08:28, March 21 596 0 abajournal.com

2017-03-21 08:28:04
Confirmation hearings, Day 2: ABA will present Gorsuch rating; is he a ‘real-life Jimmy Stewart’?

The standing committee gave Gorsuch its highest rating of well-qualified, in a unanimous vote. Committee chair Nancy Scott Degan and committee member Shannon Edwards are scheduled to appear.

The committee hearing is expected to last 10 hours Tuesday. In a shorter hearing Monday, Gorsuch told the Senate Judiciary Committee that judges are not politicians in robes. Instead, the robes signify that judges are neutral and independent decision-makers who apply the laws to the facts, he said.

Judicial independence was also a theme during the hearing on Monday. One Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, referenced a “looming constitutional crisis” that could be precipitated by the FBI investigation of potential ties between affiliates of the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Blumenthal said it was important to have a judiciary that will protect the nation “from overreaching and tyranny.”

In a statement (PDF) prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Degan spoke to Gorsuch’s views on the subject. “Based on the writings, interviews, and analyses we scrutinized to reach our rating,” Degan said of the ABA committee, “we discerned that Judge Gorsuch believes strongly in the independence of the judicial branch of government, and we predict that he will be a strong but respectful voice in protecting it.”

The ABA committee does not evaluate judicial nominees based on judicial independence, Degan said, but it is essential in qualities it does evaluate—integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament. The committee reached out to nearly 5,000 judges, lawyers, professors and community representatives for information about those qualities, and received more than 1,000 responses.

The committee concluded that Gorsuch has “an excellent reputation for integrity and is a person of outstanding character,” Degan said in the statement.

“It was clear from our interview of Judge Gorsuch that he began learning the significance of a lawyer’s integrity during his early childhood,” the statement said. “His mother, father and his father’s father were attorneys, and he recalled with fondness their love of the profession and their genuine commitment to helping others through the practice of law.”

Those who were interviewed said Gorsuch approaches every case fairly and independently, and he does not let his personal preferences interfere with his evaluation of the law. Committee members who read Gorsuch’s opinions praised them as “models of care, thoroughness and analytical rigor.”

Gorsuch had told the ABA committee that he sees no reason to use a lot of legal jargon in his opinions, and he tries not to use too many footnotes. He likes to write the way that people talk and likes to use contractions. He tries to “demystify opinions” and wants litigants and nonlawyers to be able to understand them.

Almost all of the lawyers, academics and judges who were interviewed about Gorsuch had the highest praise for his intellect and his ability to communicate effectively, Degan said in the prepared statement. Observers also praised his temperament, calling him an even-keeled good listener who is sincere, reasonable and respectful.

“He is a real-life Jimmy Stewart,” one person told the ABA committee.

The second day of confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch begins at 9:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday with testimony from representatives of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

Watch this post for our live blog of the confirmation hearings.

Lady Justice slips on a banana peel.