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Neil Gorsuch confirmation hearings for Supreme Court, Day 2

Gorsuch hearing
Gorsuch stays cool in the face of Democratic grilling 02:02

Tuesday marks day two of Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice. After the first day’s opening statements, senators are expected to question Gorsusch all day Tuesday. Wednesday will include testimony from outside witnesses. The confirmation hearings are expected to last three or four days. 

8:54 p.m. Kennedy finished his questioning, and with that Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings are adjourned until Wednesday.

“I don’t know if you’re a drinking man, but you may want to have a cocktail tonight,” Kennedy joked at the end.

Gorsuch laughed, replying, “I’m going to hit the hay.”

Neil Gorsuch on Trump: "No man is above the law" 04:21

8:50 p.m. Kennedy asked Gorsuch about his views on taking into account legislative intent when making a ruling.

Gorsuch said he “respect[s] very much waht this body does.”

“I hope my career, my body of work, reflects my respect for this institution,” he said. “As a judge I have to look at what’s presented to me and I look at everything that’s presented to me, I read everything that’s presented to me. And I have used legislative history as you’ve seen.”

8:40 p.m. The twentieth and final senator to question Gorsuch is Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana).

“I think you’ve done pretty well today,” he began. “...This is an important nomination and I appreciate all the questions asked today.”

8:24 p.m. Tillis spent the majority of his 30 minutes speaking himself, rather than asking questions of Gorsuch. Topics he addressed included the Citizens United case and the case about the trucker in freezing-cold weather. These topics and the questions Gorsuch received on them throughout the day, Tillis said, are further examples of the “absurdity” of Democrats’ arguments.

8:07 p.m. To start off his time, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) began by explaining what he labeled the “absurdity” of several Democratic arguments from the hearing -- presumably a reference to Franken’s comment earlier about recognizing “absurdity.”

In his comments, Tillis said one “absurdity” is the argument that Mr. Trump had a litmus test for potential Court nominees, because then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also listed some of the positions she would look for in a nominee; he also said it was an “absurdity” that Democrats called Gorsuch out for not giving answers to how he would handle specific cases, saying Gorsuch was only upholding his “code of conduct.”

7:48 p.m. The hearing is taking another 10-minute break, with two senators left --both Republicans -- to question Gorsuch.

7:45 p.m. Hirono mentioned the Korematsu case, which dealt with Japanese internment during WWII, and asked whether that would be appropriate precedent to apply to President Trump’s travel ban. Gorsuch replied that it would not. However, Gorsuch demurred on other questions about the travel ban.

7:23 p.m. Hirono, like several other Democrats, asked Gorsuch about the case involving the trucker in freezing-cold temperatures.

He answered as he had previously, which was to say that sometimes “the law requires results that I personally would not prefer.”

7:20 p.m. Next up is Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the final Democrat on the Judiciary Committee to question Gorsuch today. 

To start, Hirono said Gorsuch has given fewer clear answers about how he would handle specific cases than other recent Supreme Court nominees.

“How should we divine what you would bring to the Supreme Court in terms of your judicial philosophy?” she asked, saying she is concerned his positions are “on a par with the Roberts Court’s” when it comes to issues of corporations versus worker’s rights.

7:09 p.m. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) asked Gorsuch how he views the role of a Supreme Court justice, and Gorsuch replied he sees it as no different than the job he’s done as a federal judge.

“It doesn’t change,” he said. “It’s a more public role, there may be more civic education involved or at least an opportunity somebody might listen to you a bit more ... but the job doesn’t change, and the law is the law. It’s what we do, day in and day out.”

6:33 p.m. In response to a question from Blumenthal, Gorsuch said he has not discussed Roe v. Wade with Mr. Trump. Gorsuch, however, did say that he discussed abortion in briefly with the president, with Mr. Trump saying it was a “divisive” issue before moving on to a discussion of America’s nuclear arsenal. 

Mr. Trump said repeatedly during the presidential campaign that he would appoint an anti-abortion justice to the Supreme Court. 

6:23 p.m. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) started the most recent round of questioning by highlighting President Trump’s repeated verbal attacks on judges, such as Judge Gonzalo Curiel and the judges who blocked his original travel ban.

