As a college journalist, SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch defended conservatism, gave space to the other side

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Supreme Court Nominations


Neil Gorsuch

Judge Neil Gorsuch.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was a student journalist at Columbia University in the 1980s who defended conservatism in op-eds and co-founded an opinion-oriented newspaper.

Gorsuch wrote for the opinion pages of the college daily, edited a political periodical, and co-founded a paper called the Federalist that published political opinion and campus news, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the Associated Press.

Gorsuch was “a political odd man out” at Columbia who “became one of the right’s most outspoken, though nuanced, voices on the Manhattan campus,” AP reports.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog unearthed some of Gorsuch’s opinion columns from the university archives. According to the newspaper, Gorsuch essays: urged the Reagan administration to take a harder line against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, defended Columbia conduct codes that threatened “blockaders” of campus buildings with expulsion, defended single-sex fraternities, and charged that an anti-fraternity march was more about the “demand for the overthrow of American society” than “rational discussion.”

The Federalist had a point-counterpoint column that was in the paper at Gorsuch’s insistence. His co-written defense of single-sex fraternities (PDF) was the counterpoint to a writer who said single-sex fraternities discriminate against women and should be banned.

One former Federalist contributor, M. Adel Aslani-Far, is now a New York lawyer. He told the Wall Street Journal Law Blog that Gorsuch had ideas that could be labeled conservative “but he was no ideologue or zealot. …. He wasn’t there to just slam people.”

But former campus activist Jordan Kushner, now a Minneapolis civil rights lawyer, had a different view. “He’s good at sounding reasonable, but … he took really right-wing positions” on issues such as the Iran-Contra affair and protests, Kushner told AP. Some viewed his stances as dismissive of protesters.

Today the Federalist is a right-leaning humor magazine similar to the Onion. The paper congratulated Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination in this article expressing confidence that “Merrick Garland’s voodoo doll of him won’t stand in the way of his confirmation.”




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