Beginning on March 20, the Senate Judiciary started confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal who President Donald Trump nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. During the Senate hearings, Gorsuch portrayed himself as a judge who favored the law over political parties. “I’ve ruled for disabled students, for prisoners, for the accused, for workers alleging civil rights violations and for undocumented immigrants,” Gorsuch said during the hearings. “Sometimes, too, I’ve ruled against such persons.”
On the first day of his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch responded to a question by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) about whether he would be biased against the “little guy” in cases where an employee sues their employer. Gorsuch named several cases from memory in which he ruled in favor of the employee. “I’d like to convey to you, from the bottom of my heart… that I’m a fair judge,” Gorsuch said.
In order for Gorsuch to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice, Republicans need eight Democrats to vote in his favor. As of Monday, Democrats have delayed voting on Gorsuch’s confirmation, leaving many to wonder whether Republicans will resort to changing the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster.
Trump nominated Gorsuch in late January, remarking that the judge has “outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline.” Gorsuch graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School before earning his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford. After clerking for two U.S. Supreme Court justices, he joining an elite law firm in Washington D.C. and served for a year as deputy associate attorney general with the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2006, then-president George W. Bush appointed Gorsuch to the appeals court in Denver, where the judge has participated in 2,700 opinions.
Conservatives praised Gorsuch’s appointment and pointed out that his rulings have demonstrated that he is not driven by ideology. Instead, he seeks to distance himself from politics, choosing to focus on the statues requiring interpretation. Despite the rousing praise Gorsuch has won from conservatives, many Senate Democrats argue that his nomination was stolen from Obama’s nominee, Merrick B. Garland. Republicans refused to consider Garland’s candidacy, betting that an incoming Republican president would appoint a more conservative justice.