Everything’s coming up Colorado at SCOTUS 

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Colorado has been front and center at the Supreme Court this term. 

First, there was Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, where the Justices ruled that racial bias in the jury room can violate a defendant’s right to a fair trial. The Court reversed and remanded the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling. 

Next, in Nelson v. Colorado, the Justices ruled that Shannon Nelson and Alonzo Madden were entitled to refunds of court costs and restitution they paid following criminal convictions that were subsequently overturned. Once again, the Court reversed the Colorado Supreme Court.

Now, all eyes are on Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. SCOTUS has repeatedly declined to take up this high-profile case about businesses declining to serve same-sex couples wedding cake. Here, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to review, leaving in place a lower court ruling holding that the owner could not cite his religious beliefs or free-speech rights to discriminate against a same-sex couple. SCOTUS has held this case for so long that it’s possible that the justices are waiting for the newest Associate Justice, Noel Gorsuch, to weigh in.

And of course, Neil Gorsuch, who has served on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver since 2006, has Colorado roots that run deep.

An avid skier, Gorsuch grew up in Denver before moving to Washington, D.C., as a teenager, when his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, a former state legislator, was appointed by Ronald Reagan to be the first female secretary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She was forced to resign in 1983 and was cited for Contempt of Congress for refusing to release documents on Superfund waste disposal.

His mother was a Denver lawyer who in 1983 married Robert Burford, a former Colorado House speaker, as well as a rancher and mining engineer from Grand Junction. Burford was Reagan’s head of the Bureau of Land Management, who was disliked by Democrats and environmentalists for allowing overgrazing on federal lands and other policies.

The next SCOTUS conference is April 28 with orders expected on May 1. So it is possible the Justice are not quite through with the Centennial State just yet.


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