Democrats preview line of attack on ‘pro-corporate’ high court nominee

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By Lawrence Hurley | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday
outlined how they will question Supreme Court nominee Neil
Gorsuch at his confirmation hearing next week over what they say
is a pro-corporate bias in his rulings as an appeals court

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that the
burden is on Gorsuch, a conservative appeals court judge from
Colorado, to prove at the hearing starting on Monday that he is
an independent judge and not a pro-business activist.

“Judge Gorsuch may act like a neutral, calm judge, but his
record and his career clearly show he harbors a right-wing,
pro-corporate, special-interest legal agenda,” Schumer said.

Schumer appeared on Capitol Hill with several individual
plaintiffs that Gorsuch ruled against in his position as a judge
on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“He expresses a lot of empathy and sympathy for the less
powerful,” Schumer said, “but when it comes to time to rule,
when the chips are down, far too often he sides with the
powerful few over everyday Americans just trying to get a fair

Conservative legal activists who support the nomination say
that Democrats are cherry-picking a small number of rulings that
distort Gorsuch’s 11-year record as a judge.

President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch on Jan. 31 to fill
a yearlong vacancy on the nine-justice Supreme Court.

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has to approve the
appointment for it to take effect. Last year they refused to
consider Democratic former president Barack Obama’s nominee to
fill the vacancy caused by the February 2016 death of
conservative justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate 52-48, but
Schumer repeated his view that Gorsuch would need to win 60
votes, rather than a simple majority, to move toward
confirmation. Democrats can seek to use a procedural maneuver to
block a confirmation vote if Gorsuch’s supporters cannot muster
60 votes, although Republicans could change the Senate rules.

“If a nominee can’t get 60 votes, you don’t change the
rules,” Schumer said. “You change the nominee.”

Among the plaintiffs who spoke out was truck driver Alphonse
Maddin, who was fired after he disobeyed a supervisor and
abandoned his trailer at the side of a road after the brakes
froze. Gorsuch wrote a dissenting opinion as a three-judge panel
ruled last year that Maddin was wrongly terminated and had to be
reinstated with back pay.

“This was a seven-year battle,” Maddin said. “Seven
different judges heard my case. One of those judges found
against me. That judge was Neil Gorsuch.”

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