Will: Questions for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

Posted March 20, 2017

Senator Richard Blumenthal sits on the committee holding the hearing. Judge Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing begins on March 20th and both sides of the political aisle are prepping for a battle that has been almost 14 months in the making.

Democrats should avoid mimicking the obstructionism Republicans applied with former President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland - whose nomination they refused to act on at all - and instead ply Gorsuch with critical questions, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

We deserve, and need, a consensus justice on our high court whose loyalty is to all of the American people and our American values, not one president nor one party.

What to watch for: Testimony by Judge Gorsuch about executive overreach and Article II powers, a concern during the Obama years and now, alas, the Trump administration.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Gorsuch, now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, will have to convince Democrats that he won't follow the Supreme Court's deregulatory path of rulings like its pivotal 2010 decision in Citizens United v. The committee will then vote, and it'll move to the Senate floor. But Feinstein says in a new letter sent to the nominee on Tuesday: "'This has not yet been done, '" Politico reports.

The judge's "opinions show an understanding that the role of a judge is not to enact his own preferences, but neither is it to rubber stamp the legislature", said Bradley A. Smith, a former Republican commissioner on the FEC, who is chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics. Gorsuch also regularly sided with employers in the employment discrimination cases on which he Saturday. Even the extremely conservative Antonin Scalia was confirmed by a vote of 98-0.

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That said, Patterson said over the weekend that he hoped to stay in Minnesota, even after visiting the Redskins and Bears. But with the Vikings looking to get 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell, Patterson became expendable.

There are now 11 Republicans and nine Democrats on the committee, so there's no doubt Gorsuch will be approved.

"Democrats have failed to demonstrate a strong, unified resistance to this nominee despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic freedoms and threaten the independence of the federal judiciary", they wrote.

On the first point, if the Dems spend their time asking Gorsuch softball questions about his judicial philosophy and position on constitutional law, it will be a clear sign that they are not going to oppose his nomination.

"It's far worse than that", Lambda officials opined in an email to its supporters last month, marking the first time Lambda Legal has publicly opposed a Supreme Court nominee. "'Gorsuch's nomination represents an imminent threat to America's most cherished rights and most vulnerable citizens, and millions of Americans across the country are demanding that Democratic leadership use everything in their power to block it, ' the alliance said". Just so. We elect politicians, not justices, to write the law. Kirsten Gillibrand pointed out recently, the Republican majority in the Senate - the GOP holds 32 seats there - will nearly certainly change the Senate rules, if necessary, to ensure Gorsuch is confirmed by a simple majority vote.

"People are saying I don't care if he's a Republican or Democrat, he has a great reputation and that's what we're looking for - somebody who can bring the right talents and judgments to the bench", said Steve Farber, a partner with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and a key figure in bringing the 2008 Democratic National Convention to Denver. "Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect". It is unclear if the GOP would be able to stand united enough to make the nuclear option happen. Bennet - a Democrat - has not said whether or not he will support Gorsuch, but Republican Gardner says he will.