It’s been more than a year since Antonin Scalia’s death and the Supreme Court is still one judge short. This Monday, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began the confirmation process.
Trump did not handpick Gorsuch, instead relying on the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society for lists of candidates.
Gorsuch has already separated himself from the president by defending the role of federal judges in the nation’s justice system – a role Trump has often criticized.
Speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee this Monday, Gorsuch portrayed himself as a mainstream judge. He touted his experience working with fellow jurists, saying he dissented in only 1% of his cases.
“Sometimes the answers we reach aren’t ones we would personally prefer,” said Gorsuch, implying that he would put the law above his own beliefs. Gorsuch also mentioned that he has ruled both for and against prisoners, illegal immigrants, and workers.
“My decisions have never reflected a judgment about the people before me – only my best judgment about the law and facts and issues in each particular case,” he said. “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is probably a pretty bad judge.”
Gorsuch, a native Coloradan, highlighted his western heritage as a reason for seeking consensus in our divided country.
“In my mind, I consider Judge Gorsuch as a candidate to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court,” said fellow Coloradan Michael Bennet (D).
First Liberty Institute CEO Kelly Shackelford says Gorsuch will be “solid” on anything that violates the exact wording of the Constitution. “What you’re going to find with him though is he’s all about what does it say,” he told radio host Glenn Beck.
Shackelford also described Gorsuch as a staunch opponent of the “Chevron deference” doctrine – a principle which allows for the case-by-case interpretation of statutes according to a person’s policy aims.
Gorsuch enjoys considerable support from the pro-life movement, whose advocates site his decisions siding with the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby against Obama’s contraception mandate.
Over 50 national and state pro-life organizations sent a letter to the Senate this week urging lawmakers to approve Gorsuch. “Judge Gorsuch is widely recognized as a jurist possessed of deep intelligence and true fair-mindedness,” reads the letter.
The Senate also received a letter from Denver Broncos GM and former NFL quarterback John Elway. “His credentials, integrity, and sound moral compass are major reasons why he’s already received so much bipartisan support for his nomination,” wrote Elway.
Gorsuch’s hearing began on Monday and will continue into Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. According to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the panel will vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on April 3rd.
Gorsuch is expected to clear the committee, but the Democrats – hungry for revenge after the GOP’s refusal to consider Obama’s SCOTUS nominee – will no doubt try to filibuster the confirmation vote on the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to see Gorsuch approved, even if he has to use the “nuclear option” to do it.