Senate hearings get underway on Trump Supreme Court pick

A Trump agency head would not tell a Justice Gorsuch how to interpret federal law – rather, the courts interpret the law for the agencies.

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The idea is to put targeted pressure on vulnerable Democratic senators like Missouri’s Claire McCaskill to support Gorsuch – or at least to withhold support for a Democratic filibuster – using local media coverage of Gorsuch’s life story as a lever.

Gorsuch has been declared “well qualified” for the Supreme Court, and he holds degrees from Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University. Each case that comes before the court hinges on nuances of constitutional law that defy blatant stands on political issues.

The Senate is set to take up the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch this week, and given the level of collegiality coursing through today’s political discourse, expect plenty of overheated rhetoric. If Judge Gorsuch were simply pro-corporation, why that result?

The Gorsuch supporters who stopped in St. Louis Wednesday described a “mainstream” judge who keeps political ideology out of his rulings and who treats his clerks “like family”, in the words of several of them.

The opinions confirm that Gorsuch is conservative; a point cheered by Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks activists who rallied on Capitol Hill the Friday afternoon before the hearing. But it is not clear that enough Democrats would join the filibuster for it to succeed, and Republicans could change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and confirm him with a simple-majority vote.

So far the Democrats have not given much of an indication that they’ll do this. Easily one can imagine President Trump nominating the white nationalist Stephen Bannon or Kellyanne Conway, since she’s not doing well on TV these days. After 2020, I have no doubt a Democratic president will have an opportunity to pick a nominee more to our liking.

Gorsuch is expected to be reported favorably by the Republican-led committee. I couldn’t get 60 votes today.

The courts are where average Americans seek redress for wrongs and ensure they are treated fairly. “He and (adviser Stephen) Bannon create so many distractions that what traditionally would have been a great fight – a Supreme Court nomination one year after Republicans would not allow a vote on a Democratic nomination – seems like an afterthought”.

Senators on the Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearing, will give opening statements on Monday and then take turns asking questions of the nominee on Tuesday. Considering how little anyone knew about the 49 year-old Colorado Appeals Court judge it is a hasty timeline, and one that some Democrats say isn’t long enough.

The Senate’s 52 Republicans appear to be in lockstep behind Gorsuch.

At the same time, his extensive paper trail is largely devoid of significant decisions involving the hot-button social issues that can galvanize politicians and advocacy groups, including affirmative action and gun rights.

The committee will then have a second round of questioning, which might be as long as 20 minutes per senator (or almost seven hours total). But there’s enough in his thin resume on some cases that pertain to abortion rights, planned parenthood funding, a powerhouse federal judiciary, and most menacingly the strictest of strict reading of the constitutionalism, branded “originalism”, to serve as fair warning of what’s to come if he gets on the SCOTUS. They are caught between a rock and a hard place.

In January, just after Trump announced his nomination, Gorsuch called Garland. They want to be able to make the argument that [Gorsuch] is anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environment because he expresses skepticism about the Chevron doctrine, but at the same time, they want to say that he’s a rubber stamp for the Trump Administration and the executive branch.

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Neil Gorsuch is young, fit, and conceivably could duplicate Scalia’s tenure on the high court.

Image Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks after President Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington D.C. on Jan. 31