Skip to main site content.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)


Supreme Court nominee accused of inappropriate comments about women in the workplace by former law student

By WITW Staff on March 21, 2017

In a hearing expected to last more than ten hours, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Tuesday faced his first public grilling from senators on the Judiciary Committee. During the questioning Gorsuch was asked respond to allegations made by a former student he taught at the University of Colorado Law School, Jennifer Sisk, who claims that in a law class last year Gorsuch suggested women unethically exploit companies for their maternity benefits.

In a letter to the committee, Sisk explained that Gorsuch had asked for the class’ opinion on a hypothetical scenario, whereby a woman applied for a job at a large law firm, knowing full well that she was hoping to start a family with her husband in the not-so-distant future. She described how Gorsuch had then grown “animated,” suggesting that everyone should have their hand up since so “many” women use companies for their maternity benefits, and then leave the company once they have had their baby.

Although Sisk made a complaint to the school’s administration, the school admitted on Monday that the issue had never been raised with Gorsuch.

When asked about the allegations by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Gorsuch responded that he had lifted the hypothetical scenario from a textbook, putting it to the class in order to elucidate some of the very real challenges young lawyers face when breaking into the profession.

“I do ask for a show of hands — not about the question you asked, but about the following question, and 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 said. “And I am shocked every year, senator, how many young women raise their hands, it’s disturbing to me.”

The allegation has been disputed by a current law student, Will Hauptman, who in a letter to the committee said Sisk had inaccurately represented the discussion that had taken place in the classroom. “Although Judge Gorsuch did discuss some of the topics mentioned in the letter, he did not do so in the manner described,” Hauptman wrote in his letter.

A group of female former law clerks for Gorsuch have also leapt to his defense, submitting another letter to the committee in which they describe him as having always championed the fair treatment of women in the workplace and acknowledged the struggles of juggling family life with the workload of an attorney for both mothers and fathers.

Read the full story at on CNN and NPR.


Here’s how Neil Gorsuch replied to 3 different questions on Roe v. Wade at 2nd day of confirmation hearing

The main clue about how Trump’s SCOTUS nominee might approach abortion if he makes it to bench