Home / General / Kindly, Moderate, Nonpartisan Neil Gorsuch

Kindly, Moderate, Nonpartisan Neil Gorsuch



Hmm, let’s check in on the man the president installed by the FBI and the 19th century slave power chose to nominate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court:

Jennifer Sisk, a Denver attorney who took a class taught by Gorsuch at University of Colorado law school, wrote to Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) claiming that Gorsuch said firms should engage in illegal and sexist hiring practices.

Gorsuch’s alleged comments arose during a class discussion involving a hypothetical about a female law student who wanted to work at a law firm and also intended to start a family with her husband. According to Sisk,

[Gorsuch] asked the class to raise their hands if they knew of a female who had used a company to get maternity benefits and then left right after having a baby. Judge Gorsuch specifically targeted females and maternity leave. This question was not about parents or men shifting priorities after having children. It was solely focused on women using their companies.

I do not remember if any students raised their hands, but it was no more than a small handful of students. At that point, Judge Gorsuch became more animated saying “C’mon guys.” He then announced that all our hands should be raised because “many” women use their companies for maternity benefits and then leave the company after the baby is born.

The judge, according to Sisk, “argued that because many women left their companies we all knew women who purposefully used their companies.” Gorsuch also allegedly “outlined how law firms, and companies in general, had to ask female interviewees about pregnancy plans in order to protect the company.”

I’m sure Hillary Clinton’s nominee would have had similar views! In what will be the first of many such links, also note that Gorsuch has other terrible views pretty much any Republican nominee will share.

As Erik says, the correct Democratic response here is not complicated: not a single vote.

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  • Joe_JP

    I have been posting the discussion at the ACS Blog as well, including where as a member of the Bush Administration he helped to defend torture. Telling article to me is the Weekly Standard discussing how he ultimately got on Trump’s list of possibles.

    This guy is a wet dream for conservatives. I’ll take them at their word there, myself. The fact he is able to be a bit less asshole-like in expressing himself at times than Scalia might is not exactly a totally good thing really.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Links, please?

      • Joe_JP

        ACS Blog, Weekly Standard and a third with more links (including to a Charles Savage piece).

        • Joe_JP

          ACS Blog, Weekly Standard

          [two links to avoid moderation]

          • Joe_JP

            A third from Just Security (with more links, including to Charles Savage).

            Some have compared him to Judge Bybee, which is not exactly a good thing. This includes being able to do so with a polite, well crafted gloss.

      • Joe_JP

        This might result in duplicates but an original comment & a reply addressing it might not be showing up.

        ACS Blog and Weekly Standard.

        Charles Savage in the NYT had a piece on his time in the Bush Administration too; it was cited at the Just Security Blog, 3/17, in a piece entitled “Questions for Judge Gorsuch.”

    • Scott Lemieux

      Definitely in the Alito mold, yes.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I’ve also used companies for wages. I’m a monster!

    • CP

      I do love the myriad ways our society treats the market like a feudal relationship where employees owe undying fealty to a company which, for its part, should feel free to let them go at the drop of a hat.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        1. Hats. People aren’t buying enough of them.

        2. Yes. I thought it quite rich that after all the downsizing and “rightsizing” in the 90’s, and the early aughts, a generation of college grads and twentysomethings – the children of those cast-aside employees – were derided in busines press articles as “having no loyalty”, always willing to move on for another, higher paying job somewhere else, boo hoo hoo, poor corporations and employers…

        • cleek

          1. Hats. People aren’t buying enough of them.

          the water in our well has gone muddy, so no water at the house for a week.

          i’ve been wearing a lot of hats. buying them, too.

      • rm

        That feudal relationship makes sense (scare-quote sense, anyway) of the Hobby Lobby thing — the corporation has religious beliefs which the peasants must go along with.

        I expect soon to hear that since money is fungible, employers have a right to approve or deny anything their employees purchase, anywhere, because it’s the company’s money. It’s the same logic.

        • Hogan
          • rm

            Ah-yup. Yupper. Hierarchy never dies, it just infests different hosts — the nobility, the rich, the party, the patriarch, the slaveholder, the corporation.

