During his time in office, Donald Trump appointed three United States Supreme Court Justices.

The first Trump appointee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was named to the seat formerly held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Although President Barack Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the seat, Republican Senate leadership stonewalled the nomination in order to preserve the seat for a possible future Republican president. Gorsuch was nominated by Trump on January 31, 2017, and confirmed on April 7, 2017, by a vote of 54-45 – after Republican leadership changed Senate rules to allow his nomination to go forward with fewer than 60 votes. See AFJ’s report on Gorsuch here.

The second Trump appointee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, was nominated to the seat vacated upon Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Kavanaugh was nominated on July 9, 2018, and confirmed on October 6, 2018, by a vote of 50-48. Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was highly controversial and marked by allegations of past sexual misconduct, including public testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers. See AFJ’s report on Kavanaugh here.

The third Trump appointee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, was nominated to the Court after the death of Justice Ruth Badar Ginsburg. Barrett was nominated on September 26, 2020, and confirmed on October 26, 2020, by a vote of 52-48.  No justice had ever been confirmed after July in an election year.  Yet, Republicans – who kept Merrick Garland off the bench on the stated principle that the people should decide who fills the Court vacancy – rushed Barrett through an illegitimate and sham process even though millions of Americans had already voted.  See AFJ’s report on Barrett here

September 1, 2021: In an unsigned one paragraph order, Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett denied a request to enjoin enforcement of a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks. Rather than being enforced by public officials, the law is enforced by private citizens who can sue providers or those who “aid and abet” people seeking abortions. Because 85% to 90% of abortions performed in Texas occur after six weeks, the law virtually bans abortions for the over 7 million people of reproductive age in the state. In its order, the Court’s ultraconservative majority claimed that it could not rule on the constitutionality of the law or grant an injunction because of the novel private-citizen enforcement mechanism. Justices Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor dissented. In her dissent, Sotomayor contended that “presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.” Calling attention to the Court’s use of the shadow docket, Justice Kagan wrote that the decision was “emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow-docket decisionmaking – which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”

August 26, 2021: In a per curiumorder, a majority including Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett ruled to end the nationwide eviction moratorium enacted during the COIVD-19 pandemic. Because of this decision, the Biden administration will be unable to protect between 6 and 17 million people — mostly in communities of color — who are behind on rent and in danger of eviction. The majority wrote that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its authority by enacting the moratorium and argued that a continuing moratorium would cause irreparable financial harm to landlords. Dissenting, Justice Breyer argued that given the rise of the Delta variant, spiking cases, and the risk of transmission during evictions, ending the moratorium poses the far greater harm.

August 24, 2021: In an unsigned one-paragraph order, a majority including Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett refused to prevent a Texas district court from reinstating former President Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy. The remain in Mexico policy requires migrants seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico for the duration of their legal cases. The decision means that thousands of migrants fleeing gang violence, abuse, and human rights violations will be forced to stay in dangerous encampments at great personal risk. It also forces the United States government to renegotiate the implementation of the policy with Mexico. The district court’s injunction along with the majority’s decision to let the injunction stay in place constitute a significant intrusion on the President’s exclusive power to craft and implement foreign policy.

July 2, 2021: In a 6–3 per curium opinion, Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined the majority to reverse an Eleventh Circuit decision granting habeus relief to Matthew Reeves, a death-row prisoner who claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. Reeves’s claim was based on his trial attorneys’ failure to hire an expert during sentencing to assess whether he had an intellectual disability. The majority argued that the Eleventh Circuit was incorrect in its lack of deference to Reeves’ trial attorneys and its categorization of the Alabama state court decision. Dissenting, Sotomayor argued that both the Alabama state court and the majority erred in applying the ineffective assistance of counsel standard. Further, Sotomayor wrote that the majority’s decision “continues a troubling trend in which this Court strains to reverse summarily any grants of relief to those facing execution.”

July 1, 2021: In Brnovich v. DNC, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court to uphold voter suppression laws in Arizona in an opinion that significantly weakened the Voting Rights Act. Arizona law requires elections officials to throw out ballots, even from eligible voters, if they are cast at the wrong precinct, and prohibits delivering someone else’s ballot if they are unable to do so themselves—provisions that, in their application, have the effect of discriminating against nonwhite voters. The majority of the Court held that such burdens on voting—even if discriminatory—are legal if the impact of that discrimination remains below a certain level, which Justice Kagan noted in dissent “undermines [the Voting Rights Act] and the right it provides.” Taking an even more radical step, Gorsuch also authored a separate concurring opinion to imply his belief that the Voting Rights Act does not even provide a cause of action for voters who face discrimination to sue and protect their rights.  

