So what's wrong with a judge having a billionaire for a friend?
Nothing, but there are a billion reasons that people may wonder when it comes to a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Actually, that's not possible because there are only 325 million people in the United States.
However, there are more than 1,000 cases in which Neil Gorsuch recused himself while on the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals because of possible conflicts. And more than 50 of those cases involved companies with ties to Philip F. Anschutz, a billionaire who lobbied for Gorsuch to become a member of the federal appeals court.
According to the New York Times, Gorsuch has a "web of ties" to Anschutz and his companies. Gorsuch represented the billionaire or his businesses when he worked at a Washington, D.C. law firm.
Gorsuch has an interest in a company with two Anschutz associates, the newspaper reported. He was "a semi-regular speaker" at Anschutz's retreats for wealthy and prominent people.
"They say a country's prosperity depends on three things: sound money, private property and the rule of law," Gorsuch said at a retreat in 2010. "This crowd hardly needs to hear from me about the first two of the problems we face on those scores."
However, as reported in the alternative press, Gorsuch was never a direct employee or a key executive in the billionaire's empire. The Washington Free Beacon accused the Times of failing to give equal coverage to Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colorado), who was a managing director of Anschutz Investment Co.
"The Times may be concerned over Gorsuch's "web of ties" to Anschutz, but The Denver Post noted that "executives and family members associated with Anschutz Co., Anschutz Group or Anschutz Investments donated more to Bennet ... than to any other federal candidate."
Steven Lubet, a Northwestern University law professor and author of scholarly articles on judicial ethics and recusals, said that the Gorsuch connection to Anschutz should not be a problem -- so long as judge disqualifies himself on cases that involve the billionaire's interests.