- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2017

JudgeNeil Gorsuch promised senators Monday he would follow the law where it takes him and defended the role of federal judges in the American justice system, seeming to try to put some distance between himself and President Trump, the man who nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judge cast himself as a mainstream jurist with a record of working with his colleagues, with 97 percent of all of his cases decided unanimously. He said he has dissented only in 1 percent of his cases, and said he has ruled for — and against — illegal immigrants, prisoners and workers.

“Sometimes the answers we reach aren’t ones we would personally prefer. Sometimes the answers follow us home and keep us up at night,” JudgeGorsuch said, wrapping up the first of four days of hearings on his nomination to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The judge will face questions from the SenateJudiciary Committee on Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday, and Democrats gave a hint of the grilling they have prepared for him, saying they fear he’s a dogmatic conservative.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said JudgeGorsuch’s ideology and the process Mr. Trump used to select him — relying on the conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society to construct lists of candidates — will play a central role as senators debate whether to confirm him.

“I can honestly say I have yet to decide how I’m going to vote,” Mr. Leahy said.

Democrats also are expected to demand JudgeGorsuch criticize Mr. Trump, who has delivered several searing rebukes to the federal judiciary over the course of the campaign and as president.

In his opening statement, JudgeGorsuch, while not addressing those criticisms, highlighted the key role of judges, saying they are honest and hardworking. Still, he said judges need to remember their limitations.

“My decisions have never reflected a judgment about the people before me — only my best judgment about the law and facts at issue in each particular case,” he said. “For the truth is, a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is probably a pretty bad judge, stretching for the policy results he prefers rather than those the law compels.”

JudgeGorsuch began by introducing his wife, Louise, and sharing an embrace with her, then recounted his journey from young lawyer to nominee for the high court.

He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, the late Byron White and current Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and called Scalia — the man whose seat he would take — a mentor as well. JudgeGorsuch also praised the late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who he said showed judges how to be a fierce defender of the law itself.

JudgeGorsuch, a fourth-generation Coloradan, cast himself firmly as a man of the West, and said that is part of the reason he seeks consensus.

Colorado Sens. Cory Gardener, a Republican, and Michael F. Bennet, a Democrat, introduced JudgeGorsuch, as did Neal Katyal, acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama.

JudgeGorsuch’s nomination helps recognize that indeed there are highly qualified jurists west of the Mississippi River,” Mr. Gardner said.

For his part, Mr. Bennet called the judge a “son of Colorado,” but didn’t say he is ready to vote for confirmation.

Instead Mr. Bennet chided Republicans for their refusal to grant a hearing, much less a vote, to Judge Merrick Garland, the man Mr. Obama had picked to fill the Scalia seat.

“In my mind, I consider JudgeGorsuch as a candidate to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court,” said Mr. Bennet.

That was a common grievance for Democrats on the committee.

“I’m deeply disappointed that it’s under these circumstances that we begin our hearings. Merrick Garland was widely regarded as a mainstream, moderate nominee,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans dismissed those complaints, saying it was the right decision to make the Supreme Court a key part of the presidential election, giving the winner a mandate to nominate a candidate.

“His nomination carries with it a super-legitimacy that is also unprecedented in this nation’s history,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said of JudgeGorsuch.

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said the panel will hold a vote on JudgeGorsuch’s nomination on April 3, giving Republicans enough time to move the nomination to the full Senate for a vote before Easter vacation.

The pick should easily clear the committee, where the GOP has the majority and all Republicans signaled their backing.

Democrats have vowed to try to filibuster the confirmation vote on the Senate floor, however, and if they can maintain unity among most of the 48 senators in their caucus, they could succeed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has vowed to get JudgeGorsuch confirmed, and has not ruled out use of the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules and confirm the nomination with a simple majority vote.

 

The judge cast himself as a mainstream jurist with a record of working with his colleagues, with 97 percent of all of his cases decided unanimously. He said he has dissented only in 1 percent of his cases, and said he has ruled for — and against — illegal immigrants, prisoners and workers.

“Sometimes the answers we reach aren’t ones we would personally prefer. Sometimes the answers follow us home and keep us up at night,” JudgeGorsuch said, wrapping up the first of four days of hearings on his nomination to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The judge will face questions from the SenateJudiciary Committee on Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday, and Democrats gave a hint of the grilling they have prepared for him, saying they fear he’s a dogmatic conservative.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said JudgeGorsuch’s ideology and the process Mr. Trump used to select him — relying on the conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society to construct lists of candidates — will play a central role as senators debate whether to confirm him.

“I can honestly say I have yet to decide how I’m going to vote,” Mr. Leahy said.

Democrats also are expected to demand JudgeGorsuch criticize Mr. Trump, who has delivered several searing rebukes to the federal judiciary over the course of the campaign and as president.

In his opening statement, JudgeGorsuch, while not addressing those criticisms, highlighted the key role of judges, saying they are honest and hardworking. Still, he said judges need to remember their limitations.

“My decisions have never reflected a judgment about the people before me — only my best judgment about the law and facts at issue in each particular case,” he said. “For the truth is, a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is probably a pretty bad judge, stretching for the policy results he prefers rather than those the law compels.”

JudgeGorsuch began by introducing his wife, Louise, and sharing an embrace with her, then recounted his journey from young lawyer to nominee for the high court.

He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, the late Byron White and current Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and called Scalia — the man whose seat he would take — a mentor as well. JudgeGorsuch also praised the late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who he said showed judges how to be a fierce defender of the law itself.

JudgeGorsuch, a fourth-generation Coloradan, cast himself firmly as a man of the West, and said that is part of the reason he seeks consensus.

Colorado Sens. Cory Gardener, a Republican, and Michael F. Bennet, a Democrat, introduced JudgeGorsuch, as did Neal Katyal, acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama.

JudgeGorsuch’s nomination helps recognize that indeed there are highly qualified jurists west of the Mississippi River,” Mr. Gardner said.

For his part, Mr. Bennet called the judge a “son of Colorado,” but didn’t say he is ready to vote for confirmation.

Instead Mr. Bennet chided Republicans for their refusal to grant a hearing, much less a vote, to Judge Merrick Garland, the man Mr. Obama had picked to fill the Scalia seat.

“In my mind, I consider JudgeGorsuch as a candidate to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court,” said Mr. Bennet.

That was a common grievance for Democrats on the committee.

“I’m deeply disappointed that it’s under these circumstances that we begin our hearings. Merrick Garland was widely regarded as a mainstream, moderate nominee,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans dismissed those complaints, saying it was the right decision to make the Supreme Court a key part of the presidential election, giving the winner a mandate to nominate a candidate.

“His nomination carries with it a super-legitimacy that is also unprecedented in this nation’s history,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said of JudgeGorsuch.

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said the panel will hold a vote on JudgeGorsuch’s nomination on April 3, giving Republicans enough time to move the nomination to the full Senate for a vote before Easter vacation.

The pick should easily clear the committee, where the GOP has the majority and all Republicans signaled their backing.

Democrats have vowed to try to filibuster the confirmation vote on the Senate floor, however, and if they can maintain unity among most of the 48 senators in their caucus, they could succeed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has vowed to get JudgeGorsuch confirmed, and has not ruled out use of the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules and confirm the nomination with a simple majority vote.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide