AUGUSTA — A group of 49 Maine lawyers have signed a letter to Maine’s U.S. senators supporting President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch.
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, and two former chief counsels for Republican Gov. Paul LePage, were among those who signed the letter sent to Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, on Thursday.
Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings this week. The full Senate will vote on whether to confirm him to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.
“While most of us will never have the opportunity to appear before the United States Supreme Court, each of us has a strong interest in supporting the confirmation of highly qualified jurists who will maintain the Supreme Court’s commitment to the rule of law,” the Maine lawyers wrote in their letter to Collins and King.
Neither Collins nor King has decided how they will vote.
Collins will review the transcripts from Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings and continue to meet with constituents on both sides of the confirmation issue through next week, when she will make her decision, spokeswoman Annie Clark said in an email Friday night.
On Thursday, King said he would carefully review Gorsuch’s record and his confirmation hearings and listen to the people of Maine before deciding how he would vote.
Joshua Dunlap, a Portland-based defense attorney, also signed the letter. He said Friday that he clerked for Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and got to know and respect Gorsuch when he and Kelly were assigned to the same panel.
“He is an extremely intelligent individual who, as I observed him on the 10th Circuit, really displayed a remarkable ability to key in on the key issues that are at the heart of a legal dispute with an ability to resolve those,” said Dunlap, 33, a Vassalboro native.
Gorsuch has a way of making the law clear and accessible to the “everyday people who don’t have legal training,” he said.
Dunlap also vouched for Gorsuch’s common decency.
“There are a lot of people who are very smart, there are a lot of people who are very kind and decent individuals. Unfortunately, sometimes those two don’t seem to mix. But he really has both of those,” Dunlap said.
Some Senate Democrats have said they will vote against Gorsuch’s nomination, and some suggested they may try to block Gorsuch’s nomination with a filibuster.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has emerged as a top critic of Gorsuch.
The Washington Post reported that Schumer said Gorsuch “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on Trump. Schumer said later that the judge is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” handpicked for Trump by conservative legal groups.