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Neil Gorsuch Is Accused of Plagiarizing a Section of His Book

A new investigation suggests Donald Trump's SCOTUS pick might have ripped off the work of legal scholars without properly citing them.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats fighting Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination may have a new bit of ammo in their arsenal: The Colorado judge has been accused of plagiarizing a section of his book, Politico reports.

In a few passages from his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Gorsuch leans heavily on the phrasing and ideas of work from other legal scholars, in some cases almost word for word. In three separate examples, Gorsuch's writing resembles that of authors Ian Dowbiggin, Paul Lombardo, and Abigail Lawlis Kuzma without properly citing them.


In the thorniest example, Gorsuch nearly mirrors Kuzma's 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal, as Politico pointed out in a side-by-side comparison. In that section, Gorsuch only cites the sources Kuzma used in her writeup, rather than Kuzma herself.

"Each of the individual incidents constitutes a violation of academic ethics," Syracuse University professor Rebecca Moore Howard told Politico. "I've never seen a college plagiarism code that this would not be in violation of."

According to New York magazine, Kuzma said it wasn't a big deal that Gorsuch used similar language from her article because it would have been "awkward and difficult" for him to restate the facts of a case in a completely different way. The White House also defended Gorsuch, saying the whole thing was just a last-ditch effort to tarnish Gorsuch's reputation and cast doubt on his legal rigor.

"This false attack has been strongly refuted by highly regarded academic experts, including those who reviewed, professionally examined, and edited Judge Gorsuch's scholarly writings, and even the author of the main piece cited in the false attack," White House spokesman Steven Cheung told Politico.

Gorsuch isn't the first Trump associate to be accused of plagiarism. Last year, Melania Trump caught some serious criticism for delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention that echoed—almost verbatim—one from Michelle Obama. And in January, Monica Crowley turned down a communications gig at the National Security Council following allegations that she'd copied other scholars word for word in her 2012 book, 2000 dissertation, and a Wall Street Journal article.

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