Greenwich man supports friend’s Supreme Court nod
GREENWICH — Sometime during the middle of this week on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., a lawyer from Cos Cob will offer his remarks to a sub-committee for the U.S. Senate, making the case that Neil Gorsuch should be named to the United States Supreme Court.
It’s the least he can do for an old friend. It’s also what he believes is the right thing to do.
Michael Behringer has a longstanding friendship with the Supreme Court nominee, since their days together as college students in upper Manhattan.
“I know him really well, and he’s an excellent choice for the court, regardless of your political ideology,” Behringer said.
The Cos Cob resident said he can speak to Gorsuch’s character after decades of friendship. He spearheaded a recent petition drive among fellow Columbia University alumni in support of the nomination.
“We hail from across this great country: North to South, East to West, and most places in between,” reads the petition, which includes signatures from a significant number of southern Connecticut residents. “We are of different faiths and ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. We are Democrats, Republicans and Independents. As diverse as we are, we share a common belief that Neil Gorsuch would be an exemplary Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.”
Behringer, who has moved from a legal career into private equity, said it wasn’t that hard to get fellow Columbia alums to support Gorsuch, including Democrats and others who opposed President Donald Trump’s election — even those with lingering resentment over the way President Obama’s pick for the court, Merrick Garland, was stymied by political maneuvering.
“People who were really anti-Trump, and felt the Garland nomination was handled poorly, signed it,” said Behringer.
The two men met on the first day of class at Columbia in the mid-’80s, and they’ve been friends ever since. They belonged to the same fraternity, and they’ve been groomsmen at each other’s weddings. When a work re-assignment took Behringer to Colorado, where Gorsuch was living, Behringer recalled how much his old friend did to help him get adjusted to his new surroundings.
Behringer, who graduated from law school at the University of Michigan, worked in mergers and acquisition. His career took him to business development at the Discovery Channel, then into the software field. He is currently in private equity at Warburg Pincus.
Rounding up his Columbia connections, Behringer got 154 names on the petition. He said his old classmate had an impact at the school they attended. Gorsuch founded The Federalist Paper, which provided a conservative voice on an avowedly liberal campus. But while the publication tended to adhere to the right, Behringer said, “He made it a point, he was not an ideologue. He made sure there was a point-counterpoint, that all sides were heard.”
Behringer does not belong to a major party, and he said he’s a true independent in political orientation. He noted that he’s contributed to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and he’s also supported Republicans.
Gorsuch is likely to face opposition from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Congressman associated with the liberal wing of the party, put out a statement in January that read: “Judge Gorsuch is Justice Scalia on steroids. His record demonstrates that, if confirmed, he would rely on his conservative, originalist philosophy to overturn critical precedents and to disregard the rights of everyday Americans while bolstering protections for corporations and special interests.”
More than 100 civil rights organizations have gone on the record to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination.
Behringer understands the partisan divide in Washington and the lingering resentments over Garland.
“But he’s a great person for the court,” the Cos Cob lawyer said of his old friend. “Review him on the merits, rather than a referendum on Trump or how Garland was handled. That’s where public opinion comes into play.”
Behringer said he hopes the petition and public input will have some sway on Connecticut’s senators as deliberations begin. “I hope they do the right thing and vote to confirm,” he said.
Behringer is also looking forward to giving his remarks about Gorsuch at the Senate sub-commitee, and said he’s not nervous at all about appearing in front of cameras and a room-full of Washington power-brokers.
“I really couldn’t be prouder to do it,” he said.