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March 21, 2017

Supreme Court confirmation hearing begins for Gorsuch

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  • Confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch began this week.
  • While Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee commended Gorsuch’s judicial record and high rating from the American Bar Association, Democrats took issue with his record on cases involving corporations and support for his confirmation coming from big business.
  • Some Democrats, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, raised concern over what they view as Gorsuch’s “originalist” view of the Constitution. “I firmly believe the American Constitution is a living document, intended to evolve as our country evolves,” she said.
  • Several Democrats also felt bitterly about the Republican Party’s refusal to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, the judge nominated to the Supreme Court last year by then-President Barack Obama following the sudden death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • In his opening statement, Gorsuch promised to remain politically independent in his legal decisions should he be confirmed.

Class discussion questions 
  1. Essential question: Why does Congress hold confirmation hearings for certain nominees?
  2. What does it mean to be a constitutional originalist?
  3. What did Judge Gorsuch mean when he said some people describe judges as “politicians in robes?”
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