Thirteen months after Antonin Scalia passed away, and two months after President Donald Trump chose Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, confirmation hearings are set to begin today for the conservative Colorado judge.
What could get in his way, though, is a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee by one of Gorsuch’s former students who claims he made remarks about how women take jobs at law firms only to immediately have families and depart, intentionally abusing the system of maternity leave.
Posted on Sunday by the National Women’s Law Center, Jennifer Sisk’s letter says when Gorsuch was a University of Colorado Law School professor, he singled out women as manipulating firms by having children.
“He asked the class to raise their hands if they knew of a female who had used a company to get maternity benefits and then left right after having a baby.
No more than a small handful of students [raised their hands]. At that point, Judge Gorsuch became more animated saying, ‘C’mon guys.’ He then announced that all our hands should be raised because ‘many’ women used their company for maternity benefits then leave the company.”
Sisk also said Gorsuch accused women of being manipulative in interviews, and that employers had a right to obtain information about women’s pregnancies.
While it’s not specifically illegal to ask questions about family planning in interviews, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is illegal to make hiring decisions based on those answers.
Another student in the class wrote a letter to the committee, disagreeing with Sisk’s characterization of the discussion.
“Although Judge Gorsuch did discuss some of the topics mentioned in the letter, he did not do so in the manner described,” Will Hauptman wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I would remember—the statements would have greatly upset me.”
Sisk said she reported the comments to the university, which said it would follow up with Gorsuch at the end of the semester.
In a Facebook post in January, while recounting the story, Sisk called him still “better than the rest” of Trump’s potential choices.