Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch listens as he is asked a question by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Weasley Worded News Reports That Neil Gorsuch Committed Plagiarism Are Fake News. Here’s Why.

BuzzFeed is the first out of the gate with a weasley worded headline designed to accuse Neil Gorsuch of plagiarizing without actually doing so because BuzzFeed knows it is not true. Why? Because they and Politico, which is also planning to run this story, both knew from the alleged victim that it was not plagiarism before running the story.

BuzzFeed’s headline is “A Short Section In Neil Gorsuch’s 2006 Book Appears To Be Copied From A Law Review Article” with the subtitle “The section is just two paragraphs and accompanying footnotes, but it repeats language and sourcing from another work, a 1984 law review article.”

Notice “appears to be” in the headline. Notice “repeats language and sourcing,” which means Gorsuch used the same primary sources instead of relying on someone else’s work.

Democrats have been shopping this story around for a week. They claim Neil Gorsuch committed plagiarism. The allegation is that in a body of written work that amounts to over literally 7,000 written pages, Gorsuch plagiarized two paragraphs. The allegation is crap and the reporters who are pushing this out are Democrats masquerading as objective reporters. Don’t believe me though. Believe the people who are the supposed victims of the plagiarism.

BuzzFeed’s reporter is a gay rights activist who has been openly contemptuous of conservatives and conservative legal scholars over the years as he has advocated for the gay agenda. The Politico’s reporter, once he drops his work that will sound like BuzzFeed’s and thereby meet both organizations’ definition of plagiarism, is a Democrat hack.

You need some background for this attack.

A lot of law review articles and legal articles in general cite each other. They reference each other. But the longer a topic goes along, the more and more often a lawyer and law student is citing the second hand recitations instead of the first hand documents and case law.

Gorsuch ran into that problem when writing about an Infant Doe case that originated in 1982. In his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide, Gorsuch did not cite a 1984 Indiana Law Journal article written by Abigail Lawlis Kuzma. Instead, Gorsuch went to the original materials. He referred to an unpublished declaratory judgment that formed the basis of the case, a text book, and an 1983 newspaper article. He is being accused of plagiarism for using the original sources to give the facts of a case instead of relying on someone else’s second hand account, which means that the publication that claimed Gorsuch committed plagiarism after another publication did the same has committed plagiarism.

Basically, Roe v. Wade involved a plaintiff in Texas who sought an abortion and was denied the ability to have one. She sued. According to the standard being laid out for Gorsuch, what I just wrote would be plagiarism. It is, however, journalism and English writing 101 that recitations of facts are not plagiarism.

Again though, don’t believe me. Believe Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, the supposed victim of Gorsuch’s plagiarism. She has released a statement, after reviewing the accusations, and states:

I have reviewed both passages and do not see an issue here, even though the language is similar. These passages are factual, not analytical in nature, framing both the technical legal and medical circumstances of the “Baby/Infant Doe” case that occurred in 1982. Given that these passages both describe the basic facts of the case, it would have been awkward and difficult for Judge Gorsuch to have used different language.

Kuzma’s position is straight forward. Gorsuch wrote about the same topic she did, using the same sources she did, and relayed the same facts similarly to her because those were the facts conveyed by the original sources. Gorsuch doing his own homework, relaying the same objective facts, is not plagiarism by any standard other than the left’s hysterics.

Even more ridiculously, the Democrats assert Gorsuch plagiarized Kuzma’s definition of Down Syndrome. In his 2006 book, Gorsuch described Down Syndrome as “chromosomal disorder that involves both a certain amount of physical deformity and some degree of mental retardation.” Kuzma, in 1984, described it as, “an incurable chromosomal disorder that involves a certain amount of physical deformity and an unpredictable degree of mental retardation.”

Why is that not plagiarism? Every definition of Down Syndrome contains those phrases. It is common to the definition.

That’s like accusing Dictionary.com of plagiarizing Merriam Webster on the definition of blue. Here is Dictionary.com:

the pure color of a clear sky; the primary color between green and violet in the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 450 and 500 nm.

Here is Merriam Webster:

of the color whose hue is that of the clear sky

For that matter, here is the OED:

Of a colour intermediate between green and violet, as of the sky or sea on a sunny day.

Heck, for that matter, here is Dictionary.com on Down Syndrome:

a genetic disorder, associated with the presence of an extra chromosome 21, characterized by mild to severe mental impairment, weak muscle tone, shorter stature, and a flattened facial profile.

Merriam-Webster:

a congenital condition characterized especially by mental retardation, short stature, upward slanting eyes, a flattened nasal bridge, broad hands with short fingers, decreased muscle tone, and by trisomy of the human chromosome numbered 21 —called also trisomy 21

And the OED:

A congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy (trisomy-21).

There are certain phrases that must come with a definition. It is not plagiarism to use those definitions.

It is worth noting that even the outside reviewers of Gorsuch’s book, related to his PhD. dissertation, is calling b.s. on the plagiarism claim. John Keown, the Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics at Georgetown University, one of the outside examiners for Judge Gorsuch’s dissertation, wrote in a statement:

“The allegation is entirely without foundation. The book is meticulous in its citation of primary sources. The allegation that the book is guilty of plagiarism because it does not cite secondary sources which draw on those same primary sources is, frankly, absurd. Indeed, the book’s reliance on primary rather than secondary sources is one of its many strengths.”

John Finnis, Emeritus Professor of Law at Oxford University, who was Gorsuch’s thesis Supervisor for his Oxford Doctoral Thesis that underlies his book has gone on record this evening saying

“[I]n my opinion, none of the allegations has any substance or justification … In all four cases, Neil Gorsuch’s writing and citing was easily and well within the proper and accepted standards of scholarly research and writing in the field of study in which he was working.”

This is another reason the GOP needs to scuttle the filibuster immediately. Democrats and partisan members of the press have gone beyond honest objections to character assassination. They are trying to rewrite definitions to things like plagiarism to destroy an honest man’s reputation.

Their arguments are in bad faith and the GOP should stop humoring them and scrap the filibuster immediately.

And why am I not surprised it is BuzzFeed and Politico running these stories. Neither is really interested in facts. They just want to generate controversy and clicks. See e.g. BuzzFeed’s running of the unsubstantiated allegations against President Trump. But we can tell which of the two has even less ethical and journalistic standards — BuzzFeed, which rushed out the story with the weasle headline of “Appears to be copied.”

Perhaps, considering the victim says this is not plagiarism, Politico will decide to not print the Democrats’ hit job.

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Erick Erickson

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