(CNN)Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley says President Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is on the "far extreme right" and slammed congressional Republicans for what he said was the "theft" of a Supreme Court seat.
Senator: Trump's SCOTUS nominee is 'far extreme right'
He was referring to former President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, which Republicans refused to consider as Obama's term reached its end.
"It was a nuclear option," Merkley said on CNN's "New Day."
"The theft of a Supreme Court seat has never been done before," continued the junior senator from Oregon. "Never before has a majority refused to hold a conversation and a vote ... Therefore we have an illegitimate status really for this seat."
"You take that and then you throw in the new nominee, who is of the far extreme right and you have a formulation," Merkley continued, pointing to the nominee's positions on LGBTQ rights in courts and class action lawsuits.
Regardless, Merkley said, he and his fellow Democrats will give Gorsuch a hearing, and allow for a vote on his confirmation.
"The Democrats will hold the committee hearing, they will hold a committee vote, the issue will go to the floor and that's the process that should have happened with Merrick Garland, but it didn't happen," he said.
After Obama announced in March that Garland was his pick to fill the Supreme Court seat left empty by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans argued that voters should decide in the November elections who should get to nominate someone for that post.
Republicans have praised Gorsuch as well worthy of the job. Known for a florid pen, a sense of humor and unimpeachable conservative positions on religious liberty, guns, business regulation and administrative power, he may be the perfect candidate to emulate the operatic flamboyance and preference for legal textualism and originalism of Scalia, who died nearly a year ago.
"He is Scalia, in many respects," said Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who is now a CNN contributor.