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Wyden, Merkley criticize Trump's pick of Gorsuch

'This is a stolen seat,' Merkley says

WASHINGTON - Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both D-Ore., issued quick, sharp criticism Tuesday evening of President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Colorado federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Wyden voiced "serious concerns" about Gorsuch. Here's his statement:

"The Gorsuch nomination represents a breathtaking retreat from the notion that Americans have a fundamental right to constitutional liberties, and harkens back to the days when politicians restricted a people's rights on a whim," Wyden said.

"His opposition to legal death with dignity as successfully practiced in Oregon is couched in the sort of jurisprudence that justified the horrific oppression of one group after another in our first two centuries," he added.

"No senator who believes that individual rights are reserved to the people, and not the government, can support this nomination," Wyden concluded.

Merkley began his statement by noting that  last year, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans "engaged in an unprecedented blockade of President Obama's nominee to fill the vacancy, D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, refusing to even hold hearings and votes."

"The most fundamental thing that must be understood about tonight's announcement is that this is a stolen seat," Merkley said. "This is the first time in American history that one party has blockaded a nominee for almost a year in order to deliver a seat to a president of their own party. If this tactic is rewarded rather than resisted, it will set a dangerous new precedent in American governance.

"This strategy of packing the court, if successful, could threaten fundamental rights in America, including workers' right to organize, women's reproductive rights, and the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections rather than being drowned out by the corrupting influence of dark money from the richest Americans," he continued..

"If President Trump were serious about healing the divisions in America and undoing the damage wrought by Senate Republicans last year, he could have named Merrick Garland to fill this seat. Garland is a centrist jurist who is respected on both sides of the aisle. Instead, he doubled down on division by picking an ideological and extreme nominee to satisfy the far right.

"This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court," Merkley concluded.


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