President Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 7, 2017. Gorsuch fills the vacancy due to former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on February 13, 2016. Prior to being nominated, Gorsuch was a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the Tenth Circuit. Gorsuch’s confirmation brings the Court back to nine justices, which will prevent tie votes on decisions.
Gorsuch is known to be a textualist (one who strictly adheres to the text of the U.S. Constitution and other laws), like former Justice Scalia, and for taking conservative views on laws. According to several sources, Gorsuch’s appointment could mean more favorable rulings for employers. For example, while on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Gorsuch’s opinions did not appear to favor the Chevron doctrine, a legal doctrine that allows the court to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of a statute. This could mean that we would see less deference to the National Labor Relations Board or the Department of Labor’s opinion on labor and employment issues that come before the Court.
An upcoming case before the court, which now includes Justice Gorsuch, will be a decision on whether employers can include class and collective action waivers in employee arbitration agreements under the National Labor Relations Act. It is expected that the Court will ultimately determine whether Title VII discrimination protections extend to sexual orientation and that the Court will have the opportunity to take up another case regarding whether unions can require members to pay dues. A case regarding union dues previously resulted in a tied decision, and a victory for public-sector unions, after Justice Scalia’s death last year.
Read the Supreme Court’s press release here. ThinkHR will continue to monitor labor and employment cases before the United States Supreme Court and update our readers regarding the impact of significant decisions.