‘First Full Supreme Court Ruling Has Obama Furious’

The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch gave the long-running “satirical” disinformation blog “The Last Line Of Defense” (LLOD) an opening to post a made-up tale of outrage featuring a reliable right-wing boogeyman.

Shortly after Gorsuch was confirmed to the high court on April 10 2017, the blog published a post claiming that former United States President Barack Obama was “furious” after the court’s first ruling with a full complement in more than a year, taking up a case that would allow schools to ensure “that the only Islam taught to our children … will be the history of Radical Islam and what they can do to help stop it.” LLOD added that Gorsuch wrote the court’s decision, saying:

The government certainly has no business being involved in religion, but this isn’t a government issue or a religious issue. This is about the Judicial branch interpreting the laws as they apply to the teaching of religion. We should [not] be teaching any religions in this country besides standard Judeo-Chri[s]tianity, as our founders wanted, and we certainly shouldn’t be filling the children with lies about Islam being a “religion of peace” when they see the carnage on the news almost every day.

It is our duty as Americans first and judges second to safeguard the way our children are indoctrinated.

Like everything else on LLOD and its many spinoff blogs, the story was fabricated. It was published to coincide with Gorsuch’s first participation in oral hearings before the high court in the case of Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board, which involved neither Islam or public education.

The court ruled 7-2 that federal employees can appeal employment-relate actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board. If that action involves a claim of discrimination, however, the appeals must be heard by a federal court instead. Also, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — not Gorsuch — wrote the majority decision.

A little more than six years after the LLOD’s attempt to piggyback off the attention on him, Gorsuch made legitimate news for unsavory reasons; according to Politico, Gorsuch sold a 40-acre property in Colorado to Brian Duffy, the head of law firm Greenberg Traurig, and did not disclose the transaction on federal disclosure forms even though the firm has frequently been involved in cases appearing before the high court:

Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court, according to a Politico review of the court’s docket.

They include cases in which Greenberg either filed amicus briefs or represented parties. In the 12 cases where Gorsuch’s opinion is recorded, he sided with Greenberg Traurig clients eight times and against them four times

In one case, Gorsuch was part of the majority decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in which the high court found that the agency cannot mandate caps on carbon emissions from power plants.

Gorsuch reportedly made between $250,000 and $500,000 from the sale of the property, which he owned along with two other parties. Duffy has claimed that he did not know Gorsuch was one of the property’s owners when he purchased it.

The news of the purchase came shortly after several reports about fellow Justice Clarence Thomas’ ongoing relationship with a wealthy benefactor, right-wing billionaire Harlan Crow.

“We have seen a steady stream of revelations regarding Supreme Court Justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges and of public servants,” said Democratic Sen. Dick Durban, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The need for Supreme Court ethics reform is clear, and if the Court does not take adequate action, Congress must. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be closely examining these matters in the coming weeks.”

Update 4/25/2023, 1:25 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag