Senate Democrats, preparing to grill Judge Neil Gorsuch with questions at his Supreme Court nomination hearings, tipped their hand Monday.
In opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats foreshadowed the attacks they will lodge against the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge this week. They are preparing to portray him as an enemy of the “little guy” while asking questions about his originalist philosophy, independence from President Trump and the real-world outcomes resulting from his previous decisions.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., spotlighted a series of positives in Gorsuch’s record before noting that none of it was enough for the senator to earn his support.
“All of those things I’ve read were sufficient reason to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court, but of course Judge Merrick Garland, who had exactly the same qualifications but was refused by the Republicans, would be sitting on the court today,” Leahy said. “That’s why philosophy becomes important.”
The committee’s top Democrat went a step further and suggested that Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy of originalism is dangerous. Originalism, a judicial philosophy popularized by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, holds that the Constitution has a static meaning.
Feinstein argued that under an originalist view of the Constitution, schools would have remained segregated and women would not have earned the right to vote. She did not explain how amending the Constitution would have been impeded by a justice with an originalist approach.
“This is personal, but I find the originalist judicial philosophy really troubling,” Feinstein said. “I firmly believe the American Constitution is a living document intended to evolve as our country evolves.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin subscribed more sinister motivations to Gorsuch’s nomination and suggested the judge’s selection was the handmaiden of a GOP plot to paint the judiciary red.
“Your nomination is part of a Republican strategy to capture our judicial branch of government,” Durbin told Gorsuch at Monday’s hearing.
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