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Trump's Supreme Court Pick of Neil Gorsuch Sparks Criticism and Praise

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia sparked a fast and furious reaction from Democrats while Republicans and conservative groups heaped praise on him, rejecting the assertion from critics that he was extreme in his views.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer raised questions about President Trump's actions during his first week and a half in office, and whether or not that would impact Gorsuch's ability to remain independent if confirmed.

"The burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and, in this new era, willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the Executive branch and protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all Americans," Schumer said in a statement.

"Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard. Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women’s rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice on the Court," Schumer said.

"Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice," he said.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, took issue with Gorsuch's stance on issues relating to women voters, without specifically detailing those stances.

"After the relentless contempt for women that candidate Trump displayed throughout his campaign, it is no surprise that President Trump intends to place someone hostile to women’s rights on the Supreme Court ... Judge Gorsuch’s record reveals he holds radical views far outside the mainstream of American legal thought," Pelosi said in a statement.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said that he "look[s] forward to questioning Judge Gorsuch" and Sen. Tom Leahy, D-Vermont, talked about what Gorsuch's nomination could mean for Roe v. Wade.

"President Trump said he would appoint justices who would overturn 40 years of jurisprudence established in Roe v. Wade. Judge Gorsuch has shown a willingness to limit women’s access to health care that suggests the President is making good on that promise," Leahy said in a statement.

Gorsuch is considered an originalist and textualist and has defended the "Free Exercise Clause," which bars Congress from making laws impinging on the establishment of religion.

He also sided with Christian employers and religious organizations in a case that sought an exemption from the Obamacare contraception mandate.

The White House lauded Gorsuch in a statement Tuesday night.

"Judge Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist with an outstanding intellect and a clear, incisive writing style," the statement said. "He is universally respected for his integrity, fairness, and decency. And he understands the role of judges is to interpret the law, not impose their own policy preferences, priorities, or ideologies."

The statement adds: "Judge Gorsuch is a “judge’s judge” who decides cases based on the law, not personal policy preferences. He is not afraid to reach results contrary to his own policy views."

Republicans were quick to laud the selection of the jurist.

"Neil Gorsuch is a highly-regarded jurist with a record of distinguished service, rooted in respect for the law. He was confirmed unanimously by Democrats and Republicans," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska.

And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, praised Gorsuch as "a judge who has a demonstrated loyalty to the Constitution and a strong commitment to life."

"He is a phenomenal nominee for the Supreme Court," he added. "His belief in judicial restraint will serve the Court—and the country—very well."

The Republican National Committee rejected the Democrats' casting of Gorsuch as an extremist.

"Neil Gorsuch is a mainstream conservative choice who fulfills President Trump’s promise to the American people to appoint a justice who represents their views," the RNC statement said. "In this past presidential election, the American people gave their support to President Trump in large part because he vowed to appoint a justice in the mold of the great Justice Scalia."

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