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Politics & Policy

Those Conveniently Omitted Details About a Gorsuch Critic

We’re now in the “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” phase of the Democratic argument against Judge Neil Gorsuch.

At 7:50 this morning, NPR tweeted out a story with the shocking headline, “[Former] law student: Neil Gorsuch told ethics class firms should ask female applicants if they plan to have children.”

Jennifer Sisk, identified only as a lawyer in Colorado, wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee describing her experience in an April 19, 2016 class with Gorsuch at the University of Colorado Law School, in distinctly troubling terms: “Throughout this class, Judge Gorsuch continued to make it very clear that the question of commitment to work over family was one that only women had to answer for. . . . It concerned me that a man educating female lawyers would be discounting their worth publicly.”

Good heavens! What a nosy, inappropriate question! What an obvious justification for sexual discrimination or discrimination against parents! Just what kind of a Torquemada are we dealing with here, this rotten so-and-so . . . 

Wait, wait, wait. Read further into the now-updated story on NPR’s web site, and we now learn . . . 

“Sisk, once a staffer for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and the Interior Department during the Obama administration . . . ”

Oh. So it’s not that hard to imagine a motivation for her to remember her interaction with Gorsuch in the worst possible light, or misremember it completely.

It’s Sisk’s word against . . . well, other students, and plenty of female lawyers who say Gorsuch has helped them a great deal in their careers.

This characterization is being disputed by Will Hauptman, a current law student at the University of Colorado. Hauptman wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee with his account on Sunday.

“Although Judge Gorsuch did discuss some of the topics mentioned in the letter, he did not do so in the manner described,” Hauptman writes.

He continued, “The judge was very matter-of-fact in that we would face difficult decisions; he himself recalled working late nights when he had a young child with whom he wished to share more time. The seriousness with which the judge asked us to consider these realities reflected his desire to make us aware of them, not any animus against a career or group.”

A group of 11 female former law clerks for Gorsuch also submitted a letter to the committee in support of the nominee.

“We each have lived long enough and worked long enough to know gender discrimination when we see it. Some of us have experienced it professionally on occasion,” they write. “When we collectively say that Judge Gorsuch treats and values women fairly and without preference or prejudice based on their gender, we do not say that in a vacuum. We say it with the perspective of those who know that unfortunately, even in 2017, female lawyers are not always treated as equals.”

Heck of a job, NPR. Heck of a job.


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