Trump SCOTUS pick's yearbook quote tells you everything you need to know about him

Carolyn Kaster/AP

The United States is quickly getting acquainted with federal judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The media and pundits are combing through his writings and rulings in order to get a sense of his legal philosophy. But if you want a sense of how Gorsuch understands the law and who his influences are, look no further than his college yearbook quote, first flagged by journalist Laura Rozen.

The text by the yearbook photo identifies Gorsuch as a political science student, member of a fraternity and the founder of a conservative campus publication. The entry also contains a quote: 

The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer. 

— Henry Kissinger







Aug. 29, 1967

Columbia University archives confirmed in an email to Mic that the photo is from the 1988 edition of the yearbook.

The infamous quote by the lightning rod former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is often cited as an example of Kissinger’s cavalier disregard for federal laws constraining the power of the executive. 

The original context of the quote was a meeting between Kissinger, Turkish Foreign Minister Melih Esenbel and the U.S. ambassador to Turkey William Macomber in 1975. The three had been discussing a U.S. arms embargo against Turkey over their recent invasion of Cyprus. 

When Esenbel suggested that Kissinger try and get around the arms embargo, Macomber noted that such actions would be illegal. Kissinger then replied, "Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, 'The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.' But since the Freedom of Information Act, I'm afraid to say things like that."

Screenshot of the from "The Kissinger Cables" Mic/Wikileaks

Young Gorsuch appears to have misdated the quote, attributing it to Kissinger from Aug. 29, 1967. Kissinger began working White House under President Richard Nixon in 1969, first as a national security adviser and later as secretary of state. Prior to that, Kissinger's work had primarily been in academia, consulting and as an adviser to Nixon's incipient presidential campaign.