The left’s fears about President Trump’s conservative U.S. Supreme Court appointees appear to have been off target as Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were not in accord in recent cases.
The newest justices found themselves on opposite sides with their opinions in two out of three rulings by the high court on Tuesday, Fox News reported.
In one case, which involved taxes in Washington state and an Indian tribe, liberal justices were joined by Gorsuch, Trump’s 2017 pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia who died in 2016.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court decided in favor of the Yakama Nation which would not be required to pay a Washington state fuel tax, with Gorsuch’s opinion taking note of a special “right to travel” clause in the Yakama Treaty of 1855 along with a “handful of modest promises” to the tribe.
Kavanaugh, who was appointed by Trump in 2018 after a highly contentious nomination process, dissented from the liberal wing of the court as well as his conservative colleague, ruling that tribal members were given equal rights to travel by the 1855 treaty.
Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only other member of the high court who concurred with Gorsuch’s opinion while the other liberal justices, though they agreed with the decision, had different opinions on why Cougar Den, a gas station on the Yakama Reservation, should be free from the burden of a state tax in moving its fuel in and out of the reservation.
“Today marks a decision that reinforces the Yakama way of life, both in historical context as well as modern interpretation,” Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy said in a statement, according to NW News Network. “Yakamas conducted trade and commerce long before the formation of the United States, let alone the Washington state’s existence.”
In another lawsuit involving maritime law which was brought by two Navy veterans exposed to asbestos, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were again on opposing sides in their opinions.
According to Fox News:
Writing the court’s opinion, Kavanaugh said that the makers of pumps, turbines, and blowers that required asbestos insulation to operate properly should have warned about the health dangers of asbestos exposure. This is so, Kavanaugh wrote, even though the companies did not manufacture or sell the asbestos to the Navy. The liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts also were in the majority.
The dissenting Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, joined Gorsuch who wrote that manufacturers “are at risk of being held responsible retrospectively for failing to warn about other people’s products.”
Trump’s Supreme Court picks found common ground in a third case heard Tuesday, however. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined the other conservative justices in handing the president a victory in the battle against illegal immigration, giving the federal government more authority to detain immigrants with criminal records who are awaiting deportation.
The four liberal justices dissented in the 5-4 ruling Tuesday in which a class-action lawsuit argued that immigrants should get a hearing to advocate for their release as deportation proceedings move ahead after they have left prison, Fox News reported. But the Supreme Court ruled that non-citizens can be detained by federal immigration officials any time after their release from custody and the government could decide who would represent a danger to the community in making those decisions on who to release or detain.
“Neither the statute’s text nor its structure” supported the immigrants’ argument, Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion. Kavanaugh, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote a concurring opinion.
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