Comments attributed to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch criticizing President Donald Trump’s attacks on federal judges are adding a new angle to the drama over Trump's immigration executive order – and Gorsuch’s nomination.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that Gorsuch called Trump’s Twitter comments about federal judge James Robart “disheartening” and “demoralizing,” in a private meeting. Gorsuch and Blumenthal met as part of the usual nomination process undertaken by Supreme Court candidates before Judiciary Committee hearings.
Ron Bonjean, Gorsuch’s spokesman, then confirmed the comments to the media and their relation to President Trump’s criticism of Robart as a “so-called judge.” As of Wednesday evening, Gorsuch had not commented publicly on the matter.
During the day, Trump continued with his public criticism of how the legal system is handling the dispute over the executive order, which placed temporary immigration bans on seven predominantly Muslim Mideast countries, as well as measures to block refugees from entering the United States.
“I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” Trump told a gathering of law enforcement officials on Wednesday. “But courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right.”
Trump also criticized the Ninth Circuit judges who heard Justice Department appeal in his immigration executive order case on Tuesday. “If these judges wanted to, in my opinion, help the court in terms of respect for the court, they’d do what they should be doing,” he said. “It’s so sad.”
Last week, Trump introduced Gorsuch as his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court with much fanfare. The conservative jurist is also a federal appeals judge based in Colorado.
Under the constitutional process for Supreme Court nominations, once the President notifies the Senate that a candidate has been placed in nomination, the Supreme Court confirmation remains solely in the hands of Congress.
It remains to be seen if Trump will comment on Gorsuch’s private remarks to Blumenthal. A decision in the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court could come as soon as Thursday.