Skip to comments.Dems land few punches on Gorsuch
Posted on 03/21/2017 6:25:13 PM PDT by jazusamo
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch maintained a polite demeanor during Tuesdays marathon questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee, sprinkling his responses with golly and goodness but refusing to answer questions on how he might rule from the bench.
Democrats repeatedly sought to get under Gorsuchs skin, but President Trumps nominee rarely appeared ruffled during his first day of questioning, and even seemed to charm senior Democrats at times.
When Feinstein asked whether he would submit to the record examples of times he ruled against powerful interests and in favor of the little guy, Gorsuch replied, Oh, goodness, Ill name a bunch of them right now, before catching himself and saying, Im sorry, senator. Of course.
His polite demeanor seemed to win her over a little, and when he declined to speak about his personal views of the contrasting opinions in the landmark gun control case District of Columbia v. Heller, Feinstein relented.
All right, Ill let you off the hook, she said.
Gorsuchs performance seemed to take inspiration from the testimony Chief Justice John Roberts delivered to the committee after being nominated by President George W. Bush 11 years ago.
Roberts compared himself to a humble baseball umpire whose job is to call balls and strikes, not swing for the fences.
Gorsuch adopted a similar strategy Tuesday, repeatedly invoking the solemn duty to apply the law impartially that comes with a judges honest black polyester robe.
The stakes were higher in his second day before the committee, as it was the first opportunity senators had to question him in public.
Whitehouse demanded to know whether Gorsuch knew who had helped fund a $10 million Judicial Crisis Network ad campaign supporting his nomination and pressed him on whether he had any knowledge of the activities of billionaire Phil Anschutz, who reportedly lobbied the administration to make the pick.
I dont know individuals who are contributing. I dont know that, Gorsuch said.
When Whitehouse asked why wealthy donors might spend so much to support him, Gorsuch said, Ask them.
I cant, because I dont know who they are, Whitehouse replied.
Whitehouse tried to pin the nominee down on the debate over the corrupting influence of money in politics, losing patience when Gorsuch dodged the question about his personal views by referring to a 1973 Supreme Court case on campaign finance regulations.
Im asking, actually, you, Whitehouse said.
That seemed to get a rise out of the until-then unflappable Gorsuch.
Im giving you my answer the best I can, which is the First Amendment, which Im sworn to uphold as a judge, contains two competing messages, he replied.
Franken slammed Gorsuchs dissent in a 10th U.S. Circuit Court decision that sided with a truck driver who disobeyed an employers order when he thought he was at risk of freezing to death as absurd.
I have had a career identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it, the former Saturday Night Live star said. It makes me question your judgment.
Gorsuch appeared close to breaking from his cool demeanor when Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) questioned whether his originalist approach to the law would allow for a woman to become president, given that women couldnt vote when the Constitution was ratified.
Im not looking to take us back to quill pens and horse and buggy, he began, but when she interrupted to ask for a straightforward response, his voice rose and he emphatically said, Of course women can be president of the United States.
Im the father of two daughters, and I hope one of them turns out to be president, he added.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also received a short reply when he pressed Gorsuch about his relationship with his dissertation supervisor at Oxford University, John Finnis, whom Democrats have accused of having extreme anti-LGBT views.
Gorsuch tried to defuse the tension with a reference to young adult literature, citing the Harry Potter-like atmosphere of his mentors office and saying Finnis did not let an argument that I was working on go unchallenged from any direction.
When pressed by Durbin, who asked, And what about LGBTQ individuals? Gorsuch said: What about them? Theyre people.
He did all he could to keep the drama to a minimum as the day dragged on.
He admitted to being somewhat intimidated by the Senate grilling, apologized to his wife for putting her through the ordeal, joked with the clerks and reminisced about his chats with former Supreme Court Justice Byron White.
Gorsuch appeared to win points with Leahy, a longtime Judiciary Committee member, saying he admired the various ways Leahy tried to dig a substantive answer out of him on the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
That prompted laughter as Gorsuch gushed that Leahy would be a formidable companion in the courtroom.
The former Vermont prosecutor, who loves talking about his early career, all but blushed and said, Im just a lawyer from a small town.
Republicans on the panel were clearly allied with the nominee, pitching friendly questions and seeking to dispel any notion that he would shy away from standing up to Trump.
Gorsuch insisted he was his own man at one point, after Franken noted that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus recently said his confirmation could potentially change 40 years of law.
