WASHINGTON ― If President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, wants to convince Democrats that he has the backbone to stand up to the White House as an associate justice, he has to do more than criticize Trump’s attacks on the judiciary in private, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told reporters Wednesday that Gorsuch admitted in their one-on-one meeting that Trump’s disparagement of judges was “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
Although Trump denied Gorsuch said such things, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who is escorting the judge to meetings, said the comments were accurate.
Now, Schumer says Gorsuch has to say the same to the world.
“It’s not your feelings that matter. You’ve got to condemn [Trump’s comments] and condemn them publicly,” Schumer told several reporters, confirming that Gorsuch used similar language with him.
“He said this to three or four people, and then Kelly Ayotte went and confirmed it,” Schumer said. “So the president’s saying it was false ― he’s contradicting his own nominee and his own employees.”
Blumenthal has made similar demands in interviews Thursday.
Regardless of whether Gorsuch acts on the suggestion, he is certain to have to answer questions about his independence when he goes to Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearings.
Schumer has said that while Gorsuch seems like a smart, capable judge, he must meet higher standards to earn Democratic support when a man like Trump is in the White House. And independence is one key trait Schumer has said Gorsuch needs.
Unlike with other nominees, Supreme Court picks still require 60 votes, and thus Democratic support. Gorsuch will have to woo at least eight members of the Democratic caucus to be confirmed, unless Republicans decide to change Senate rules.