When Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch enters his chambers in the nation’s highest court, there’s a big reminder of the man who preceded him there. Namely, a huge elk head.
In an excerpt from Gorsuch’s upcoming book, obtained by The Daily Caller, he describes how a prize elk the late Justice Antonin Scalia bagged back in 2003 — who took on the name of Leroy — reminds him of the conservative lion of the Supreme Court, who passed away in 2016.
The book, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It,” features eight new essays as well as Gorsuch’s speeches and writings. In it, he describes how he and the moose share three things in common.
“They say it’s the everyday things that matter most. So, when I recently moved my office from Denver to Washington, I spent a little time thinking about what I wanted on the walls,” Gorsuch wrote.
“Unsurprisingly, my office bears personal reminders of family, friends, and my home in Colorado. But professionally, I wondered, who did I want looking down on me and who did I want to look up to every day?”
Gorsuch said he wanted a reminder of Scalia in there, both because he was Gorsuch’s predecessor and shared his judicial philosophy.
And, indeed, some of Scalia’s closest associates had a memento for Gorsuch. However, it was by no means a small one.
“Some years ago on a hunting trip, Justice Scalia bagged an enormous elk that he proudly displayed in his office at the Court — even going so far as to name him Leroy,” he wrote.
“Leroy is so huge that, after the justice passed, it seemed he was destined to become homeless, much too much for anyone’s living room wall. And then someone got the idea that Leroy might make an unusual welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift for me. So it was that I was invited to a Scalia law clerk reunion at the Court and the great elk was rolled out and duly presented.
“And the truth is, I am delighted to share space with Leroy because it happens that we share a few things in common: We are both native Coloradans. Neither of us will ever forget Justice Scalia. And we’ve both been crated and jumbled across the country to serve out our remaining time on display at the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Gorsuch, like Scalia, is an outdoorsy person. However, he never managed to go hunting with the man he would replace on the court. (Scalia died on a hunting trip, it’s worth noting.)
The two did spend some time out on the river, though: Gorsuch says that “a few years ago I did fly-fish with him.”
“It’s a sport I’ve loved since I was a child growing up in Colorado. The peace and time in nature are for me restorative. When you’re in the Rockies, your mind tends not to wander elsewhere,” Gorsuch wrote.
However, he noted that Scalia might not quite have the temperament for fly-fishing.
While Gorsuch described a rather leisurely approach to trying to catch the fish, Scalia would be “lashing the stream with the enthusiasm of a son of Queens.”
“When I pointed to a spot likely to harbor trout, instead of stalking slowly in that direction he would storm over in his waders, look around, and then exclaim, ‘But you said there would be fish here!’ As indeed there had been.”
Say what you will, the man managed to bag Leroy — a memento every bit as much a giant as the man Gorsuch replaced.
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