The confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch continues on Thursday. You can watch the hearing in the player above when it gets underway at 10:00 EST.
Wednesday’s questioning had moments that were both serious and humorous. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) continued to press Gorsuch on his legal philosophy and values, pointing out that he appears to hold an originalist interpretation of the Constitution in some cases, but not others. An exchange with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) took an emotional turn when the subject of assisted suicide came up.
But Gorsuch also drew chuckles, albeit inadvertently, in a conversation about the Declaration of Independence. Gorsuch meant to describe how John Hancock signed the document “big and boldly,” but stumbled at first and said “bigly.” Senator Benjamin Sasse (R-NE) immediately called him out on it, saying, “You just said ‘bigly,'” prompting laughter from the audience.
Wednesday’s questioning ended in a closed session in the evening.
Gorsuch, a Colorado native, has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since 2006. He needs a simple majority to be confirmed, but that number could essentially jump higher if at least 40 people support a filibuster. Dems have already said that this is a possibility, and Republicans only command a narrow 52/48 majority in the Senate.
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Back in 2006, the Senate unanimously confirmed Gorsuch in a voice vote. No one voiced any objections, including the still-working Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), and Chuck Schumer (D-New York). Then again, Supreme Court nominations do get more scrutiny, and the current political climate is arguably more toxic than it was over a decade ago.
Gorsuch would fill the seat left vacant in the February 2016 passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That didn’t even get to a confirmation hearing because Senate Republicans lead by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell refused to move forward.