February 13, 2017 | by Chris Deaton
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said President Donald Trump’s behavior in the first few weeks of the new administration necessitates a “new standard” for Supreme Court nominees, including a unique a demonstration of judicial independence.
“What is particularly new” about the circumstances of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the High Court, Schumer said Sunday, “is that we have a president who is overreaching dramatically, who shows little respect for the rule of law, who seems to violate the Constitution in his first three weeks, and intimidates judges who have cases before them.”
These factors, the New York Democrat told Face the Nation’s John Dickerson, raise the bar Schumer seems to be setting for Trump’s SCOTUS nominees to clear.
“This demands a new standard, a much more independent justice than in the past, because, after all, the Supreme Court is our last refuge against a president who overreaches, who doesn’t respect balance of power,” he said.
Schumer implied that the Colorado judge failed to satisfy his demands during a closed-door meeting between the two on Capitol Hill, not answering hypothetical questions about potential court cases or providing his opinion of past rulings.
“I asked him some very specific questions that he should answer. These are not about existing cases. I said, if there was a law that said all Muslims are banned from the United States, would that be unconstitutional? That has nothing to do with the case before him, or before us, before the court. He wouldn’t answer,” Schumer said.
The Democrat leader in the upper chamber is helping set the tone for opposition to Gorsuch’s nomination. Several of his counterparts have said they favor committee action on the judge, as the party weighs possible action to delay or block the confirmation. Schumer has taken a tough tack, as outspoken members like Oregon senator Jeff Merkley have vowed that Democrats would stymie Gorsuch.
Republicans would need eight Democrat votes to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination to advance the jurist to a final up-or-down vote on his confirmation, should the legislative process proceed as expected.