- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer met with Judge Neil Gorsuch Tuesday but said he’s still not sold on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, saying the judge seemed to be following a “deliberate strategy” to avoid answering tough questions.

Mr. Schumer said Judge Gorsuch is “clearly very smart,” but he said given Mr. Trump’s seeming disrespect of other federal judges, Judge Gorsuch will need to prove he can be an independent check on the president.

“These attacks make it more imperative than ever that the Supreme Court prepare to serve as a check on this administration when it overreaches,” Mr. Schumer said. “Simply put, the bar for a Supreme Court nominee to prove they can be independent has never, never been higher.”

How Judge Gorsuch can convince Democrats, though, Mr. Schumer wouldn’t say.

“He can do whatever he wants, but then, we and the American people have to make the judgment whether he’s the right person for the Supreme Court,” the New York Democrat said.

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Democrats are pounding the table, citing Mr. Trump’s past comments as a way to criticize Judge Gorsuch.

“If that’s the standard, does that mean they’re going to oppose any and every person that Trump nominates to the Supreme Court? I don’t know. That hardly seems sustainable,” Mr. Lee said.

He said that if Democrats do their homework and research Judge Grouch’s record, “it’s pretty hard to find anything all that objectionable.”

Democrats are still steaming over the way Republicans treated Judge Merrick Garland, who was President Obama’s pick to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. GOP senators refused for nearly a year to hold a hearing, much less a vote, saying the new president should make the pick.

Mr. Schumer has said Democrats will mount a filibuster of any nominee, meaning at least eight Democrats would have to side with the GOP if all Republicans remain on board.

Mr. Schumer said the bar for Judge Gorsuch gets higher each time Mr. Trump attacks judges, saying the president has shown “deep contempt for an independent judiciary that doesn’t always bow before him.”

On Saturday Mr. Trump tweeted his disapproval of a Seattle-based federal judge who halted his executive order on extreme vetting for refugees coming from seven countries.

Mr. Trump called him a “so-called judge,” called the temporary restraining order “ridiculous” and hinted that federal courts will be blamed if someone let in during the delay commits a terrorist attack.

During the campaign Mr. Trump also questioned whether an American-born judge of Latino heritage could be unbiased as he oversaw a case against one of Mr. Trump’s business ventures.

Conservative pressure group America Rising Squared said Mr. Schumer was being hypocritical in setting high bars for Mr. Trump’s court nominee.

“This is [a] far cry from the Chuck Schumer who last year said he cared more about a ninth Supreme Court Justice than any ‘political advantage’ and said he looked forward to working together with Republicans on filling this seat,” said Brian Rogers, the group’s executive director.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Judge Gorsuch on Monday and appeared to have a more open mind about his confirmation than Mr. Schumer.

“I think we are dealing with someone who is impressive, so we’ll see,” Ms. Feinstein said.



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