The new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has guaranteed his judicial independence and has ensured that no person, not even President Donald Trump, will be “above the law.” Just hours after it was reported that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, sought to aid the Russian government and was paid millions by a Putin ally, Gorsuch was grilled on his independence from the president before the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate during the first step to confirm his nomination as a Supreme Court Judge.
The Democratic senators pressed Judge Neil Gorsuch on Wednesday to explain his views on issues such as the Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause” and the notion of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the Washington Post wrote.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy questioned Gorsuch about the little-talked-about Emoluments Clause. As NPR pointed out, the clause has received new scrutiny amid questions about whether President Trump is profiting from foreign governments via his business interests.
Although Gorsuch didn’t speak too much on the clause, he admitted that the clause has “sat in a rather dusty corner,” before explaining that “it prohibits members of the government of this country from taking emoluments — gifts from foreign agents.”
“I am hesitant to discuss any part of the Constitution to the extent we’re talking about a case that’s likely to come before a court, pending or impending,” Gorsuch said.
As part of the process of his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch has faced multiple questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on the role he will play in filling the vacancy of the Supreme Court which has been vacant for more than a year. When asked whether he could hold the president accountable for any of his acts, the Conservative magistrate bluntly replied that “no person is above the law.”
He also assured that no one in the White House has asked for any kind of compromise, and has guaranteed that he has not offered any promise to anyone about how he will lead any of his cases, although he has refrained from detailing how he will tackle controversial issues like abortion, gun ownership regulations, or the president’s immigration veto.
During the hearing, Gorsuch slammed Trump’s criticisms of the federal judge who paralyzed the first immigration vetos and described the president’s remarks as “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” When asked by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal about Trump’s tweets regarding the matter, Gorsuch gave the following response.
“When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing, because I know the truth,” Gorsuch said.
According to ABC News, just moments after Gorsuch made these remarks, Trump brought up the recent court decision blocking his revised travel ban at the National Republican Congressional Committee Dinner.
“The courts are not helping us, that I have to tell you,” Trump said. “It’s ridiculous. Somebody said I should not criticize judges, okay, I’ll criticize judges.”
The post now covered by Gorsuch has been free since February 13, 2016, when Judge Antonin Scala died. Barack Obama’s government tried to put Merrick Garland in place, but his designation was blocked by Republican senators on the grounds that it was better to wait for the presidential election on November 8, 2016.
Gorsuch, who had worked until his appointment to an appeals court, entered the Supreme Court circuit in 2006 under George W. Bush and is expected to be ratified in the Senate. Republicans have a majority of 52 against 48 in the upper house but need at least 60 votes to confirm Gorsuch. Although Democrats are virtually powerless to block his nomination, they have promised to “do everything in their power to oppose Gorsuch.”
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]