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Former law student claims Neil Gorsuch made sexist remarks — now the truth has been revealed

A former law student of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch claimed he made sexist remarks in class, but her background indicates she may have had political motives to make such accusations. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Liberals and Democrats on Monday fawned over a letter a former law student of Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch wrote blasting the judge. The letter alleged that during the course of one of his classes Gorsuch made sexist remarks about pregnant women.

The student, Jennifer Sisk, a Denver attorney who took a class taught by Gorsuch at the University of Colorado law school last spring, wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Friday outlining one of the alleged incidents, where Gorsuch allegedly said some pregnant women use companies for their maternity benefits only to leave after having a baby.

Sisk's letter said:

[Gorsuch] 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. Judge Gorsuch specifically targeted females and maternity leave. This question was not about parents or men shifting priorities after having children. It was solely focused on women using their companies.

I do not remember if any students raised their hands, but it was no more than a small handful of students. 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 use their companies for maternity benefits and then leave the company after the baby is born.

In the letter, Sisk also said that Gorsuch believes companies must ask potential female employees about future pregnancies and family plans "to protect the company."

"Judge Gorsuch's comments implied that women intentionally manipulate companies and plan to disadvantage their companies," Sisk wrote.

Certainly, the allegations make Gorsuch look bad. After all, federal law prohibits employers from "basing hiring decisions on pregnancy or sex," according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"Thus, an employer may not refuse to hire a woman because she is or expects to become pregnant," the EEOC states.

Sisk's allegations were widely reported on Monday, the day that Gorsuch's Senate confirmation hearing began. However, what most mainstream media outlets failed to mention in their stories was the fact that Sisk has close ties to the Democratic Party, was an appointee in the Obama administration and once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.), according to the Daily Signal.

More from the Daily Signal:

Her work in Udall’s office is documented in the University of Colorado’s Alumni Association Magazine. Her time in the Interior Department during the Obama administration is confirmed on page 83 of the government’s 2012 “Plum Book,” a publication containing data on “over 8,000 federal civil service leadership and support positions.” The book lists Sisk as a “SC appointment,” which stands for “Schedule C Excepted Appointment.”

According to the “Plum Book,” “Because of the confidential or policy-determining nature of Schedule C positions, the incumbents serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority (usually the agency head) and may be removed at any time.”

Despite her clear political connections, which oppose those of President Donald Trump's administration, who nominated Gorsuch, Sisk did not note her ties to the Obama administration or Udall in her letter to Grassley and Feinstein.

Meanwhile, other former law students and law clerks for Gorsuch — including Democrats and women — dismantled Sisk's allegations of sexism.

Janie Nitze, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — an Obama appointee — and served in the Justice Department under Obama, told the Daily Signal that any allegations that Gorsuch is sexist are demonstrably false.

"I served as a clerk for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for a year, working day in and day out with him in chambers. Not for one second did I ever feel that he treated me with anything other than the utmost respect — as he did all law clerks," she told the publication.

Will Hauptman, a law student at the University of Colorado's law school who was in the same "Legal Ethics and Professionalism" class as Sisk, said Sisk is simply mischaracterizing Gorsuch's hypothetical question.

"The judge was very matter-of-fact in that we would face difficult decisions; he himself recalled working late nights when he had a young child with whom he wished to share more time," he told the Daily Signal. "The seriousness with which the judge asked us to consider these realities reflected his desire to make us aware of them, not any animus against a career or group."

Gorsuch also addressed the accusations at his hearings Tuesday during a tense back-end-forth with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

"Did you ask your students in class that day to raise their hands if they knew of a woman who had taken maternity benefits from a company and then left the company after having a baby?" Durbin asked.

Bluntly, Gorsuch replied, "No," before explaining the purpose behind his hypothetical question, which comes from one of the textbooks his students use.

"I ask it of everybody: How many of you have had questions like this asked of you in the employment environment, an inappropriate question about your family planning?" Gorsuch explained. "I am shocked every year, senator, how many young women raise their hand. It is disturbing to me."

During the exchange about the issue, Gorsuch also revealed that he didn't know about the allegations waged against him, or Sisk's letter, until the night before his hearings began.

Many of the mainstream media outlets that reported Sisk's claims on Monday have updated their stories to include information about Sisk's background. Other, like ThinkProgress, the New York Daily News and Jezebel, have not.

Gorsuch will continue Senate hearings through Thursday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on his nomination in early April.

[graphiq id="8PEVI3A7qHH" title="Neil Gorsuch" width="500" height="500" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/8PEVI3A7qHH" ]

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