Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s doctoral study on a conservative philosophy called natural law is a prime reason right-leaning legal thinkers recommended him to President Trump. But the public won’t have a chance to learn the jurist’s latest thoughts on the theory when he speaks Friday at a conference of Catholic legal scholars seeking to expand Christian influence on public policy.
The sponsor, the Thomistic Institute, is barring journalists from covering the conference, titled “Christianity and the Common Good,” being held Friday and Saturday at Harvard Law School.In an email, the Thomistic Institute’s director, the Rev. Dominic Legge, said coverage of Justice Gorsuch’s remarks would interfere with the event’s educational value.
“The focus of this event is on the students having a fruitful encounter and exchange with the justice on an academic theme,” Father Legge said by email. “The decision that the event would be closed was mine, not the justice’s, and it was made in accord with our normal policy for such events.”
Neither Justice Gorsuch nor Father Legge responded to requests for a transcript or audio of the justice’s remarks that would not identify students... Founded in 2009, the institute is devoted to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas
While it has different strands, in general natural law posits that certain values or rules are permanent, universal and intrinsically knowable to all people regardless of their culture or beliefs. Many natural-law adherents believe that this higher law originates from God rather than humanistic values, although not all versions of the philosophy are explicitly religious.
.. As a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, he studied under John Finnis, a legal philosopher who in recent decades revived academic interest in natural law.
Mr. Finnis has argued that natural-law principles can justify state action to promote moral virtue, which he suggests may be furthered by restricting contraception or prohibiting same-sex marriage. .
.. While some justices have attempted to avoid activities that could suggest a continuing role in politics, Justice Gorsuch hasn’t drawn a bright line.
The Trump appointee last year addressed a group at the Trump International Hotel and accompanied his Senate patron, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), on visits to Kentucky universities. Those events largely were open to press coverage, although a January dinner he had at the home of Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) with several Republican senators and a Trump cabinet secretary wasn’t.