Center for American Progress Action

STATEMENT: SCOTUS Decision on Interpretation of IDEA Shows Gorsuch’s Extreme Positions
Press Statement

STATEMENT: SCOTUS Decision on Interpretation of IDEA Shows Gorsuch’s Extreme Positions

Washington, D.C. — During Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision striking down Gorsuch’s interpretation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, which requires that schools provide free education with meaningful benefits to students with disabilities. Judge Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion in Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P., which denied education benefits to a student with autism. The opinion said that the educational benefits provided to an autistic student “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’” The Supreme Court’s ruling today in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District found that Gorsuch’s extremely narrow approach to the IDEA was wrong. “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,’’” wrote Chief Justice Roberts.

In response to the Court’s decision, Michele Jawando, Vice President of Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund issued the following statement:

“Today the Supreme Court reached a unanimous decision correctly interpreting the IDEA to ensure that children with disabilities receive a real education benefit—and not as narrowly defined as Judge Gorsuch found. In so doing, it highlighted a pattern limiting the ability of everyday Americans seeking justice as a judge on the 10th Circuit. As we’ve seen time and time again, Judge Gorsuch has routinely stepped in to protect the interests of the big guy and corporations at the expense of everyday Americans. A justice must understand the impact that his or her decisions have on real lives. And in too many cases, Judge Gorsuch has bent the arc of justice away from protecting the most disenfranchised, the marginalized, and the most vulnerable among us. This swift rebuke from the high court is a reminder that every decision has significant consequences for the lives of people, especially the vulnerable, across the nation.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Terrence Clark at or 202.741.6251.