Most people make a few mistakes when starting a new job. Typically, those mistakes aren’t unethical or termination-worthy. But it looks like President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, may have made a big mistake.
For those with spotty memories, Gorsuch was sworn in to the Supreme Court in April 2017. He took the seat left vacant after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The seat had remained vacant for 14 months, because Republicans refused to fill the vacancy during Obama’s presidency, hoping that he would be replaced by a Republican president.
When Trump nominated Gorsuch, Democrats opposed him almost unanimously. In order to get Gorsuch confirmed, Republicans used the so-called “nuclear option” to change the rules so that only a simple majority was required to vote him into the seat. Gorsuch was confirmed after a 54-45 vote.
Per Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, Gorsuch recently had dinner with the senator, as well as fellow Republican John Cornyn, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, her husband, and others. Ms. Chao’s husband happens to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Few details about the dinner are available, but Gorsuch being in attendance is surprising, especially considering that many believe he occupies a seat that was stolen from a rightful Obama appointment. As of yet, no one is raising any ethical questions, but the Code of Conduct for Supreme Court Justices cautions them from getting involved in political matters:
Canon 4: A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities that are Consistent with the Obligations of Judicial Office
“A judge may engage in extrajudicial activities, including law-related pursuits and civic, charitable, educational, religious, social, financial, fiduciary, and governmental activities, and may speak, write, lecture, and teach on both law-related and nonlegal subjects. However, a judge should not participate in extrajudicial activities that detract from the dignity of the judge’s office, interfere with the performance of the judge’s official duties, reflect adversely on the judge’s impartiality, lead to frequent disqualification, or violate the limitations set forth below.”
But surely a bunch of Republican politicians weren’t discussing politics at dinner party, right?