Feinstein 'Deeply Disappointed' As Gorsuch Confirmation Hearing Begins

Neil Gorsuch

Neil Gorsuch

Hearings on the nomination of federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court got underway on Monday, with Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee offering unsurprisingly mixed views on President Donald Trump's nominee.

Mr Gorsuch is seen as controversial for a variety of reasons. Similarly, the committee's Senator Richard Blumenthal asked, "Will Neil Gorsuch be an independent and impartial decision-maker on the court or will he cave to the Trump bullying?"

Republican leaders overlooked President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, who the outgoing Democrat had nominated to fill Scalia's seat.

"President Trump repeatedly promised to appoint someone "in the mold of Justice Scalia" and said that the nomination of Judge Gorsuch illustrates he's 'a man of his word", Feinstein said.

Democrats made it known this was still a sore spot for them.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Republican, said Gorsuch was a strong defender of the Constitution's separation of powers, and would fight "executive overreach", which he said was an all-too-common practice of the Obama administration.

Mr Graham also explained that though "no Republicans would have chosen [current Supreme Court Justices] Sotomayor or Kagan but how could anyone say they weren't qualified?"

Gorsuch told them, "C'mon, guys, ' and contended that 'many" women game the system in the way that he described.

Second-ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin of IL told Gorsuch, "In case after case, you've either dismissed or rejected the efforts of workers and families to recognize their rights or defend their freedoms".

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, has already made it known he will not participate in a filibuster.

As a lifetime appointee, he would be one of nine justices who have the final legal word on numerous most sensitive United States issues, from abortion to gender to gun control to workers' rights. "Based on his extensive record, there can be no doubt that, had he been on the Court, Judge Gorsuch would have rejected each of these basic rights".

Had Garland been confirmed, the court would have leaned to the left for the first time in decades.

If Mr Gorsuch, 49, is approved by the Senate he would restore a 5-4 conservative majority on America's highest court.

Gorsuch confirmation hearings: Can he overcome Democratic resentment? Some of them, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana, say they are open-minded about Gorsuch. Even Mr Graham pointed out he has "never been disappointed" with Ms Kagan or Ms Sotomayor because of that. He has not had the opportunity to write an opinion in a major abortion rights case.

"I don't recall ever seeing a corporation in the pews of Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago", Durbin said.

"So if you hear that you're for some business or against some plaintiff - don't worry", Grassley said to Gorsuch.

Democrats also will press Gorsuch on his role as a Justice Department lawyer under Bush from 2005 to 2006, when he helped defend contentious policies enacted after the September 11, 2001 attacks, including the administration's expansive use of interrogation techniques that critics called torture.

Mr Reid interpreted Senate rules to mean that he could do this with a simple majority vote. It was called the "nuclear option". That was in 1987. "A Democratic filibuster will not succeed".

"If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be", he said, "the very idea of government by the people and for the people would be at risk".

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