June 29, 2021: Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would have voted to end the federal moratorium on evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. A majority of the Court denied the Alabama Association of Realtors application for a stay on the moratorium. This decision comes as millions of households are behind on rent payments and alongside scientific evidence that evictions increase the spread of the virus.

June 29, 2021: Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court to hold that asylum seekers who re-enter the United States after deportation may be held in detention indefinitely, without potential for release on bond, for the duration of their asylum hearings. In dissent, Justice Breyer argued that the majority misinterprets the relevant statutes as Congress did not intend to “categorically to deny bond hearings to those who, like respondents, seek to have removal withheld or deferred due to a reasonable fear of persecution or torture.”

June 25, 2021: Justice Kavanaugh authored a 5-4 opinion, joined by Gorsuch and Barrett, stripping Congress of its authority to create rights that individuals can have enforced in federal court and gutting consumer protections in the process. Specifically, the ruling significantly limited the class of people with standing to sue TransUnion for inaccurately labeling them as potential terrorists and drug traffickers on their credit reports. As Justice Thomas noted in his dissent, this ruling suggests that the harms suffered by these consumers are “so insignificant that the Constitution prohibits [them] from vindicating their rights in federal court.” In her own dissent, Justice Sotomayor emphasized that this judgment not only harms these particular claimants but threatens the principle of separation of powers in favor of “judicial aggrandizement.”

June 23, 2021: In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court to hold that a state law allowing union organizers to talk to employees about unionization on an employer’s property is unconstitutional unless the state financially compensates the employer. This decision penalizes states that make it easier for workers to unionize and discourages the implementation of pro-union statutes and regulations. The decision as a radical deviation from over a century of property law precedent and will threaten dozens of regulations protecting consumers and workers across the country.

June 21, 2021: In Goldman Sachs v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, Gorsuch would have held that consumers are required to prove that a corporation’s false statements affected the price of its stock in order to succeed in a securities fraud class action lawsuit. The majority disagreed with his view, and instead held that a corporation’s false statements create a presumption of impact on stock price, with the burden on the corporation to prove otherwise.

June 17, 2021: In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the Supreme Court struck down Philadelphia’s requirement that Catholic Social Services certify same-sex couples as foster parents in order to contract with the City as a foster care agency. Justice Gorsuch wrote a separate concurrence to note that he would have taken the opinion further and overruled Employment Division v. Smith, an earlier Supreme Court case which held that neutral and generally applicable laws which incidentally burden religion do not necessarily violate the First Amendment.  

June 17, 2021: In California v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Texas and its other plaintiff states could not be harmed by the Affordable Care Act’s $0 penalty for individuals failing to obtain health insurance, and therefore lacked standing to sue to overturn the law. Justice Gorsuch joined Alito’s dissent arguing to ignore well-established principles of standing to strip millions of Americans of healthcare.

June 10, 2021: Kavanaugh and Barrett dissented from a 5-4 decision that crimes involving recklessness do not constitute “violent felonies” for the purpose of enhanced sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). Kavanaugh’s lengthy dissent wholly disregards the Court’s reasoning that not all crimes are “violent felonies,” and had his view prevailed, mandatory minimum sentences would continue to be imposed for a broad range of conduct less dangerous than the ACCA intended to punish.

May 17, 2021: In Edwards v. VannoyKavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett voted with a majority of the Court to narrowly interpret the retroactivity of the jury unanimity rule established in Ramos v. Louisiana. Kavanaugh wrote that the unanimous jury requirement did not apply retroactively to direct appeals that have already been completed, the retroactivity of Ramos did not apply. Kavanaugh, overturning Supreme Court precedent, also wrote that procedural rules generally do not apply retroactively to a case like Edwards’. As Justice Kagan noted in dissent, this rolled back criminal justice rights, with little legal justification, even though neither party had argued for the position Kavanaugh took.

