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What Happened At Gorsuch's Confirmation Hearings, Today?

by Countable | 3.20.17

Day two of confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court allowed senators on both sides of the aisle to question the judge directly. As expected, Republican senators offered glowing reflections on Gorsuch’s record and temperament, while Democrats questioned him on his past cases, past decisions of the Supreme Court and his loyalty to President Donald Trump. The day’s hearing, according to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is expected to last 10 hours, so here’s what’s happened so far.

From the beginning of the hearing, Democrats noted the unwillingness of Senate Republicans to even allow a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016. Ranking Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expressed her extreme "disappointment" over Republican’s treatment of Garland’s nomination, but conceded, “Our job is to determine whether Judge Gorsuch is a reasonable mainstream conservative or is he not.” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) echoed her disappointment, stating the Republican blocking of Garland was “never grounded in principle or precedent”. When Judge Gorsuch was questioned about Garland he would not offer an opinion on the Republican actions, but testified that his peer is “an outstanding judge”.

Democrats also questioned Judge Gorsuch on his prior cases, particularly regarding worker’s rights and campaign finance. Regarding worker’s rights, their concerns were centered on whether or not Judge Gorsuch would always rule against employees. The judge lamented the necessity of his ruling in "The Case of the Frozen Trucker," noting that, though he still believes his ruling was consistent with the law, it was not a decision that was consistent with his heart. Gorsuch maintained that in his 2,700 case history of rulings he was sure there were numerous instances of cases where he ruled for the “little guy” and listed a few for reference. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) promised to look them up and ask him more specific questions about them in the second round of questions.

Sen. Klobuchar primarily focused, however, on campaign finance law. She quoted numerous dissenting opinions or further opinions authored by Judge Gorsuch that suggested he would dismantle the campaign finance laws and limitations currently in place. She also asked the judge to offer an opinion on Citizens United. Gorsuch refused to offer an opinion onthe landmark campaign finance case, as well as other cases that might come before the court, and defended his prior written opinions as being either consistent with existing law or pointing out inconsistencies in existing law that he believed should be addressed.

Republicans defended Gorsuch throughout the day. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asserted that he was pleased with how the White House had handled the nomination, stating it was "the single-most coherent moment in the administration is how they introduced him." Sen. Mike Lee lamented the treatment of Gorsuch, suggesting that he wasn’t used to it because he “is not a politician,” while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) argued that Gorsuch shouldn’t have to field questions about President Trump, since previous nominees had not had to answer for the Democratic presidents that nominated them.

Judge Gorsuch did state clearly and unequivocally that he would not hesitate to rule against the administration or President Trump, saying "no man is above the law." Otherwise, he appeared to strive for conciliation throughout the day. He noted that there are no Democrat or Republican judges, there are just judges. He also noted his history of striving for consensus, “My law clerks tell me that 97 percent of the 2,700 cases I’ve decided were decided unanimously — and that I’ve been in the majority 99 percent of the time”.

Day two’s hearing will continue into the evening and then testimony and questions will begin again on Wednesday, with senators limited to 20 minutes in their questioning as compared to the 30 minutes they were each afforded today..

Should Senators support the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch?


Have questions about politics? Let us know! Send us an email and you could see your answer in a future post.

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: U.S. Senate Historical Office / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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  • SouthernGal
    03/21/2017
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    I listened to the hearings today and feel unsettled at the way Gorsuch evaded all questions about his beliefs. It's like he & the GOP expect confirmation without any explanation on where he stands on various topics. I also think these hearings should be postponed until trump & company are cleared of all investigations & probes. The GOP made such a big deal about president Obama appointing a Supreme Court judge in his last year. Confirming a judge nominated by a potentially treasonous president sits badly.

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  • NVal
    03/22/2017
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    Delay all confirmations until a non-partisan, independent investigation is completed.

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  • Dennis
    03/21/2017
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    First of all, no one should ever listen to or take seriously anything that Ted Cruz ever says. The man is a pathetic and spineless rodent. Second, I feel like the Democrats would be perfectly within their rights to delay the confirmation until after the 2020 election. This is a stolen SCOTUS seat, Gorsuch has no place there regardless of how moderate he may or may not be. At the very least the hearings should be delayed until the FBI investigation is complete.

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  • Mark
    03/22/2017
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    I urge you to block any SCOTUS nominee who is not Merrick Garland. Scala's seat was President Obama's to fill and his choice of nominee should be honored with an objective hearing and confirmation.

