He was sworn in on April 10, leaving him a week to prepare for the current and final round of cases of this Supreme Court term.
During his first week as a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Neil Gorsuch will hear a religious liberty case from Missouri. SCOTUS Blog explained that the MSPB has claimed that it does not have "the authority to rule on an employee's claim because the employer can not appeal the allegedly wrongful action, but the employee also alleges that she has been the victim of discrimination - a so-called "mixed case'". He employed a bit of humor, expressed a modicum of humility, showed a hint of irritation and even channeled Justice Antonin Scalia, the man he replaced, with a touch of sarcasm.
"Wouldn't it be a lot easier if we followed the plain text of the statute?"
The case before the justices involved a technical issue about the process for a federal worker to appeal his discrimination claim. To adopt a new interpretation, she said, would be "a kind of revolution.to the extent you can have a revolution in this kind of case".
Chief Justice John Roberts welcomed Gorsuch to the court before oral arguments began.
The junior justice on the Supreme Court has a number of duties created to serve as a reminder of their status as well as help them get accustomed to the job. And Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan all took their oaths in August, so they had about two months to prep for their first oral arguments. Monday's session was the first since then with the ninth chair restored, and nine justices present.
All eyes will be trained on the court's most recent addition, the 49-year-old Gorsuch, to see how he interacts with his new colleagues and to try to glean clues about his jurisprudence.
"The statute doesn't seek to make illegal all such acts, only the narrower subset the phrases specify", he wrote. "Somebody who takes pleasure out of pulling the wings off flies?"
If the justices agree, "the decision could have implications far beyond scrap tires and playgrounds", said Michael Bindas of the Institute for Justice, which is backing the church. In Chester, the Court will decide if intervenors joining a suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 (a) must have Article III [LII backgrounders] standing or if standing is satisfied as long as there is a valid case or controversy between the parties.
"I hope so", Gorsuch replied.
But at another point, when Landau said his client wasn't asking the court to break new ground in its decision, Gorsuch launched a zinger reminiscent of Scalia.
For all 856 cases in which then-judge Judge Gorsuch wrote an opinion, not just lead opinions, try "adv: WB (Gorsuch)".
Gorsuch at times seemed sensitive about asking so many questions on his first outing. Gorsuch asked the worker's lawyer Christopher Landau four questions in a row about the wording of a statute, saying he was "sorry for taking up so much time". He did not interrupt his colleagues and, numerous times, followed up on questions they had asked or attempted to circle back to their questions when a lawyer may have edged around a straight answer.