April 9, 2021: In Tandon v. Newsom, Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court to strike down a California order that prohibited or restricted large at-home gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19. The majority wrote that the order discriminated against religious worship, despite the fact that it applied equally to religious and secular home gatherings. They wrote that because completely unrelated secular activities, like retail shopping and dining, were not subject to the order, it was unconstitutional. As Justice Kagan noted in a scathing dissent, comparing at-home worship to retail businesses, rather than the “obvious comparator” of at-home secular gatherings, the Justices “disregard[ed] the law and facts alike” and “require[d] that the state equally treat apples and watermelons.”

March 25, 2021: In Torres v. Madrid, police officers approached Roxeanne Torres while she was in her vehicle and, mistaking her for a person of interest to a criminal investigation, told her to get out of her car. Since it was nighttime and the officers were wearing dark clothing, Torres thought the officers were carjackers and attempted to drive away; in response, the officers shot Torres multiple times as she fled. A majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the officers use of force against Torres constituted an unlawful seizure, regardless of whether they successfully detained her, but Gorsuch dissented. Relying on a case from 1870, he argued that unless the police take a person “into [their] actual custody,” there is no seizure, and Torres could not sue the officers for violating her Fourth Amendment rights. As the majority noted, Gorsuch’s view contradicts 30-year precedent finding that using force to restrain someone, regardless of whether it is successful, constitutes a seizure.

March 4, 2021: In Pereida v. Wilkinson, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a majority of the Court to rule that an immigrant challenging deportation can be denied relief based on ambiguous or inconclusive records that make it unclear whether the person has committed a “disqualifying crime.” Gorsuch authored the majority opinion and wrote that when the record is inconclusive, it is the immigrant who has the burden of proving that their conviction was for a non-disqualifying crime—even though government entities create and maintain court records and are much more likely to be at fault for errors or ambiguities. This decision reverses precedent in four judicial circuits and makes it substantially more difficult for immigrants to challenge unwarranted deportation.

February 5, 2021: In South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch joined a majority of the court to block a California law closing indoor worship services in areas with severe COVID-19 infection rates. The decision contradicted the Court’s own ruling from just last year, before the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, when a majority upheld similar restrictions in California and other states. Justice Gorsuch would have gone even farther, preventing the state from placing any limitations on capacity or on activities like singing that have been scientifically proven to spread the virus. Even though Gorsuch admitted California has a “compelling interest” in such limitations, he argued that they were unlawful unless they also applied to unrelated secular activities that do not pose the same risks as indoor worship services.

February 3, 2021: Gorsuch and Barrett dissented from a 5-4 decision of the Court allowing a former railroad employee to appeal the denial of his application for disability benefits in federal court. Although the former railroad worker was seriously injured on the job twice during his 15 years of service, his disability claim was denied by the federal agency responsible for allocating benefits to retired or disabled railway workers. Gorsuch and Barrett would have ruled that the agency’s decision to deny and close the employee’s application was not final and, thus, not entitled to judicial review.

January 15, 2021: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court in clearing the way for the Trump Administration to execute the thirteenth person in six months. Dustin Higgins argued that his recent Covid-19 infection had left his lungs so damaged that a lethal injection would cause him to experience “a sensation of drowning akin to waterboarding.” Higgins also challenged the government’s efforts to hastily execute him without following all applicable federal law. As Justices Sotomayor and Breyer explained in their dissents, the majority’s choice to invoke a rarely-used procedure to decide the case before the lower court had even heard arguments reflects a “hurry up, hurry up” judicial approach especially ill-suited for capital cases.

January 12, 2021: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court in denying requests for a stay of the execution of a woman so severely mentally-ill that she couldn’t understand that she was sentenced to die. Lisa Montgomery’s attorneys argued that the execution should be postponed because the Department of Justice failed to give her the required advanced notice of the scheduled execution date and because her bipolar disorder, brain damage, and the effects of her childhood abuse render her so mentally incompetent that to execute her violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court’s orders make Lisa Montgomery the eleventh person executed by the Trump Administration, her death rushed in the last week before the inauguration of President-Elect Biden, who has pledged to end federal capital punishment.

