Watch: Day 4 of Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch's Senate hearing

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   March 23, 2017 at 6:31 AM
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March 23 (UPI) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday again grilled Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, for the fourth day.

President Donald Trump's nominee to the high court appeared before the committee at 9:30 a.m. for the last day of his hearing.

While Monday was largely reserved for introductions and opening statements, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Gorsuch faced tougher drilling by committee members.

Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked the Colorado-based judge whether the president might have asked him about overturning Roe v. Wade. Gorsuch said he had never met Trump before his interview for the nomination, and Trump never asked him to overturn the landmark abortion ruling.

Graham asked Gorsuch how he would have reacted had Trump asked him to do this.

"Senator, I would have walked out the door," Gorsuch said. "It's not what judges do. I don't do it at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue and they shouldn't do it at this end either, respectfully."

Gorsuch spoke on abortion again Wednesday when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., peppered him with questions about whether his originalist interpretation of the Constitution would hinder the rights of LGBT communities and women. She specifically brought up the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

"A good judge starts with precedent and doesn't reinvent the wheel," Gorsuch replied. "A good judge respects precedent.

On Monday, Gorsuch told the committee that as a judge, he valued justice over politics.

"Mr. Chairman, these days, we sometimes hear judges cynically described as politicians in robes, seeking to enforce their own politics, rather than striving to apply the law impartially," he said, addressing Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. "If I thought that were true, I would hang up the robe."

Trump chose Gorsuch to replace the conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. Though former President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to replace Scalia, Republicans -- who then and now hold a majority in Congress -- refused to proceed with Garland's nomination.

Democrats have vowed to oppose Gorsuch on principle, but Republicans have a two-seat majority in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed that the Senate will vote on Gorsuch's nomination before leaving for its April 8 Easter recess.

Though Gorsuch's confirmation requires 60 votes, McConnell could trigger what is called the "nuclear option" to nominate Gorsuch with a simple majority if Democrats choose to filibuster.

"It would be shocking if Neil Gorsuch wasn't confirmed to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks," Tom Goldstein, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who argues before the court and publishes the ScotusBlog website, said. "The Democrats are committed to opposing him. Their base is insisting on it, because of what happened to President Obama's nominee. But the reality is, they just don't have the votes and don't have the goods."

Last week, the progressive coalition The People's Defense -- a bloc of advocacy groups like NARAL, MoveOn, End Citizens United, Stand Up America and People for the American Way -- organized a protest in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., which featured remarks by Democratic lawmakers and prominent advocates, and called on Trump opponents to fight harder in their efforts to keep Gorsuch off the nation's top appellate bench.

"Gorsuch's nomination represents an imminent threat to America's most cherished rights and most vulnerable citizens, and millions of Americans across the country are demanding that Democratic leadership use everything in their power to block it," the alliance said. "We must be clear: This fight is not about defensive electoral politics, it's about our rights as Americans and our democracy as a whole."

Trump -- who asked the Senate to "go nuclear" if Democrats filibuster -- has said he is confident Gorsuch will be confirmed.

"We have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law," Trump said last month during an address to a joint session of Congress. "He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination."

Doug G. Ware contributed to this report.

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