Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch talked about civility in a speech to a private meeting of the Federalist Society Friday, imploring the audience to follow fellow Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s example.
The organization hosted both justices at its National Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C., this week, with Justice Kavanaugh telling attendees on Thursday, “I will always be not afraid.”
Gorsuch, who was President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, aimed his comments in particular at young attorneys.
“What I say to you young people: Be courageous; aim high; we need you more than ever; be kind to one another along the way; be dogged,” Gorsuch said.
“And be not afraid, as Justice Kavanaugh said, be not afraid. Because guess what? They can throw their slings and arrows, and I’m still here.”
Gorsuch shared the stage with his former clerks David Feder and Jane Nitze to talk about his new book he co-authored with them, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It” — the title of the book a quote that has been attributed to founding father Benjamin Franklin, in response to a woman’s question about what kind of government he helped form.
In a conversation with Leonard Leo, the society’s executive Vice President, Gorsuch said it’s important for national leaders to learn to disagree with each other without viewing opponents as evil.
“I do think effective lawyering does not mean you hate your adversary,” he said. “And I think the same thing is true for [statecraft] and the… people who run this country in jobs like we all have now.”
Gorsuch also noted that sometimes he has disagreements with fellow constitutional originalist Justice Clarence Thomas.
“Justice Thomas and I have disagreed for example on vagueness doctrine, we’ve disagreed on the appointment of non-Article III judges to take away intellectual property rights, but that’s because we’re disagreeing about how we’re reading history,” he said.
“And I think those are great and good-faith disputes for judges to have.”