      • Real feudalism was a two-way street: the obligations ran both ways, of course in a profoundly unequal relationship. When Daniel Pipes was still a real historian he developed a very interesting case that the problem of Russian political thinking was that Russia ever had feudalism, just patrimonial power where the subjects, even great boyars, were basically property of the ruler.

    • Hogan

      I think the word you’re looking for is “exploited.”

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Who’s knocking up all of these lady lawyers, anyway? Must be them travelling salesmen, carnies, and of coures, Mexican laborers.

    No principled Republican man would ever let his wife use maternity benefits from her employer. Of course, they’re very humble about it all, because I’ve never heard about it in the papers.

    • Well, if we’re talking about lady lawyers in Maine, it’s no doubt those out of state drug dealers doing the deed.

    • DAS

      Republicans are not the anti-sex prudes that Democrats claim thet are. A Republican, could, if he wanted to, have sex with his wife and thereby impregnate her. The GOP does not frown upon such behavior.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Look at them, bloody Catho-lics, filling the bloody world up with bloody people Supreme Court justices they can’t afford to bloody feed.

        • Colin Day

          Some sperm is sacred?

      • Nobdy

        Exactly. Sex is a natural, beautiful, normal act that is simply meant to occur only between a sitting member of Congress and a fifteen year old boy, or maybe a member of Congress wearing diapers and a prostitute. Both are beautiful expressions of human love.

    • kvs

      You’re assuming that principled Republican men think women should be allowed to work in the first place.

      • Nobdy

        Certainly they can in an office, which needs eye candy. I mean a ficus is nice but it doesn’t even have an ass to ogle.

        • Focus on the Ficus.

        • DAS

          I now await a sex scandal involving a Republican politician and a ficus.

    • efgoldman

      Who’s knocking up all of these lady lawyers, anyway?

      Usually the milkman or the plumber or the pizza delivery guy.
      I heard it somewhere. Really!

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I think I saw that documentary, too.

  • leftwingfox

    Most nations make parental leave a possibility for both parents. I’ve known a few fathers in Canada who have used parental leave to take care of the baby and family (and yes, take a much needed break from working).

    A culture of stinginess encourages discrimination.

  • Denverite

    In the interest of fairness, it should be pointed out that the former student was a staffer to then then-Senator Mark Udall, and there has already been some pushback from another student in the class saying she isn’t accurately representing what Gorsuch said. It doesn’t mean she isn’t telling the truth by any stretch — especially if her account that she pursued a complaint at the time with the CU law admin checks out — but if this was a former staffer for (say) Ted Cruz putting forward a disputed account of something (allegedly) crazy that a Dem nominee said while teaching a class, think of the grain of salt you’d take it with.

    • You couldn’t have chosen somebody less extreme than (Lyin’) Ted Cruz as your Republican counterpoint to Mark Udall?

      • Gregor Sansa

        Looking for Republicans whose moderacy corresponds to that of a given Democrat is a mug’s game.

      • Denverite

        I was going for a GOPer who was widely disliked by his caucus.

    • Morbo
      • Denverite

        This really depends if you view Gorsuch as an offensive or defensive player, doesn’t it? (More seriously, Elway has really odious political views, like most white guys in the NFL.)

      • Scott Lemieux

        I think we all know why Denverite doesn’t think Gorsuch should be filibustered now…

        • Denverite

          As I’ve said, I actually *don’t* think he should be filibustered, but more because I don’t think you get any benefit from blowing up the judicial filibuster now, and that won’t necessarily be true in 2018 or beyond.

    • The Great God Pan

      if this was a former staffer for (say) Ted Cruz putting forward a disputed account of something (allegedly) crazy that a Dem nominee said while teaching a class, think of the grain of salt you’d take it with.

      I dunno. The thing is that what she’s alleging he said isn’t crazy by Republican standards. She’s not alleging that he said (for example) the world is flat and sits at the center of the universe and we only think otherwise due to centuries of Jew lies.

      He’s saying something that, coming from a Republican, isn’t even particularly surprising. We can all imagine just about any Republican saying that employers have to watch out for those treacherous women and their maternity scams. Any public backlash would catch them completely by surprise because the statement just seems like common sense to a Republican. Right now, Gorsuch is probably thinking, “So what?”

