Days after President Donald Trump announced Judge Neil Gorsuch would be his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, a photo of his high school yearbook surfaced that said Gorsuch started a “Fascism Forever Club.”
Gorsuch, a 49-year-old appellate judge, graduated from Georgetown Preparatory, a private Jesuit school near D.C. Photos of his yearbook published by the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, list him as the “Founder and President” of the club.
The Daily Mail has been accused of sensationalist headlines many times in the past.
Multiple school officials say the club never existed, and one told the magazine America that the reference was a “total joke” by Gorsuch.
“There was no club at a Jesuit school about young fascists,” Steve Ochs, a history teacher at Georgetown Prep, told America Magazine. “The students would create fictitious clubs; they would have fictitious activities. They were all inside jokes on their senior pages.”
Gorsuch was known for his conservative values at the time, according to America, which conflicted with the liberal teachings of the school. He was reportedly referred to as a “conservative fascist” during informal political debates in student government.
Other school officials denied the club’s existence but did not explain the photo of the yearbook when asked.
“No such club ever existed on Georgetown Prep’s campus,” said Patrick Coyle, director of marketing and communications, in an email. He did not respond to any follow-up questions.
Gorsuch attended Georgetown Preparatory in the 1980s, during former President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Reagan, like Trump today, was accused of being a fascist by some on the left.
“There were some teachers who were ultra-liberal, and he would spar with them in class, like in religion class specifically, I remember, but always in good nature,” Ochs told America. “It sounds so strange today, when you can’t say boo without people going crazy, but it was all very good natured.
“There were some teachers who really didn’t like Reagan, and this is not appropriate, but they would challenge him and he’d come right back at them. He didn’t have any problem with that,” he continued. “He was an unassailably courteous kid, very popular with his class.”
Gorsuch will likely face a tough confirmation process for the Supreme Court seat. Some Senate Democrats have said they are willing to keep the seat — left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — open indefinitely, referring to it as a “stolen seat” since Senate Republicans refused to hold a vote on former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.