The U.S. Senate is holding its first confirmation hearing Monday for Neil Gorsuch, the judge nominated by President Donald Trump to fill a long vacancy on the Supreme Court. That means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could force through his confirmation on a slim majority vote if the Democrats unite in opposition. Dianne Feinstein set the stage for an intense Democratic grilling, highlighting what she called "very unusual circumstances".
Sen. Hirono addressed Judge Neal Gorusch at his confirmation hearing Monday in Washington. "I'm deeply disappointed that it's under these circumstances that we begin our hearings".
"Something is seriously wrong when the confirmation process for a Supreme Court justice resembles an election campaign for political office", said Hatch, who has served on the committee for 40 years and participated in 14 high court confirmation hearings.
Trump chose Gorsuch to replace the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that in light of Trump's attacks on the judiciary in recent weeks, Gorsuch had a "special responsibility" to defend the courts' independence at his hearing.
Gorsuch gave his opening statement Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Gorsuch, 49, is a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. And I look forward to the conversation we'll all have about the meaning of our Constitution and the job of a Supreme Court Justice in our constitutional scheme, Grassley says.
Questioning begins tomorrow. Chairman Grassley expects the committee to vote April 3rd, with a senate floor vote later that week. Republicans used their majority status past year to ignore the choice of President Barack Obama to replace Scalia, never taking up the nomination of Merrick Garland, 63, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. Republicans blocked president Obama's choice, Judge Merrick Garland.
For her part, Hirono reviewed the legal opinions of Gorsuch and told him, "I have not seen that the rights of minorities are a priority for you".
Neil Gorsuch listens to senators opening statements. Democrats angrily condemned Republicans for refusing to act on Barack Obama's nominee a year ago, while Republicans accused Democrats of trying to turn Gorsuch's confirmation hearing into a referendum on the GOP president.
In the Colorado native's opening statement, Gorsuch promised justice would be doled out equally to both "poor and rich", and the federal judge said the role of a justice was "not about politics". Sometimes, I have ruled against such persons, too. "It is tempting to deny Judge Gorsuch a fair hearing because of the senate's prior failure".
So how are Pennsylvania's senators expected to vote on the nominee?
But he will be voting on Gorsuch when the nomination comes before the full Senate.