CSKT Announce Support for Supreme Court Nominee

Local tribes cite Neil Gorsuch's understanding of western issues, tribal law as benefits

By Beacon Staff

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is endorsing President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the candidate’s understanding of western issues and tribal law.

Robert McDonald, spokesperson and communications director for the tribal council and tribal government on the Flathead Indian Reservation, said the CSKT are joining other tribes in supporting the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice.

“Judge Gorsuch’ record demonstrates respect for Tribal sovereignty and understanding of the unique issues facing Indian Country,” McDonald said in a statement released Feb. 22.

“Judge Gorsuch is a distinguished jurist from the West with a reputation for fairly applying the law on issues important to us in the western United States.

In late January, Trump announced Gorsuch as the nominee to fill the seat left vacant by the death last year of Antonin Scalia. The 49-year-old federal appeals court judge is a Colorado native who earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, then earned a law degree from Harvard. He has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since 2006 after being appointed by President George W. Bush.

The tribes’ public support arrived the same day that Montana Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines expressed his support for Gorsuch at the state Capitol in Helena.

“Judge Gorsuch is a mainstream judge,” Daines said. “His academic credentials are impeccable.”

Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, met with Gorsuch in early February and expressed concerns about the judge’s record on women’s access to health care but said he would give the nominee “a fair shake” during the confirmation process.

“Every Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair shake, and the same goes for Judge Gorsuch,” Tester said after the Feb. 6 meeting. “We had a productive meeting, and I will continue to review his qualifications and get feedback from Montanans about his nomination to our nation’s top court. As I continue to review his body of work, I will be looking to ensure he understands Montana and our challenges, as well as the Constitution and that he is committed to protecting our freedoms.”

The Senate hearing for Gorsuch is scheduled to begin March 20. To win confirmation from the U.S. Senate, Gorsuch needs at least 60 votes under usual Senate rules. That means Republicans need to persuade some Democrats to support the nomination. Supreme Court justices serve lifetime appointments.

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