      If this were a former Cruz staffer making allegations against a Dem nominee, a crazy lie would be something like, “She demanded that all the white students step forward and commit suicide for the sins of their slave-owning ancestors, but only after updating their wills to sign everything over to the New Black Panther Party. I barely escaped with my life, and when I filed a complaint with the university they called me a racist and expelled me.”

      If, on the other hand, a former Cruz staffer said that a Dem nominee devoted class discussion to the case for reparations, that would be more like the current situation: something that is clearly offensive to the opposition, but does not seem outrageous to a liberal. I wouldn’t take that story with a grain of salt. That’s more like this story.

      • Denverite

        You would take it with a grain of salt if it was portrayed that the Dem nominee was very favorable to some specific unpopular reparations plan *and* that account was rejected by others that were present.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      and there has already been some pushback from another student in the class saying she isn’t accurately representing what Gorsuch said

      Digging around a little, the student who is disagreeing about the account is Will Hauptman (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/student-claims-gorsuch-said-women-manipulate-maternity-leave), who is himself currently clerking for Judge Christine Arguello, who was nominated to the 10th Circuit by Clinton in his final year in office but got knocked out by the “Thurmond Rule.” That inclines me to think that either Hauptman is telling the truth or he’s decided that he doesn’t want his job any more since I have to imagine that Arguello feels a lot of sympathy for Garland as a victim of similar behavior.

      • Denverite

        I didn’t know she was nominated for Tymkovich’s spot (just before my time). Weird alternative universe; I’ve got several friends and colleagues who clerked for him. (Plus he was on my very first 10th Circuit panel.)

      • Snuff curry

        Your generosity to Hauptman is noted, but Sisk made complaints at the time and another (anonymous) student agrees with her characterization. What Hauptman says doesn’t actually contradict Sisk, anyway, because Hauptman agrees that women were singled out as being potentially unsuitable to the profession because “families.”

  • How many people have taken two weeks of earned leave to look for another fucking job? Maternity leave is not conditional on the mother returning to work, any more than regular leave.

    • What I find most revealing of this story is that he’s apparently so unfamiliar with the thoughts and emotions of actual women that it doesn’t occur to him that using the maternity leave and then quitting the company probably wasn’t the original plan for the women he’s describing; that quite possibly, or even likely, their plans for returning to work changed after actually having the baby.

      • smott999

        Revealing, yes.
        Surprising, no.

      • He also doesn’t appear to realize that when women don’t return to work after having a baby, it’s often because the employer has suggested it’s a waste of time on her part.

    • Denverite

      Maternity leave depends on the company policy, but with FMLA, they can make you pay back your benefits accrued during leave if you don’t return.

  • 56Stats

    If only we had a system where maternity coverage was unrelated to employment, something like “national health care” — then there would be no fear that women were trying to get a job just to get coverage.

    • rm

      But that would give women more freedom, which we can’t have. (I don’t know how to do the sarcasm font). Better to simply declare all insurance or health care for women illegal, because women’s bodies are unclean. There’s no other way out of this dilemma.

  • malraux

    Another interesting Gorsuch case involves special education law. Gorsuch invented a standard saying that states only have an obligation to do more than nothing.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Note that the actual precedent was about the fact that states should actually accomplish things. Gorsuch’s “merely more than de minimus” standard not only took all the substance out of that precedent, but also supported a sleight-of-hand to substitute making an attempt for accomplishing things.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      (1) You might want to read the correction to that post you linked to. (2) I checked the opinion (https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/07/07-1304.pdf), and I fail to see a dissent from Clinton-appointee Judge Briscoe.

      • Joe_JP

        The argument he “invented” the standard appears to be too strong (though at one point, even the updated article retained a suggested he provided his own twist to it) but the bottom line still is that various appeals courts applied it & he used a more restrictive approach than many of them.

        The fact a Clinton-appointee (who come in a range, from liberal to fairly conservative) didn’t specifically dissent is also of limited information to me. The Medicaid expansion ruling in the PPACA cases, e.g., was very wrong to me, even if Breyer and Kagan happened to go along with it.

        • malraux

          I’ll admit I’m not much for the law talky bit, but reading the actual opinion, Gorsuch’s reading of IDEA seems to complete remove any obligation the states have to special needs students. Did the state create an IEP and did it have goals? Problem solved.

