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Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination hearings

20 March 2017, 10:16 | Melvin Schneider

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicks off almost a week of nomination hearings Monday on Neil Gorsuch, the 10th Circuit judge President Donald Trump picked for the Supreme Court's vacant ninth seat.

Gorsuch is a highly regarded conservative appeals court judge from Colorado who was chosen to succeed one of his heroes: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The nominee himself, Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seemed nearly an afterthought at times, sitting alone at the witness table, occasionally nodding or taking notes, as the 20 members of the Judiciary Committee took turns delivering lengthy and partisan opening statements.

Gorsuch, if elevated, would become the youngest justice since 43-year-old Clarence Thomas joined the court in 1991.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, questioned whether Gorsuch will protect the legal and constitutional rights of all Americans and not just the wealthy and powerful.

"If we end up with that gridlock I would say, 'If you can, Mitch, go nuclear, '" Trump said in early February according to Time Magazine. "So I think that's the question they have to ask themselves".

The last three Supreme Court nominees to be rejected in a Senate vote were candidates proposed by a Republican President to a Democratic-majority Senate.

He said he "thought" that is what the Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to do, pointing to the rumours that Democrats could challenge Mr Gorsuch's nomination with a filibuster due to Mr Garland's treatment. His appointment was blocked by Republicans. If Democrats stay unified and Gorsuch cannot muster 60, Republicans could change the rules to allow confirmation by a simple majority. "So I was surprised sitting in this class, hearing this in April of 2016, and thinking that even a professor that I respected, that I see as so bright, so well-versed in the law, could also not only hold these views, but was so comfortable expressing them to a room full of law students, including female law students that he the same semester had offered to mentor". Bob Casey and Republican Sen.

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Congressional Democrats have been facing major pressure from the left, as the Times notes, to exact revenge for the Republicans' unprecedented obstruction of Garland's nomination past year, and it remains to be seen if they have the will to filibuster Gorsuch's nomination.

Grassley was at the White House when Trump announced Gorsuch was his pick to fill the vacancy on the nation's highest court.

Gorsuch will appear before senators later Monday looking to pin him down on his conservative philosophy.

Monday, leading organizations on the left, including MoveOn, UltraViolet, DailyKos, NARAL Pro-Choice America and others sent an email to their millions of members asking them to demand that Democrats filibuster any vote to confirm Gorsuch. I'm, for instance, a democrat.

After Trump's election, Obama-nominated U.S. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland resumed his seat on the D.C. Circuit.

"Committee Republicans went behind closed doors and declared that they would surrender the independence of this committee to do the majority leader's bidding and they ignored the Constitution in the process", the Vermont Democrat continued.

Gorsuch appeared to close his eyes briefly when Grassley discussed a Supreme Court decision against the Obama administration and occasionally took notes.



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