Neil Gorsuch in 2002: Merrick Garland 'grossly mistreated' by Senate

SCOTUS Pick Gorsuch Zelany NewDay_00001803
SCOTUS Pick Gorsuch Zelany NewDay_00001803

    JUST WATCHED

    President Donald Trump taps Judge Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court nominee.

MUST WATCH

President Donald Trump taps Judge Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court nominee. 02:22

Story highlights

  • In 2002, Neil Gorsuch slammed the Senate's "partisan bickering" over judicial nominations
  • "So much for promoting excellence in today's confirmation process," Trump's Supreme Court pick wrote

(CNN)Back in 2002, Neil Gorsuch was frustrated with the Senate's "partisan bickering" over qualified judicial nominees. So he wrote a column for the wire service United Press International criticizing the delays in confirming nominees.

"[S]ome of the most impressive judicial nominees are grossly mistreated," he wrote.
Gorsuch pointed to two jurists in particular: Merrick Garland and John Roberts.
    Sound familiar?
    Gorsuch was nominated Tuesday to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump to fill the spot vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February.
    Though President Barack Obama nominated Garland to fill the seat just a month later, the vacancy lingered as Republicans in the Senate declined to hold hearings on his confirmation. His nomination expired last month.
    Gorsuch in his 2002 essay referred to the lengthy nominations of Garland and Roberts to the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC.
    "Both were Supreme Court clerks. Both served with distinction at the Department of Justice. Both are widely considered to be among the finest lawyers of their generation," he wrote.
    Still, their nominations languished.
    "So much for promoting excellence in today's confirmation process," Gorsuch wrote.
    Garland was initially nominated by President Bill Clinton in September 1995 but was not confirmed until March 1997. Roberts was nominated to the DC bench during President George H.W. Bush's presidency but was never confirmed.
    He was again nominated by President George W. Bush in 2001 and was finally confirmed in 2003. He later was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2005 and was confirmed as chief justice.
    Rather than point fingers, Gorsuch wrote in 2002 that the Senate's problem belonged to both political parties.
    "Responsibility for the current morass does not rest with any one party or group; ample blame can be doled out all around," he wrote. "But litmus tests, grudge matches and payback are not the ways forward. Excellence is."
    If confirmed, Gorsuch would join Roberts on the Supreme Court.