Support for Gorsuch from Native American groups could put pressure on Western Democrats

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.