Justice Neil Gorsuch issued his first Supreme Court opinion on Monday, exhibiting his famed flair for writing in a unanimous decision that sided with a company in a debt collection case.
Gorsuch read a portion of the opinion from the bench. In the decision, the court ruled that Santander Consumer USA – which had bought defaulted car loans and sought to collect the money owed – does not fall under a federal law aimed at unscrupulous debt collectors.
While the dispute might fall on the drab side of the spectrum for high court cases, Gorsuch nevertheless took care to hook the reader at the start of his opinion:
“Disruptive dinnertime calls, downright deceit, and more besides drew Congress’s eye to the debt collection industry,” he wrote.
From there, Gorsuch explained how that scrutiny prompted a federal law authorizing lawsuits and “weighty fines designed to deter wayward collection practices.”
The case at hand, he wrote, looked at who qualifies as a debt collector:
“Everyone agrees that the term embraces the repo man—someone hired by a creditor to collect an outstanding debt. But what if you purchase a debt and then try to collect it for yourself— does that make you a ‘debt collector’ too?”
In the end, Gorsuch and the court affirmed lower rulings that Santander does not qualify as a debt collector because it purchased the loans in question and was not trying to collect on someone else's behalf.
Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.