Feb 27, 2017 12:20 PM

Hassan meets with Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch, and Ayotte


CONCORD — Senator Maggie Hassan met Monday with Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also in attendance at the meeting at Hassan’s Senate office in Washington was former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who for the past couple of weeks has been guiding Gorsuch around Capitol Hill for meetings with senators. Then Democratic-Gov. Hassan narrowly defeated Ayotte, the Republican incumbent, in last November’s U.S. Senate election in New Hampshire.

Following the meeting with Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge, New Hampshire’s freshman senator said in a statement that “I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Judge Gorsuch and to discuss the importance of a strong and independent judiciary.”

“In our conversation, I highlighted the critical role the judicial branch plays in protecting the civil rights of all Americans, including a woman's constitutionally protected right to make her own health decisions. I also emphasized the importance of ensuring equality for LGBTQ individuals, as well as my concerns with the influence of unlimited corporate and dark money in American politics. I will continue to thoroughly vet Judge Gorsuch's record and views throughout the hearing process,” Hassan added.

Last year, following the death of conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, the GOP controlled Senate refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, appeals court judge Merrick Garland. Republicans argued that the nomination should be made by the person elected in the 2016 presidential election.

During last year’s Senate campaign, Hassan repeatedly criticized Ayotte for siding with her party in not giving Garland a hearing, and urging Ayotte to do her job. The Republican senator insisted that the people needed to weigh in on the nomination, and urged that the winner of the 2016 presidential election nominate Scalia’s successor.

Hassan-Shaheen say Gorsuch should have hearing

At a town hall in Concord on Friday she co-hosted with New Hampshire’s senior senator, fellow Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, both Hassan and Shaheen agreed that Gorsuch should be afforded a Senate hearing.

While the town hall audience was extremely supportive of the senators through the more than hour long session, Shaheen did face some booing when she declared that Gorsuch “will have a hearing, despite what Republicans did on Merrick Garland.”

“It’s not in our interest to deny a hearing for Neil Gorsuch. That’s what’s proscribed in the Constitution. I’m not going to go out to say it was wrong for them and then right for us,” Shaheen added.

Hassan agreed with Shaheen saying, “I think it’s absolutely appropriate and right for us to do our constitutional duty and do our hearing.”

Both senators seemed to indicate they’re leaning toward voting no on the president’s nominee.

“I’m not going to support somebody who I believe is not going to address those major concerns I have for the court,” Shaheen declared.

And Hassan added that “for me any Supreme Court justice has to understand that their job is not only to be a highly qualified lawyer and jurist of good character but to understand the role the court plays in protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

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