Gorsuch Full of Questions in First US Supreme Court Argument

WIPR recently asked whether Judge Neil Gorsuch's confirmation as a US Supreme Court associate justice is good for IP, but it seems that our readers are split.

Starting at 10:00 a.m. ET on Monday court watchers will hear arguments in three cases, including Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates.

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas may share a conservative approach to the law, but if Gorsuch's first day of cases with the U.S. Supreme Court was any indication, the similarity may end there.

In the third case of the day, which the court heard arguments for in the afternoon after an hour break, the justices weighed the rules for the timely filing of individual claims from class members who opt out of a securities class action lawsuit.

Gorsuch was sworn in April 10, and the other eight justices met three days later in their regular private conference to discuss which cases to hear next term.

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.

"Wouldn't it be a lot easier if we followed the plain text of the statute?"

Gorsuch follows the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative favorite, who passed away suddenly in February 2016. He smiled as Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. briefly welcomed him and wished him "a long and happy career in our common calling".

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. If the court rules in favor of the church, it could narrow the separation between church and state. Trump was able to fill Scalia's vacancy only because Senate Republicans past year refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland.

One of the lawyers due to argue the second case before the justices Monday will be a familiar face to Gorsuch.

Some wondered if Gorsuch would recuse himself from the case due to Katyal's previous actions of endorsing Gorsuch for the court.

Gorsuch also concentrated on the text when he questioned Brian Fletcher, the assistant to the U.S. Republicans backing Gorsuch's confirmation often cited liberal Katyal's endorsement as evidence that the judge enjoyed support across the political spectrum.

In response Gorsuch said, "Thank you for the warm welcome I have received".

Chris Landau tried to convince the court that his client's case should go to the district court.

But that issue already is looming at the high court in appeals from a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that blocked the nation's first county-initiated voucher program in Douglas County, Colorado.