U.S. high court nominee calls Trump’s attacks on judiciary ‘demoralizing’

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By Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S.
Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, on Wednesday described the
president’s Twitter attacks on the judiciary as “disheartening
and demoralizing,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said.

Gorsuch spokesman Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist hired
by the White House to help guide the judge’s nomination through
the U.S. Senate, confirmed that Gorsuch used those words when he
met Blumenthal.

Trump took to Twitter over the weekend to condemn the Friday
order by Judge James Robart that placed on hold the president’s
Jan. 27 temporary travel ban on people from seven
Muslim-majority countries and on all refugees.

The administration appealed that ruling to a three-judge
federal appeals panel, which is due to decide the issue this
week.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, referred to Robart as a “so-called judge” and said his “ridiculous” opinion “essentially
takes law-enforcement away from our country.”

In an interview with CNN, Blumenthal said he told Gorsuch
that he found Trump’s attacks on the judiciary unacceptable and
asked the judge to condemn them.

“After some back and forth, he did say that he found them to
be disheartening and demoralizing,” said Blumenthal, who is a
member of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold a
confirmation hearing on Gorsuch’s nomination.

He said Gorsuch was “non-committal” about publicly
criticizing the attacks, “and that’s one reason why I remain
deeply concerned about this nomination.”

U.S. presidents are usually hesitant to weigh in on judicial
matters out of respect for a U.S. Constitution clause ensuring a
separation of powers between the executive branch, Congress and
the judiciary.

Trump nominated Gorsuch on Jan. 31 to succeed Justice
Antonin Scalia on the nine-member court. Scalia died a year ago
this month.

“As the nominee of a President who has viciously attacked
the independence of the judiciary and declared multiple litmus
tests for justices, Judge Gorsuch has a special responsibility
to reassure the American people that he will be an open-minded
and independent jurist,” Blumenthal said in a statement earlier.

“If he wants the American people to believe that he is truly
independent, Judge Gorsuch must tell them in no uncertain terms
that President Trump’s attacks are not just disappointing – they
are abhorrent and destructive to our Constitutional system – and
he must condemn them publicly,” Blumenthal said.



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