The death of Judge Scalia rocked the nation over thirteen months ago this March. His seat on the Supreme Court of the United States still sits empty.
President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill Antonin Scalia’s spot on the Supreme Court on January 31st, 2017, just days after taking office as the 45th President of the United States. One of Trump’s major campaign promises was to nominate a conservative justice to the court. He kept that promise.
As you likely know, the president nominates someone for the Supreme Court. However, because we have a lovely system of checks and balances, that isn’t the end of the line. As the Constitution says explicitly, “he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court…”After the president nominates, the Senate holds confirmation hearings and votes on whether to go forward with the appointment.
The hearings for Gorsuch began on March 20th with opening statements and introductions. Although many made the first day out to be a light affair, cracking jokes when they could, several profound statements were made from both sides of the aisle.
In a great show of bipartisanship, two of the three men to introduce Gorsuch were Democrats. Though their introductions were light and polite in nature, they did not refrain from expressing their opinion about Merrick Garland — President Barack Obama’s pick for the same seat last year. Neal Katyal, an acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration, said “It is a tragedy of national proportions that Merrick Garland does not sit on the court, and it would take a lot to get over that,” he said. “Indeed, there are less than a handful of people that the president could have nominated to even start to rebuild that loss of trust, but in my opinion, Neil Gorsuch is one.”
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado was respectful of Gorsuch, but he made it clear that his introduction didn’t necessarily mean he would vote for the judge and that he was doing the introduction out of tradition. “It is customary for senators to introduce nominees from their home states,” he said. “I’m not here today to take a position or persuade any of our colleagues how to vote. I am keeping an open mind about this nomination and expect this week’s hearing will shed light on Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach and views of the law.”
For Democrats, it seemed hard for them to remember that this hearing is about Gorsuch and not Garland. Many of them took their time to voice their outrage for the “Republican Blockade” of Garland and how Gorsuch should be denied a FAIR hearing because Garland didn’t get a hearing at all.
At the end of the hearing, Gorsuch brought the focus back on him (and off Garland) by delivering a statement that would make any American proud to have him on our Supreme Court.
He began by thanking his wife for all that she has sacrificed for him, moved on to talk about is family and how he was raised good values and beliefs and ended with talk about his love for justice and our constitution.
“Sitting here, I am acutely aware of my own imperfections,” the federal appeals court judge told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. “But I pledge to each of you and to the American people that, if confirmed, I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of our great nation.”
You can watch the full first day of the hearings here.