Gorsuch responded by defending the judiciary, and said he finds it “demoralizing” when “anyone” criticizes federal judges. He specified, when prodded by Blumenthal, that “anyone” included the president. 

5:52 p.m. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) asked a series of humorous questions, including whether Gorsuch would rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck – an internet in-joke popularized by Reddit. Another question: what’s the largest trout Gorsuch has caught? This then led to a brief meditation by Gorsuch on the importance of fishing, and reading good fiction.

“If you want to learn how to write, you’ve got to learn how to read,” Gorsuch said. 

5:27 p.m. Coons pressed Gorsuch on the issue of assisted suicide, which is the topic of a book Gorsuch wrote. Gorsuch conceded that it is a “very hard question” to deal with and a “human problem,” and that people have a right to stop their own care. “The question is whether you also have an additional right to have someone kill you,” Gorsuch said. 

Gorsuch said his opposition to assisted suicide in part stems for his worry that some people, particularly those whose judgement is somehow impaired, will be killed because it is cheaper than keeping them alive. Gorsuch also conceded again that it is an extraordinarily difficult issue to adjudicate. 

5:19 p.m. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) began by noting it has been a “very long” day.

Coons then asked about the Hobby Lobby decision, in which Gorsuch sided with the majority. Coons argued that the decision set a precedent because it granted a for-profit corporation religious liberty protections. Gorsuch responded that, since corporations are considered persons by laws created by Congress, he was simply acting within the law.

Coons said Gorsuch’s argument was “tendentious” because the context of the law did not include corporations, and said that the decision opened the door for corporations to deny other freedoms. Gorsuch then said that his decision simply necessitated the government to come up with another “compelling interest” before forcing Hobby Lobby to provide contraceptives to its employees. 

The Delaware Democrat then provided a series of hypothetical cases in which religious business owners would refuse to provide various services. This prompted Gorsuch to note that in some cases religious beliefs are not sincerely held, and referred to a case where a drug ring tried to insist that marijuana was their god. 

4:35 p.m. Seven hours in, a moment of levity: at the start of his 30 minutes, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) read out a text from his wife: “How in the world is Gorsuch supposed to go so many hours in a row without peeing?”

The crowd laughed, and Sasse said the hearing was demonstrating what a “SCOTUS bladder” means.

4:28 p.m. Franken asked Gorsuch about the Senate’s treatment of Judge Garland when he was nominated for the Supreme Court vacancy last year.

Gorsuch demurred, saying his “canon of ethics” as a judge “preclude” him from discussing politics. “There’s a reason why judges don’t clap at the State of the Union and why I can’t even attend a political caucus in my home state,” he said.

However, Franken pushed back: “This is, like, in the Constitution -- I think you’re allowed to talk about what happened to the last guy who was nominated in your position,” he said.

Still, Gorsuch did not give his view. “I appreciate the invitation, but I know the other side has their views of this and your side has your views of it,” he said. “That by definition is politics.”

“Okay,” Franken replied.

Still, Gorsuch called Garland “an outstanding judge.”

4:16 p.m. Franken appeared unimpressed with Gorsuch’s subsequent answers on the questions of this particular case, calling his reasoning “absurd.”

“I had a career identifying absurdity and I know it when I see it,” Franken quipped, making reference to his time as a writer for “Saturday Night Live.”

4:10 p.m. With Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) beginning his questioning, the case of the frozen trucker is back again. Franken asked Gorsuch what he would have done had he been in the trucker’s position on that cold night.

“I don’t know what I would have done in his shoes and I don’t blame him at all for doing what he did do,” Gorsuch said.

Franken replied: “I’m asking you a question, please answer the question.”

When Gorsuch responded by saying that he has thought a great deal about the case and that he “totally empathize[s] and understand[s]” where the trucker was coming from, Franken replied: “I’ll tell you what I would have done, I would have done exactly what he did. And I think everybody here would have done exactly what he did. And I think that’s an easy answer.”

3:48 p.m. Cruz began with some lighter questions, including asking him about the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” -- a reference to the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Gorsuch replied, “42,” which is the answer from the book.)

He also asked Gorsuch “what it was like” to clerk for Judge Byron White. 

