Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

American Bridge: Too Stupid for Words

One of David Brock’s money-sucking tentacles, a super PAC called American Bridge 21st Century, has issued a tedious 77-page copy-and-paste manifesto against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The screed’s title proclaims Neil Gorsuch “Too Extreme for the Supreme Court,” but a quick initial review of its contents suffices to show that American Bridge, when it tries to engage in legal analysis, is simply “Too Stupid to Be Taken Seriously.”

As I race from meeting to media appearance, permit me just a couple of quick examples:

1. In labeling Gorsuch a “threat to privacy” (p. 14), American Bridge writes:

Gorsuch also wrote a dissenting opinion in the United States v. Carlos [sic] case, in which he argued that police ignoring a “no trespassing” sign did not violate the 4th amendment.

American Bridge gets things backwards. Gorsuch did indeed dissent in United States v. Carloss. But it was the majority opinion in that case that denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that the police discovered after going on the homeowner’s property. Gorsuch argued in a lengthy dissent that by posting “No Trespassing” signs all over her property, the homeowner had refused to consent to the police entering her property.

2. American Bridge faults Gorsuch for his opinion in Wilson v. City of Lafayette in which he “claimed that all police officers had immunity unless they were ‘plainly incompetent’ or knowingly violating the law” (p. 10). American Bridge manages not to notice that Gorsuch’s “claim” is in fact a direct quotation from the governing Supreme Court authority, Malley v. Briggs (1986). Here’s what Gorsuch wrote:

We sympathize with the Wilsons over their terrible loss. But the Supreme Court has directed the lower federal courts to apply qualified immunity broadly, to protect from civil liability for damages all officers except “the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law,” Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986), in order that officers might not be unduly “inhibit[ed] . . . in performing their official duties,” Medina v. Cram, 252 F.3d 1124, 1127 (10th Cir. 2001.

The Supreme Court was unanimous on that proposition in Malley. Among the oh-so-extreme justices who joined Justice White’s majority opinion: Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens, and O’Connor. 

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