Gregory Scott’s Historic Time on the Bench

Hall of Fame inductee contributes to state Supreme Court firsts

Gregory Scott
According to the Rutgers University Alumni Association, Gregory Scott said America will remain first in a world of equals “only so long as we use all of our most valuable resource, our human capital,” in his 1993 commencement address at Cook College. / DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY

Gregory Scott in 1993 became not only the first Black man to hold one of the highest judicial positions in the state but also one of the youngest justices ever appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court, according to the Rutgers University Alumni Association. Scott graduated from Rutgers in 1970 from the College of Agriculture and again in 1971 from the Graduate School of Education. “Scott earned his law degree with honors at Indiana University Law School,” according to February 2005 coverage from WTHR.com, an Indianapolis news outlet. While serving with the Supreme Court, he wrote precedent-setting opinions including a concurrence in Evans v. Romer.

Starting his career with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Denver, Scott moved on to teach law at the University of Denver Law School for more than a decade. Among his many accomplishments, he also “was the head attorney representing the NAACP and the Urban League in Colorado,” as noted by Rutgers. Scott went on to establish “a nationwide practice representing minority-owned and other small business firms.”  

Scott was appointed a Colorado Supreme Court justice in 1992 by then-Gov. Roy Romer and began serving in January 1993. According to a March 2000 press release from the Colorado Judicial Branch, Scott “was inducted into the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame and the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Denver in 1998.” The release went on to note Scott also “served on American delegations traveling abroad as well as co-chairing the American delegation that observed national presidential elections in Gabon, Africa, in December 1998.”

According to the press release, Scott participated in decisions for more than 1,000 cases for the court. He was so well liked by constituents that he “received the highest number of favorable retention votes of any judicial officer” in the November 1996 general election, according to the release.

Aside from contributing a concurrence to the historic Romer v. Evans opinion, Scott also authored the opinion for Hill v. Thomas, a landmark case that concluded in the early 2000’s in which the Supreme Court upheld legislation that allowed a buffer zone around anyone entering or exiting health care facilities to avoid violence by picketers. 

Scott resigned from the Supreme Court in 1999 and was replaced by Justice Nathan Coats in 2000, who went on to be chief justice from June 2018 to December 2020.

– Jess Brovsky-Eaker

Previous articleLegal Lasso: Colorado Legislature Gets Back to Work
Next articleLegal Lasso: Polis to Deliver State of the State