Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch: 'Escape from Lookout Ridge' – How my nomination trip began

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Editor’s note: The following column is an excerpt from Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s new book, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It.” In this passage, he explains how he evaded the press to get to Washington, D.C., for President Trump’s Supreme Court announcement.

That life [of anonymity] was now over. Our trip to Washington was enough to convince me of that.

Two young White House lawyers, Mike and James, had arrived at our home on the Sunday afternoon before the scheduled Thursday evening announcement of my nomination with the task of accompanying Louise and me to the nation’s capital. I was out mowing the lawn and asked the pair to join us for our usual Sunday dinner of chicken curry. They accepted and, after our meal together, headed off to a local hotel with plans to return the next morning to collect us for the flight.

Except at some point Monday morning the President told the media that he would be making his nomination on Tuesday instead of Thursday. Eager to break the news of the President’s pick before he could make his own announcement, reporters quickly descended on all of the homes of the prospective nominees, and satellite dishes, cameras, microphones, and lawn chairs soon crowded the end of our street.

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Mike and James, wearing suits and ties (not exactly standard attire in the Colorado countryside), approached the frenzy in their rental car and immediately realized that if they continued to our home they would be spotted.

April 10, 2017: Neil Gorsuch takes the first of two oaths for the Supreme Court.

April 10, 2017: Neil Gorsuch takes the first of two oaths for the Supreme Court. (Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

To avoid that, and after more than a few abandoned plans—including a run to the local superstore for casual clothes—the lawyers called to ask: Would Louise and I please hike a mile through the prairie, away from the reporters’ camp? They promised to pick us up at a trailhead. It may have sounded good to them, but the prospect of lugging my wife’s suitcase through brush seemed like a bad idea to me.

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Instead, Louise and I decided to ask a neighbor to drive us out. The reporters had already seen his car come and go a few times and maybe they wouldn’t notice—and, even if they did, it seemed to beat the alternative. Our neighbor, a dear friend, enthusiastically agreed.

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As we got into his car he said, “You know, Neil, I have a better idea. There’s another way out.” That was news to me. We had lived in our home for years, and while there were plenty of hiking trails and horse paths, there were no other roads out of the neighborhood.

My friend pointed to a path that led from the back of a neighbor’s house to a nearby commercial barn and said he had managed to drive it before. “I grew up in Iran during the revolution, and I learned a thing or two there,” he continued. “And I would never buy a house with only one escape route.”

So I fled my house—and, temporarily, the spotlight—by way of a bumpy farm track.

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My neighbor and I came to call our experience the Escape from Lookout Ridge.

In retrospect, it wasn’t an “escape” at all. That drive threw me face first into the topsy-turvy world of modern-day Supreme Court confirmation battles.

Excerpted from "A REPUBLIC, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT" by Neil Gorsuch Copyright © 2019 by Neil Gorsuch. Excerpted by permission of Crown Forum. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.