Neil Gorsuch is accused of plagiarism amid a heated Supreme Court confirmation fight

Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, has been accused of including language from other authors in his own 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 borrowed from other works without credit to the original authors.

In some instances, Gorsuch allegedly "borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works," Politico reported, citing documents related to the matter.

One example cited by Politico notes that, in Gorsuch's book — which was adapted from his Oxford University dissertation — some passages were lifted from an article originally published in the Indiana Law Journal. Text was copied without attributing the article's original author, Abigail Lawlis Kuzma. Gorsuch apparently cited Kuzma's sources instead, while copying her verbiage nearly word-for-word without crediting her, Politico's John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett wrote.

RELATED: Where SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch stands on key issues

Where SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch stands on key issues
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Where SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch stands on key issues

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch looks on as Senate Judiciary Committee. President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the seat that had left vacant with the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


Gorsuch has never directly ruled on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S., but he was pressed on the landmark ruling during his Senate confirmation hearing. 

When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Gorsuch what he would have done if President Trump asked him to overturn Roe v. Wade, the judge responded, "I would have walked out the door. It's not what judges do. I don't do it at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue and they shouldn't do it at this end either, respectfully."

Some refer to passages from a book Gorsuch wrote on assisted suicide. In the book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Gorsuch wrote, "The idea that all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong."

(Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Second Amendment

Gorsuch has never directly ruled on the Second Amendment. However, during his confirmation hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) questioned Gorsuch on District of Columbia v. Heller -- a landmark ruling that overturned a ban on handguns and certain requirements when storing guns in Washington D.C. 

Gorsuch offered limited responses to Feinstein's questioning, but did conclude that Heller was the "law of the land." 

(REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo)


Gorsuch is widely regarded as a strong proponent of religious liberty.

In a landmark ruling, Gorsuch sided with an employer in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case in 2013, making it legal for a non-profit organization to deny employees access to contraceptives if it goes against their religious beliefs. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, where it was also ruled in the favor of Hobby Lobby. 

In another case, Gorsuch ruled in favor of a Wyoming inmate. The ruling allowed the inmate to use a prison yard sweat lodge, that he had previously been denied access to, for Native American religious worship.



Gorsuch has not hinted to how he feels about President Trump's proposed travel ban, and many experts are split on how the SCOTUS nominee would vote on the executive order that bans immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries. The ban is currently suspended following rulings by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland. 

Gorsuch has sided with immigrants in past cases, and as Cornell University constitutional law professor Michael Dorf noted to the Denver Post -- "Gorsuch’s sympathy for people in religious cases, a general skepticism of executive power and a history of ruling for immigrants give some reason to think he could be sympathetic to plaintiffs challenging a ban on people from certain countries."

(REUTERS/Eric Thayer)


In the 2015 case Energy and Environment Legal Institute vs. Epel, Gorsuch sided with a Colorado law that requires 20 percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from renewable sources. The case was filed by an out-of-state coal company, claiming the law was a threat to interstate commerce. 

(REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)

LGBTQ rights

When pressed about gay rights and strict interpretations of the law by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.) during his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch responded that "no one is looking to return us to horse and buggy days."

"We’re trying to interpret the law faithfully, taking principles that are enduring and a Constitution that was meant to last ages and apply it and interpret it to today’s problems." 

Gorsuch also told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "A good judge starts with precedent and doesn’t reinvent the wheel. So to the extent, there are decisions on these topics — and there are — a good judge respects precedent."

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)


While Gorsuch does hail from Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, it is still unclear where he stands on the issue.

In 2015, Gorsuch ruled against a dispensary, forcing the company to pay taxes on items they wrote off as business expenses in an effort to avoid incriminating themselves due to a federal law banning marijuana. 

(Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)


Critics have suggested the incidences call into question Gorsuch's qualifications for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, which itself has been a long-playing battle in Congress since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year.

Kuzma and the White House have both 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," Politico reported.

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 Syracuse University professor Rebecca Moore refuted 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 nightwhile a threat from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell loomed, opening up the possibility of a rules change that would eliminate the filibuster 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 for copying, nearly verbatim, excerpts of a speech from former First Lady Michelle Obama for her own address at the Republican National Convention in July.

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