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The Senate GOP, casting aside longstanding Senate procedure, yesterday confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The final vote was 54-45.
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Gorsuch came under widespread criticism by educators for his extreme record as a judge on the U.S. 10th Circuit of Appeals in cases involving students with disabilities. Judge Gorsuch ruled against students with disabilities in eight out of 10 cases.
“In his court decisions, Judge Gorsuch endorsed the lowest of expectations for students with disabilities, which allowed public schools to provide our highest-needs students with the bare minimum educational benefit. We should all be concerned by this troubling trend in Gorsuch’s record,” said Utah teacher and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.
In one case, Gorsuch failed to hold schools responsible when they segregated students with disabilities in abusive conditions. One of Gorsuch’s most problematic rulings is a case that involved an autistic student named Luke. Gorsuch overruled the findings of a hearing officer, an administrative law judge, and a federal district court that all found the school violated its duty to provide Luke with a “free appropriate public education.” Gorsuch held that Luke was only entitled to make progress that was slightly above the lowest possible standard, or “merely more than minimis.” The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Gorsuch’s minimal standard last month.
In rushing through the lifetime appointment, Senate GOP leadership, despite overwhelming condemnation, decided to override the rule that a Supreme Court nominee meet a 60-vote threshold. The rule was instituted to encourage mainstream justices and to foster bipartisan cooperation among senators.