The case was Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board, which dealt with the process of appealing a federal census worker’s employment dispute.
The only other justice joining Gorsuch’s opinion was originalist powerhouse Clarence Thomas. The rest of the justices sided with the petitioner in the 7-2 decision, which reversed the finding of the D.C. Circuit court.
This particular case was not just a platform for Gorsuch’s first dissent; he heard oral arguments for it during his first day on the job and asked some of his first questions as a justice during the hearing.
The crux of Gorsuch’s dissent is this: The plaintiff is asking us to do Congress’ job, so no dice.
“Anthony Perry asks us to tweak a congressional statute—just a little—so that it might (he says) work a bit more efficiently,” it reads. “No doubt his invitation is well meaning. But it’s one we should decline all the same.”
“Not only is the business of enacting statutory fixes one that belongs to Congress and not this Court, but taking up Mr. Perry’s invitation also seems sure to spell trouble,” it continues, citing issues arising from previous judicial tinkering with the law. “Respectfully, I would decline Mr. Perry’s invitation and would instead just follow the words of the statute as written.”
— Nate Madden (@NateMaddenCRTV) June 23, 2017
We got some insight into Gorsuch’s thinking on the issue during those questions, as we reported back in April.
Gorsuch’s process of finding the original meaning of the law, as written – one of the more comical non-scandals surrounding his confirmation hearing – has indeed followed him onto his first day on the job, as evidenced by a one-line question he asked from the bench: “Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we just followed the plain text of the statute?”