‘No man is above the law’ Supreme court pick says on Donald Trump

Neil Gorsuch

US Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has said “no man is above the law” when pressed on whether Donald Trump could reinstitute torture as an interrogation method. The exchange with Republican senator Lindsey Graham came on day two of Mr Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing to fill the 13-month vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Mr Graham suggested Mr Trump might be watching the hearing, and asked Mr Gorsuch what would happen if the president tried to reinstate waterboarding, the banned torture technique he embraced on the campaign trail. Mr Graham suggested Mr Trump “might get impeached” if he tried to do so.

“Senator, the impeachment power belongs to this body,” Mr Gorsuch said, but when Mr Graham followed up on whether Mr Trump could be subject to prosecution, he said: “No man is above the law, no man.”

It was one of several charged exchanges as Mr Gorsuch mostly batted away Democrats’ efforts to get him to reveal his views on abortion, guns and other controversial issues, insisting he keeps “an open mind for the entire process” when he issues rulings.

He answered friendly questions from majority Republicans in the same way as they tried to help him highlight his neutrality in the face of Democratic attempts to link him to Mr Trump, who nominated him.

Mr Graham asked Mr Gorsuch whether the president had asked him to overturn Roe v Wade, the case establishing a right to abortion, and what he would have done had Mr Trump asked him to do so.

“Senator, I would have walked out the door,” Mr Gorsuch replied. “That’s not what judges do.”
“My personal views, I tell you, Mr Chairman, are over here. I leave those at home,” he said in response to a question from Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley. He gave versions of that response numerous times to other senators.

As a long day of questioning wore on, senators and Mr Gorsuch engaged in a routine well-established in recent confirmation hearings, as the nominee resists all requests to say how he feels about Supreme Court decisions, even as he is asked about them again and again.

Questioned by Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein about the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling affirming the right of people to keep guns in their homes for self-defence – District of Columbia v Heller – Mr Gorsuch said: “Whatever is in Heller is the law and I follow the law. It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing.”

Mr Gorsuch said he has not been asked since his nomination to make promises about future rulings.
“I don’t believe in litmus tests for judges,” he said. “No one in that process asked me for any commitments.”

Republicans are unanimously supporting Mr Gorsuch, and they asked supportive questions as he appeared for a second day before the committee, but Democrats made clear on the first day that they were in no mood to

“rubber stamp a nominee selected by extreme interest groups and nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes”, as senator Patrick Leahy put it.

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