08:26, March 22 334 0 abajournal.com

2017-03-22 08:26:06
Confirmation hearings, Day 3: Gorsuch knows ‘how hard’ a judge’s job is

On Tuesday, Gorsuch endorsed an independent judiciary, declared that no man is above the law, and took issue with anyone who attacks the integrity, the honesty, the independence or the motives of a judge.

Gorsuch made those comments in response to questions about presidential power and President Trump’s criticism of the judiciary, though he refused to specifically comment on Trump’s judicial criticism.

“I know the men and women of the federal judiciary. I know a lot of them. I know how hard their job is,” Gorsuch said. “And I know how decent they are. And when anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or motive of a federal judge, I find that disheartening; I find that demoralizing, because I know the truth.”

Gorsuch mostly deflected questions Tuesday about how he would rule in specific cases and about his personal views on issues. His refusal to provide answers led Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, to complain that Gorsuch had been less forthcoming than other nominees.

He was noncommittal when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., referred to to Roe v. Wade as a “super-precedent” and asked Gorsuch if he viewed the opinion that way. Gorsuch replied that Roe has been reaffirmed many times.

He said he couldn’t answer a “politics question” when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked whether a group planning to spend $10 million to support Gorsuch’s confirmation should have to disclose who contributed to the group.

And Gorsuch laughed when Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked how he would have ruled in the Supreme Court’s Shelby County case, which struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act. “Senator, I admire the various ways—you would be a formidable companion in the courtroom,” Gorsuch said.

Gorsuch did discuss the context of several cases in which his rulings raised concerns among Democratic senators.

One of those cases was Gorsuch’s dissent in the so-called frozen trucker case, in which a trucker was fired for abandoning a nonworking trailer in 14-below weather. The trucker’s employer had asked the trucker to wait for help, but the trucker said he was numb from the cold. Gorsuch’s dissent said the law, as written, didn’t protect the trucker.

Gorsuch said a focus on his ruling against the worker in the case ignored the body of his work, including many rulings where he did rule for the little guy. “I’m a fair judge,” Gorsuch said. “I can promise you absolutely nothing less.”

Gorsuch also said an opinion he wrote questioning the doctrine of Chevron deference—which holds that federal courts should defer to federal agency views—was a case based on unique facts. The case concerned a bureaucracy overturning judicial precedent without an act of Congress, Gorsuch said.

Gorsuch said the case reminded him of Lucy picking up the football at the last minute so Charlie Brown couldn’t kick it.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins a third day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, senators will be able to agree on one thing: the pronunciation of Gorsuch’s name. Gorsuch told senators during a lengthy hearing Tuesday that his name is pronounced “Gore-Such.”

The hearing on Wednesday is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Lady Justice slips on a banana peel.