Is Neil Gorsuch Related to Edward Gorsuch? The Truth Behind the Supreme Court Justice’s Ancestry

Neil Gorsuch is one of the nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017 and confirmed by the Senate after a controversial process. Gorsuch is known for his conservative judicial philosophy and his adherence to originalism and textualism, two methods of interpreting the Constitution and statutes.

But who is Neil Gorsuch, and where does he come from? Is he related to Edward Gorsuch, a Maryland slave owner who was killed in a violent confrontation with fugitive slaves and abolitionists in 1851? This article will explore the background and family history of Neil Gorsuch, and reveal whether he has any connection to Edward Gorsuch or not.

Neil Gorsuch’s Early Life and Education

Neil McGill Gorsuch was born on August 29, 1967, in Denver, Colorado. His parents were Anne Burford, a lawyer and environmental activist who served as the first female administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Ronald Reagan, and David Gorsuch, a lawyer and businessman who co-founded a law firm in Denver. Neil Gorsuch has two siblings, Stephanie and J.J.

Gorsuch attended Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland, where he wrote conservative articles for the student newspaper and co-founded his own paper, The Federalist Paper, and a magazine, The Morningside Review. He graduated in 1985 and enrolled at Columbia University in New York City, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1988. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society.

Gorsuch then pursued his legal education at Harvard Law School, where he graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctor degree in 1991. He was a classmate of former President Barack Obama, although they did not know each other well. He also received a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a prestigious award for public service.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Gorsuch clerked for Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1991 to 1992, and then for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy from 1993 to 1994. He also studied at University College, Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in law in 2004. His thesis focused on the ethical and legal issues of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Neil Gorsuch’s Professional Career and Judicial Appointments

Gorsuch worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1995 to 2005, first as an associate and then as a partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, a prestigious law firm in Washington, D.C. He specialized in representing corporate and white-collar clients in litigation involving the government. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center from 1996 to 2005.

In 2005, Gorsuch joined the U.S. Department of Justice as the principal deputy to the associate attorney general. He served in this position until 2006, when President George W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which covers six states in the western region of the country. He was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote without any opposition.

Gorsuch served on the Tenth Circuit for over a decade, where he developed a reputation as a conservative judge who adhered to originalism and textualism. He wrote over 800 opinions on various legal topics, including constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, civil rights, environmental law, and religious liberty. He also dissented from some of his colleagues on issues such as gun rights, immigration, death penalty, and health care.

In January 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Scalia was also an originalist and textualist who influenced Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy. Gorsuch faced fierce opposition from Democrats who objected to his conservative views and criticized the Republican-controlled Senate for refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee for the same seat, Judge Merrick Garland.

After Democrats filibustered Gorsuch’s nomination in April 2017, Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules and lower the threshold for ending debate on Supreme Court nominees from 60 votes to a simple majority. Gorsuch was then confirmed by a vote of 54 to 45, with three Democrats joining all Republicans in supporting him. He became the youngest Supreme Court justice at age 49.

Neil Gorsuch’s Family History and Ancestry

Neil Gorsuch is of English, Irish, German, Polish, and Dutch descent. His paternal grandfather was John J. Gorsuch Jr., an orthopedic surgeon who served as president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. His paternal grandmother was Dorothy Gorsuch, a homemaker and civic leader who was active in the Republican Party and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

His maternal grandfather was Joseph Burford, a lawyer and oil executive who worked for the Texas Company (later Texaco). His maternal grandmother was Dorothy Jean O’Grady, a secretary and homemaker who was involved in various charitable organizations.

Gorsuch’s ancestors include several prominent figures in American history, such as John Howland, a passenger on the Mayflower who signed the Mayflower Compact; William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth Colony; John Lothrop, a Puritan minister who founded Barnstable, Massachusetts; and Roger Sherman, a founding father who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.

Gorsuch is also related to several presidents and politicians, such as George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Calvin Coolidge, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, Zachary Taylor, John Quincy Adams, John Adams, and Winston Churchill.

But is Gorsuch related to Edward Gorsuch, the Maryland slave owner who was killed in the Christiana Riot of 1851? The answer is no. Edward Gorsuch was born in 1795 in Baltimore County, Maryland. He was the son of John Gorsuch and Elizabeth Ensor. He married Sarah Ann Nesbitt in 1817 and had six children. He owned a plantation called Retreat Farm near Glencoe Village, where he grew wheat and raised livestock. He also owned 12 slaves.

In 1849, four of his slaves ran away to Pennsylvania, a free state. Gorsuch believed that they had been enticed by abolitionists and that they would return if he talked to them. He obtained warrants for their arrest under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and hired a federal marshal to help him capture them.

On September 11, 1851, Gorsuch and his posse arrived at the house of William Parker, an escaped slave who lived in Christiana with his wife Eliza and several other fugitives. Parker was a leader of the local black community and an active member of the Underground Railroad. He had been warned of Gorsuch’s arrival by a neighbor and had gathered armed men and women to defend his home.

When Gorsuch demanded that his slaves come out, Parker refused and told him to leave. A standoff ensued, during which Gorsuch fired his gun at Parker’s house. Parker’s wife Eliza then sounded a horn to alert more black residents to come to their aid. A gunfight broke out between Gorsuch’s party and Parker’s supporters. Gorsuch was shot several times and died on the spot. His son Dickinson was wounded but survived. The rest of his posse fled or surrendered.

The Christiana Riot was one of the first violent clashes over slavery in American history. It sparked outrage in the South and sympathy in the North. It also challenged the authority of the federal government to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. The government indicted 41 people for treason, including Parker, Eliza, and several white abolitionists who had helped them. However, none of them were convicted. The first defendant to be tried was Castner Hanway, a white miller who had refused to assist Gorsuch’s party. He was acquitted by a jury after only 15 minutes of deliberation. The charges against the remaining defendants were dropped.

Parker and Eliza escaped to Canada with the help of Frederick Douglass, a famous abolitionist and former slave who had met them before. They later moved to Ontario, where they lived until their deaths in 1891 and 1888 respectively.

Edward Gorsuch’s death was mourned by his family and friends in Maryland. He was buried at St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery in Monkton. His widow Sarah died in 1876 and was buried next to him.

According to Ancestry.com, Neil Gorsuch is not related to Edward Gorsuch or any of his descendants. They have different paternal lines that can be traced back to England in the 17th century. Neil Gorsuch’s paternal ancestor was Thomas Gorsuch (1617-1674), who immigrated from Lancashire to Maryland in 1650. Edward Gorsuch’s paternal ancestor was Daniel Gorsuch (1638-1702), who immigrated from Yorkshire to Maryland in 1663.

Therefore, Neil Gorsuch and Edward Gorsuch are not blood relatives. They share only a common surname that originated from an Old Norse personal name meaning “god spear”. They also share a common country that has been divided by the issue of slavery for centuries.

Conclusion

Neil Gorsuch is one of the most influential judges in America today. He has a distinguished career as a lawyer, scholar, and jurist. He also has a rich family history that connects him to many notable figures in American history.

Doms Desk

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