November 25, 2020: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court to enjoin New York from enforcing numerical capacity restrictions for churches and synagogues that were meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19. In a concurring opinion, Gorsuch even went so far as to suggest that, regardless of the medical evidence, there is “no world” where churches can be subject to capacity limits if essential businesses remain open – seemingly ignoring the fact that New York applied similar or more restrictive limitations on comparable secular activities like concerts, theaters, and sporting events. Chief Justice Roberts criticized Gorsuch’s opinion as “reach[ing] beyond the words” of his colleagues to improperly accuse other Justices of “cutting the Constitution loose.” Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion further noted that the majority’s logic served to block regulations “crafted based on science and for epidemiological purposes,” placing Justices’ personal assessments of COVID-19 risks over that of medical experts.

November 19, 2020: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett joined a majority of the Court in issuing a one-sentence order allowing the Department of Justice to execute Orlando Hall. The Court lifted a district court’s stay of execution, based on that court’s finding that the government’s proposed method of execution violated its own policies against using pentoarbital, a drug which can cause severe pain before death, without a prescription. Also without discussion, the Court denied Hall’s separate emergency requests for stays of execution which argued first that he, a black man, was improperly convicted by an all-white jury selected in part by a prosecutor who discriminatorily dismissed black jurors in another case; and second, that the DOJ’s decision to shorten the period of time that capital defendants have to prepare clemency applications from 90 to 50 days hampered his attorneys ability to provide effective counsel. Orlando Hall was executed on November 19, 2020, the first federal inmate put to death during a lame duck presidency in over a century.

November 16, 2020: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett refused to reinstate a trial judge’s order requiring a Texas prison for the elderly and disabled to implement basic cleaning and health safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst inmates at the facility. A federal district court found that more than 40% of the prison’s population has tested positive for the coronavirus since April 2020 and 20 inmates have died of the disease. Testimony at trial revealed that prison officials refused to wear masks, provide inmates with hand sanitizer, or even clean living quarters for paralyzed, blind, or otherwise disabled inmates. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor stressed that the conservative majority’s decision to allow prison officials to continue to deprive elderly and disabled inmates of minimum safety supplies and procedures may result in many more lives lost.

October 27, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-3 majority of the Court, siding with Republicans, to refuse to restore a trial court ruling that would have extended Wisconsin’s deadline for receiving absentee ballots because of the coronavirus if postmarked by election day. Justice Kavanaugh, concurring, emphasized the strong interest in ensuring ballots are received by election day, not just mailed by election day “to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensure if thousands of ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election. Justice Kagan, dissenting, pointed out “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.  And nothing could be more ‘suspicious]’ or ‘improp[er] than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”

October 21, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a majority of the court in siding with Alabama officials who banned curbside voting intended to accommodate people with disabilities and those at risk from the coronavirus. The decision, issued without written opinion and over a dissent from Justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer, blocked a lower court order that sought to make these accommodations available.

October 19, 2020: A deadlocked Supreme Court let stand a Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruling that requires election officials to count absentee ballots received within three days after Election Day. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined Thomas and Alito in indicating they would have granted the Republicans’ request to hear the case.

October 5, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a majority of the Court, siding with Republicans, to restore a South Carolina requirement that absentee ballots be signed by a witness.  A lower court that ruled that the legislature was wrong to retain the requirement during the pandemic. A majority of the Court held that those ballots already cast would be counted, but Gorsuch, joining Thomas and Alito, would have permitted the state to reject even those ballots already cast.

August 13, 2020: Gorsuch dissented from an order of the Court that rejected Republican Party efforts to block a consent decree in Rhode Island waiving requirements that a voter gets two witnesses, or a notary public, to sign their absentee ballot.

August 11, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a majority of the court in staying a trial judge’s order that extended, due to the pandemic, the deadline for a reform group to collect enough signatures to add an initiative to the November ballot. The initiative at issue would establish an independent commission for redistricting.

August 5, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 order staying a trial judge’s order that had required the Orange County Jail to take health measures to address a coronavirus outbreak. Justice Sotomayor, dissenting, noted that recently the jail reported 15 new cases in a single week and the jail, which housed more than 3,000 pretrial detainees at the time of the lower court injunction, had witnessed an increase of more than 300 cases in a little over a month. She said local officials “failed to safeguard the health of the inmates in its care.”

July 31, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 order that allowed the Trump Administration to continue to spend federal funds on a border wall while a legal challenge to the wall continues; even though a lower court had found that the Administration illegally diverted money to the project that was not authorized by Congress. 

