This book was based, at least in part, on Gorsuch’s Oxford D.Phil thesis. So, I was curious if the plagiarism occurred there, too.
On pp.456 – 457 of his thesis Gorsuch copies verbatim several lines of Kuzma’s words (from pp. 378 – 379 in her article) and then cites a source that she cites as the source of the view that he’s outlining. He does not acknowledge that he has used Kuzma’s words verbatim. Indeed, he does not cite her at all in his thesis. Nor does he acknowledge that she, and not he, first identified the source that he cites. That’s plagiarism. (I haven’t attempted to determine if there are any more plagiarized passages in the thesis.)
(NB: I have edited the paragraph above for clarity and included links to the relevant material. I originally wrote that Gorsuch “quoted” Kuzma, which he did, but some commentators have understood this to mean that he used her words and then cited them. This is a reasonable construal of what I wrote, as most people believe that if you “quote” someone this involves citing your sources. The problem is that Gorsuch quoted Kuzma without acknowledging that he was using her words! And that’s plagiarism.)
Now, I’m the Academic Integrity Officer at The College of New Jersey, and I see a couple of cases like this from students each semester. In these cases the decision is always the same: An easy decision that an academic integrity violation has occurred, and a fairly stringent grade penalty. This is because not only does this form of plagiarism exhibit theft of someone else’s work (here, the work of Kuzma to track down the appropriate account of Down’s syndrome) but in deliberately obscuring this intellectual debt the student is clearly intentionally plagiarizing.
If Gorsuch’s thesis had come before me, it would have received precisely the same treatment as a term paper written by a freshman TCNJ student.
But things get worse. John Finnis, Gorsuch’s D.Phil supervisor, has issued a statement claiming that “Gorsuch’s writing and citing was easily and well within the proper and accepted standards of scholarly research and writing in the field of study in which he and I work.”
Now, I can’t speak for law (!) but if Finnis is referring here to philosophy this claim is just not true. It’s also not true given Oxford’s own definition of plagiarism. Again, Gorsuch’s D.Phil thesis has been plagiarized–and that is NOT acceptable in academic philosophy. And for Finnis to claim that it is is likely to make my job as an Academic Integrity Officer just that much harder.
This is all very disappointing.