Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch Sides with Businesses on Labor and OSHA Issues

On February 1, 2017, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016.  Indeed, since February 2016, the High Court has functioned with only eight members; four liberal Justices and four conservative Justices.  gorsuch-imageTherefore, the confirmation of a ninth Justice to fill the vacant position, and establish a majority conservative bench, is likely to have a substantial impact on the outcome of controversial issues brought before the Court.

Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2006.  Although he is considered a firm conservative, as was expected given President Trump’s public stance to fill the vacancy with a judge who embodies Scalia’s principles, he has garnered praise from both liberals and conservatives for his work as an appellate judge due to his reputation for conveying his ideas fluently and courteously.

A number of Democrats have already conveyed their opposition to Gorsuch’s nomination, which could prove problematic as he will need to win over some Democratic senators to get the 60 votes needed to clear procedural hurdles.However, setting the political climate aside, when Judge Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006, he was confirmed by the Senatewithout objection.  Only time will tell if Judge Gorsuch will acquire enough support from Senate Democrats to overcome a filibuster given the immediate public opposition from Democrats following Gorsuch’s nomination, and whether he will be approved in time to hear oral arguments later this spring.  Judge Gorsuch’s opinions on labor and employment topics suggest that he favors businesses, and his decisions reflect a distaste for overreaching agency action which could result in some limiting decisions if he is ultimately confirmed.

Who is Judge Gorsuch?

Prior to being appointed to the Tenth Circuit, Judge Gorsuch amassed an impressive resume.  He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York City in 1988 and his law degree from Harvard Law School, with honors, in 1991 where he was the editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and classmates with former President Obama. Judge Gorsuch also earned a doctorate of legal philosophy from Oxford University in 2004, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.  Judge Gorsuch began his law career as a

Continue reading

Pres. Obama Announces Nominee to S.Ct. – A Moderate on Labor and Worker Safety

By Kara M. Maciel and Eric J. Conn

President Obama has tapped a moderate in Judge Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia. Here is a link to a video about Judge Garland posted on the White House website. Presidential politics may, however, stand in Garland’s way, as Senate Republicans have threatened to block any nominee, even from getting a hearing or vote.Judge Garland

Because the D.C. Circuit is often referred to as the second-highest court in the land, Judge Garland’s court opinions have been closely watched. Garland, nominated to the federal court of appeals by President Bill Clinton, has been viewed as a moderate left-of-center jurist, and has taken the side of business in quite a few high profile cases.

One example is Volks Constructors, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration case in which Judge Garland overturned the decision of the OSH Review Commission and concurred with the employer’s argument that OSHA’s six-month statute of limitations applies to injury and illness recordkeeping violations (making an inaccurate or incomplete OSHA log). OSHA had tried to impose a legal theory that inaccurate logs were a “continuing violation” that tolled the statute of limitations period for every day the log remained inaccurate. Judge Garland ruled that a recordkeeping violation occurs at a point in time when the recordkeeping entry was due to be perfected, it does not continue beyond that date, and OSHA may not cite beyond six months from that date. Judge Garland cautioned not to override his opinion, emphasizing:

“This does not mean, however, that the statute could not admit of a continuing violation theory under other circumstances.”

OSHA is working on a rulemaking to undo that decision.

President Obama selected Judge Garland as a moderate in what appears to be an effort to Continue reading