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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch Facing Daylong Questioning In Senate

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is facing hours of questioning from senators on the second day of his confirmation hearing.

Republicans are unanimously supporting Gorsuch, and certain to give him what cover they can as he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Frustrated Democrats are determined to press him on everything from abortion and guns to his independence from President Donald Trump.

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley kicked off the day by asking Gorsuch to explain his view of judicial independence.

Gorsuch told senators to look at his body of rulings which he says proves he's been fair and impartial.

"I take the process, the judicial process, very seriously," Gorsuch said. "And I go through it step by step in keeping an open mind through the entire process as best I humanly can and I leave all the other stuff at home."

Gorsuch said that he has "no difficulty ruling against or for any party.''

"I listen to the arguments made, I read the briefs that are put to me, I listen to my colleagues carefully and I listen to the lawyers in the well," he said.

Senators asked him about several hot-button Supreme Court decisions, like Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. But Gorsuch refused to say if he agreed with those rulings.

"I would be tipping my hand and suggesting to litigants that I already made up my mind about their cases. That's not a fair judge," he said.

Gorsuch himself sought to emphasize his strong belief in the separation of powers in his opening statement Monday, pledging to be independent or "hang up the robe.''

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): "One of my Democratic colleagues said it is important to know whether you are a surrogate for President Trump or for particular interest groups. Are you?"

Gorsuch: "No."

Gorsuch testified he made no promises to anyone about how he would decide cases, including to the president.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "Did he ever ask you to overrule Roe v. Wade?"

Gorsuch: "No, senator."

Graham: "What would you have done if he asked?"

Gorsuch: "Senator, I would have walked out the door."

The first day of the hearing was given over to opening statements, with questions saved for Tuesday, and Grassley warned senators that the session could last 10 hours or more.

The hearings are expected to last three to four days.

The committee is expected to vote on Gorsuch's nomination early next month. Republican leaders hope the full Senate vote comes shortly after that.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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