Bitter partisanship on display at Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court hearing

Cheryl Sanders
March 21, 2017

The clerks sent the letter to Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and ranking member Dianne Feinstein of California ahead of next week's Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Gorsuch, a current federal appeals court judge on the 10th Circuit, based out of Colorado.

The first day of hearings will be devoted to picture taking, family introductions and opening statements from the 20 committee members. Considering how little anyone knew about the 49 year-old Colorado Appeals Court judge it is a hasty timeline, and one that some Democrats say isn't long enough. Each case that comes before the court hinges on nuances of constitutional law that defy blatant stands on political issues. After the event with senators and progressives in front of the court last week, volunteers and staff delivered petitions with over a million signatures, they said, urging senators from both parties to oppose Gorsuch's nomination. Patrick Leahy is criticizing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch because of his support from conservative interest groups that the Vermont lawmaker called "anti-choice, anti-environment and pro-corporate".

Thirteen months after Antonin Scalia's death created a vacancy on the Supreme Court, hearings are getting underway on President Donald Trump's nominee to replace him.

Questioning of Gorsuch will begin on Tuesday.

According to a new letter submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is set to begin confirmation hearings on Gorsuch this afternoon, Gorsuch told his students that companies-law firms, especially-should find out during the interview process whether women plan to have children. Gorsuch's non-judicial writings contain several powerful clues about his views on the constitutionality of abortion.

Judging from some letters we received and published throughout 2016, a driving motive behind the quest for Republican victory was the fear Hillary Clinton as president would upset the balance of power on the U.S. Supreme Court, tilting it to the left, possibly for a generation or more.

Gorsuch has taken positions that are even more extreme than his extremely conservative colleagues.

Republicans hope to complete the confirmation process by April.

On Monday, Cruz sought to get ahead of Democratic efforts to make Trump a liability for Gorsuch. "I think you will have some questions about the immigration ban that is now being considered", Collins said. That means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could force through his confirmation on a slim majority vote if the Democrats unite in opposition.

Durbin also told the judge, "You're going to have your hands full with this president", who has attacked individual judges who ruled against him.

Mr Gorsuch is seen as controversial for a variety of reasons.

Former Senator Harry Reid of Nevada eliminated the filibuster on lower level court appointees while Democrats held the majority because he felt Republicans would unnecessarily deny Mr Obama's appointments. "It's a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court". Some of them, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana, say they are open-minded about Gorsuch. But as that vote - with the 60-vote threshold - is technically a procedural vote, some Democrats may be tempted to vote in favor of it as a compromise and not risk being labeled an obstructionist.

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