Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch seen as First Amendment defender

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, , February 3, 2017, gave Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court a favorable rating on First Amendment issues. Although he does not have a long record on free speech and press, his decisions in libel and privacy uphold protections for speech against tort claims. He opined that libel clams cannot rest on minor inaccuracies. He also held that a warrant to search the computers and papers of a journalist accused of criminal libel to find evidence of any crime violated the Fourth Amendment.

Michael Price of the New York University School of Law, US News & World Report, February 2, 2017, hopes that Gorsuch will stand against Trump who said he planned to make it easier for government officials to sue for libel. Trump’s rants against the media pose a real threat as he has criticized the “dishonest media” and stated his intent to go to “war” with them. In a recent ruling Gorsuch expressed support for the principles established in New York Times v. Sullivan.

Politico asked 12 legal experts their opinions of the Gorsuch nomination. Law professor Dana Farber and others think Gorsuch is strong enough to stand up to Trump indicted by his speaking “against judicial deference to the executive branch in matters of statutory interpretation.” (Politico Magazine, February 1, 2017)

David Keating of the Center for Competitive Politics, the Washington Examiner, February 3, 2017, sees Gorsuch as a defender of free speech likely to uphold the Citizens United ruling, oppose campaign contribution limits, and support the right to petition government.

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