Washington — Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, told Sen. Richard Blumenthal that the president’s attacks on the federal judiciary are ‘‘disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
Gorsuch made the statements behind closed doors in a “courtesy call” on Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold a confirmation hearing on the nominee.
Blumenthal said Gorsuch made the statements in response to the senator’s criticisms of a series of Trump tweets and comments about U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle, who issued a nationwide stay of the president’s executive order barring travel to the United States by individuals from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Trump disparaged “the so-called judge” in a tweet and warned his ruling “put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system,” Trump said.
The president also said the federal courts are standing in the way of what he was elected to do, and that even “a bad student in high school” would support his policies. He also said the courts are “taking away our weapons (to fight terrorism) one by one.”
Blumenthal said Gorsuch made his comments in response to criticisms the senator had made of Trump’s behavior.
“I told him I found the attacks on the judge were abhorrent,” Blumenthal said. “His response was that he rejected them and was disheartened and demoralized. But that’s not enough.”
Blumenthal said he asked Gorsuch to repeat the criticisms of Trump in public, but the Supreme Court nominee declined.
“If he wants the American people to believe that he is truly independent, Judge Gorsuch must tell them in no uncertain terms that President Trump’s attacks are not just disappointing – they are abhorrent and destructive to our Constitutional system – and he must condemn them publicly,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said he appreciated Gorsuch’s visit but was disappointed that “he was not more forthcoming and specific in a number of his responses to my questions.”
Blumenthal also said he is concerned Gorsuch would “simply rubber stamp President Trump’s destructive policies.”
Gorsuch has served for 10 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.