Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court criticised anti-apartheid student protesters’ “dubious logic” and argued US investments in South Africa were positive for the university in a series of columns published by Columbia University’s weekly newspaper.
Neil Gorsuch, who wrote in the Columbia Daily Spectator in 1987 during his time as a bachelor student at the university, slammed anti-apartheid divestment campaigners for having no grounding in political and economic reality.
A staunch conservative, Mr Gorsuch has been picked by the US President to replace Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court after the post has been left vacant for nearly a year.
He questioned why students would blast US companies’ investment in South Africa, when they enabled to “pay for our need-blind admissions policy”.
In a column titled “Taking a stand: The University steps into the real world. Overcoming a hegemony of ideas”, Mr Gorsuch wrote: “Pro-divestment students call for the immediate withdrawal of University funds from all companies conducting business in South Africa. Committee and coalition members seem willing to sacrifice the large income from the endowment—which goes to pay for our need-blind admissions policy, among other things.”
Then a political science student, Mr Gorsuch accused the students’ of lacking “a vibrant political heterogeneity” and presenting one-sided “rigid convictions”.
“Is it because such arguments would be Immoral, False and Heartless? Or is it because it is not fashionable at Columbia to be anything other than a pro-Sandinista, anti-Reagan, ADHOC, uranium-pilfering protester?” he wrote, condemning the students’ “tyrannical atmosphere of ‘ideas’”.
His disdain for apartheid protesters is revealed as events and commemorations, which recognise the achievements and central role of African-American in the US’ history, start today as part of Black History Month.
Mr Gorsuch denounced protesters, who believed American companies such as General Motors, Coca-Cola and IBM’s divestment campaigns were “bogus”.
Despite of this, he added: “We need a university that is not afraid to take a stand against something as repressive and repulsive as apartheid. We need a university that fosters diversity, tolerance, and respect, not discrimination."
In another column for the student newspaper, Mr Gorsuch strongly condemned a student protest against the Coors Beers Company, which allegedly violated worker’s civil rights and donating profit to organisations promoting racism and homophobia.
On another occasion, a number of Columbia students were arrested for protesting the eviction of a longtime tenant from her university owned apartment. But Mr Gorsuch described the protesters as attention-seekers.
"I think the fact that they had the stay of eviction but nonetheless went forward to get themselves arrested in front of Newsday, the Times, and Spectator proves the overwhelming superficiality of both their cause and really the people themselves involved," Mr Gorsuch told the Columbia Daily Spectator.
In his end of year book, Mr Gorsuch added a quote from Henry Kissinger to his profile, which read: “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
After Columbia University, Mr Gorsuch went to to a law degree in Harvard and joined one of Washington's top law firm. The 49-year-old will have to be approved by the Senate before joining the Supreme Court and Democrats are likely to give him a tough fight.
Announcing his nomination, Mr Trump said: "Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education," he continued, "and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text. He will make an incredible Justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.”
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement: “Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women's rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me sceptical that he can be a strong, independent justice on the court.”
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