Apples Don’t Fall Far from Trees: The Nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

by EPA Editor and Columnist, Dr. Marsha Adebayo

If you think President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is a raving right-winger, check out his mother. Ann Gorsuch’s administration of the Reagan era EPA was “marked by sharp budget cuts, in-fighting with career civil servants, a cozy relationship with corporate polluters, and lack of environmental enforcement,” paving the way for future crises, including the lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan.

Apples Don’t Fall Far from Trees: The Nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

by BAR editor and columnist, Dr. Marsha Adebayo

“Ann Gorsuch was one of the worst EPA Administrators in the history of the young agency.”

President Donald Trump tapped Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, for a life-term seat on the US Supreme Count. Gorsuch is a federal appellate judge from Colorado. He could provide Trump and the alt right Republicans the opportunity to cement the conservative direction of the court for decades. If confirmed, Gorsuch will fill the seat of the late conservative Judge Antonin Scalia.  Scalia was an advocate for strong powers of the executive branch, perhaps reminiscent of those who romanticize the British monarchy.  

It’s not surprising that President Trump would nominate a candidate like Gorsuch, who idealized Scalia and considered him a mentor. And there are other similarities: Scalia opposed addressing the oppression of Africans in the US by such programs as affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act and treating Africans as a class that deserves protection by the State. For all of these reasons, Africans in the US should oppose the nomination of Judge Gorsuch.

Liberal talking heads, such as MSNBC Rachel Maddow, have characterized conservative ideologues such as Gorsuch in these terms: “it seems like the choice of Judge Gorsuch is a relatively mainstream choice that you might expect from any Republican president.”  CNN’s David Chalian characterized Gorsuch in this way: “it’s hard to really call Gorsuch ‘outside of the mainstream of judges.’”

Africans in the US should oppose the nomination of Judge Gorsuch.”

According to a New York Times analysis, Gorsuch could be more conservative than the late Justice Scalia.  According to the authors of the analysis, Gorsuch “would be a reliable conservative, ‘voting to limit gay rights, uphold restrictions on abortion and invalidate affirmative action programs.’”

The liberal establishment has moved so far to the right that views espoused by ultra conservatives like Gorsuch have become “mainstream.” But Gorsuch is not only reminiscent of conservative right wing Justice Scalia but also of another Gorsuch: his mother, former EPA Administrator Ann Gorsuch.

Ann Gorsuch was one of the worst EPA Administrators in the history of the young agency. This legacy is no small feat since the Agency has suffered with a long history of inadequate, intellectually deficient, incompetent and corrupt leaders. But, Ann Gorsuch holds a special place within the relatively short list of EPA Administrators.

The proverb that apples don’t fall far from the tree has always been considered a truism. While it may not be fair to judge someone based on parentage one would be foolish to ignore the obvious and few would debate the importance of understanding an individual’s background in the formation of core beliefs and character.

The liberal establishment has moved so far to the right that views espoused by ultra conservatives like Gorsuch have become ‘mainstream.’”

Ann Gorsuch, served under President Ronald Reagan and she was the first female administrator of the Agency. Similar to the pronouncements of President Trump’s EPA nominee Scott Pruitt, Gorsuch’s administration was marked by sharp budget cuts, in-fighting with career civil servants, a cozy relationship with corporate polluters, lack of environmental enforcement, and a scandal over the mismanagement of the Superfund cleanup program that ultimately doomed her career in the Reagan Administration and led to her public humiliation and resignation in 1983.

Under the Gorsuch Administration, EPA budget was slashed by nearly a quarter and she bragged that she reduced the size of the clean water regulations book from six inches to three inches, indicating that she had cut regulations that protect Americans from polluted water.  It should be noted, however that it was the lack of regulations and environmental enforcement that created the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan that left hundreds of children with learning disabilities.  Gorsuch, not only gave lip-service to her cozy relationship with corporate polluters but according to the Washington Post, “she filled various departments at EPA with subordinates recruited from the very industries the agency was supposed to be regulating.”

“She bragged that she reduced the size of the clean water regulations book from six inches to three inches.”

The Washington Post ran a front-page story in 1981 that reported: “Budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency will strip 3,200 personnel of their jobs by the end of 1983, eliminating 30 percent of the agency’s 10,380 employees at a cost of $17.6 million just for severance pay.  The cuts are so massive that they could mean a basic retreat on all environmental programs of the past 10 years, according to agency sources and administration critics.  At the same time, divisions between Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch and career agency staff over her approach to policymaking have all but reached open warfare.”

William Ruckelshaus, EPA’s first administrator under President Richard Nixon, said in an interview about Gorsuch: “She treated a lot of people in the agency as the enemy, and they weren’t.  But, within a week, they were…It was not a pleasant place.”

It seems that the Trump Administration is determined to repeat the sins of the Gorsuch administration not only at the EPA but also at the Supreme Court. Apples don’t fall far from the tree. Here we go again!

Dr. Marsha Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet and serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com.  Marsha will be inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, March 2017.