We haven’t heard a lot about the new Supreme Court member, Neil Gorsuch since his controversial confirmation process wrapped up, but he’s back in the headlines for taking an impressive stand at the Supreme Court.
There’s a thing called a “cert pool” at the Supreme Court, which was founded back in 1973 as a more effective way for the justices to sift through the thousands of petitions they receive every term.
Rather than look over each one themselves, a collection of law clerks are tasked with reviewing each one and then distributing a memo to the justices with their suggestion if it should be granted or denied.
This gives a tremendous amount of power to these faceless clerks, as their recommendations carry a lot of weight in the decision process.
But as reported at the Conservative Patriot, Gorsuch has decided not to join the cert pool.
He will instead have his own hand-picked staff look over all the petitions. This is a bold move by the new justice, and it signals his skepticism of the legal interpretations given by the law clerks.
That’s because each of these clerks has their own perspective of the law, and with lawyers being so disproportionately leftist, it’s likely that many giving their opinions on the petitions are not ideologically aligned with Gorsuch and other conservative justices.
For conservatives, this is a very positive sign, as it shows Gorsuch is dedicated intent on hearing cases that folks like him are concerned about, rather than what some random clerk wants ruled upon.
Prof. Douglas Berman of The Ohio State University Mortiz College of Law, who’s also a former 2nd Circuit law clerk, says that the cert pool might be doing more harm than good.
“Notably, the growth of the cert pool has not only paralleled the shrinking of the docket, but also the proliferation of long fractured opinions,” he wrote in 2007.
“Perhaps if the Justices spent more time personally reading cert petitions and lower court rulings–and not just summaries from one clerk in the pool–they might directly discover areas of the law in need of extra attention and also might better appreciate the mess they sometimes make by issuing fractured rulings.”
We should be happy that Gorsuch is taking such a stand, and so early into his service on the court.
It’s a sign he’s an independent thinker that doesn’t want his rulings poisoned by a bunch of biased clerks. It looks like Trump certainly made a wise choice in selecting him to the nation’s highest court.