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Judge Neil Gorsuch says he'd rule against Trump if law required it

Washington: In an effort to assure the Senate and the nation that he would be a fair-minded and independent justice, on Tuesday Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, said he would not hesitate to rule against Trump if the law required it.

Gorsuch also repeated his earlier private criticism of Trump’s attacks on judges who had ruled against the administration.

“When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or motives of a federal judge,” Judge Gorsuch said at his confirmation hearing, “I find that disheartening and demoralizing.”

Asked if that general statement applied to Trump, Judge Gorsuch said, “Anyone is anyone.”

In response to questions from Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, Judge Gorsuch expressed admiration for Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the same Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

He refused to say whether Senate Republicans had mistreated Judge Garland by refusing to consider his nomination for the better part of a year.

“I can’t get involved in politics,” Judge Gorsuch said. “There’s judicial canons that prevent me from doing that. And I think it would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes.”

"Specifically tell us whether you’d have any trouble ruling against the president who appointed you,” Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, asked him.

“That’s a softball, Mr. Chairman,” Judge Gorsuch said. “I have no difficulty ruling against or for any party, other than based on what the law and the facts and the particular case require.”