Desperate last-minute ploy? Gorsuch plagiarism allegation surfaces

Judge Neil Gorsuch (Source: YouTube, PBS)
Judge Neil Gorsuch (Source: YouTube, PBS)

An 11th hour suggestion that Judge Neil Gorsuch may have committed plagiarism in his 2006 book titled “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” appears to be gaining little traction outside of the political left field, as the U.S. Senate debates his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Politico published a report late Tuesday night asserting that Gorsuch “copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article.” Politico compared documents from Gorsuch and other sources, and also contacted six people it described as “experts on academic integrity” for their opinions. Those opinions turned out to be very mixed.

Associated Prof. Elizabeth Berenguer at the Campbell Law School said similarities in writing “would be investigated ‘as a potential violation of our plagiarism policy.’”

However, a different expert provided by the White House, identified as Robert George of Princeton University and general editor for Gorsuch’s book publisher, reportedly told Politico, “Judge Gorsuch did not attempt to steal other people’s intellectual property or pass off ideas or arguments taken from other writers as his own. In no case did he seek credit for insights or analysis that had been purloined. In short, not only is there no fire, there isn’t even any smoke.”

Another online news source, BuzzFeed, also reported on the plagiarism flap. BuzzFeed reached out to Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, author of a 1984 book from which Gorsuch allegedly copied material. She did not respond directly but reportedly did relay a statement via White House and outside staffers “working on Gorsuch’s nomination.”

Kuzma’s reply was blunt: “I have reviewed both passages and do not see an issue here, even though the language is similar. These passages are factual, not analytical in nature, framing both the technical legal and medical circumstances of the ‘Baby/Infant Doe’ case that occurred in 1982. Given that these passages both describe the basic facts of the case, it would have been awkward and difficult for Judge Gorsuch to have used different language.”

Breitbart.com quoted Princeton’s Prof. George, who had this observation: “I can only say that [these allegations’] timing and substance (or, more to the point, lack of substance) makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is a politically motivated effort to smear him in the hope of derailing his confirmation.”


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