Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s pick to join the US Supreme Court, has been accused of including language from other authors in his writing without proper attribution.
Multiple news outlets reported Tuesday night that portions of one chapter in Gorsuch’s 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” and an academic article from 2000 contain text taken from other works without credit to the original authors.
Politico, citing documents it acquired, said Gorsuch “borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.”
One example cited by Politico’s John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett notes that some passages in Gorsuch’s book – which was adapted from his Oxford University dissertation – seemed to be lifted from an article originally published in the Indiana Law Journal. Gorsuch apparently cited the sources used by the article’s author, Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, while copying her verbiage nearly word for word without crediting her.
Critics have suggested the incidences call into question Gorsuch’s qualifications for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. The battle to fill the vacant seat has been playing out in Congress since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year.
Kuzma and the White House have come to Gorsuch’s defense. Kuzma, who is now Indiana’s deputy attorney general, said: “These passages are factual, not analytical in nature. It would have been awkward and difficult for Judge Gorsuch to have used different language.”
- Alex Wong/Getty Images
A White House spokesman, Steven Cheung, waved off any suggestions that Gorsuch acted improperly, calling it a “false attack” by critics “desperate to justify the unprecedented filibuster of a well-qualified and mainstream nominee to the Supreme Court.”
But a Syracuse University professor, Rebecca Moore, rebutted those defenses in an interview with Politico, saying: “Each of the individual incidents constitutes a violation of academic ethics. I’ve never seen a college plagiarism code that this would not be in violation of.”
The plagiarism accusations surfaced on the same night that Democrats dug in their heels on the Senate floor to stall a vote on Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon held the floor for hours Tuesday night while a threat from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell loomed, opening up the possibility of a rules change that would eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and hasten Gorsuch’s confirmation.
At least two other people in Trump’s orbit have previously been accused of plagiarism. Monica Crowley, an early pick for Trump’s National Security Council, was forced to withdraw her name from consideration in January. And first lady Melania Trump garnered national criticism during the Republican National Convention in July for copying, nearly verbatim, excerpts of a speech from former first lady Michelle Obama.