Senate Democrats Tuesday morning repeatedly tried to get Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to say how he would rule on certain cases, but Gorsuch gave little away.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pressed Gorsuch continuously during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee about President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which severely restricts travel from six Muslim-majority countries. The executive order was blocked by two federal judges last week. The Trump administration has said they plan to appeal the judges’ decisions, and it is likely an appeal could go before the Supreme Court in the future.
“The Supreme Court upheld that the due process right extends even to undocumented persons,” Gorsuch said in response to Leahy’s questioning about a “religious litmus test for entry into the United States.”
“I will apply the law, I will apply the law faithfully and fearlessly and without regard to persons,” Gorsuch added.
Gorsuch continuously told Leahy he could not talk about how he would rule in the case, but Leahy continued to push for an answer on the topic.
“Judge, let me ask you this, do you agree that there should not be a religious test in the United States?” Leahy asked. When Gorsuch said he needed more details, Leahy said an example might be a religious test in order to serve in the military.
“Senator, that would be inappropriate, yes,” Gorsuch said. “It’s against the law.”
“We have not just the equal protection guarantee of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits determination based on race, gender, and ethnicity. we also have the Freedom Registration Act, which is a bipartisan bill which was supported by Kennedy and Schumer and that poses an even higher standard on the government than the First Amendment when it comes to religious discrimination,” Gorsuch added. “It says that if there is any sincerely held religious belief, earnestly held belief, the government must be strict scrutiny for it – strict scrutiny being the highest known standard in American law.”
Leahy then asked Gorsuch to comment on a Republican congressman saying “the best thing the president can do for his Muslim ban is to make sure he has Gorsuch on the Supreme Court before the appeals get to that point.”
Gorsuch simply responded, “a lot of people say a lot of silly things.”