July 14, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5–4 unsigned opinion allowing the Trump Administration to resume federal executions for the first time in 17 years. The opinion was issued at 2:00 AM, just hours after the D.C. Circuit had denied the Trump Administration’s request to reverse a district court order staying the execution and expediting briefing.  Shortly after the Supreme Court’s opinion, Daniel Lewis Lee was executed. As Justice Sotomayor noted in dissent, “The Court hastily disposes of respondents’ Eighth Amendment challenge to the use of pentobarbital in the Federal Government’s single-drug execution protocol.” She added, “because of the Court’s rush to dispose of this litigation in an emergency posture, there will be no meaningful judicial review of the grave, fact-heavy challenges respondents bring to the way in which the Government plans to execute them.”

July 9, 2020: Kavanaugh dissented from a 5-4 decision of the Court that upheld the sovereignty of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation over land in Oklahoma that had been given to the tribe by Congress pursuant to a Treaty in 1833. Kavanaugh joined Roberts’ dissent, which argued that the state of Oklahoma has jurisdiction over the land, even though, as Gorsuch pointed out in the majority opinion, only Congress has the power to disestablish a reservation, and it has not done so.

July 8, 2020: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined a decision of the Court that ruled that employment nondiscrimination laws do not apply to religious organizations when it comes to any employee they might deem a “minister,” including teachers who provide religious instruction. The decision upheld the firing of two Catholic elementary school teachers, one for her age and the other for seeking treatment for breast cancer. This ruling clears the way for religious organizations to discriminate against employees in ways that are prohibited by federal law.

July 8, 2020: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined a decision of the Court that upheld the Trump administration’s guidelines allowing employers to refuse to cover employees’ contraception if they have a religious or moral objection. This vastly expands a previous exception made by the Court, which allowed religious groups to opt out of contraception coverage. As a result of this ruling, 70,000 to 126,000 people could lose contraception coverage from their employers.

July 2, 2020: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined a 5–4 order of the Court blocking a lower court ruling allowing curbside voting and waiving absentee ballot requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic in Alabama. U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon had issued a preliminary injunction after finding that Alabama’s election rules will cause sick or elderly voters to “likely face a painful and difficult choice between exercising their fundamental right to vote and safeguarding their health, which could prevent them from casting a vote in upcoming elections.” 

June 30, 2020: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined a 5–4 decision of the Court that held that if a state funds private schools or education programs, it must also fund religious school programs. The decision effectively overturns 37 states’ constitutions prohibiting state funding to sectarian institutions. This decision not only undermines the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, but further endangers public school funding. Gorsuch also joined a concurrence by Justice Thomas suggesting that the Establishment Clause does not apply to states.

June 29, 2020: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch dissented from a 5-4 decision of the Court that struck down a Louisiana law that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Despite the fact that the law was identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch argued that the law did not violate the constitutional right to an abortion. Had Kavanaugh and Gorsuch’s view prevailed, all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana would have closed. 

June 29, 2020: Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined a 5-4 majority to rule that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional. This clears way for the president to fire the director of the CFPB with or without cause, vastly expanding presidential power over an independent agency that was established to protect consumers in the financial marketplace from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

June 25, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined the majority of the court in ruling that asylum seekers cannot seek judicial review if their asylum claims are denied. This allows the Trump administration to speed up the deportation of asylum seekers who fear persecution in their home country. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote that the ruling “handcuffs the judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers.” 

June 18, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh dissented from an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, in which the Court, 5-4, ruled that the Trump Administration’s attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. The majority held that, before deciding to end the program, the Administration should have at least considered the hardships rescission would impose on DACA recipients, their families, and employers; and whether the families and businesses impacted by the decision had legitimately relied on the program’s assurances. If Gorsuch’s and Kavanaugh’s views had succeeded, Trump would have been able to deport 700,000 Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. 

June 15, 2020: Kavanaugh dissented from a 6-3 decision of the Court holding that an employer who fires, refuses to hire, or otherwise discriminates against an employee for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) engages in sex-based discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the majority noted, “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” Contrary to the plain terms of the statute, however, Kavanaugh would have interpreted Title VII’s prohibition of sex-based discrimination to allow discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He called the majority opinion “not just a mistake of language and psychology, but also a mistake of history and sociology.” Had Kavanaugh prevailed, millions of LGBTQ people across the country could have been legally discriminated against by their employers.

