Justice Neil Gorsuch hires first Native American clerk in Supreme Court history

April 16, 2018

Justice Neil Gorsuch hires first Native American clerk in Supreme Court history Diego Grandi / Shutterstock.com

The newest Supreme Court justice has just made history.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, a die-hard conservative who was appointed to the high court by President Donald Trump in 2017, recently announced the hiring of the first Native American clerk to work for the Supreme Court in its 229 years of existence. 

Tobi Merritt Edwards Young, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Midwest City, OK, will be clerking for Gorsuch during the 2018 term.

History in the making

Young, who has maintained a professional relationship with Gorsuch for nearly two decades, will begin working for the justice in July and serve for one year. The two first met after Young graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2003, when she was employed by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and worked under Gorsuch’s supervision.

Gorsuch later helped Young secure a clerkship on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where she worked for Judge Jerome Holmes. In 2017, she assisted Gorsuch in preparations for his Supreme Court confirmation hearing; meanwhile, she currently works as the general counsel and staff secretary for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

Young recently told reporters that she hopes her accomplishments inspire young people from her community to pursue their own career goals.

“I hope that if other Chickasaws read about my experiences, they will recognize that nothing stops them from pursuing any dream that they have too,” Young said. “Somebody from where they are from is going to be working every day at the Supreme Court, and there’s no reason that there shouldn’t be many more to come.”

Making his mark

When he was first nominated to fill the Supreme Court position vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch faced heavy backlash from those on the left, who feared that his conservative viewpoint would help to undo decades of liberal social activism — but Gorsuch hasn’t been the justice they expected he would be.

In addition to making history by hiring a Native American to fill a position that has been filled by 85 percent whites and roughly two-thirds males since 2005, Gorsuch has repeatedly proven that he isn’t so easy to pigeonhole.

While he has taken a conservative stance on many issues — including by advocating for Trump’s immigration policy and supporting the use of public funds by religious institutions — Gorsuch has also shocked both sides of the political aisle: in the weeks following the infamous school shooting in Parkland, FL in February, Gorsuch did not dissent when the court refused to hear a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for gun purchases.

It seems that Gorsuch’s critics continue to miss that he is not driven solely by party lines. Rather, he transcends them, as members of the judicial body are supposed to do, and votes based on what he sees is best for the country — just as his appointer, President Trump, does.

Gorsuch has continued that trend and reached a diversity milestone in the Supreme Court by hiring Young, and we don’t expect he’ll slow down on conservatives’ joint quest to make America great again any time soon.

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Robert Ayers

Robert Ayers is a writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Quinnipiac University and a JD from the University of Connecticut.