“He really was my childhood hero,” Gorsuch said. “And to actually get picked out of the pile to spend a year with him ... was and remains the privilege of a lifetime and it has everything to do with why I’m here. I wouldn’t have become a judge but for watching his example.”

3:34 p.m. The hearing has begun again, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) up next.

3:21 p.m. The hearing has recessed for a 10-minute break.

3:10 p.m. Klobuchar asked Gorsuch about his reasoning on the Hobby Lobby case.

He said he did not believe Hobby Lobby was a First Amendment case, but a case that dealt with religious freedom legislation.

Hobby Lobby had nothing to do with the First Amendment of the Constitution,” he said. “...What it speaks to is the question of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

2:53 p.m. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) asked Gorsuch whether he is open to the possibility of cameras in the Supreme Court, and he replied that he has an open mind but hasn’t thought much about the issue.

“I would treat it like I would any other case or controversy, that’s what I could commit to you,” he said. “I know there are justices on both sides of this issue.”

He also joked that he’d seen more cameras since being nominated to the Court than ever before, adding “the lights in my eyes are a bit blinding sometimes, so I’d have to get used to that.”

2:29 p.m. To begin his line of questioning, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Gorsuch whether he had ever been directly involved in politics: “Are you a lawmaker? Have you ever held a position as a state legislator? Have you ever held a position as a member of Congress?”

“I’ve served on my kid’s school board?” Gorsuch replied. “But that’s about as close to policy as I care to get.”

Referring to Whitehouse’s line of questioning about Citizens United, Lee said it is “unfair for anyone to state or to imply that you then are responsible somehow for the expressive conduct of third parties, third parties who are not you.”

Gorsuch replied that he was “not involved in the Citizens United case” and that he appreciated “the opportunity to clarify that fact.”

“I’d also like to clarify that nobody speaks for me. Nobody,” Gorsuch said. “I speak for me. I’m a judge.”

2:13 p.m. Whitehouse asked Gorsuch to describe differences in “judicial philosophy” with Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee.

Gorsuch punted on the question, saying, “I would leave that for others to characterize.”

“I don’t like it when people characterize me and I would not prefer to characterize him,” he added.

2:02 p.m. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) begins his questioning by bringing up objections to Gorsuch’s record on money in politics, entering two articles critical of Gorsuch into the record.

After a brief discussion of the separation of powers, Whitehouse then asked about “dark money” in politics, which concerns largely untraceable donations. Whitehouse asks if Gorsuch knows anything about outside groups supporting Gorsuch’s nomination.

Gorsuch said that he’s “heard a lot about it” and that he knows that a lot of money is being spent on both sides concerning his nomination. Gorsuch said he can speculate who is spending money to support his nomination, but does not know for certain.

Whitehouse then asked if people should know who is spending the money as a matter of public interest. Gorsuch responded that the Supreme Court has acknowledged that disclosure is important, but that disclosure can also be used as a “weapon” to “silence” groups.

Whitehouse continues to press on whether the committee should have the right to know who is funding efforts to push Gorsuch’s nomination. Gorsuch responded by saying that that is a “political question” for Congress. “The ball’s in your court,” Gorsuch said.

Whitehouse, pushing back, asked if Gorsuch interfered in politics by ruling that dark money is protected by the 1st Amendment. Gorsuch responds that the justices are all “remarkable people” and that he does not “question their motives.”

Gorsuch said that there are remedies to bad rulings from the court: the legislature can act, or the court can reverse itself. 

1:44 p.m. Cornyn and Gorsuch are now discussing the Establishment Clause. Cornyn said the Supreme Court has “lost its way” when it comes to protecting religious expression, noting a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that that student-led prayer before a football game in Texas was unconstitutional. Cornyn then asked Gorsuch about his broad views on religious expression “in the public square.”

Gorsuch said this is a “very difficult” area. He said that there is always tension between protecting the right of religious expression while still avoiding any kind of establishment of a religion. He said that it’s been a struggle for him as a circuit judge to know how to rule in such cases. 

1:32 p.m. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is asking about an article Gorsuch wrote about “access to affordable justice.” According to Cornyn, Gorsuch wrote in the article that people with modest means have great difficulty gaining access to good legal representation.

