Portman pledges support to Trump court pick

Published 10:16 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said on Wednesday that he has met with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court and has pledged his support to his confirmation.

Portman issued a statement following the meeting with Judge Neil Gorsuch, who Trump has nominated to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

“Judge Gorsuch and I had an engaging and productive meeting, and I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss a number of important issues with him,” Portman said. “I expressed my belief that the job of a Supreme Court justice is to fairly and impartially apply the law, and to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not to legislate from the bench. I believe that is exactly what he will do should he be confirmed to this important position. Judge Gorsuch has an outstanding record as a fair-minded, independent, and universally-respected judge, and, after today’s meeting, I join others in offering him my support.”

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President Barack Obama had nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat, but Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings or meet with the president’s pick until he left office, killing the nomination.

Ohio’s Democratic U.S. senator, Sherrod Brown, has said Gorsuch should get a hearing, but that he will oppose his confirmation.

Gorsuch will need 60 votes in the Senate to be confirmed and overcome a possible Democratic-led filibuster. Republicans currently hold 52 seats.

However, Republicans have the option of employing the so-called “nuclear option” and changing the rules to require only a simple majority for confirmation, though it is unclear if the party is fully behind the idea of such a rule change.