Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer accused Judge Neil Gorsuch on Wednesday of being beholden to billionaires and corporations, as Democrats tried to regroup and find an avenue of attack against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Stung by criticism from liberal groups who say they’ve been unable to dent Judge Gorsuch’s momentum, Mr. Schumer and his fellow Democrats are searching for an angle of attack.
One top Democrat said this week that Judge Gorsuch is still withholding critical information about his time at the Justice Department, while Mr. Schumer said what information they do have about his time as a lawyer and on the federal bench suggests a “right wing, pro-corporate, special interest agenda.”
“As I’ve said before, we in the Senate have a special responsibility to judge whether or not this nominee, Judge Gorsuch, will tip the scales on the court in favor of big business and powerful special interests over average Americans,” Mr. Schumer said in a floor speech.
Later in the day he led a press conference with people who said they suffered at the hands of decisions Judge Gorsuch made while on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver who was fired for abandoning his load, said Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court gives him pause for concern because of his dissent in the case where two other judges ordered the company to rehire Mr. Maddin.
Judge Gorsuch had said the company’s decision to fire Mr. Maddin for disobeying its orders may have been unkind, but it wasn’t illegal.
And Katherine Hwang said another of the judge’s rulings denied her mother extended sick leave from her university job. Judge Gorsuch, in his unanimous opinion for a three-judge panel affirming a lower court’s ruling, said federal law did not require Kansas State University to offer more than the six months’ sick leave it already gave to the ailing woman.
The attacks on Capitol Hill coincided with a new campaign by the Constitutional Responsibility Project, which launched a television ad accusing Judge Gorsuch of having too-close ties to corporations and Wall Street.
“If he wants to earn the 60 votes necessary for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Gorsuch needs to explain why he believes that corporations are people or why it should be harder to hold Wall Street accountable for fraud,” said Sheila O’Connell, campaign director for the group.
Judge Gorsuch’s backers dismissed the attacks, saying Democrats are fishing for a reason to oppose the nomination.
“If they aren’t happy with someone who is as highly qualified and universally lauded on both sides of the aisle as Judge Gorsuch, as someone who is as committed to the rule of law as Judge Gorsuch, there is no one that President Trump could nominate that they would not just block at every turn,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis network.
Both sides are preparing for a showdown next week, when Judge Gorsuch appears before the Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing.
Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that Democrats from Western states will face pressure to back the nomination, saying Judge Gorsuch will bring a needed Western perspective to the high court.
After meeting with tribal leaders at the White House on Wednesday, Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma touted the judge’s understanding of Indian-country issues.
Mr. Gardner said Judge Gorsuch’s record should have an impact “not only within Indian country, but the broader community of Democrat voters in the states that will be asked to vote on Judge Gorsuch in just a few weeks.”
Democrats have signaled they’re looking for reasons to delay or filibuster Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, fired off a letter Tuesday demanding the judge provide more details about cases he worked on at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.
“Documents produced by the Justice Department demonstrate you had a leading role in litigation and strategy over executive power and national security matters that have not yet been identified to the Committee,” the letter read.
Mrs. Feinstein wants Judge Gorsuch to identify all of his litigation dealing with anti-terrorism, detention, intelligence, interrogation and military under the Bush Justice Department and provide details about his role on legislative proposals concerning interrogation and detention policy.
She specifically asked about his “proposal for a seminar on torture policy” to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mrs. Feinstein gave the judge until Friday evening to respond.
⦁ Dave Boyer contributed to this report.
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