U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch may have helped cement his chances for confirmation by telling senators that President Trump’s tweets critical of federal judges were “disheartening” and “demoralizing,” the National Law Journal reports. Gorsuch’s comments could telegraph to the legal establishment and to the Supreme Court itself that he embraces the importance of judicial independence. An unwritten rule in Washington discourages personal attacks on federal judges by presidents as a threat to the judiciary’s role in checking executive branch overreach. “Judge Gorsuch’s comments appropriately reflect the utter disregard President Trump has shown for the judiciary in just three weeks,” said Neal Katyal, an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration.
Harvard law Prof. Laurence Tribe said, “I trust he said it not as a stratagem for confirmation but as an expression of his views.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) quoted Gorsuch’s comments to him. The senator called Trump’s comments “abhorrent” and “unacceptable.” Trump labeled U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle after Robart on Feb. 3 blocked enforcement of his travel ban from Muslim-dominated nations, and said that if a terrorist attack occurs, Robart should be blamed. Trump also observed the hearing on the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and called the judges “disgraceful” and incapable of understanding concepts that “a bad high school student would understand.”