College Yearbook Shows Trump's Supreme Court Pick Already Sounding Off on the Constitution

As a Columbia University undergraduate, Judge Neil Gorsuch apparently chose to have his picture appear from a Henry Kissinger quote: 'The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.'

Neil Gorsuch speaks after U.S. President Donald Trump nominates him on January 31, 2017 to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

As President Donald Trump's pick for Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, faces the scrutiny of the United States Senate, which must approve the nomination, Gorsuch's views on the Constitution are likely to be front and center. Gorsuch, it turns out, had an interest in what was and was not constitutional long before he graduated from law school.

There was some skepticism when a 1988 college yearbook picture surfaced of Gorsuch, who is now a Federal appeals court judge in Denver, accompanied by the following quote from former U.S. national security adviser and secretary of state Henry Kissinger: "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."

The quote appears to be of Gorsuch's choosing, but when the photo of the yearbook entry was posted on Twitter by Washington-based reporter Laura Rozin, there were those who doubted that the quote could have appeared in a 1988. Some said Kissinger's remark was not made public until after it was provided to WikiLeaks in 2013, the Snopes.com rumor research website reported.

But Snopes is reporting that the quote could very well have been available to Gorsuch in 1988, having appeared as far back as 1976 in Gary Allen's 1976 book "Kissinger: The Secret Side of the Secretary of State."

According to WikiLeaks, the fuller context of the quote is a comment, purportedly made in 1975 at a meeting at the Turkish Foreign Ministry that has Kissinger saying: "Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, 'The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.' [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I'm afraid to say things like that."

"Although images are real, determining Gorsuch's intention in offering this quote back then is a matter of speculation. It should be noted that Gorsuch founded a school newspaper called The Fed at Columbia University, which frequently published satirical content," Snopes noted. 

Assuming that Gorsuch is confirmed as Supreme Court justice, he will help decide what in fact is unconstitutional, nearly 30 years after he apparently chose to have the Kissinger quote accompany his portrait.