Trump's Supreme Court nominee to face
senators in marathon hearing
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[March 20, 2017]
By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court
nominee Neil Gorsuch will face tough scrutiny at his Senate confirmation
hearing starting on Monday, with Democrats seeking to make the case that
he is a pro-business, social conservative insufficiently independent of
In a bid to place hurdles in the way of Gorsuch's expected confirmation
by the Republican-controlled Senate, Democrats on the judiciary
committee considering the nomination have said they will probe him on
several fronts based mainly on his record as a federal appeals court
judge and a Justice Department appointee under former President George
Nominated by President Donald Trump to fill a year-old vacancy on the
court, Gorsuch is a conservative appeals court judge from Colorado.
Cool-headed and amiable, he will likely try to engage senators without
being pinned down on specifics.
Among questions Gorsuch will face will be whether he is sufficiently
independent from Trump, who has criticized judges for ruling against his
bid to restrict travel from Muslim-majority countries. Another line of
attack previewed by Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is to focus on
rulings Gorsuch, 49, has authored in which corporate interests won out
over individual workers.
Democrats will also press Gorsuch on his role as a Justice Department
lawyer under Bush from 2005 to 2006, when he helped defend controversial
policies enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including the
administration's expansive use of aggressive interrogation techniques.
Gorsuch' views on social issues, including a 2006 book he wrote in which
he argued against the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia,
will be discussed too.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a plain-spoken Iowan, will chair the
proceedings, which could go as long as four days, providing classic
Washington political theater.
Trump nominated Gorsuch, 49, to replace conservative Justice Antonin
Scalia, who died in February 2016. If Gorsuch is approved by the Senate,
as expected, he would restore a narrow 5-4 conservative majority on the
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President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch arrives
to meet with Senator Al Franken (D-MN) at his office on Capitol Hill
in Washington, DC, U.S. on March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P.
For months last year, Republicans refused to consider former
Democratic President Barack Obama’s pick to fill the seat. The
unusual Republican tactic blocked a leftward shift on the court.
Since Scalia’s death, the court has been divided equally 4-4 between
conservatives and liberals.
Democrats face an uphill battle to block Gorsuch, who like all
Supreme Court justices would serve for life if confirmed.
Republicans control 52 of the Senate's 100 seats. Under present
rules, Gorsuch would need 60 votes for confirmation. If Democrats
stay unified and Gorsuch cannot muster 60, Republicans could change
the rules to allow confirmation by simple majority.
Senators on the Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearing,
will give opening statements on Monday and then take turns asking
questions of the nominee on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung; Editing by Kevin
Drawbaugh and Lisa Shumaker)
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