The Atlantic

The Skillful Foreshadowing of Neil Gorsuch

The newest Supreme Court justice issued two high-profile opinions that are different in tone but say a great deal about his worldview.
Source: Jim Bourg / Reuters

Justice Neil Gorsuch may have had a slightly awkward first year, but he just racked up a hell of a week.

In his public and judicial personas so far, Gorsuch has seemed a bit tone-deaf and clumsy. Court-watchers have mildly ridiculed his ponderous writing style. And his public appearances in highly partisan venues (including parading around Kentucky as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s in-person trophy) have garnered much justified criticism.

But last Sunday, Gorsuch grabbed positive headlines by hiring the Court’s first-ever Native American law clerk, Toby Young, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and former George W. Bush Justice Department aide. (That this has taken until 2018 is, to say the least, a disgrace.) On Tuesday, he issued two skillful high-profile opinions—a concurrence in an important immigration case and a dissent in a death-penalty decision.

In the immigration case, Gorsuch crossed the Court’s invisible party aisle. He voted with the four moderate liberals against the government’s hardline position on a deportation statute. But the move doesn’t suggest ideological

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