Speed Reads

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Justice Neil Gorsuch expressed focus, irritation, humor during his first day of Supreme Court arguments

Justice Neil Gorsuch heard his first arguments from the Supreme Court bench Monday after having been formally sworn in a week ago. Gorsuch was not shy during his debut, asking questions early and often; it took just 11 minutes for him to pipe up during his first of the three cases.

"He employed a bit of humor, expressed a modicum of humility, showed a hint of irritation, and even channeled Justice Antonin Scalia, the man he replaced, with a touch of sarcasm," The Associated Press reports. And "while some of the other justices slouched, rocked back in their chairs, or leaned their chin or forehead on their hands, Gorsuch sat straight in his high-backed chair, to the far left of Chief Justice John Roberts."

Fox News additionally notes that throughout the arguments Gorsuch "remained focused — not even chatting with his 'bench neighbor,' Justice Sonia Sotomayor," and that he "repeatedly pressed lawyers from both sides with his positions."

Gorsuch's first argument was fairly complicated, having to do with determining which court federal employees go to with some discrimination claims. But the new justice got a laugh when lawyer Christopher Landau said, "I think I am maybe emphatically agreeing with you," and Gorsuch interrupted to say, "I hope so."

As he is now the most junior member of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch will relieve Justice Elena Kagan of duties such as answering the door when the court meets for closed-door conferences and taking notes at the meetings. He will also vote last, which puts him in the position to be a tiebreaker in cases that fall along ideological lines.