BOULDER, Colo. — Neil Gorsuch is a federal judge by day and an adjunct law professor by night.
In addition to serving on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Gorsuch also teaches antitrust law and legal ethics at the University of Colorado Law School.
Students and colleagues were ecstatic to hear the news Tuesday night that Gorsuch was President Donald Trump’s nominee for the nation’s highest court.
“Neil has never been a person who’s said, “When” I’m on the Supreme Court.’ He’s much too humble to do that,” said his colleague and friend Melissa Hart.
“I think he knows what he believes about how to interpret the law. I think he’s serious about it, but I also think he’s open to hearing arguments and being persuaded on some things.”
As far as his legal record, Gorsuch is similar in many ways to the man whose seat he hopes to fill. His views on criminal law, including the death penalty, are in line with the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Gorsuch ruled against the Obama administration in two major cases concerning religious liberties. Both cases involved Christian groups who objected to the Affordable Care Act mandate concerning contraceptives.
But there are plenty of question marks surrounding his record. For example, Gorsuch has never had to write an opinion about abortion.
Colleagues say his open mindedness make him a nominee who could receive bipartisan support.
“He’s open to the possibility he hasn’t already thought of every single thing and I think that’s one of the most important things for a judge because there are a lot of people in this field who think they already know the answer,” Hart said.
Gorsuch also brings a western perspective to the court. Currently, no Supreme Court justices call the western United States home. The first Coloradan to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice was Byron White from 1962 to 1993.
“There are issues that face the West that are particular with respect to public lands, natural resources and Indian tribal governments,” said Kristen Carpenter, the associate dean of research at the University of Colorado Law School.
Gorsuch has strong ties to Colorado. He’s an avid skier and fly fisherman. His mother and father also attended law school at the University of Colorado.
Gorsuch’s mother Anne Gorsuch Burford served as the first female administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after being appointed by President Ronald Reagan.