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Trump SCOTUS pick Neil Gorsuch’s ‘fascism’ club was likely a joke meant to annoy liberals
Gorsuch hasn’t been shy about his conservative beliefs.
It’s not a surprise that President Donald Trump‘s nominee for the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is a solid conservative. But did the 49-year old Harvard Law graduate, praised for his “intellectual seriousness,” really form a “fascist club” in high school?
The Daily Mail reported on Thursday that it dug through the 1985 yearbook of Georgetown Preparatory School, where Gorsuch was a student, and found evidence that the federal judge founded and led a student group called “Fascism Forever Club.”
Georgetown Preparatory School has not responded to a request from the Daily Dot for confirmation of the Daily Mail report.
However, America Magazine reporter Michael J. O’Loughlin tweeted a page from the yearbook and verified its contents, noting that the club was a joke. The student group of 14 to 17-year-old boys led by Gorsuch appeared to have seen the “fascist” label as tongue-in-cheek.
“In political circles, our tireless President Gorsuch’s ‘Fascism Forever Club’ happily jerked its knees against the increasingly ‘left-wing’ tendencies of the faculty,” said the yearbook, according to the Daily Mail.
It was perhaps a cheeky aside to the fact that liberal critics of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s often referred to him as a fascist. Interestingly enough, Reagan in a 1975 60 Minutes interview likened fascism to liberalism.
The fact that Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia is a conservative who poured through William F. Buckley in his teens and formed conservative student groups to poke fun at “liberal” teachers shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, Gorsuch is the son of Reagan-appointed Environmental Protection Agency administrator Ann Burford. Burford in the ’80s attempted to purge the EPA of scientists and slowed the clean-up of toxic waste sites. After Reagan appointed his mother in 1981, the young Gorsuch moved to Washington, D.C., and enrolled in Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland.
If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Gorsuch will serve on the highest tribunal responsible for interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Fans of government transparency and defenders of the Constitution may be alarmed by the federal judge’s draw to a particular quote by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The Kissinger quote, “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer,” was used by Gorsuch in both his high school and college yearbooks.
That famous line was uttered by Kissinger in a long, nervous post-Watergate meeting with the Turkish foreign minister and U.S. diplomats that dealt with sneaking U.S. aid to Turkey without the approval of Congress. U.S. ambassador to Turkey, William Butts Macomber Jr., noted that some aspect of the deal “would be illegal.”
“Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that,” Kissinger said, according to cables obtained by WikiLeaks in 2013.
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.