WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy is criticizing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch because of his support from conservative interest groups that the Vermont lawmaker called “anti-choice, anti-environment and pro-corporate.”
Gorsuch was recommended for the nomination by the conservative Federalist Society and others during last year’s presidential campaign after Senate Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 and the seat has remained vacant.
President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch in February.
At the start of confirmation hearings on Monday, Leahy complained that Republicans had “made a big show last year about respecting the voice of the American people in this process.”
Leahy said Republicans are now pressing to “rubber stamp a nominee selected by extreme interest groups.” The Democrat also noted Gorsuch was nominated by Trump, who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
Earlier, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Gorsuch is the right person to maintain the “preservation of our constitutional order” and the separation of powers under the Constitution.
Grassley says Gorsuch’s “body of professional work is defined by an unfailing commitment to these principles.”
Republicans have criticized former President Barack Obama for overreach in using executive orders to get around Congress. Grassley says “separation of powers is just as critical today as it was during the last administration.”
At the same time, Grassley tries to head off expected Democratic arguments that Gorsuch often ruled in favor of corporate plaintiffs. He says that’s “an old claim” from “an even older playbook.”