March 20, 2017

Gorsuch Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Begin

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

This morning the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee began. In his opening statement, Senator Charles Grassley praised Judge Gorsuch as a nominee “whose grasp on the separation of powers, including judicial independence, enlivens his body of work.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, referenced back to the failed nomination of Judge Merrick Garland who did not receive a confirmation last year after being nominated by former President Obama.

The start of the hearing presents a conundrum for Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. Senator Bennet faces pressure from his party to reject Gorsuch’s nomination while simultaneously balancing his relationship with Gorsuch as a fellow Coloradan and the mutual ties between Gorsuch and Bennet to Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz. Prior to the start of the confirmation hearings, Judge Gorsuch met with 72 senators according to his team.

Democrats looking to trip up Judge Gorsuch will likely focus on three key cases in his judicial history. The 2014 Hobby Lobby case where Judge Gorsuch voted in favor of the chain’s objection to the requirement in the Affordable Care Act of employers to provide free contraceptive coverage. A case involving a truck driver who abandoned his cargo for his own safety where Judge Gorsuch argued in a dissent that the company was permitted to fire the employee. Finally, a case where Judge Gorsuch denied a professors discrimination claim after she lost her job after taking time off to recover from cancer.

Judge Gorsuch has sat on a 10th Circuit panel in four False Claims Act cases and has authored one opinion. In the U.S. ex rel. Boothe v. Sun Healthcare Group, Inc., Judge Gorsuch writing for the majority affirmed a district court’s dismissal of certain relator claims under the public disclosure bar. Judge Gorsuch’s limited history with the False Claims Act may prompt a question from Senator Grassley, a longtime champion of the False Claims Act, on Judge Gorsuch’s views.

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