For a Trump nominee, Gorsuch's record is surprisingly moderate on immigration

We reviewed more than 900 Tenth Circuit cases decided during Gorsuch’s tenure, including 119 in which he participated.1 We focused on two areas: immigration and employment discrimination law. Why those areas in particular? First, both are frequently litigated in the circuit courts, so they generate large sets of cases to analyze. Moreover, many academic studies have found that liberal and conservative circuit judges vote differently in both of these areas,2 making them useful in examining Gorsuch’s ideology. Finally, given concerns about the Trump administration’s approach to civil rights and the recent litigation over his immigration orders, these areas are especially relevant now.

Our results were surprising. In our analysis of those two topics, Gorsuch’s record puts him near the ideological center of the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit may be a touch more conservative than the Supreme Court,3 but Gorsuch still looks relatively centrist in these areas, according to our analysis. To break it down, Gorsuch sided with plaintiffs in discrimination cases 18 percent of the time, a bit higher than the circuit average of 13 percent. Most other judges in that period sided with plaintiffs from 5 percent to 20 percent of the time. In the immigration cases, Gorsuch sided with immigrants 10 percent of the time, slightly higher than the circuit average of 9 percent. Most Tenth Circuit judges sided with immigrants anywhere from 1 percent to 20 percent of the time.