1) Neil Gorsuch was stupendous
Once again, Judge Neil Gorsuch showed why he is such a stellar choice for the Supreme Court. He was graceful, poised and patient with all members and had prepared a thoughtful opening statement that captivated the audience.
Here are some excerpts:
My Mom was one of the first women graduates of the University of Colorado law school. As the first female assistant district attorney in Denver, she helped start a program to pursue deadbeat dads. And her idea of day care sometimes meant I got to spend the day wandering the halls or tagging behind police officers. She taught me that headlines are fleeting – courage lasts.
My Dad taught me that success in life has little to do with success. Kindness, he showed me, is the great virtue. He showed me too that there are few places closer to God than walking in the wilderness or wading a trout stream. Even if it is an awfully long drive home with the family dog after he encounters a skunk. …
When I put on the robe, I am also reminded that under our Constitution, it is for this body, the people’s representatives, to make new laws. For the executive to ensure those laws are faithfully enforced. And for neutral and independent judges to apply the law in the people’s disputes. If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be, the very idea of a government by the people and for the people would be at risk. And those who came to court would live in fear, never sure exactly what governs them except the judge’s will. As Alexander Hamilton explained, “Liberty can have nothing to fear from” judges who apply the law, but liberty “ha[s] every thing to fear” if judges try to legislate, too. …
As a student many years ago, I found myself walking through the Old Granary burial ground in Boston where Paul Revere, John Hancock, and many of our founders are buried. I came across the tombstone of a lawyer and judge who today is largely forgotten — as we are all destined to be soon enough. His name was Increase Sumner. Written on his tombstone over 200 years ago was this description —
As a lawyer, he was faithful and able;
as a judge, patient, impartial, and decisive;
in private life, he was affectionate and mild;
in public life, he was dignified and firm.
Party feuds were allayed by the correctness of his conduct;
calumny was silenced by the weight of his virtues,
and rancor softened by the amenity of his manners.
These words stick with me. I keep them on my desk. They serve for me as a daily reminder of the law’s integrity, that a useful life can be led in its service, of the hard work it takes, and an encouragement to good habits when I fail and falter. At the end of it all, I could hope for nothing more than to be described as he was. If confirmed, I pledge that I will do everything in my power to be that man.
2) Democrats want to debate Donald Trump’s record, not Gorsuch’s
It started with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) setting the stage, “We are here today under very unusual circumstances.” Because “President Trump repeatedly promised to appoint someone in the mold of Justice Scalia.” The horror!
Someone should have told her speech writer that that was one of the main reasons why President Trump won the election! But I digress.
It continued with almost every other Democratic senator. Here is Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota):
You come before us this afternoon not only as a nominee sitting at a table with your friends and family behind you but in the context of the era in which we live. From the highest level of government, we have heard criticism of journalists. Seventeen intelligent agencies have confirmed that Russia attempted to influence our most recent election. At the same time, voting rights …
She continued to complain about President Trump for a while, until she finally admitted, “You are not the cause of these challenges, Judge.” Then why are you talking about that? Have a hearing on President Trump, if you like. But this will be a recurring theme.
A theme that will ultimately fail, but they’ll push it nonetheless.
3) Sen. Whitehouse should be ashamed of himself
Sure, no one but legal geeks like me pays close attention to Senate Judiciary Committee Members’ statements, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D- Rhode Island) opening statement should be highlighted and decried (by senators from both parties) as the worst form of partisan chicanery.
He essentially accused conservative justices (and conservative judges in general) of being bought by corporations. You can watch his shameful statement here:
“There is no coincidence here,” he said, “Business has groups trolling for cases to get them before the friendly court. … It’s kind of a machine. They set up and fund front groups, the front groups appear before the court, they tell the court what the special interest wants and the court follows the brief and the decision favors the special interest and they pour more money to the front groups.”
In other words, conservative justices are beholden to big businesses because they give money for them to get them elected and selected. He even insinuated that was the case with Judge Gorsuch. Those same groups, he told Gorsuch looking straight at him, “are spending millions of dollars in a dark money campaign to push your confirmation.”
Gorsuch is a humble, respectful man. And frankly, almost all senators-Republican and Democrats- were at least dignified in their statements, even as they expressed some apprehension to Gorsuch’s nomination. But not Sen. Whitehouse.
He dishonored the Senate and insulted an honorable man to score cheap political points. He should be ashamed of what he did, and he should apologize to his Senate colleagues, the nominee, and the American people.
He, above all, should apologize to Chief Justice Roberts for whom he reserved most contempt.
Sen. Whitehouse’s conspiracy theories are typical of the most fringe groups of the radical left. But for him to bring them into a confirmation hearing as important as this, is simply reprehensible.