The Tricky Politics of Neil Gorsuch and President Trump's Insults to Judges

The Tricky Politics of Neil Gorsuch and President Trump's Insults to Judges

According to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch said it's "disheartening" and "demoralizing" to hear President Donald Trump question the federal court system's independence.

Trump's style may be different and his language more coarse, but the comments themselves are not the "threat to judicial independence that some commentators have made them out to be", said University of Pennsylvania law school dean Theodore Ruger. They certainly did not express similar concern when President Obama made public statements clearly meant to influence the outcome of cases before the Supreme Court."I'm optimistic that the Supreme Court will play it straight when it comes to the interpretation", he said as the Justices deliberated King v. Burwell-implying that if the Court ruled against them, their decision would be illegitimate. Other senators, including Republican Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Democrat Chuck Schumer of NY, said Gorsuch made similar comments to them. Two of Republican George H.W. Bush's nominees y as 2009, nine Republicans voted to confirm the choice of a Democratic president (Sonia Sotomayor).were confirmed by a Democratic Senate, once by a 90-9 vote (David H. Souter).

But there are much larger constitutional stakes here.

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. The fear is that Trump might choose to ignore decisions by the federal courts if he doesn't like what they decide.

General commentary on the nomination comes from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who argues in The Hill that Gorsuch's "thoughtfulness and his principles" make him well suited for a seat on the court.

In a tweet this past weekend, Trump lashed out at Judge James Robart after he issued a stay on the president's refugee and immigration ban.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Republican Ben Sasse of Nebraska said he asked Gorsuch earlier this week about Trump's tweets blasting a federal judge who halted his executive order temporarily banning travel from seven majority Muslim nations.

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This week, Trump took his attack a step further. "He said any attack on, I think his term to me was 'brothers or sisters of the robe, ' is an attack on all judges".

A start would be presidential initiative to reach out to leaders of the rival political party, to seek their views on Supreme Court appointments, and to get a sense of who is confirmable.

"The judge was very clear that he was not commenting on a specific matter", Spicer asserted, though it's unclear why the Supreme Court nominee would bring up criticism of judges unless to talk about the president's recent statements that did just that. The president refused to obey Taney's order.

"And I don't ever want to call a court biased, so I won't call it biased".

To be clear, what the president is doing is blaming the court for politicizing the court. The Supreme Court's slide is what's disheartening. The court's unanimous decision was lauded by former Chief Justice Earl Warren, then on his death bed, who told former colleague, Justice William Brennan, "If you don't do it that way, Bill, it's the end of the country".

Maybe, but the judicial independence salami is getting sliced awfully thin these days.

Justice John Roberts was under fire with the GOP after he upheld former President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

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