June 15, 2020: Kavanaugh joined Thomas’s dissent arguing that the Supreme Court should hear a constitutional challenge to New Jersey’s handgun permit requirements. The dissent referred to New Jersey’s law as a “near total prohibition,” and stated that the case was an opportunity for the Supreme Court to “acknowledge that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry in public.” In joining the dissent, Kavanaugh once again made clear his desire to constrain the ability of states and localities to protect its residents from gun violence.

June 15, 2020: Gorsuch joined Alito’s dissent from a ruling that found that Terence Andrus, a death row inmate in Texas, had received ineffective assistance from counsel after his lawyer had failed to review and present an “abundant” amount of mitigating evidence. The omissions included evidence about his mother’s drug addiction and prostitution, his troubled childhood, and his own struggles with addiction and serious mental health issues. The majority wrote that it was “unclear” if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (“CCA”) had properly reviewed Andrus’ claim of ineffective counsel in light of this compelling evidence. According to Gorsuch and Alito, however, the CCA had “clearly” decided the issue of prejudice. The dissent also argued that the CCA’s rejection of Andrus’ claim was proper because the mitigating evidence did not create a “substantial likelihood” that “one of the jurors who unanimously agreed on his sentence would not have done so if his trial counsel had presented more mitigation evidence.”

June 1, 2020: In an opinion by Kavanaugh and joined by Gorsuch, the Court, 5-4, held that participants in a defined-benefit retirement plan lacked standing to sue the plan for mismanagement.  As a result, James Thole and Sherry Smith, retirees from U.S. Bank, could not sue U.S. Bank for breaching their duties of loyalty and care, which caused the plan to lose more than $748 million. As Justice Sotomayor wrote in dissent, “The Court holds that the Constitution prevents millions of pensioners from enforcing their rights to prudent and loyal management of their retirement trusts. Indeed, the Court determines that pensioners may not bring a federal lawsuit to stop or cure retirement-plan mismanagement until their pensions are on the verge of default. This conclusion conflicts with common sense and longstanding precedent.

June 1, 2020: A dissent written by Kavanaugh and joined by Gorsuch argued in favor of allowing a California church to be exempt from public health restrictions mandated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kavanaugh argued that it was “indisputably clear” that the states requirement that churches be limited to 25% capacity was a violation of the First Amendment because it didn’t apply to “comparable” secular businesses, including “supermarkets,” “retail stores,” “bookstores,” and “cannabis dispensaries.” As the majority explained, the restrictions were justified by “a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure,” and “[s]imilar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances[.]”

April 27, 2020:  In New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. Inc. v. City of New York, the Court, 6-3, dismissed as moot a challenge to a New York City law that severely restricted the transport of firearms outside the home. After the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal, the City had repealed the law. Gorsuch, along with Alito and Thomas, would have found the lawsuit not moot, and invalidated the law. Kavanaugh concurred that the suit was moot, but made clear (as he had previously while on the D.C. Circuit) that he is prepared to constrain the ability of states and localities to protect its residents from gun violence.

April 23, 2020: In an opinion written by Kavanaugh and joined by Gorsuch, the Supreme Court issued a decision that makes it easier for the Trump administration to deport permanent legal residents who have committed minor crimes in the U.S. The case involved Andre Martello Barton, a 42-year-old repair shop manager and father of four, who the government detained and sought to deport because he had been convicted for drug possession ten years earlier. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch ruled that he could not apply for cancellation of deportation. 

April 23, 2020: Gorsuch dissented from a 6-3 decision of the Court holding that the Clean Water Act’s safeguards against facilities releasing pollutants into bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and oceans also applies to groundwater if the groundwater carries the pollutants to those same locations. Gorsuch would have created a massive loophole that would have permitted dangerous contamination of the nation’s water.

April 6, 2020: On the eve of the Wisconsin primary, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 majority to reverse two lower courts that had ruled to extend the deadline for absentee ballot submission in order to allow thousands of people to vote by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the last minute change, thousands of people that had submitted their absentee ballots in reliance on the lower court rulings were disenfranchised, and others were forced to risk their health and safety to go the polls.

March 23, 2020: In an opinion written by Gorsuch and joined by Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court issued a decision weakening Section 1981, enacted after the Civil War in 1866, that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and ethnicity when making and enforcing contracts.  Gorsuch’s decision imposes a burdensome pleading standard that will make it more difficult for victims of discrimination to enforce the law. 

