Groups calls on Gorsuch to cancel speech at Trump hotel

Groups calls on Gorsuch to cancel speech at Trump hotel
© Greg Nash

A coalition of constitutional lawyers, scholars and public interest groups is calling on Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to cancel his planned speech at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Free Speech For People and other groups said in an open letter recently that Gorsuch’s scheduled speech at a luncheon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fund for American Studies creates the appearance of a political endorsement, among other conflicts.

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They note under the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, judges should refrain from “political activity” and “maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.”

“Your participation in an event that will involve payments from the organizers to the hotel, and from there to the president himself, is inconsistent with the high ethical standards for an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court,” they wrote. “More broadly, your appearing at the hotel that has become one of the foremost symbols of the for-profit presidency is inconsistent with judicial independence and integrity.”

In addition to lawsuits involving Trump and his hotel that could come before Gorsuch in the future, the groups also noted Trump’s recent refusal to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis following the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., last month.

“At this point, your voluntary appearance at an event at the president’s hotel would convey the impression that you, as a Justice of the Supreme Court who has sworn to administer justice ‘without respect to persons,’ do not find these statements problematic,” they said. 

The Fund for American Studies announced last month that Gorsuch had agreed to headline the invite-only event.

In addition to Free Speech For People, the letter was signed by Every Voice, The Rootstrikers Project at Demand Progress, Money Out Voters In and Center for Biological Diversity, as well as Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Sarah Chayes, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.