Neil Gorsuch: Liberal or Conservative? ⚖️

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Gorsuch the swing voter

SCOTUS decided 5-4 in a case that allows an immigrant man (legal U.S. resident on a greencard) convicted of burglary to stay in the US and not get deported. Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s conservative Supreme Court pick, was expected to be the swing vote and sided with the liberals of the bench, which left many scratching their heads.
 

Laying down the law

The case in question is Sessions v. Dimaya, and the clause that Gorsuch and the liberals of the bench referenced is Section 16(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Basically, if an immigrant is convicted of a “crime of violence”, he or she is legally subject to deportation. SCOTUS ultimately decided 5-4 that the clause is too unconstitutionally vague, and so deportation could interfere with an immigrant’s due process rights.



The right believes Gorsuch’s decision was actually a fundamentally conservative one. The reason Gorsuch voted the way he did was that he was worried about federal government overreach through the exploitation of a vague law. He wasn’t necessarily concerned about the welfare of the legal immigrant. Had the man been an illegal immigrant, the right believes Gorsuch would have been more likely to make a different decision.

 

The left frames this ruling as a blow to the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. They say this is in effect a loss for a White House that wants stricter immigration laws and wants to make deporting immigrants convicted of a crime easier. What’s most ironic to them is that Gorsuch of all people was the one to inflict the blow.


Case dismissed

Beliefs that this ruling signals the start of Gorsuch’s transformation into a liberal are overblown. Unexpected voting decisions, given a Supreme Court justice’s party affiliation, have happened before. Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, was touted as a staunch champion of the Republican cause when he first started. However, it's been observed he has voted less predictably than what conservatives would have liked or expected (most notably his decision to not kill the Affordable Care Act).

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