  • pluky

    Right. Women work like hell to get good enough grades, and LSATs to get into law school. Work even harder to get through law school (piling up massive amounts of debt along the way). The pass one last hurdle (the bar) to get a job at a decent law firm just so they can immediately get pregnant, and file a maternity leave claim. Got it.

    • rm

      They have wiles, you know.

      • efgoldman

        They have wiles, you know.

        Yeah, when's the last time your heard of masculine wiles?

  • jimpharo

    20% accurate as usual, Neil.

    Why isn’t he interested in men who quit their jobs right after having their companies pay for the pregnancy/delivery?

    Smart, small-minded, petty. Only a Drumpf-er would think this desirable.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    I don’t think the Senate should confirm Putin’s nominee nominee.

    • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

      I wonder how Gorsuch feels about this. Like, no one would turn down a SCOTUS nomination, but I wonder if its humiliating to be installed by a president like Trump.

  • DaftPunk

    I’m no lawyer, but by my reading of this nytimes op-ed, opposition to Chevron is on solid constitutional ground on strictly legal footing, and does not mark him as a conservative firebrand, (though for policy reasons opposing Chevron is certainly small-government conservative.)

  • smott999

    This f-cking administration is under counterintelligence investigation for espionage.
    Here’s hoping Dems do everything possible to block this.

    • farin


      • efgoldman


        The clips of the Comey hearing I saw tonite included a question by Gowdy. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, vomit, or throw something thru my flat screen.

  • dbk

    Oh boy, this incident, and the decision re educational provisions for disabled students, don’t portend well.

    I’m sure everyone has noticed that SCOTUSblog’s Andrew Hamm has usefully compiled two posts with a ton of links so those interested can review everything the blog has published on the candidate since his nomination. They’re also live-blogging the entire hearing, which is a considerable job and a real service for those who want to follow the details.

    I wrote to friends this morning that from the summaries I’ve read of his style and approach (I haven’t read any of his decisions), it sounds as if he is a cautious and careful jurist, but I couldn’t tell whether this is because he is truly cautious and careful (not undesirable traits in a SC Justice)or because he’s been running for SCOTUS since he was at Georgetown Prep.

    Should be a very interesting week.

  • Colin Day

    Hmm, let’s check in on the man the president installed by the FBI and the 19th century slave power

    Wouldn’t that be 18th century slave power?

  • Pamoya

    The National Women’s Law Center put out a good post about this topic, collecting the facts as well as a discussion of legal precedent regarding maternity leave: http://nwlc.org/blog/reported-gorsuch-statements-show-disqualifying-disregard-for-womens-workplace-rights/

  • liberal

    Per NoMoreAltCenter’s comment in the thread below, what excuses are we going to use when the Dems mount (at best) a half-assed attempt at a filibuster?

    I know, I know…the party leaders are the bestest, and the awesome-est, and we don’t deserve them.

  • sam

    “fun” anecdote. When I was doing on-campus interviews for my first law firm job (while still in law school), I had one interview with a woman partner from one of the largest firms in NYC who noticed on my resume that I had been a women’s studies major. She thought she’d “impress” me by telling me all about how friendly her firm was to women, by telling me about how she “actually let one of her female associates take maternity leave”.

    I just stared at her, dumbfounded. That she thought this was the pinnacle of a woman-friendly work environment – that she actually let an associate leave the office to have her baby and recover from the process. And that she was using this story as an example of how GOOD they were, because she was a (rare) female partner trying for some ‘feminist solidarity’ with me because of my specific credentials.

    I actually felt bad for her.

    It’s almost 20 years later, and every time I have an interaction with that firm, I think about that interview.

    Now, of course, 20 years later, I’m 43 and own a cat. I was downright married to my job – typical workaholic – traveled a ton when I was at my old firm, even moving overseas for almost a year (something that, if I had small kids or even a spouse, would have been much harder). And at the end of the day I got a nice severance check when my firm began going belly up.

    So there’s a life lesson for everyone in there somewhere about the fact that we ALL need a little more work-life balance, and for some reason it’s ONLY the women who seem to ask for (and get punished for) it.

