Some years ago, he called me about a case he had reviewed on the 10th Circuit’s motions docket involving an Arab Muslim incarcerated in a state prison. The guards allegedly called the inmate “9/11” and mistreated him during his confinement. The district court had rejected the inmate’s claim that his constitutional rights had been violated and dismissed his lawsuit.
Over the phone, though, Gorsuch explained that he thought the plaintiff prisoner might have a valid claim, but couldn’t tell for sure. He asked our law firm to represent the inmate, which I agreed to do so long as a younger colleague could be the principal lawyer on the case and argue under my supervision.
Gorsuch agreed and then recused himself from the case to avoid an appearance of conflict. My associate, Janie Nitze, later won a reversal by the 10th Circuit, which reinstated the prisoner’s claims. That man got his day in court because of Gorsuch’s conscientious approach to judging.
I have no doubt that I will disagree with some decisions that Gorsuch might render as a Supreme Court justice. Yet, my hope is to have justices on the bench such as Gorsuch and Garland who approach cases with fairness and intellectual rigor, and who care about precedent and the limits of their roles as judges. The Supreme Court’s work is complex and varied, and we need those qualities of mind and judicial temperament for all cases.