Editorial: Gorsuch turns back Democratic attacks
After two days of often hostile hearings, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is proving himself an even-tempered, deeply knowledgeable nominee who should be confirmed by the Senate.
Gorsuch calmly turned back attempts by Democrats on the Judicial Committee to paint him as an extremist whose rulings as an appeals court judge heavily favored corporate and big money special interest, the evidence to support that charge is flimsy.
At the start of Tuesday’s session, Gorsuch deflated the claims that he is a threat to women by stating the Roe v. Wade precedent “has been reaffirmed many times.”
And through often accusatory questioning aimed at distorting his record, he forcefully defended his rulings on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals while schooling senators on the law. He reminded the senators that “97 percent of the 2,700 cases I've decided were decided unanimously — and that I've been in the majority 99 percent of the time.”
Hardly the record of an extremist, out of the mainstream jurist.
Gorsuch is coming across in the hearings as the very image of a thoughtful jurist. He’s displayed an impressive depth of knowledge, and admirable patience. And he’s carefully followed past practice of judicial nominees in refusing to say how he’d rule on specific issues.
Democratic committee members have not been able to rattle him or walk him onto land mine.
The hearings confirm that Gorsuch is imminently qualified, and there is nothing radical in his judicial history. But Democrats want the confirmation of this mainstream, accomplished nominee to be a demonstration of their resistance to President Donald Trump.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, repeatedly pressed Gorsuch to comment on remarks made by Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, and his adviser Steven Bannon. The nominee appropriately refused to be drawn into the partisan fight.
Many Democratic senators see this as an opportunity to pay back Republicans for refusing to give a hearing to Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who died more than a year ago.
We agreed that Garland should have had a hearing, and a vote. He was a fine candidate for the court for many of the same reasons that recommend Gorsuch. Republicans were wrong to block him.
But it is a safe bet that Democrats would have done the same thing had a vacancy occurred in the final year of the Bush presidency and, in fact, then Sen. Joe Biden said as much.
Republicans did give Obama his first two nominees to the court without mounting a filibuster.
And Trump will get Gorsuch. Republicans understand that if they allow Democrats to use the 60-vote rule to block Gorsuch, no nominee from this president will get through the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be forced to bust the rule, just as his predecessor Harry Reid did to help Obama pack the lower courts with friendly justices.
Neil Gorsuch is heading to the Supreme Court. It’s unfortunate that he has to endure the congressional kangaroo court on his way.