- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2017

President Trump’s pick to fill the appeals court seat left vacant when Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joined the Supreme Court cruised through her confirmation hearing Wednesday, with Democrats chiefly complaining about the timing rather than her judicial record.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid faced some questions about her judicial record, but Democrats said their major objection was the speed Republicans were showing in trying to fill court vacancies — including Wednesday’s hearing, which was held even though the Senate wasn’t in session that day.

“It’s extraordinary for a nominations hearing to be held when the Senate is not otherwise in session, particularly over the objections of some minority members,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who was filling in for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee who was absent.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, said Democrats had objected to holding the hearing but the GOP carried on anyway — something Mr. Whitehouse called a “novel discourtesy.”

He said the speed the GOP is showing now contrasts with the lengthy delay they imposed on last year’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Republicans refused to consider his nomination for 10 months, saying the decision should belong not to a lame-duck president but to the winner of the 2016 election.

“If there were nothing to this business other than accessing the qualifications of an individual without any personal, professional, political, ideological, philosophical, or economic or other personal point of view, apply neutral fact to clear and simple law, then why did this committee not give Merrick Garland even a hearing?” Mr. Whitehouse said.

Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, fired back, saying the committee held nomination hearings in 2005, 2008 and 2010 when the Senate was adjourned.

He also said the Senate had been slated to be in session Wednesday, only changing plans late Tuesday when it became clear there wasn’t enough floor business scheduled to justify holding the entire chamber in Washington.

“This hearing was noticed a week early, and until last night every single member of the U.S. Senate had on their calendar this hearing,” Mr. Tillis said.

If confirmed, Justice Eid would take Justice Gorsuch’s former seat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, questioned Justice Eid about a ruling where she sided with a hotel who threw out a drunk guest, who later drove while intoxicated, and was involved in a fatal accident. Justice Eid was in the minority in the case.

“Clearly, a majority of your court saw it otherwise. They saw this intoxicated woman in freezing weather being denied even access to the hotel lobby to call a taxi. You said you didn’t want to hear those facts,” said Mr. Durbin.

Justice Eid responded that the senator left out a critical fact in the case.

“The party walked by waiting cabs, and that was caught on video tape,” she said. “In my view, that was dispositive that the hotel had not evicted this group into an injurious environment because the evidence irrefutably showed that cabs were waiting.”

The committee also heard from four of Mr. Trump’s nominees for federal district courts in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina on Wednesday.

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