Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Wednesday that Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, had called the president’s criticisms of judges “demoralizing” and “dehumanizing” in a private meeting.
“I told him how abhorrent Donald Trump’s invective and insults are towards the judiciary. And he said to me that he found them ‘disheartening’ and ‘demoralizing’ – his words,” Blumenthal told the Washington Post in an interview Wednesday.
Blumenthal sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be examining Gorsuch’s record and opinions as part of the confirmation process. Although Blumenthal has a history of distortion — he was exposed in 2010 as having lied about serving in Vietnam while he was in the Marine Reserve — his account of his meeting with Gorsuch was not immediately disputed.
Trump has made several comments about the judges handling a lawsuit against his executive order temporarily restricting travel to the U.S. from terror-prone countries. On Saturday, he referred to the federal judge in Washington state who issued a temporary restraining order against his executive order a “so-called” judge. On Wednesday morning, he criticized appellate arguments before the Ninth Circuit, suggesting that judges who ruled against his order were putting the country at risk.
President Barack Obama also delivered unusual warnings to judges during his two terms in office. On both occasions when his signature domestic policy, Obamacare, came before the Supreme Court, he warned the justices in advance that they would be wrong or overstepping the limits of their powers if they overturned the law. (A Lexis search of English-language news reports about Obama’s warning to the Supreme Court in 2012 yielded fewer than 300 articles during the first seven days of the controversy; a Lexis search of media reports about Trump’s remarks in the past few days produced more than 3000 articles.)
Still, Gorsuch’s comments create new problems for an embattled White House. On the one hand, they demonstrate President Trump’s willingness to appoint a judge who will not hesitate to criticize the executive. On the other hand, they create a new source of criticism — one that is not as easily dismissed as hostile queries from the press gallery or barbs from the opposition.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.