Neil Gorsuch has been more than willing to meet with U.S. senators from Nevada and Illinois, a spokesman said Friday, denying claims that the appellate judge being considered for the nation’s highest court has declined to meet with them.
The conservative judge has met with nearly 80 of the nation’s 100 senators since President Donald Trump nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 31, according to spokesman Ron Bonjean and former New Hampshire Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
His team repeatedly pursued private meetings, which are not required of nominees, but scheduling in every senator was tough while Gorsuch prepared for and attended mandatory congressional hearings, they said.
“No one has been rebuffed,” Ayotte, now working at the White House, told reporters Friday. “I don’t think that that characterization is accurate.”
Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats, announced in separate statements Thursday that they will oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation largely based on his record, but the senators also criticized him for not sitting down with them.
Cortez Masto said she has asked “for several weeks” to meet with Gorsuch one-on-one and “he has refused to honor this request.”
“The U.S. Constitution has entrusted the Senate with the role of advising the president on the highest court of the land,” Cortez Masto said. “In refusing to meet with me, he has disrespected our nation’s founding principles and pillars core to our democratic institutions.”
A White House nominations team first reached out to Cortez Masto to schedule a meeting in early February, Bonjean said.
A spokesman for the senator, Rey Benitez, said Gorsuch gave Cortez Masto the run-around and, as of Friday, she’s no longer interested in meeting. “Even if he all of a sudden has the time to come meet the senator, she’s going to vote against his confirmation,” Benitez said.
Duckworth said she will not vote for someone who refuses to provide her with direct answers. “Judge Gorsuch has not made the effort to meet with me in person to answer the serious questions I have about his record and he in fact cancelled a meeting we had previously scheduled,” she said.
The Senate is expected to vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation next week.
The court vacancy has lasted 13 months.