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  • Helen
    03/22/2017
    ···

    I urge you to block any SCOTUS nominee who is not Merrick Garland. Scala's seat was President Obama's to fill and his choice of nominee should be honored with an objective hearing and confirmation.

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  • revwatson
    03/21/2017
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    Please oppose this nomination at all costs. While Judge Gorsuch is not as terrible as the Trump's Cabinet appointees, that should not be the bar. Until we know the truth about Trump's Russia connections, election tampering, and whether he has violated the emoluments clause, he should not be allowed to appoint a life-term appointment of any kind.

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  • Judy
    03/22/2017
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    By voting Yes for Gorsuch, it's a blow to the democratic process. Garland did not get a hearing and McConnell and cronies were proud of that. It's a snub to the nomination procedure and they did not uphold the duties of their offices. Why nothing was done judicially about this is beyond me. Now his entire administration is under review. Aside from the fact that I don't believe Trump cared who he selected (he asked his advisors and top Republicans to select a few), he has no credibility. The hearing should be placed on hold until Garland gets a hearing (assuming he wants one) and the cloud is lifted from the presidency. I also don't agree with many of his leanings. He's "by the book" but starts to make exceptions as he sees fit. Please vote NO. Thank you.

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  • LulyPop
    03/22/2017
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    THIS IS NOT ABOUT TRUMP! stop saying "vote no because he's trump's guy"! do you want to wait another 4-8 years before putting a 9th SCOTUS judge on the bench?! remember when the republicans filibustered garland!? BE CONSISTENT. BE intellectually honest!!! i urge any of you to name one thing that makes Gorsuch unqualified or unfit. He is a phenomenal nominee. The only argument to be made against him is partisan, and if you want to be the one to do that, you don't understand constitutional law.

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  • Eric
    03/21/2017
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    All I'm going to say about this subject is that I can't remember the last time any party acted so shamefully and politically nasty as the refusal to even give Garland his chance at having hearings. I feel we need to make a law that a president's pick for SCOTUS should always have a hearing before any other pick is allowed to be heard. IMO what the Republicans did should be a criminal to Garland should be grounds for immediate termination for not doing their jobs as promised. This was truly a vehemently atrocious act of injecting politics into our courts, they can lie and deny it all they want but the facts remain the same.

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  • Yvette
    03/22/2017
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    The man in the White House should not be permitted any nominations until an independent investigation of his ties to Russia are complete. Until then he is not in a position to do so as he cannot function while under investigation. Didn't he say that? Snap!

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  • JulesLuna
    03/21/2017
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    Please call for the halt of all trump-related nominations made by congress, including nominee Neil Gorsuch, until a complete and thorough investigation has been conducted into "President" Trumps ties with Russia.

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  • Amanda
    03/22/2017
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    All should be on hold until the investigation is sorted out!

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  • Karen r
    03/22/2017
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    Block his confirmation. He didn't answer the questions regarding women's rights and Roe v. Wade. Let me make this very clear, this is not an issue of liberals losing an election, this is about upholding women's rights, this is horrifying that a man thinks he has the right to tell a women when and how she must procreate. Block him.

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  • Carol
    03/22/2017
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    While I felt that Gorsuch's testimony was slick and he may well be the best of the worst that we will get for nominations out of this dysfunctional administration, I think that no one should be nominated until the truth about the trump administration's ties to Russia are fully investigated by an independent commission. Please vote NO.

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  • ValVoter
    03/21/2017
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    I realize that it's likely useless to hope--but don't confirm him until Russian investigation us behind us.

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  • Anne
    03/22/2017
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    Please vote "no" until this Russian investigation is over.

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  • Bobby13
    03/22/2017
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    Democrats should be as obstructionist as Republicans were with Garland and not let him get nominated.

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  • Sara
    03/21/2017
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    Do not confirm Gorsuch!!! Too much is yet unresolved as concerns Trumps involvement with Russia. And why should Gorsuch be confined when Garland was the original candidate for his post and was blocked???

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  • Donald
    03/22/2017
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    I don't know Judge Neil Gorsuch; but I like what he said. "When it comes to the law making decisions, I am neither Republican or Democrat.

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  • Mike
    03/22/2017
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    If no other area you decide to say no to this president then it should be this one. The GOP blatantly stole this court position by continuing to obstruct Obama's nominee until a new president elected. That is plain wrong and should not be tolerated. Obama's pick was neutral and could be someone all could get behind if politics left aside.

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