Colorado father who testified against Gorsuch says issue is autism

DENVER -- Luke Perkins' favorite hobby is Legos and building things like a scale model of the U. S. Capitol. That’s where his father testified on Thursday against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jeff Perkins said his testimony was scheduled weeks before a Supreme Court ruling this week in another case involving a student with autism.

"Thank you for the opportunity today to give voice to my son Luke whose access to an appropriate education and thus to a meaningful and dignified life was threatened by views of Judge Neil Gorsuch,” Perkins told the panel.

His father said Luke, 22, was born on the severe end of the autism spectrum and was not functioning in regular public school.

“It's not something obviously that I'm used to doing, but it was a great opportunity to have the spotlight shining on this issue that so often people don't think about," he said. "Kids that don't always have a voice in our society."

The Perkins family sued the Thompson School District in Loveland to send Luke to a private school.

The family's request for reimbursement was upheld by an administrative law judge and federal court judge under the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

"But when the school district appealed to the 10th Circuit, Judge Gorsuch offered the decision overturning these previous rulings. His legal reasonings set a new low standard of education required under IDEA as merely more than de minimis," Perkins testified before the panel.

But Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down another ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involving a Douglas County student with autism known as Endrew F.

That decision essentially opened the door for millions of families of special needs children to change their standard of education in public schools.

Perkins said it was the issue, and not Gorsuch, that motivated him to speak out.

"My point was to say that autistic children under the law deserve an education,” Perkins said.

Gorsuch defended his ruling in the case, saying it was based on precedent standard that had been established by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.