Republican lawmakers from western states said Thursday that Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record of supporting the sovereignty of tribal nations could play a big role in winning Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Emerging from a meeting at the White House with tribal leaders, Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, praised Judge Gorsuch as a nominee who understands the importance of Indian-country issues.
Mr. Gardner said the judge’s record in Native American cases while serving on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver will have an impact with “not only within Indian country, but the broader community of Democrat voters in the states that will be asked to vote on Judge Gorsuch in just a few weeks.”
There are 11 Democratic senators from far western states, including five whose seats are up for election next year.
“I think the Indian country voice is so important in this debate,” Mr. Daines said. “So often in the course of a debate for a Supreme Court justice, ideology takes over respective corners. The leaders in Indian country look at his record over the last 10 years … a strong established record. I think this will be important for those states that have senators from the West, and those states that have a large population of American Indians.”
Mr. Cole noted there are 39 tribes in Oklahoma, and said court cases involving tribal nations require a judge with “a body of knowledge” of the issues that arise.
“These issues intersect with state and federal and local jurisdictions time and time again,” Mr. Cole said. “I’m quite sure he’ll have very strong tribal support from across the country.”