    Oh – and don’t get me started on every “women’s network” at every firm or company that I’ve ever worked at, that despite their best intentions ALWAYS devolves into a group that spends 90% of its time discussing “mommy” issues – yes, they’re important. But (a) issues around work/life balance in having families and jobs shouldn’t always/only fall to women to deal with, and (b) there are a lot of non-uteri-related-issues that women need to deal with.

    • Denverite

      One of the biggest shocks in my professional life was when a senior partner (since retired) at the big international firm I was at at the time straight up told me that they write off female associates who have babies before making partner “because they’ll probably have a second baby and then never come back, so why waste time developing them.”

      • sam

        I was fairly lucky in that I was pretty quickly “adopted” by a fairly senior female partner who mentored me – she had two kids and was still basically a workaholic. Her husband also worked at the same firm I started at, and they were REALLY good at maintaining a good balance – they were utterly professional at work, but pretty clearly shared the burden of dealing with the kids.

        I mean – they had a nanny and stuff – they were two law firm partners, but I sat in an office right in between them, and I’d seem them have discussions about workloads and who was, based entirely on work, able to go home “on time” and relieve the nanny in the evening (I think they had a a deal where the nanny stayed late one or two nights a week so they both could work, and then one of them had to go home by 6:30 on other nights). From what I remember, it was pretty evenly split. Also, in addition to “family” vacations, when one of them got a break in work, they’d take advantage and take one or both kids on special solo trips.

        Eventually, my mentor and I moved to another firm (which was bigger and more prestigious) while her husband stayed at firm one – I worked for her for all 10 years of my law firm career, and actually just had dinner with her two weeks ago. It was really helpful to me to work with her. Not only because she was/is a great lawyer, but because she very much modeled the “how to have a family and still be a full-tilt law firm lawyer” (if you want it).

        (and when I got laid off, the firm management kept it a secret from the partners I actually worked for – she and the other partners I had spent years working for found out FROM ME that I got laid off. So that was a big clusterfuck in and of itself, since I was working on multiple deals for her at the time).

        • Denverite

          Oh, a lot of the women had kids — but they either had them after making partner, or they lateraled in after having them. The head of one of the major practice groups had like four or five kids and actually did a crapload with them (though with a SAH dad) — she’d work from 4:00 AM until they got up at 7:00, then basically hang out with them until school, then work from 9:30-4:30, then back home to spend time with them until 7:00 or so, then back to work until 10:30 or 11:00.

          I just can’t do that myself, at least with any regularity. I usually miss my kids in the evening because I’ll be at work until 7:30 or 8:00 (these days, at least), but if I worked until 5:30 and then tried to pick it back up and put in 2-3 more hours at 8:00 after the kids were in bed, I’d be shot.

    • Origami Isopod

      Co-signing your last paragraph pretty hard.

      • sam

        here’s another fun one for you – at my (now defunct) former law firm, the women’s network once tried to put together a book of “advice for women lawyers”. The content was fine, but some GENIUS saw “women” and decided to graphic design the entire thing with….

        ….pink ribbons and flowers.

        Every single woman who got one of these books dropped on her desk literally stepped out of her office to run to the next closest woman’s office, jaws dragging on the floor, to loudly proclaim “WTF!!!”

        One of my colleagues said it looked like the booklet her grandmother gave her when she got her first period.

        Needless to say, there were some significant…apologies that were made after that debacle.

        The following year, a similar book was distributed using standard “firm” colors and graphics (navy blue and gold).

        • BiloSagdiyev

          I would at least demand that a pamphlet be made for the male employees with dirt bikes and dinosaurs on the cover.

  • Has anyone had better luck than I in making out the text of the sampler on the wall behind Young Gorsuch? It seems to begin “The long(?) way / ? God’s works”, but though even such a short and fragmentary text might be enough of a clue to feed to Google, a few minutes’ swim in the ocean of saccharinely self-righteous samplers has already left me exhausted and despairing. God’s works, indeed.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I squinted at it for ten minutes and then engaged in some autoerotic asphyxiation and I’m pretty sure it reads, “This family will engage in a long-term stealth campaign to bring lead back to its right place as a safe material in American society.”

  • kped

    Remember when some “Bernie or Busters” (and I don’t put this on Bernie, he’s not responsible for the idiots) would tweet or write stories saying that the Supreme Court isn’t really an issue, Garland would get confirmed? That one held up sooooo well.

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