03.13.17

During Sunshine Week, Leahy Calls On Judge Gorsuch To Provide Complete & Truthful Answers To The Judiciary Committee

Sunshine Week’s emphasis on transparency should continue into the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch next week, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Monday.

“I hope next week, when the president’s Supreme Court nominee will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he provides transparent, truthful answers to Senators’ questions,” Leahy said.  “I will insist on real answers from Judge Neil Gorsuch, because there are real concerns about his record and his judicial philosophy.”

Judge Gorsuch is nominated to fill a seat left open for more than a year due to Republican obstruction.  Last year, Senate Republicans met behind closed doors to decide not to take up President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy and leave the seat open for President Trump to fill.  Judge Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee, was selected from a list of candidates compiled by conservative special interest groups.

Leahy also noted that the lack of transparency at the Supreme Court, which does not allow cameras in its courtroom, means that next week’s hearing will be one of few chances for the American people to hear directly from Judge Gorsuch.

“The Supreme Court is one of the least transparent parts of our government, and these hearings are one of the only opportunities for the American people to get a glimpse into the institution that protects their most essential rights,” Leahy said.  There are real questions about the kind of Justice that Neil Gorsuch would be, and he needs to answer them openly and honestly, not with the kind of dodges and misrepresentations we have heard from other Trump nominees.”

This year also marks the first Sunshine Week since the enactment of the FOIA Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill coauthored by Leahy and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) requiring federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  This policy was first put into place by President Clinton but then repealed by President Bush.  President Obama reinstated it as one of his first acts in office, and he signed Leahy’s bipartisan legislation last year.

With President Trump’s repeated attacks on the free press, Leahy said this new law will help to ensure government transparency where it is needed.

Given what we have seen thus far from this administration and its nominees – transparency, accountability, and open government are more important than ever,” he said.

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