Only a week after being sworn in, Gorsuch took the bench for the first time Monday, filling the space next to Justice Sonia Sotomayor to hear arguments in three cases, with four scheduled to follow later in the week.
Gorsuch, who at 49 could remain on the court for decades, served for a decade on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before Trump nominated him in January. In Chester, the Court will decide if intervenors joining a suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 (a) must have Article III [LII backgrounders] standing or if standing is satisfied as long as there is a valid case or controversy between the parties.
The justices opened their April session with a case presenting a technical but important question about appeals from decisions by the Merit Systems Protection Board, which reviews federal employees' claims that they were wrongly fired, suspended or demoted.
Gorsuch then said he was "sorry for taking up so much time", according to the AP account.
"Looking at the plain language of the statute, just help me with that", Gorsuch said.
The flurry of arguments will offer Gorsuch a fast introduction to his new responsibilities and give the public its first glimpse at how he will conduct himself on the court.
Chief Justice John Roberts welcomed Gorsuch to, quote, "our common calling".
About 10 minutes into the first case, the new justice opened his mouth and asked his first question, which was both thoughtful and lengthy.
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Missouri's new governor, Republican Eric Greitens, injected some uncertainty into the high court case on Thursday, when he directed state agencies to allow religious groups and schools to receive taxpayer money for playgrounds and other purposes.
Some 37 states have similar provisions in their constitutions, so the implications of the case could be far-reaching. In the second case, involving who can intervene in a property rights case, Gorsuch asked no questions of the lawyer on one side, Neal Katyal, who had testified for him at his confirmation hearing. Justice Gorsuch filled the seat of the late Antonin Scalia, who is widely regarded as one of the most vocal justices in the history of the court.
In the first case, Justice Samuel Alito cracked a joke about how complex the laws are, eliciting a roar of laughter from the crowded courtroom. Gorsuch restored the conservative majority on the court.
Gorsuch showcased his brand of textualism from the first question he asked.
At an event in Colorado last summer, Kagan explained that the newest member is last to speak during the justices' private court conferences and has to take notes and answer the door throughout the proceeding, The Washington Post reported.
But in an unusual move, the court delayed oral arguments, which will take place on Wednesday.
At this point, Gorsuch again suggested the simple solution is to just read the words in the statute, but Gorsuch had a relatively novel idea of what a statute means when it says to apply one provision "subject to" another provision of the law. Speaking for all, Justice Samuel Alito called the law in question "unbelievably complicated" and hard to parse.