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Dems land few punches on Gorsuch
The Hill ^ | March 21, 2017 | Alexander Bolton, Lydia Wheeler

Posted on 03/21/2017 6:25:13 PM PDT by jazusamo

Dems land few punches on Gorsuch
© Greg Nash

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch maintained a polite demeanor during Tuesday’s 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 Gorsuch’s skin, but President Trump’s nominee rarely appeared ruffled during his first day of questioning, and even seemed to charm senior Democrats at times.

He told ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that he wished he could answer her questions more fully, and marveled at Sen. Patrick Leahy ’s (D-Vt.) creativity in framing his queries.

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, I’ll name a bunch of them right now,” before catching himself and saying, “I’m 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, I’ll let you off the hook,” she said.

Gorsuch’s 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 judge’s “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.

Gorsuch’s sharpest retorts were prompted by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), who showed impatience with his repeated refusals to speak to his personal views.

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 don’t know individuals who are contributing. I don’t know that,” Gorsuch said.

When Whitehouse asked why wealthy donors might spend so much to support him, Gorsuch said, “Ask them.”

“I can’t, because I don’t 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.

“I’m asking, actually, you,” Whitehouse said.

That seemed to get a rise out of the until-then unflappable Gorsuch.

“I’m giving you my answer the best I can, which is the First Amendment, which I’m sworn to uphold as a judge, contains two competing messages,” he replied.

Franken slammed Gorsuch’s dissent in a 10th U.S. Circuit Court decision that sided with a truck driver who disobeyed an employer’s 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 couldn’t vote when the Constitution was ratified.

“I’m 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.”

“I’m 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 mentor’s 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? They’re 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, “I’m 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 doesn’t speak for me, and I don’t speak for him,” Gorsuch said. “I don’t 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. “It’s not what judges do. I don’t do it at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue, and they shouldn’t 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 Gorsuch’s 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 Gorsuch’s 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 Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials.

TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 115th; confirmatio; confirmation; first100days; gorsuch; scotus; senatecommittee; trumpscotus
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Schumer and Warren land no punches at all.
1 posted on 03/21/2017 6:25:13 PM PDT by jazusamo
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To: jazusamo

They’ll still vote against him.

Could just as well have the vote first thing tomorrow.

2 posted on 03/21/2017 6:28:13 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle ( The Great Wall of Trump ---- 100% sealing of the border. Coming soon.)
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To: Balding_Eagle

No doubt at all you’re right.

It’s strickly a political gotcha on the Rats part.

3 posted on 03/21/2017 6:30:39 PM PDT by jazusamo (Have YOU Donated to Free Republic?
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To: jazusamo

I hope he turns out to be what America needs.

4 posted on 03/21/2017 6:30:50 PM PDT by onona (Keeping the faith will be our new directive for the republic !)
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To: jazusamo

Thanks a lot for posting this!

5 posted on 03/21/2017 6:34:40 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: jazusamo

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.

6 posted on 03/21/2017 6:37:45 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it. - Clint Eastwood)
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To: jazusamo

DiFi suffered blowback, richochet, and was schooled.

7 posted on 03/21/2017 6:43:26 PM PDT by bigbob
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To: jazusamo

That last line is so absurd. The Dems are grasping desperately at straws.

8 posted on 03/21/2017 6:46:24 PM PDT by FenwickBabbitt
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To: onona
I hope he turns out to be what America needs.

Have we found any photos of Gorsuch posing with pies a la Roberts?

9 posted on 03/21/2017 6:47:25 PM PDT by Major Matt Mason (It is time to make America an uncomfortable place for Marxist usurpers.)
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To: jazusamo
Neil Gorsuch is a fine a jurist as I've ever known and I have know quite a few. I expect he will have no trouble being for Schumer, Warren and the dem attack dog Al Franken, all look foolish in their ridiculous attempts to sound smart.

I really enjoyed being 'schooled' by this knowledgeable Judge.

10 posted on 03/21/2017 6:50:09 PM PDT by yoe
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To: jazusamo

Gorsuch acquitted himself well. Given the political environment, does anyone believe he will be confirmed without the nuclear option?

11 posted on 03/21/2017 6:51:22 PM PDT by buckalfa (Charter member of the Group W bench.)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

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?

12 posted on 03/21/2017 6:52:08 PM PDT by maxsand
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To: onona

He sounds too much like that POS Roberts.

13 posted on 03/21/2017 6:53:21 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: FlingWingFlyer


14 posted on 03/21/2017 6:54:21 PM PDT by jazusamo (Have YOU Donated to Free Republic?
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To: maxsand

Franken is just an IDIOT, with effluvia for brains.

15 posted on 03/21/2017 6:55:28 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: jazusamo

It was very apparent that Gorsuch was in a totally different intellectual league than all Democrats and most Republicans on the committee.

16 posted on 03/21/2017 6:58:43 PM PDT by falcon99
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To: jazusamo

Land punches? More like threw up onto his shoes.

17 posted on 03/21/2017 7:01:54 PM PDT by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
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To: yoe

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

18 posted on 03/21/2017 7:05:53 PM PDT by jazusamo (Have YOU Donated to Free Republic?
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To: buckalfa
does anyone believe he will be confirmed without the nuclear option?

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.

19 posted on 03/21/2017 7:11:01 PM PDT by jazusamo (Have YOU Donated to Free Republic?
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To: jazusamo

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.

20 posted on 03/21/2017 7:20:08 PM PDT by Redmen4ever
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