- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Senate’s second-ranking Republican dismissed criticism Tuesday over his dinner with Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and other government officials, saying it’s “ridiculous.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, Texas Republican, and his wife hosted a dinner with the newest high court justice, along with Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican; Elaine Chao, Transportation secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican; among other Senate colleagues on Monday evening.

But once Mr. Alexander tweeted about enjoying his time breaking bread, criticism was lobbed against the justice, suggesting the dinner reveals impropriety.

“I consider it a return to civility in Washington — we ought to have more people in Washington sitting and having dinner talking about important issues, so I think any objection is ridiculous,” Mr. Cornyn said.

Susan Hennessy, attorney and executive editor of a legal blog Lawfare, jumped in on Twitter to criticize Justice Gorsuch.

“I thought Gorsuch was unfairly criticized for the Trump Hotel speech, but he really does appear to have zero regard for appearances or propriety. It’s a very unbecoming look for a Justice,” she tweeted.

Liberal advocacy groups had protested Justice Gorsuch last year for giving a speech hosted by an educational group at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., saying it showed a level of impropriety for benefiting the president financially who had nominated him to the federal bench.

Mr. Alexander later issued a statement after his tweet, saying the dinner was “purely social.”

“We weren’t discussing political activities and we certainly know better than to discuss any issues before the court,” he said.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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