police van. Six officers were charged in his death. One of them, Officer Edward Nero, is currently on trial.

High court will hear appeal over illegal threats

  Biotech  -   POSTED: 2014/06/16 22:47

The Supreme Court will consider the free speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other electronic media where the speaker's intent is not always clear.

The court on Monday agreed to take up the case of an eastern Pennsylvania man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for posting online rants about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a school and slitting the throat of an FBI agent.

A federal appeals court rejected Anthony Elonis' claim that his comments were protected by the First Amendment. He says he never meant to carry out the threats. He claims he was depressed and made the online posts in the form of rap lyrics as a way of venting his frustration after his wife left him.

At his trial, the jury was instructed that Elonis could be found guilty if an objective person could consider his posts to be threatening. Attorneys for Elonis argue that the jury should have been told to apply a subjective standard and decide whether Elonis meant the messages to be understood as threats.

Elonis' lawyers say a subjective standard is appropriate given the impersonal nature of communication over the Internet, which can lead people to misinterpret messages. They argue that comments intended for a smaller audience can be viewed by others unfamiliar with the context and interpret the statements differently than was intended.

Appeals court upholds stronger soot standard

  Biotech  -   POSTED: 2014/05/11 06:06

A federal appeals court on Friday rejected an industry challenge to stronger health standards for soot.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit says the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency substantial discretion in setting air quality standards.

The revisions followed a determination by the EPA that existing standards for fine particulate matter did not sufficiently protect public health. Fine particles can lodge deeply into lungs and cause serious health problems.

The appeals court ruled 3-0 that the industry simply had not identified any way in which the EPA acted unreasonably. The court said the EPA offered reasoned explanations for how it approached and weighed the evidence

The National Association of Manufacturers argued that the EPA's revision to the standard was unreasonable.

The EPA eliminated a provision that could result in a standard that was not sufficiently protective of sensitive individuals. It also required the installation of additional monitors near heavily trafficked roads in urban areas where more than 1 million people live.

The industrial challengers said the EPA failed to request comment on whether to revise the standards and that it afforded too much weight to studies finding statistically significant associations between particulate matter and adverse health effects.

Court won't stop embryonic stem cell research

  Biotech  -   POSTED: 2013/01/07 17:31

The Supreme Court won't stop the government's funding of embryonic stem cell research, despite some researchers' complaints that the work relies on destroyed human embryos.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from two scientists who have been challenging the funding for the work.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia earlier this year threw out their lawsuit challenging federal funding for the research, which is used in pursuit of cures to deadly diseases. Opponents claimed the National Institutes of Health was violating the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo.

Researchers hope one day to use stem cells in ways that cure spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease and other ailments.


Court: Ga. police may verify immigration status

  Biotech  -   POSTED: 2012/08/21 17:36

Law enforcement in Georgia, at least for now, may verify the immigration status of criminal suspects who fail to produce proper identification, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

A three-judge panel of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a lower court's hold blocking that section of the state's 2011 immigration law should be lifted. It was not immediately clear when that would happen.

The panel did leave in place a part of the injunction blocking the prosecution of people who knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime.

A lower court must still rule on both of those issues, which are part of a broader challenge to the law by activist groups and labor unions. Monday's decision dealt only with preliminary injunctions.

The decision follows a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding parts of a similar law in Arizona. The Atlanta-based court referenced that decision in its opinion to lift the injunction on the verification section, also known as section 8.

Judge dismisses suit on federal stem cell research

  Biotech  -   POSTED: 2011/07/27 10:37

A lawsuit that had threatened to end the Obama administration's funding of embryonic stem cell research was dismissed Wednesday, allowing the U.S. to continue supporting a search for cures to deadly diseases over protests that the work relies on destroyed human embryos.

The lawsuit claimed that research funded by the National Institutes of Health violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo. But the administration policy allows research on embryos that were culled long ago through private funding.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, chief of the federal court in Washington, last year said the lawsuit was likely to succeed and ordered a stop to the research while the case continued. But under swift protest from the Obama administration, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here quickly overturned Lamberth's injunction and said the case was likely to fail.

Lamberth said in his opinion Wednesday that he is bound by the higher court's analysis and ruled in favor of the administration's motion to dismiss the case.


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