“My point there was three-fold. Starting with the fact that too few people…can get lawyers to help them…” Gorsuch says, noting that this group includes some of his students. Gorsuch says lawyers should “look internally” to help remedy this. “Lawyers basically regulate themselves,” Gorsuch said, and added that some of these rules may help lawyers more than their clients.

Gorsuch said some ethical rules result in billions of extra dollars for lawyers every year, and that these should be reviewed. He also said the legal profession should be reformed to make it easier for people to become lawyers, and that he’s “not convinced” that lawyers should need three years of post-graduate education given the cost.

Cornyn asked Gorsuch if he can think of anything “more unjust” than people of “modest means” being able to seek adequate legal representation. Gorsuch responded that it is a problem.

“I do think that access to justice in large part means access to a lawyer,” Gorsuch said. 

1:20 p.m. Durbin is now asking Gorsuch about the Hobby Lobby case, in which Gorsuch ruled that the family that runs Hobby Lobby should not be compelled to provide coverage for birth control to it employees. The Green family, which runs Hobby Lobby, said that that mandate violated their religious conscience.

Gorsuch said that his decision was in keeping with the law, as Congress wrote a “very, very strict law” holding that any sincerely held religious belief cannot be violated without a compelling interest, and that it must be narrowly tailored, and that this protection covers everyone from Muslim prisoners to Native Americans to Catholic nuns.

“It’s a tough case,” Gorsuch said. But he then defended his decision in keeping with the law as written by the law, as Congress has decided that corporations are afforded the same rights as people.

Gorsuch said that the mandate was not as narrowly tailored as it could have been and that the government had afforded similar exemptions to religious entities. “If we got it wrong, we’re sorry,” Gorsuch said, but ultimately said he was following the law as written by Congress. 

1:12 p.m. Gorsuch, pressed by Durbin, is now defending his own decision in a case involving a truck driver who was left by a dispatcher on the side of the road on a freezing night. The driver left before a repairman came, was fired, and sued the company. Gorsuch ruled against the driver in the case. 

Gorsuch says the driver would have been in the right legally if he refused to use the vehicle because he believed it to be unsafe. He also said that he may have not made the right decision in the case, and that it weighs on him, but that he believes his decision was in keeping with the law as written. 

1:05 p.m.  Durbin says that two former students of Gorsuch wrote to the committee saying they were disturbed by comments Gorsuch made in a class. “I’ve been teaching legal ethics at the University of Colorado for 7 or 8 years,” Gorsuch said, and teaches from a standard text.

“The problem is this,” Gorsuch said -- what if an older woman at a firm asks if you intend to become pregnant? Gorsuch said he engaged the class in a Socratic dialogue on how to respond to such a question, and that that is what apparently disturbed the students.

“It’s disturbing to me” that so many women are asked this question, Gorsuch said, adding that his mother had once been asked the question. He said the response “shocks” him. 

12:58 p.m Durbin then brought up the professor who supervised Gorsuch’s dissertation at Oxford – John Finnis. Gorsuch described him as a “very generous teacher” who “raked him over the coals.”

Pressed about whether they still have a relationship, Gorsuch said he last saw him at the professor’s retirement party. Durbin then asked if he recalled thanking the professor for helping to write his book. “He did not help write my book,” Gorsuch said. “I wrote my book.”

Durbin then got to the point about his questioning, highlighting a number of strongly anti-immigration comments from the professor. “I’m not here to answer for Mr. King or Professor Finnis,” Gorsuch said, saying he would need to read the comments in full before offering an opinion. 

Pressed on other controversial comments from Fennis about homosexuality, Gorsuch said his own record speaks for itself. “ive tried to treat each case and each person as a person,” Gorsuch said, regardless of sexual orientation. Pressed by Durbin, Gorsuch said it would be “inappropriate” for a business to ask women but not men about their plans for family, but did not speak to its legality. 

12:50 p.m. The hearing has resumed. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) just questioned Gorsuch about an email where Durbin said Gorsuch wanted to “codify” the since-banned process of waterboarding. Gorsuch appeared not to recall the email.

Durbin then asked Gorsuch about Rep. Steve King’s “other people’s babies” comment, which provoked scorn from Democratic and Republican lawmakers. In response, Gorsuch brought up his record of standing up for the rights of immigrants and prisoners. 

