Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut met with Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch yesterday, and he did not miss an opportunity to highlight a disagreement Gorsuch has with the president who nominated him. Referencing President Trump’s “so-called judge” line about James Robart, Blumenthal said this: “[Gorsuch] certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by the demoralizing and abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary.”
The reaction from friends of administration was predictable. The President himself took to Twitter again this morning to blast Blumenthal, calling the representation of Gorsuch’s comments “fake news.” But this seems unlikely given that other senators, including Republicans Kelly Ayotte and Ben Sasse, have had very similar conversations with Gorsuch.
The question here is not loyalty to the administration; rather, it is separation of powers. In recent years, every new administration seems to bring about a corresponding rediscovery of this pre-partisan governing principle by the opposing party. In Gorsuch’s case, his staunch defense of an independent judiciary may well help him be confirmed. Or not.
For his part Senator Sasse keeps speaking eloquently about our exceptional constitutional system. In an interview with NBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday, Sasse touched on a variety of topics, including the skepticism of power inherent in our republic’s structures and the way that “executive overreach” and congressional abdication have fed each other for decades. He also talked about Gorsuch, and what he said was encouraging. The nine-minute video is well worth watching for Sasse’s grasp of how the current moment fits into a longer historical context. When he is finished representing the people of Nebraska, perhaps Sasse can find work as America’s civics teacher.
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) February 8, 2017