Last Friday a federal judge in Washington state put a temporary halt on President Trump’s travel ban. In the aftermath, Trump called the judge a “so-called judge” in an angry tweet. He also followed up with a message stating, “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.” This blatant disrespect for another branch of American government has shocked and appalled many — Trump’s own Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch included.
Neil Gorsuch was announced as Trump’s SCOTUS pick last week during a drama-filled, primetime Facebook Live event. Concerned messages from Democratic senators began to pour out almost immediately. Many of these oppositions stemmed from a common fear that Gorsuch would not be one to stand against Trump when necessary, a key responsibility of a Supreme Court Justice.
But in a private conversation between Gorsuch and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, Gorsuch said he found President Trump’s recent attacks on judges to be “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” These comments were not recorded but were confirmed to NPR by a member of the Supreme Court nomination team who has been escorting Gorsuch to meetings.
The current legal battle over Trump’s travel ban is proof that checks and balances are crucial to keeping American government fair. But Senate Democrats are concerned that Trump’s cabinet picks will not provide that necessary back-and-forth. Newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy Devos has donated millions to the GOP, while newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a key advisor to Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign. So when President Trump announced his nominee for Supreme Court Justice, concerns grew about whether Gorsuch would be able to maintain the strong and necessary divide between the judicial and executive branches of government. But now it seems that maybe Gorsuch isn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds him, after all.
Democratic Senators are expected to filibuster Gorsuch’s upcoming confirmation hearing. That filibuster is also expected to be overturned by Republicans through a sneaky loophole made back in 2013 (more on that here). If that happens, Gorsuch will likely be confirmed.
Are these recent comments from Gorsuch enough to make Democrats second-guess their firm stance against Trump’s SCOTUS nominee? Could an already expected confirmation now run even smoother than anticipated? You can bet we’ll be letting you know.
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