Neil Gorsuch’s History at Harvard Isn’t Adding Up

The Wall Street Journal has raised questions about his record volunteering as a student.

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, right, is escorted by former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on the way to a meeting with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Photo via AP

There’s something weird about Neil Gorsuch’s history at Harvard. One big chunk of it—a part that makes him seem like a really nice guy—isn’t adding up.

While he was a law student, he claims to have volunteered his legal expertise to help the less fortunate via the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and Harvard Defenders. But the problem is, almost no one remembers him doing so.

The Wall Street Journal says it reached out to dozens of people who were at Harvard Law at the same time as Gorsuch, and despite the fact that many have fond memories of doing the work, most have no recollections of him actually helping out. He isn’t listed as having been a participant in yearbooks. No one can share details of cases he worked on. In a 2006 questionnaire about the pro-bono work, he didn’t offer any specifics.

One former classmate says he remembers hearing Gorsuch talk about Harvard Defenders, which pairs law students with low-income criminal defendants, once, the Journal reports. And the only tangible proof he might have been involved is an email from 2008, provided to the Journal by the White House, in which he replies to a Harvard Defenders alumni email group and recalls his time volunteering as “a very rewarding experience.”

This aspect of Gorsuch’s past has been listed in official bios and cited by President Trump as evidence that as a judge he is a firm, yet compassionate conservative and steward of the Constitution.

Other accounts of his time in Cambridge, including one from the Globe, have painted him as cool-headed, clear-spoken, somewhat well-known due to his conservative views in a campus full of liberals.

Gorsuch’s past in education has been a hot topic lately. It also emerged that at his private high school he founded and led a group called the Fascism Forever Club. Friends have since said that it was just a joke, a stunt designed to tease his more liberal classmates.

The questions raised by the Journal come as Democrats wage a campaign to block his appointment to the court and the Trump administration ponders overhauling the filibuster.