One of Neil Gorsuch’s former law students has written a letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warning that the Supreme Court nominee has some very bad attitudes towards women in the workplace.
Jennifer Sisk, who took Gorsuch’s Legal Ethics and Professionalism class at the University of Colorado Law School in 2016, recalled a class in which Gorsuch launched into a discussion about “work life balance in the legal profession.” It did not go well.
“Instead, 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,” she wrote in a letter National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Women’s Law Center. “He then announced that all our hands should be be raised because ‘many’ women use their companies for maternity benefits after the baby is born.”
According to Sisk, Gorsuch then told the class that employers have a right and even an obligation to ask women about family planning in order to “protect the company.” He apparently did not seem concerned about men who were raising families.
She added, “There was no discussion of the reasons women may leave employment when having children or the difficulties in raising young children and meeting high billable hours required in law firms. Instead, Judge Gorsuch continued to steer the conversation back to the problems women pose for companies and the protections that companies need from women.”
Let’s not forget that Gorsuch, a staunch conservative, was appointed by a man who is eager to see Roe v. Wade overturned. As a 10th Circuit Judge who ruled on Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, he sided against the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate and wrote: “No one before us disputes that the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.” So it is not exactly surprising that Gorsuch is not a poster boy for women’s rights. Sisk’s concerns are valid, however, and something to keep an eye on as the committee hearing begins on Monday.