WASHINGTON – Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch told him President-elect Trump’s criticism of the judicial branch over his executive order was “disheartening and demoralizing.”
“Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right,” Trump said today after Tuesday’s arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Trump added that a “bad high school student” would rule that his travel ban was legal.
After U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington Judge James Robart blocked enforcement of the order last week, Trump tweeted, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” he continued. “Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision. Why aren’t the lawyers looking at and using the Federal Court decision in Boston, which is at conflict with ridiculous lift ban decision? The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy! Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
Blumenthal said he has “reached no conclusion” on whether or not he should support Gorsuch after their 40-minute meeting.
“He said to me that he found disheartening and demoralizing President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary – these personal invectives and insults that I found abhorrent. He didn’t disagree with me on that point, but I want him to be more public and forthcoming on his answers generally so the public will have no doubt about his commitment to an independent judiciary,” the senator said on a conference call after the meeting.
Blumenthal told reporters that Gorsuch “very specifically” used the words “disheartening and demoralizing” to describe Trump’s criticism of the court.
“Those are his words and he characterized very specifically that way. I said that I found they were more than disheartening, and I said to him he has an obligation to make his views clear to the American people so they understand how abhorrent and unacceptable President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary are,” said Blumenthal, the former attorney general of Connecticut.
He argued that Gorsuch’s confirmation should have to pass a 60-vote threshold in the Senate to be approved. Blumenthal also said he remains outraged that GOP Senate leadership did not hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, but vowed to evaluate Gorsuch on his merits.
“I believe there should be a 60-vote threshold. And if I decide to oppose him I will use every tool at our disposal, and I think a 60-vote threshold is absolutely necessary because the next justice on the Supreme Court should be approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, not a razor-thin margin. It’s a lifetime appointment on the highest court of the land. It should be by at least 60 votes,” the senator said.
“I remain deeply angry and outraged by the Republican leadership denying Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote, in effect stealing the seat, but I am committed to evaluate this individual on his merits,” he added.
Blumenthal did not say whether or not Gorsuch shared his view of Trump’s executive order that restricted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Chief Justice John Roberts promised to call the balls-and-strikes during the confirmation process but he’s used his position to “rewrite the law and bend the court in the direction of special interests.” PJM asked Blumenthal if he thinks Justice Roberts’ performance is a valid reason to vote against Gorsuch.
“I believe Senator Schumer has very valid concerns, which is a reason why I think there’s a responsibility for Judge Gorsuch to be more specific and forthcoming – but even more so because he’s been nominated by a president who has established litmus tests, and his views presumably coincide with the president. And we’ll have to assume that he fits the president’s litmus test unless he makes his views more specific and forthcoming,” Blumenthal responded.
“I never had the opportunity to assess Justice Roberts’ views when he stated them in meetings or in hearings before he was confirmed, but I think Senator Schumer is certainly correct about many of the outcomes that Chief Justice Roberts has supported on the court,” he added.