WASHINGTON (AFP) - Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told a US senator Wednesday (Feb 8) that the president's attacks on judges and courts weighing the legality of his controversial immigration order was "disheartening" and "demoralising."
Gorsuch, who had remained largely silent since Trump nominated him on Jan 31, made the comments in a meeting with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a spokesman for the nominee said, amid preparations for what is expected to be a grueling confirmation process.
Gorsuch took exception to the president's recent tweets in which he attacked a federal judge in Seattle as a "so-called judge" after he blocked Trump's travel ban on refugees, as well as immigrants from seven mainly Muslim nations.
"He said very specifically that they were demoralising and disheartening and he characterised them very specifically that way," Blumenthal said of Gorsuch, according to CNN.
Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Gorsuch during the confirmation process, confirmed that the nominee had indeed made the comments.
Gorsuch, 49, has served on the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, Colorado since 2006.
He is considered a brilliant conservative judge with a prestigious resume, an appreciation of so-called family values, and a preference for a strict reading of the US Constitution - all qualities likely to reassure Trump supporters.
Some Democratic lawmakers, still miffed that the ninth seat on the court sat empty for a year as former president Barack Obama's nominee could not even win a hearing from the Republican-controlled chamber, have pledged to make things difficult.
The Senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, insists that Gorsuch will need to pass a 60-vote threshold to win confirmation in the 100-member chamber, rather than a simple majority as sought by Republicans.
Gorsuch would replace the late Antonin Scalia, a towering conservative justice who died a year ago after serving nearly 30 years on the high court.