Gorsuch is Humbled by Menial Tasks

Gorsuch is Humbled by Menial Tasks

Neil Gorsuch, who is now Associate Justice for the U.S. Supreme Court, was like a little kid Monday when the court convened for the first time since he was sworn-in last week. He sat in his new robes, with a slight grin on his face, eagerly waiting for the gavel to drop. At the ripe age of 50, he is not only the newest member of the court, he is also the youngest.
Gorsuch made it clear right out of the gate that he wasn’t there just to keep the 9th seat from rolling off the bench. He came with his sleeves rolled up, loaded for bear. The first few cases of the day were those really complex cases with a lot of legalese that maybe 11 people in the whole country can understand. These are the kind of cases most people would have a hard time staying awake for. In fact, Justice Alito was seen more than once with his eyes closed, gently rocking his high-back chair.
But Justice Gorsuch seemed elated. He was shooting off rapid-fire questions, which is apparently not that common for first-time justices. Most tend to be a little more reserved on the first day. In fact, Justice Gorsuch not only supplied the questions, but also supplied some much-needed levity by commenting on the difficulty of one of the cases.
“Who wrote this statute? Somebody who takes pleasure out of pulling the wings off flies?” he asked with a little chuckle.
As he starts out in this new, lifetime-long job, Justice Gorsuch will already have twice the workload that a single person can handle, particularly when it’s already midway through a session. In addition to getting up-to-speed on cases, he’ll be getting settled in his new office, putting up all the photos of family and friends from his home state of Colorado.
Fortunately, Justice Gorsuch will be assigned some assistants — specifically, an administrative assistant, four law clerks, and a messenger, to be exact — to help him tackle the caseload. The caseload is greater now while the court is already in session than it might have been if Gorsuch had started at the beginning of the session. The justices will likely have to keep up this pace until the middle of June, when the court recesses.
But those aren’t the only hats Justice Gorsuch will have to wear. In addition to his own personal workload as a justice, because he is the newest member of the court, he will automatically become a contributing member of the cafeteria committee until such time as a new justice is appointed. This is a vital assignment. The newest justice will be helping those with whom he shares a cafeteria to choose things like toppings for desserts and making flatware choices. He will, of course, also be the one everyone complains to when they hate what’s on the menu.
Justice Gorsuch will be replacing Justice Elena Kagan in this important committee appointment, who has been on the cafeteria committee since she was appointed in 2010. Now that she won’t have that job anymore, Justice Kagan can freely extol the virtues of the position. In fact, she thinks that job might just help some justices with slightly enlarged egos to develop the proper perspective early on.
“I think this is a way to kind of humble people,” she said. “You think you’re kind of hot stuff. You’re an important person. You’ve just been confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. And now you are going to your monthly cafeteria committee meeting where literally the agenda is what happened to the good recipe for the chocolate chip cookies.”