Respectfully, Mr. Priebus doesnt speak for me, and I dont speak for him, Gorsuch said. I dont appreciate it when people characterize me. ... I am a judge. I am my own man.
He said to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that Trump never asked him to rule against the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade.
Senator, I would have walked out the door, Gorsuch said of if the president had sought such a promise. Its not what judges do. I dont do it at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue, and they shouldnt do it at this end either, respectfully.
The hearing became almost syrupy when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a former Supreme Court clerk himself, asked for Gorsuchs fondest memories of clerking for White.
And Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) helped lighten the tone after a harsh line of questioning from Franken, praising Gorsuchs stamina over hours of questioning.
How in the world is Gorsuch able to go so many hours at a time without peeing? Sasse asked, reading a text from his wife.
The [Supreme Court] bladder is something that stands in awe, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday the Senate is on track to vote on Gorsuch before lawmakers leave for a two-week recess on April 7.
But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on Republicans to delay the vote because of the ongoing investigation into coordination between Trumps campaign team and Russian officials.
They’ll still vote against him.
Could just as well have the vote first thing tomorrow.
No doubt at all you’re right.
It’s strickly a political gotcha on the Rats part.
I hope he turns out to be what America needs.
Thanks a lot for posting this!
The trouble with Dems “landing a few punches” is that it’s like a butterfly landing on your nose. LOL. Enough of this “gotcha politician clown show”. Confirm Gorsuch and let’s move on. Enough with the childish games.
DiFi suffered blowback, richochet, and was schooled.
That last line is so absurd. The Dems are grasping desperately at straws.
Have we found any photos of Gorsuch posing with pies a la Roberts?
I really enjoyed being 'schooled' by this knowledgeable Judge.
Gorsuch acquitted himself well. Given the political environment, does anyone believe he will be confirmed without the nuclear option?
what was with Sen. Al Franken. I have seen his performances as Senator on more than one occasion. I have also been around persons when they have had a bit too much to drink. Was the Senator totally inebriated?
He sounds too much like that POS Roberts.
Franken is just an IDIOT, with effluvia for brains.
It was very apparent that Gorsuch was in a totally different intellectual league than all Democrats and most Republicans on the committee.
Land punches? More like threw up onto his shoes.
Amen...Franken made a fool of himself with his question or statement, whichever it was, then didn’t get an answer that satisfied him.
Judge Gorsuch was cool as a cucumber. lol
I honestly have wondered the same thing.
He's presented himself very well and if the Rats won't forgo the filibuster and let him be confirmed I think he will be by the nuclear option.
I think the rats know that too.
I did like Gorsuch’s answer that all the hyphenated-Americans are persons deserving of equal treatment. I also wonder why the Democrats haven’t followed up on that, given their agenda to give preferences based on hyphenations.
With regard to original intent, some of the questions were simply weird. The Constitution has been amended several times. The amendments invoke not the intention of the Founders but the intentions of the amendors. Therefore, the 13th, 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment and the 19th Amendment tell us something either in the original document or in the Supreme Court’s interpretation of it up to the time of the amendment, has changed.
To illustrate, the Supreme Court could say Dred Scot was wrongly decided, and reverse itself. But, by reason of the 14th Amendment, the Dred Scot decision’s key determination - that persons of the African race could never be citizens of the United States - was rendered moot.
The original Republican position on Dred Scot, expressed by Lincoln in his Cooper Union speech, was that Dred Scot was wrongly decided. His original position was to seek to overturn Scot, possibly through the slow workings of the appointment process. A certain unpleasantness changed the plan.
Plessy v. Furgeson - the “separate but equal” ruling of the late 19th Century was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court. As to why the Supreme Court reversed itself, possibly it was because the doctrine was massively falsified by the fact that public schools for black children in the south were not at all equal to the public schools for white children in the south. Who knows, but if blacks actually had separate and equal schools and such, maybe we’d still be living in a segregated society.
You’ve got to have some faith in the process. We, the U.S., are still a work in progress.
This kind of gets to the application of the Constitution to changes in technology and other changes that could not have been anticipated by the Founders. For example. wiretaps on telephones. Obviously, there were no telephones at the time the 4th Amendment was ratified. At first, it wasn’t clear how the 4th Amendment applied to this new technology. Eventually, the Court determined that a warrant would be required.
Nowadays, we’re involved in yet another new technology: the internet, and whether the government can conduct massive eavesdropping in the name of national security or fighting terrorism or fighting drugs or other crime. Sorry, it’s not immediately obvious how the 4th Amendment applies. Have some confidence that we will work this through.