With his confirmation by the Senate last Friday, Judge Neil Gorsuch will be sworn in and take his place on the Supreme Court today. Many pixels have been spilled in an effort to analyze Gorsuch’s nomination, confirmation, and anticipated jurisprudence. But his addition also changes the internal dynamics of the Supreme Court, with downstream effects on other aspects of the federal court system. Here are a few things I will be watching for in the coming months:
- Who will replace Justice Gorsuch as the Chair of the federal Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules? And will the new chair take a different approach than Gorsuch did during his tenure?
- What will the relationship be between Justice Gorsuch and his former boss, Justice Kennedy? This is the first time that a former clerk has been on the Court at the same time as the Justice he clerked for. (Gorsuch also clerked for Byron White before his retirement in 1993). They are bound to treat each other as colleagues, but what kind of colleagues?
- Will Justice Gorsuch hit it off with Justice Sotomayor during oral arguments? The Supreme Court is seated on the bench in seniority order, with the Chief Justice in the center, the next most senior Justices alongside him, and so on. This means that the seventh and ninth most senior Justices (here, Sotomayor and Gorsuch) will be spending quite a bit of time sitting next to each other. Will that proximity have a special impact on their professional relationship?
- Finally, will Justice Gorsuch, soon to be in charge of the Supreme Court’s cafeteria committee, finally find an excellent chocolate chip cookie recipe?