February 25, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined the 5-4 majority and held that the family of a Mexican teenager playing with friends along the U.S. Mexico border could not pursue claims for damages after a U.S. patrol agent, in violation of instructions controlling his office and situated on the U.S. side of the border, shot and killed the youth on the Mexican side. At the time of the incident, the officer did not know whether the boy he shot was a U. S. national or a citizen of another country.

Gorsuch also joined Thomas’s concurrence and argued that “the time has come to consider discarding” a 1971 decision – Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents – that held that injured plaintiffs could pursue claims for damages against U.S. officers for violating the Constitution.

February, 24, 2020: Justice Gorsuch joined Justices Alito and Thomas in calling on the Court to reverse a 1977 decision to require businesses to accommodate religious employees who refuse to perform certain duties because of religious beliefs.

February 21, 2020:  Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 Court majority to allow an immigrant wealth test to go into effect, reversing an injunction put in place by a lower court while litigation proceeded.  Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan, dissented.  Justice Sotomayor argued that cases have repeatedly been rushed to the Court without “being ventilated fully in the lower courts,” and that the Court majority was too often “putting a thumb on the scale in favor” of the federal government.    

December 6, 2019: Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined Alito’s statement arguing that the Trump Administration “has shown that it is very likely to prevail” in its attempt to execute four federal prisoners. While they joined the rest of the Court in denying the DOJ’s attempt to quickly bypass review at the Appeals Court level, they still made clear their belief that the Trump DOJ should win on the merits and ultimately proceed with the execution of these four men.

November 25, 2019: Kavanaugh wrote that Gorsuch’s decision in Gundy v. U.S., “may warrant further consideration in future cases,” signaling his support for reviving the non-delegation doctrine. Reviving the doctrine would deprive Congress of the essential authority to empower agencies to effectively implement and enforce critical statutes that protect everyday Americans, from ensuring financial stability to protecting clean air and water.  The doctrine was last used successfully in 1935 by a famously reactionary Court majority bent on invalidating the New Deal.

September 11, 2019: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a majority of the Court to allow nationwide enforcement of a Trump Administration rule that prevents Central American immigrants from seeking asylum in the United States.

June 27, 2019: Contrary to a majority of the Court, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh would have allowed the Trump Administration to proceed with its citizenship question on the Census, justified by what Chief Justice Roberts called a “contrived” reason, that would result in a severe undercount of minorities and deprivation of resources and political representation for many marginalized communities.

June 27, 2019: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined the other Republican nominated justices to hold that political gerrymandering cases can never be challenged in federal court, handing a significant victory to Republicans who have manipulated gerrymandering to entrench themselves in power, often contrary to the clear desires of voters, and dilute the vote of Democrats, persons of color and Latinos.

June 21, 2019, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 majority of the Court to overturn a 34 year old precedent that had required property owners to go through state courts before taking claims for compensation, challenging land use, zoning and local regulations, to federal court under the Fifth Amendment.  Justice Kagan wrote in dissent that “If that is the way the majority means to proceed—relying on one subversion of stare decisis to support another—we may as well not have principles about precedents at all.

June 21, 2019, Gorsuch alone joined Justice Thomas’s dissent from the Court’s decision reversing Curtis Flowers’ conviction and holding that prosecutors improperly excluded African-Americans from the jury.  In a combined six trials, Mississippi had used peremptory challenges to strike 41 of the 42 prospective African Americans jurors that it could have struck.

June 20, 2019: Gorsuch, dissenting in a challenge to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, made clear he would reinvigorate the non-delegation doctrine – last used successfully in 1935 by a reactionary Supreme Court majority bent on invalidating the New Deal. Gorsuch would deprive Congress of authority essential to empower agencies to effectively  implement and enforce critical statutes that protect the public in countless areas.

June 20, 2019: Gorsuch, in a concurrence to the Court’s decision that a Peace Cross memorial on government land does not violate the Constitution, argued that for public displays of religion, Americans should be prohibited from suing the government to enforce the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

May 13, 2019: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 majority of the Court holding that states cannot be sued in courts of other states without their consent. In doing so, the Court overturned a 40 year old precedent. Justice Breyer, in his dissent, noted: “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

April 24, 2019: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 majority of the court to give businesses more power to force workers and consumers into individual arbitration proceedings, rejecting the ability of 1,300 employees pressing their common claims in arbitration together as a class, even though the arbitration agreement the workers signed did not explicitly ban class actions.

