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Las Vegas Sun: Gorsuch protests planned for Saturday as Nevada’s senators take sides

Mar 31, 2017

By: Yvonne Gonzalez

Opponents of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court are planning a national day of action ahead of next week’s expected Senate vote.

Reps. Dina Titus and Ruben Kihuen, both D-Nev., are expected to join End Citizens United board member Ron Barber, a former Democratic congressman for Arizona, at a rally beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas. The event, organized by several progressive groups, is set to coincide with eight protests in major cities ahead of the Senate’s expected vote on Gorsuch next week.

Nevada’s two senators are split on the nomination. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said in a statement Thursday that President Donald Trump’s nominee has shown he’s committed to interpreting the law and Constitution as written.

“Judge Gorsuch is not only an exceptionally qualified candidate given his education and experience, but he is also a fellow Westerner who understands our values and the unique issues — ranging from water to energy — that are important to us,” Heller said. “A Western perspective will serve the people of Nevada and the Supreme Court well, and I’ll work with my colleagues to ensure that Judge Gorsuch is confirmed to serve on our nation’s highest court.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., has committed to voting against Gorsuch. She said in a statement Thursday that the nominee failed to meet with her as requested for several weeks.

“The U.S. Constitution has entrusted the Senate with the role of advising the president on the highest court of the land and in refusing to meet with me, he has disrespected our nation’s founding principles and pillars core to our democratic institutions,” she said in her statement.

Gorsuch spokeswoman Liz Johnson said in a statement provided to the Las Vegas Sun that the nominee met with nearly 80 senators.

“In early February, the White House nominations team reached out to Sen. Cortez Masto requesting a meeting be scheduled,” the statement said. “The judge was more than willing to meet with the senator, and both sides have been trying to find a mutually agreeable date that would work.”

Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is serving as the judge’s “sherpa” through the confirmation process, was asked about this during a press call earlier Friday and said no one has been rebuffed.

“I can tell you that we reached out to Sen. Cortez Masto in early February and we’ve been trying to come up with a mutually convenient time, but obviously the judge had hearings and everything else — and we were doing meetings as late as last week as well. So no one’s been rebuffed and the judge has made every effort, and gone to almost 80 senators, so I don’t think that that characterization is accurate.”

Saturday’s protests are set to occur two days before the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote and send the nomination to the full Senate. Confirmation requires 60 votes in the full Senate, though Republicans could change the rules to lower the bar.

The Las Vegas protest will include representatives of the Sierra Club Nevada, Nevadans for Judicial Progress, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada, and Tiffany Muller, executive director of End Citizens United.

Muller said Gorsuch’s rulings that corporations are people are troubling.

“We know that 78 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and want to see a justice on the bench that would actually reverse it, not keep it in place and expand it like Gorsuch would do,” Muller said. “We are sending a message to the entire Senate, and here in Las Vegas particularly to Sen. Heller, to vote no on Neil Gorsuch.”

Click here to see the original article at the Las Vegas Sun.