Two leading Native American organizations have penned a letter of support for Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner, the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund write they "have confidence that Judge Gorsuch will be open-minded to all perspectives," citing their experiences with the judge and his judicial record.
"As noted repeatedly during the hearing, Judge Gorsuch has significant experience with cases involving the interests of Indian tribes and Indian people," wrote NCAI president Brian Cladoosby and NARF executive director John Echohawk in the letter. "His opinions recognize tribes as sovereign governments, and address issues of significance to tribes, including state police incursion onto tribal lands, sovereign immunity, religious freedom, accounting for trust funds, exhaustion of tribal remedies, and Indian country criminal jurisdiction. Judge Gorsuch appears to be both attentive to the details and respectful to the fundamental principles of tribal sovereignty and the federal trust responsibility."
The letter puts pressure on Western Democrats — such as North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet — who are considering whether to filibuster or support the judge's high court nomination. National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Katie Martin cheered the news of the Native American groups' support on Monday.
"The red state Democrats up in 2018 have a serious problem on their hands if they choose to side with Sen. Schumer and his filibuster of Judge Gorsuch," Martin said. "With added pressure from their constituents, countless editorial boards, and groups like the National Congress of American Indians and Native American Rights Fund, Democrats, especially those from the west, need to weigh their options carefully, because the outcome of a bad vote on Judge Gorsuch could be their ticket to a retirement in 2018."
Democrats' line of attack against Gorsuch throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings included that he did not look out for the "little guy" including various minority groups. The praise from key Native American groups could be used to push back against such claims.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley set a committee vote on Gorsuch's nomination for April 3.