March 29, 2019: Gorsuch was just one of two justices to dissent from an order of the Court staying the execution of a Buddhist prisoner after Texas officials refused to let his Buddhist priest be present in the execution chamber at the moment of his death.

March 27, 2019:  Gorsuch dissented from a 6-2 ruling in favor of an SEC enforcement action against investment banker Francis Lorenzo over false and misleading statements Lorenzo disseminated to potential investors in a company.  The e-mails Lorenzo sent described the company as having assets of $10 million when Lorenzo knew the real figure was $400,000.  Justice Kavanaugh did not participate in the Court’s decision because he had previously ruled against the SEC in the matter when serving on the D.C. Circuit.

March 19, 2019 – Gorsuch and Kavanaugh held that the government could detain immigrants awaiting deportation indefinitely (even for years), after they are released from criminal custody, without a bail hearing.

February 27, 2019 – Gorsuch joined Justice Thomas in urging the Court to reconsider Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 ruling that guarantees criminal defendants a lawyer even if they can’t afford it.

February 27, 2019 – Gorsuch dissented when the Court held that an inmate suffering from dementia may not be executed if his disease is so severe that he is unable to understand the reason for his punishment.

February 7, 2019: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh voted to allow Louisiana’s law, identical to the law in Texas declared unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, that would close some of the last three abortion clinics in the state, to go forward.  A majority of the court stayed the law pending appeal.  Kavanaugh wrote a dissent explaining why the law should be allowed to move forward, “an opinion” one author wrote, that should not be taken as anything less than a declaration of war on Roe v. Wade.”

February 7, 2019: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh voted to allow the execution of a Muslim inmate in Alabama to take place even though the state refused to let an imam be present in the death chamber.

January 22, 2019: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voted to allow President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military to go into effect while the policy was challenged in court.

December 10, 2018: Neil Gorsuch joined Justices Alito and Thomas in dissenting from the Court’s decision not to hear a lower court case that had invalidated state actions that defunded Planned Parenthood.

October 9, 2018: Neil Gorsuch voted to allow North Dakota to make it harder for Native Americans to vote if they used a PO Box, which is mandated by the US Post Office.

June 27, 2018: Neil Gorsuch, in Janus v. AFSCME, voted to overturn 40 years of precedent in order to weaken labor unions.

June 26, 2018: Neil Gorsuch joined the other conservative Supreme Court justices in striking down California’s disclosure laws for fraudulent “crisis pregnancy centers” as unconstitutional compelled speech.  Justice Breyer, in his dissent, pointed out how the decision “radically change[d] prior law.”

June 26, 2018: Neil Gorsuch voted to uphold President Trump’s Muslim Ban.

June 25, 2018: Neil Gorsuch, in Abbott v. Perez, rejected attacks on Texas’s racially discriminatory redistricting.  Gorsuch joined Justice Thomas’s concurrence saying that the Voting Rights Act “does not apply to redistricting,” despite numerous cases that hold otherwise.  Without briefing or argument, Gorsuch would have gutted the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination.

June 11, 2018: Neil Gorsuch joined conservative majority, in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, to allow Ohio to target infrequent voters for removal from the voter rolls and to deprive them of the fundamental right to vote.

June 4, 2018: Neil Gorsuch ruled against the rights of LGBTQ Americans in Masterpiece Cake Shop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

May 21, 2018: Neil Gorsuch, in Epic Systems v. Lewis, made it harder for victims of wage theft to hold their employer accountable under the National Labor Relations Act.

October 3, 2017: Neil Gorsuch, in an oral argumentquestioned the essential democratic principle of “one man, one vote.”

June 26, 2017: Neil Gorsuch dissented in Paven v. Smithin which the Court struck down an Arkansas law that treated same-sex couples differently from opposite-sex couples on their children’s birth certificate.

August 5, 2020: Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined a 5-4 order staying a trial judge’s order that had required the Orange County Jail to take health measures to address a coronavirus outbreak. Justice Sotomayor, dissenting, noted that recently the jail reported 15 new cases in a single week and the jail, which housed more than 3,000 pretrial detainees at the time of the lower court injunction, had witnessed an increase of more than 300 cases in a little over a month. She said local officials “failed to safeguard the health of the inmates in its care.”