Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees act out a peculiar Washington ritual in which inquisitive senators gather before TV cameras to hear an aspiring justice politely refuse to answer their questions on all the pressing legal issues of the day. To no one's surprise, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee, portrayed himself as an earnest, idealistic jurist who did not want to "tip his hand" by voicing his views. Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. followed the same script on their way to confirmation, as does virtually every nominee. But three days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed some of Gorsuch's thinking and gave hints as to what kind of justice he could be. Gorsuch, 49, appears to be a strict "textualist" who believes in following the exact words of a law, even if doing so leads to a seemingly unfair or undesired result.
Since Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination went down in flames over his views on civil rights and hard-core interpretation of the Constitution, Supreme Court nominees have avoided telling senators what they really think -- or how they would rule -- on hot-button issues like voting rights or the death penalty. Instead, most current nominees deflect or downplay their views to the level of banality, looking to appear impartial, fly under lawmakers' collective radar and ascend to the rarified air of the nation's highest court.
The Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Neil Gorsuch is likely to take a sharp turn Tuesday after a relatively smooth opening day on Capitol Hill where the nominee was able to speak about his view on topics like an the importance of an independent judiciary. Senate Democrats on Tuesday get to attempt to raise concerns about President Trump's pick to replace the conservative icon Antonin Scalia. Democrats will likely try to make Gorsuch appear beholden to big business and out-of-touch with the poor. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said outright that Gorsuch was "selected by interest groups." With day 1 of Judge #Gorsuch's hearing complete, @SenateDems set stage for tough?s they will ask tomorrow – American ppl deserve answers.
The Senate's standoff on Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch showed no signs of softening Tuesday as lawmakers launched into the final floor debate, with Republicans and Democrats accusing each other of "unprecedented" tactics in their respective efforts to confirm or deny the nomination. Democrats have enough votes in the GOP-controlled chamber to filibuster President Trump's high court nomination and vow to use the tactic to block the confirmation. The situation has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ready to make a unilateral, procedural change -- tagged the "nuclear option" -- to override the filibuster and confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority of 51 votes, not the 60 votes currently needed in the 100-member chamber. McConnell has vowed to have the 49-year-old Gorsuch confirmed by Friday, with earlier optimism about Democrats dropping their filibuster attempt dwindling. The Kentucky Republican said earlier Tuesday he intended to stop the "unprecedented threat of a partisan filibuster."
President Trump said Wednesday he'd urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to "go nuclear" if his Supreme Court nominee is held up, raising the stakes in what already has become an impassioned Senate fight over Judge Neil Gorsuch. Going "nuclear" is Washington code for changing Senate rules to allow a nominee to win confirmation with a slim majority, without first having to get 60 votes. Doing so could have lasting effects on the consideration of future nominees, not just Gorsuch. But the threat comes as Democratic lawmakers give conflicting signals over how far they might go to fight Trump's nominee. Some are urging their colleagues to give the justice a chance and not attempt to block him.