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Trump Supreme Court Nominee Visits Capitol Hill

  • VOA News

Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) walks with former Senator Kelly Ayotte and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) before a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 1, 2017.

President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, began the customary tradition Wednesday of meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Vice President Mike Pence joined Gorsuch as he traversed the halls of Congress, meeting first with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called Gorsuch an “outstanding appointment.”

“We are all thrilled and looking forward to getting the confirmation process started," McConnell told reporters.

Pence said Gorsuch would be available to speak with all members of the Senate and that the administration looks forward to the opportunity for senators to get to know the judge.

“I think, as they do, they will come to understand the enthusiasm the president of the United States has for his appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Pence.

WATCH: Pence, McConnell, Ayotte meet with Gorsuch


The confirmation could be contentious following the Republican refusal to hold confirmation hearings for former President Barack Obama's choice to fill the seat, which has been vacant for just under a year.

Democrats voice opposition

Senate Democrats immediately voiced opposition to the pick.

The top Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer, said he has "serious doubts" about Gorsuch and that his party will insist any Supreme Court nominee receive 60 votes in order to be confirmed.

Watch: Senate Battle Brewing Over Trump Supreme Court Pick

Senator Diane Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said it will take time to thoroughly review Gorsuch's record and expressed concern about Trump's campaign pledge to appoint justices who oppose abortion rights.

"Then tonight, President Trump declared, 'I am a man of my word.' That's exactly what I'm afraid of. Judge Gorsuch voted twice to deny contraceptive coverage to women, elevating a corporation's religious beliefs over women's health care," Feinstein said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Capitol Hill in Washington during the Senate Judiciary Committee's business meeting to discuss the nomination of Attorney General-designate Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Jan. 31, 2017.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Capitol Hill in Washington during the Senate Judiciary Committee's business meeting to discuss the nomination of Attorney General-designate Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Jan. 31, 2017.

Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that in recent years the Supreme Court has "shifted dramatically," with decisions that favor corporate interests at the expense of American workers. He said the vacant seat "belongs to the American people, and I'll make sure their voices are heard."

WATCH: Trump on Democratic opposition to nomination


If confirmed, Gorsuch would restore the 5-4 conservative majority on the nine-member court that existed with Scalia on the bench. He would also be one of the youngest justices ever to sit on the court where lifetime appointments make a president's selections important long after he leaves office.

During his introduction Tuesday, Gorsuch called the appointment to the Supreme Court "a most solemn assignment." He said if the Senate confirms him, he will do everything in his power to be "a faithful servant of the Constitution and the laws of this great country." He also spoke of his admiration for Scalia, calling him a "lion of the law."

Republicans praised Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appellate judge from Colorado, whom they believe will continue Scalia's legacy as a conservative voice in the court.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Gorsuch has a "long record of faithfully applying the law and the Constitution."

FILE - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington.

FILE - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington.

Senators Ted Cruz and Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both touted Gorsuch as a judge who adheres to a strict interpretation of the Constitution common among conservative judges.

Grassley said Gorsuch is "not like a lot of people on the Supreme Court who want to stretch congressional intent on the law or maybe read the Constitution beyond what the writers implied for the Constitution to say."

Cruz called on the Senate to "move expeditiously" and said he believes Gorsuch will be confirmed.

"The Democrats will not succeed in filibustering this nominee," he told VOA's Kurdish service. "They may try, they may not try. I don't know the answer to that. But they will not succeed."

Republicans currently hold a 52-44 majority over the Democrats in the Senate. It would take just 51 votes to confirm Gorsuch, unless Democrats choose to filibuster the nomination, in which case 60 votes would be required to overcome the action.

Gorsuch was previously confirmed in a voice vote by the Senate in 2006 after he was nominated by then-President George W. Bush to the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals. An individual tally of votes wasn't conducted because Gorsuch was seen as a non-controversial nomination.

Senators Schumer and Feinstein were both present for the vote, along with then-Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Reporter Sama Dizayee of VOA's Kurdish Service contributed to this report

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