Constitutional Responsibility Project Statement on the Supreme Court’s Unanimous Rebuke of Judge Gorsuch’s Narrow Approach to IDEA

 In Press Releases

As Judge Neil Gorsuch continues to testify on Capitol Hill today, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous rebuke to Gorsuch’s approach to education for children with disabilities. In a 2008 opinion involving an autistic boy named Luke P., Gorsuch said that a school district is in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as long as they provide educational benefits that “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’” In a unanimous opinion in a similar Colorado case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, all eight Supreme Court Justices rejected this approach, saying “it cannot be right.” In response to today’s ruling, Constitutional Responsibility Project Communications Director Josh Dorner released the following statement:

“At the very moment he was testifying today, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous rebuke to Neil Gorsuch’s narrow approach to educational standards for children with disabilities. In addition, Gorsuch’s explanation this morning of how he reached his decision in the Luke P. case appears to have been misleading at best.”

“Whether it’s children with disabilities, workers facing discrimination, a trucker who was fired after he took action to save his own life, or women merely seeking access to basic health care, Neil Gorsuch has found a way to rule against them over and over again. Whether he wants to admit it or not, his record consistently favors the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of ordinary Americans.”

Key Passage From Today’s Supreme Court’s Opinion:

When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing “merely more than de minimis” progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all. For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to “sitting idly . . . awaiting the time when they were old enough to ‘drop out.’”

Additional Resources:

  • National Education Association: Gorsuch’s record “shows a lack of regard for the struggles and rights of students with disabilities.”
  • ThinkProgress: While Gorsuch was testifying, the Supreme Court unanimously said he was wrong