UMass Law professors comment on Gorsuch SCOTUS nomination

UMass Law professors comment on President's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court

Dwight Duncan
Prof. Duncan

UMass Law professors have been commenting in mass media about Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch, whom President Trump nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The day after the President's January 31 announcement, Professor Dwight Duncan published a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece for the New Boston Post about religious diversity on the Court.  Gorsuch, an Episcopalian, would be the first Protestant on the Court since the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, Duncan wrote.  Duncan worked on friend-of-the-court briefs in the recent, high-profile religious freedom cases, Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor.  Both cases reached the Supreme Court by way of the Tenth Circuit.  According to Duncan, Gorsuch "has an expansive view of religious freedom" and sided with the party claiming religious liberty in each case.  He moreover ruled in favor of Muslim and Native American religious liberty claimants in two other cases, Duncan recounted.

Peltz-Steele
Prof. Peltz-Steele

Also on February 1, Professor Richard Peltz-Steele published on his blog an article on a prominent media law opinion authored by Judge Gorsuch for the Tenth Circuit.  The piece for The Savory Tort examined the court's decision on truth and falsity in defamation law in the 2011 case, Bustos v. A&E Television Networks.  Bustos sued after a History Channel program, Gangland, linked him with the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood.  The court rejected the claim.  Peltz-Steele considered the style of Gorsuch's opinion, in particular his resort to history to support his reasoning.  Gorsuch cited the seventeenth century English Star Chamber and used Benedict Arnold to illustrate a hypothetical.  After Gorsuch in the opinion described the time from 1964 to 2011 as "comparatively recent years," Peltz-Steele pointed out that Gorsuch "himself was born in 1967.  The fellow has a sense of history."

Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch (public domain work of the U.S. Government)
Judge Neil Gorsuch

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