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Watch Live: Gorsuch Takes The Stand As Republican Threat Of “Nuclear Option” Looms

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:01
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After a full day allotted for “opening statements” yesterday, Neil Gorsuch once again takes the stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee today but this time he’ll actually be entertaining questions rather than sitting in awkward silence as Democrats takes potshots at his professional career.  Grab your popcorn because today’s festivities are scheduled for 10 hours of mind-numbing fun.

* * *

In his opening statement yesterday, Gorsuch focused on defining his role as a Supreme Court Justice as one based on independent interpretation of the law, absent any partisan filters.  Per the New York Times:

“I will do all in my power,” he said, “to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”

Judge Gorsuch said he tried to follow the example of Justice Byron R. White, for whom he served as law clerk “He modeled for me judicial courage,” Judge Gorsuch said of his mentor. “He followed the law wherever it took him.”

Pledging to dispense equal justice to “poor and rich,” Judge Gorsuch said the judicial role was “not about politics.”

Rather, he said, a judge’s plain black robes reflect a different role, representing independence. “The robe does mean something to me,” he said, “and not just that I can hide the coffee stains on my shirt.

Predictably, Republicans defended Gorsuch’s many accomplishments while Democrats questioned his independence and lamented over the loss of the seat they believe was stolen from Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

  • Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said he wanted to know what Judge Gorsuch would do when “called upon to stand up to this president.” Mr. Durbin said, “You going to have your hands full with this president.”
  • Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, introduced Mr. Gorsuch, his fellow Coloradan, with high praise but stayed studiously ambiguous about how he would vote.
  • Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said, “if you believe this has been a great plan to get a Trump nominee on the court, then you had to believe Trump was going to win to begin with.”
  • Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said Mr. Gorsuch was “selected by interest groups.”
  • Two of the most frequently mentioned people at Monday’s hearing weren’t even in the room: Judge Merrick B. Garland, the Obama administration nominee who never got a hearing, and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who led the blockade of Judge Garland.

Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has vowed that the Senate will vote on the Gorsuch nomination before leaving April 8 for its Easter recess. If confirmed, Gorsuch would take the bench in time to hear the last two weeks of courtroom argument left in the current Supreme Court term. 

For now, Gorsuch needs the support of at least eight Democrats to avoid a filibuster and win confirmation in the 52-48 GOP majority Senate. If Republicans can’t get Gorsuch past the 60-vote filibuster threshold, they could go “nuclear” by removing the filibuster and eliminating not only Democrats’ ability to filibuster Gorsuch but other Supreme Court nominations to come.



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