Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch walks down the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after his Investiture ceremony on June 15, 2017. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM
New U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will fill in for his onetime boss and mentor Justice Anthony Kennedy next week at the judicial conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.
 
His surprise appearance will be one of the first, if not the first, off-the-bench ventures into the public spotlight for Gorsuch since joining the court in April. 
 
The Ninth Circuit announced the change after the high court issued a statement reporting that Kennedy’s wife, Mary Kennedy, fractured her hip. The accident occurred in Salzburg, Austria, where her husband has taught summer courses for decades for the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law international law summer program. 
 
“Mrs. Kennedy was injured in a fall and fractured her hip in Salzburg, Austria,” the court stated. “Justice Kennedy has canceled his trip to the 2017 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, where he was due to speak on July 17 and July 20, to be with Mrs. Kennedy while she recuperates. She is doing very well and expected to make a full recovery.”
 
Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas was more guarded in a statement about the program change, stating that Anthony Kennedy is “unable to attend due to a family matter.”
 
Thomas added, “We want to thank Justice Gorsuch for so graciously agreeing to participate in our conference, particularly on such short notice.”
 
The Ninth Circuit statement said Gorsuch will join in several scheduled programs at the conference, including a discussion of civic education; a talk to new citizens at a naturalization ceremony; and a dialogue with the director and producer of the hit stage musical “Hamilton.”