12:13 p.m. The hearing has recessed for 30 minutes until 12:45 p.m. 

12:11 p.m. Graham asked if Gorsuch agrees that current law prevents waterboarding under the Detainee Treatment Act. Gorsuch agreed. Graham said in case Trump is watching, he said, “If you start waterboarding people, you may get impeached.” 

Asked if Trump would be subject to prosecution, Gorsuch said he won’t speculate that but that no one is above the law.

11:56 a.m. Graham seemed to bring up the war on terror. He said, “I think we’re at war” and he asked Gorsuch if he agrees that it’s not a traditional war.

“Certainly not, senator,” Gorsuch said. 

Moving onto Roe v. Wade, Gorsuch said that it gave women the right to an abortion. Graham said he doesn’t believe abortions should be allowed after 20 weeks.

11:44 a.m. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, has begun asking questions and brought up Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and reminding Democrats of their remarks from the past about putting off a Supreme Court nomination until after an election. 

Graham said that Gorsuch is one of the most qualified people Trump could have chosen from the conservative world. Gorsuch said he didn’t meet Trump personally until his interview. 

Asked if Trump had asked him to overturn Roe v. Wade, Gorsuch said, “I would have walked out the door. It’s not what judges do.”

11:40 a.m. Leahy asked how Gorsuch would have ruled in the Shelby County case regarding the Voting Rights Act. Gorsuch said again, he couldn’t reveal what he would do, but that the ruling left room for Congress to legislate. 

11:25 a.m. Leahy asked Gorsuch if a blanket religious test is Constitutional. Gorsuch said that the Constitution guarantees free exercise of religion and religious liberties. He said that he will apply the law faithfully and fearlessly without regard to persons. He said he couldn’t apply it to any specific cases though. 

Gorsuch said that there are safeguards in place like the First Amendment, protecting religious liberty, the 14th Amendment, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, etc. He said there’s also the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he said imposes an even higher standard on the government when it comes to religious discrimination. 

Leahy quoted a congressman who seemed to hope for Gorsuch’s confirmation so that he’d uphold a Muslim ban. 

“He has no idea how I’d rule in that case,” Gorsuch said, adding that it wouldn’t reveal how he would rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court. 

For what it’s worth, the Trump administration’s revised travel ban was blocked last week from taking effect nationwide.

11:14 a.m. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, has begun questioning Gorsuch and said the president outsourced his selection to far-right special interest groups. He said The Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation recommended him for the high court seat. 

Leahy asked Gorsuch about Citizens United and if unlimited corporate money funneled to special interest groups would raise concerns about quid pro quo corruption. Gorsuch said he thinks quid pro quo corruption is a concern and leaves room for legislation.

11:02 a.m. Gorsuch said, “When I became a judge, they gave me a gavel, not a rubber stamp and nobody comes to my court expecting a rubber stamp.” 

Gorsuch rejected the idea that he is a surrogate for President Trump or a particular interest group. 

10:53 a.m. Hatch brought up the Chevron Doctrine, which he said commands federal judges to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of the law. He said it allows unelected bureaucrats to rewrite the law. Gorsuch said that Marbury v. Madison is the “cornerstone” of U.S. law. 

He said that some of his critics question he has judicial independence and objectivity. 

“A good judge doesn’t give a wit about politics or the political implications of his decisions,” Gorsuch said when asked how he would respond to his critics who worry he would not be able to stand up a president who oversteps the law. 

10:47 a.m. Hatch referred to something Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, had said in the 2009 confirmation hearing for Justice Sonia Sotomayor. He asked Gorsuch if he agrees that he should follow the law even when it requires ruling against sympathetic litigants. 

“Yes, senator,” Gorsuch said. “My job is to apply the law as fairly as I can in each and every case without respect to persons. That’s my oath.” 

10:43 a.m. During an exchange with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Gorsuch said that every person is protected by U.S. law equally. He said that his job is to make sure that every person, poor or rich, gets equal protection of the law.

“I put my ego aside when I put on that robe and I open my mind...and I listen,” he said. “I want to make sure that I leave no stone unturned.”

