By Alex Bregman
With Judge Neil Gorsuch set to take the hot seat in his confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga spoke to New York University constitutional law Professor Rick Pildes about what to watch for.
Pildes told Golodryga that one of his main focuses will be on the Democratic senators: “One thing I’m going to watch is the narrative that the Democratic senators are going to try to convey to the American people. So they have a view of Gorsuch — they’re going to try to make sure that view is accepted as broadly as possible.”
The stalled nomination of Judge Merrick Garland will also be on the Democrats’ minds. Pildes said, “There’s no question that a lot of the Democratic Party core supporters are still infuriated and outraged by what happened with Merrick Garland. You will certainly see that reflected in the passion and the intensity and the criticism from some of the Democratic senators. Some of them have already said and have been saying for a long time, that no one should be allowed to take this seat, because of the way Merrick Garland was obstructed.”
Gorsuch’s past will also be sure to come up, from his time in the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration to his key opinion in the Hobby Lobby case and the book he wrote against assisted suicide. Pildes said, “I think that there’s no question that all of the writings of people that get appointed to the court at this point have been pored over extensively by the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, covered in the newspapers, and he will certainly be questioned about his past writings, and I’m sure those will be examined fairly thoroughly.”
Finally, how will President Trump, especially his recent attacks on the judiciary, come up at the hearings? Pildes said, “I suspect there will be some Democratic senators who will push Judge Gorsuch to make strong statements about the importance of the independence of the judiciary, about judicial integrity, about the rule of law.” He continued, “I think all of this will be a little bit veiled. I don’t know how much the president’s name will come directly into the discussion, but I’m sure there will be some Democratic senators who have that set of issues front and center and will be trying to press him to make commitments or reflect his philosophy about rule of law, judicial independence, questions like that.”
The hearings are set to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, March 20 and could last for days.