What’s wrong with having dinner with high-ranking Senate Republicans? Nothing, unless you’re a member of the Supreme Court with an obligation to avoid both real and apparent bias.
On January 22, Sen. Lamar Alexander tweeted:
I enjoyed having dinner tonight at the home of Senator John Cornyn and his wife Sandy with our newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, Transportation Secretary Chao and a few of my other Senate colleagues to talk about important issues facing our country.
— Sen. Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) January 23, 2018
Justice Gorsuch dined with John Cornyn, who as the Senate Majority Whip is the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate. It’s possible the top Republican was there as well, since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is married to Secretary Chao.
This should raise a few eyebrows, given what Gorsuch has already done to flaunt his partisanship.
Of course he owes his job to McConnell, whose unprecedented obstruction kept the Supreme Court seat vacant for Trump to fill and who then obliterated the Senate’s 60-vote rule for Supreme Court nominees in order to secure the seat for Gorsuch. In September 2017, Gorsuch joined McConnell in Kentucky for what appeared to be a politically-charged victory tour.
Also in September, he delivered a keynote address to a conservative group at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, even though the president’s connection to that hotel was already the subject of federal litigation that will likely end up at the Supreme Court. Ahead of what could be a landmark ruling on the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, Justice Gorsuch appeared to give a clear signal to Trump that he’ll come through for the president.
In December, the Washington Post published a sycophantic letter that then-nominee Gorsuch wrote to the president who had nominated him, where the future justice simply gushed over Trump’s leadership abilities and his recent address to Congress.
So Gorsuch’s choice to have dinner with Cornyn, Alexander and other senators possibly including McConnell comes at a time when he has already given the American public deep cause for concern about his being a rubber stamp for Trump and the Republican Party.
And what did they talk about while they were eating? Baseball? The latest Star Wars movie? How hard it is to get good help these days?
Nope. According to Alexander, there was a purpose for this dinner: “to talk about important issues facing our country.”
Sounds a lot like they talked about the Republican party’s agenda for the country—not exactly the sort of thing a sitting Supreme Court justice ought to be discussing in a private dinner with Senate Republican leaders.