10:31 a.m. Feinstein asked Gorsuch about cases that she said have made it harder for workers to hold employers accountable. She asked if he agrees with Scalia’s opinion in those rulings. He refused to answer because he said if he did, he would signal to future litigants how he would rule. 

She said she’s looking for him to indicate that he would give a worker a fair shot. He said he has participated in 2,700 opinions of more than 10 years and he said there have been plenty of cases in which he ruled for the little guy or big guy. 

“I am a fair judge,” he said. 

10:28 a.m. Feinstein asked Gorsuch about the regulation of firearms and whether M-16 rifles may be banned. Gorsuch said that Heller makes clear the standard that judges have to apply and that guns in common use or self-defense and there’s lots of ongoing litigation about which weapons qualify under those standards. 

10:15 a.m. Feinstein is grilling Gorsuch on his position on enhanced interrogation techniques. She referenced documents from the mid-2000s in which she said his comments made it seem like he was advocating for a continuation of interrogation techniques and condoning waterboarding. Gorsuch said he would want to see the documents again and Feinstein had a staffer hand them to him. 

10:08 a.m. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, has begun her questioning of Gorsuch. She said that Trump has said he would appoint someone who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. 

Gorsuch said once a case is settled adds to the determinacy of the law. He said there are a lot of tools that allow judges to narrow the realm of admissible dispute between parties.

Feinstein asked if he views Roe as super precedent. Gorsuch said it’s been “reaffirmed many times.” 

10:05 a.m. Grassley asked Gorsuch how he feels about the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. Gorsuch said that it’s a precedent of the high court that’s been reaffirmed and that all the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered. 

Grassley said that Gorsuch can’t reveal his opinions of former rulings because of his pursuit of independence and because of fairness to future litigants. 

10:01 a.m. Grassley asked Gorsuch about his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court and Gorsuch seemed to dodge it. 

“I know people have their views personally about lots of Supreme Court decisions. I’m not an algorithm,” he said. 

Gorsuch said disliking certain precedent is “not relevant” to his job. 

9:54 a.m. Grassley asked Gorsuch to share his value of precedence in the legal system. 

“For a judge precedent is a very important thing. We don’t reinvent the wheel everyday,” Gorsuch said. 

Gorsuch said you start with a “heavy, heavy presumption” of precedent in the legal system. Grassley asked how he will decide when he revisits existing precedent. 

In response, Gorsuch said that he would follow the exact same steps of following precedent as a circuit judge. Part of being a good judge is taking precedent as it stands, he added.

9:48 a.m. Gorsuch said that he wasn’t on Trump’s first list of possible Supreme Court picks last year. He said that he noticed he wasn’t on that list, and then learned that he was on a new list and was surprised. Grassley asked Gorsuch if he was asked to make promises on any legal issues or on ways he would rule in certain cases. 

He said he doesn’t believe in litmus test for judges, and added, “no one in the process” to vet him for the Supreme Court seat asked him for any sort of commitments or promises in any sort of case.

9:39 a.m. Grassley said that no one, including the president, is above the law. Grassley quoted several Democrats who have praised Gorsuch’s impartiality and independence. Grassley asked Gorsuch what judicial independence means and if he would have a problem ruling against his own president. 

“I have no difficulty ruling against or for any party,” Gorsuch said. “There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge. We just have judges in this country.” 

Gorsuch says that he likes to keep an “open mind” throughout the entire judicial process and he leaves “all the other stuff at home.” Grassley then asked him about the separation of powers and to describe some of his cases that demonstrates his independence of the executive branch. 

He said that the founders of the nation imagined that if the powers of each branch of government overlapped, then it would be the definition of “tyranny.” 

“You want somebody who will put politics aside,” he said. 

9:36 a.m. ET Day two of the Gorsuch confirmation hearing has begun. Chairman Grassley said, “We have a long day ahead of us” and he intends to get through all members’ first round of questions today. They are expected to go for 10 hours today. Grassley said he anticipates a 30-minute break for lunch. 

Live Updates:

Live updates will begin when the hearing commences at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Neil Gorsuch Confirmation Hearing Schedule

  • Monday: Opening remarks by the Senate Judiciary Committe members 
  • Tuesday: Senators will question Gorsuch 
  • Wednesday: Testimony about Gorsuch by outside witnesses
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