Politico broke the story today. What he did is obviously plagiarism, though not the worst kind: he used without attribution another author's description of medical conditions and procedures, he did not steal the other author's main arguments and analysis. None of this is disqualifying to his nomination, but it is careless and he should acknowledge it and correct it in future editions of his book. What is most remarkable here is the nonsense from Robert George, the Princeton politics professor and all-purpose apologist for Catholic dogma, who is editor of the book series in which Gorsuch's book, with the plagiarism, appeared:
"Judge Gorsuch did not attempt to steal other people’s intellectual property or pass off ideas or arguments taken from other writers as his own," said George. "In no case did he seek credit for insights or analysis that had been purloined. In short, not only is there no fire, there isn’t even any smoke.”
I imagine this absurd defense of the plagiarism at issue will be trotted out by students across the nation now: "I only stole the words of someone else, but all the other arguments, insight, and analysis are mine!" The Politico piece suggests that John Finnis, the Oxford natural law theorist who worked with both George and Gorsuch, also weighed in on this, but I haven't seen his comments; although Finnis was, at one time, a substantial natural law theorist, he is, like George, a shameless partisan when it comes to defending his religious and political allies.
UPDATE: More details on the instances of plagiarism here. This article also includes a quote from Finnis, which gives new meaning to "shameless partisan":
"[I]n my opinion, none of the allegations has any substance or justification. In all the instances mentioned, Neil Gorsuch’s writing and citing was easily and well within the proper and accepted standards of scholarly research and writing in the field of study in which he and I work.”
The legal philosophers and law faculty at Oxford really should issue a public statement rebutting the implication that plagiarism is normal practice there.
ANOTHER: The Oxford Professor of the Philosophy of Law has responded to Professor Finnis's claim.