Supreme Court

Judge Sykes on Justice Gorsuch

In recent remarks, the Seventh Circuit judge assessed the newest Justice's early work on the Court.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Next week will mark the one-year anniversary of Neil Gorsuch's swearing in as a Supreme Court justice. As a consequence, we'll soon be treated to a flurry of articules evlauating his first year on the court.

It may be particularly interesting to consider howother jursits evaluate Justice Gorsuch. As it happens, Justice Gorsuch's record was the subject of a lecture by the Honorable Diane Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law earlier this spring. In these remarks, Judge Sykes comments on Justice Gorsuch's concern for text and legal process.

The Sykes lecture was this year's Sumner Canary lecture at CWRU. Incidentally, then-Judge Gorsuch delivered the Sumner Canary lecture in 2016. Video of the Gorsuch lecture is here, and a published version of his remarks from the Case Western Reserve Law Review is available here. Judge Sykes' lecture will also be published later this year.

NEXT: A True but Nonobvious Proposition?

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  1. In these remarks, Judge Sykes comments on Justice Gorsuch’s concern for text and legal process.

    Gorsuch’s presence on the court hasnt affected those who dont have a concern for text. Yesterday’s opinion in Encinio Motors included a dissent that a) mischaracterized/misquoted the applicable text of the statute and B) artificially created a new job description that didnt fit into the mischaracterized definition of the exemption and therefore reached a preferred policy result.

    1. The dissent had “concern for text,” but you disagreed with their understanding of it.

      1. “any salesman, partsman, ormechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles,trucks, or farm implements.”

        That exemption covers “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles.”

        Service advisors, such as respondents, neither sell automobiles nor service (i.e., repair ormaintain) vehicles. Rather, they “meet and greet [car]owners”; “solicit and sugges[t]” repair services “to remedythe [owner’s] complaints”; “solicit and suggest . . . supplemental [vehicle] service[s]”; and provide owners with cost estimates. App. 55. Because service advisors neither sell nor repair automobiles, they should remain outside the exemption and within the Act’s coverage.

        Mischaracterizing the job description and mischaracterizing the statute – hardly a misunderstanding
        The only substantive question is whether her misscharetization was intentional

        1. 1st paragraph a dissent – Of employees so engaged, Congress explicitly exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act hours requirements only three occupations: salesmen, partsmen,and mechanics. The Court today approves the exemption of a fourth occupation: automobile service advisors.

        2. Now, now. How can we expect the Honorable Justice Sotomayor to know that SOLICIT and SELL have a definition in common; just as salesman and service advisors are trying to convince a potential customer to make a purchase.

          1. Of course solicit and sell have a definition in common. Sotomayor knows that too. The dispute in this case did not turn on whether service advisors sell things, but on what they sell, and whether what they sell falls under the applicable exemption. Everyone agrees that people who sell cars (at a dealership) are exempt. Everyone agrees that people who service cars (at a dealership) are exempt. The issue was whether service advisors fit in either category (and whether that matters). They do not sell cars, and they do not service cars. Rather, they sell service for cars.

  2. I’ll be interested in the more quanititative post-mortems, but from the first draft of history on this blog, Gorsuch seems to be performing as intended, both legally and politically.

  3. I think one probably needs a few years to get a good sense of a judge.

    I will toss out there that I found the process putting this guy on the bench here was nefarious. This isn’t the place really to spell out why — others have said why & I’m not going to go into detail for those who disagree — but to some of us the seat will always be tainted.

    1. “but to some of us the seat will always be tainted.”

      To some of you, any decision which doesn’t come out your way – up to and including Presidential elections – will always be tainted. That’s the amusingly ironic thing about Democrats – they only believe in democracy when they win.

      1. Weird definition of democracy.

        Unsurprising your main response is to yell about the libs, though. Just having to be better than the cartoonish tyrants in your imagination can cover many a sin!

        1. You’re losing your touch Sarcastr0.

          Just having to be better than the cartoonish tyrants in your imagination can cover many a sin!

          This applies just as much to you as to all the democrats I know whose first instinct is to deride the “cartoonish image of a republican”. I even now have one who thinks Trump is mentally unstable.

      2. By what standard is the Senate a democratic institution?

        And even if it meets your definition, by what standard was the rejection of the Garland nomination a decision of the majority of the Senate, as opposed to a decision of its partisan leaders?

        Garland would, in all likelihood, have been confirmed had his nomination come to a vote. It didn’t, which hardly suggests that his rejection had much to do with democracy.

        1. Had the GOP senators really wanted to confirm him, they would have called for it to happen. The fact is, they didn’t. And they weren’t required to.

        2. You’re forgetting about the advice part of the Constitutional requirement. I would also note that Democrats had no problem with the Senate rules when they were in charge, even going over 5 years without passing a budget yet now whining about a less than a year delay.

          1. Flame – appears he forgot about both the advice part and the consent part

            1. I’m not forgetting anything. Stop spewing stupid right-wing BS.

              My point is simple. if there were enough votes to defeat the nomination there would have been no need for McConnell to prevent a vote. He could have said, “Garland deserves a vote. Let’s have it tomorrow.” Then the nomination would have been defeated and there would have been no legitimate complaints about the process.

              But he didn’t allow a vote, which suggests to me that he knew Garland would be confirmed if he did. Just because Republican Senators were unwilling to rebel against their leadership doesn’t mean some wouldn’t have voted to confirm.

    2. So having Democrats hoisted on their own petard by applying the “Biden Rule” against one of their nominees forever taints the nomination. You sure you want to go down that road.

      Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  4. Just a question for the lawyers. Suppose a sitting appellate judge had in mind some harsh criticism for a SCOTUS justice. Do you think you would hear it in public? If not, why pay particular attention to whatever else you do hear?

    1. Suppose a sitting appellate judge had in mind some harsh criticism for a SCOTUS justice. Do you think you would hear it in public?

      Judge Posner says hello.

      (Yes, he stepped down. No, he did not hesitate to blast justices while he was still a sitting judge.)

      1. Unlike most here, Judges and Justices mostly refrain from personal attacks.

      2. I had Posner in mind when I wrote the comment?well, to be honest, from about a second after I hit “submit.” Expected someone to mention him.

        I suggest now that Posner’s willingness publicly to criticize sitting Supreme Court justices did much to establish his commentary as potentially important (at least in the opinions of observers who were not among his many critics)?and certainly worth attention, which it attracted. Am I mistaken to suggest also that Posner’s example has not been much imitated, if at all?

        1. Two judges who has now passed away from the 9th Cir. also come to mind — John Noonan, e.g., wrote a book strongly criticizing the Supreme Court’s state sovereignty doctrine & Stephen Reinhardt criticized some justices too.

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