Proving to Democratic and Republican senators that he’s no rubber stamp of 70-year-old President Donald Trump, 49-year-old Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch said the president’s words about U.S. District Court Judge James Robart were “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Robart issued an injunction nationwide against Trump’s Jan. 27 travel ban from Mideast and North African countries. Filing for injunctive relief in the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 7, Trump’s Justice Department insisted that Trump has the broad discretion as president to act on immigration issues when it comes to protecting U.S. national security. Trump’s attorneys argued that Robart interfered with Trump’s executive power of making immigration decisions as commander-in-chief. Trump called Robart a “so-called judge” for issuing his stay on the Jan. 27 travel ban.
Speaking privately to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Gorsuch criticized Trump. Much was made during the 2016 campaign of Trump criticizing Indianapolis U.S. District Court Judge Gonxalo Curiel for his Mexican heritage, making it difficult for him to remain neutral in the Trump University case. Trump questioned whether or not Curiel could deliver justice when he heard Trump’s critical remarks about Mexicans during the campaign. Gorsuch’s spokesman Ron Bonjean confirmed via email that Gorsuch “used the words disheartening and demoralizing,” describing Trump’s comments toward Robart and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, currently deliberating over the injunction. Despite his conservative bent, Gorsuch has been well received by 83-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (R-Calif.), boding well for his upcoming confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Criticizing Trump is the perfect strategy for Gorsuch, especially among Democrats, looking, at least initially, to block his nominations because of the GOP refusing to act on former President Barack Obama’s pick, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland. “He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by demoralizing, abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary,” said Blumenthal, someone you’d expect would oppose Gorsuch’s nomination. Blumenthal walks a fine line showing any support for Gorsuch when his Democratic caucus expresses such disdain for conservative jurists. “But I will be asking for more specific and forthcoming comments to those kinds of questions before I determine how I will vote,” Blumenthal said hedging his bets. Senate Judiciary Committee members have a real problem finding anything wrong with Gorsuch.
Awaiting a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court, Trump slammed the court for its liberal leanings, anticipating a bad decision. Trump’s figuring out quickly that unlike his real estate business, where he’s the supreme authority, he’s got a Congress and Judiciary to deal with when it comes his executive orders. Telling a three-judge panel yesterday that the Seattle District Court overstepped its reach with a nationwide injunction doesn’t make sense. Issuing the injunction, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart questioned the validity of the seven-country ban based on the probability of future domestic terror attacks. Not one domestic terror attack involved someone without citizenship or proper documentation. Trump’s lawyers were hard-pressed to identify any refugees or visitors with known ties to any terror groups. Speculating about future terror attacks isn’t enough to impose a travel ban.
Trump shoots himself in the foot criticizing the Appeals Court before they rule. “The courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right . . . “ said Trump, suggesting the courts are ignoring national security risks. “ . . . and that has go to do with the security of our country, which is important,” without presenting the court evidence that the travel ban would actually protect U.S. citizens. Some elected officials, liked Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, believe the travel ban adds to recruitment and chances of terrorism. Whether that’s true of not, the 9th Circuit Court must decide whether or not the government met its burden of proof that the ban protects U.S. citizens. Immigration laws and travel rules must be consistent with Due Process and Equal Protection under the law.
Making his rounds in the Senate, Gorsuch has won over enough Democrats to get approved without the Senate resorting to the so-called “nuclear option,” using a simple majority, not the 60-vote supermajority. Speaking up against Trump’s criticism of Judge Robart or the 9th Circuit Court shows the kind of judicial independence welcomed by Democrats and Republicans. Republicans punished former President Barack Obama for having such abysmal relations with Congress, ignoring his pick of Merrick Garland. When Democrats look at alternatives to Gorsuch, they’ll realize things could be much worse. Instead of praising Trump for an outstanding pick, Democrats continue to complain about everything he does, even when it’s exemplary. Standing up to Trump’s criticism of the courts, Gorsuch scored points with Democrats on Capitol Hill, looking like he’s on his way to the High Court.