The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off a Supreme Court confirmation hearing for U.S. Judge Neil Gorsuch Monday morning, and Democrats wasted no time ripping into the Colorado jurist.
Democratic senators suggested it was unfair President Donald Trump was able to fill the ninth seat on the U.S. Supreme Court since he did not win the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. Democratic senators also sought, unsuccessfully, to portray Gorsuch as out of the mainstream on issues including abortion, gun regulations, pollution, voting rights, and civil rights.
“I’m deeply disappointed that it’s under these circumstances that we begin these hearings.”
“I’m deeply disappointed that it’s under these circumstances that we begin these hearings,” said ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). “Our job is to determine is [Gorsuch] a reasonable, mainstream conservative, or is he not?”
Feinstein’s office released statements claiming Gorsuch is a “pro-life extremist” ahead of the first hearing Monday.
At the hearing, she repeated criticisms of Gorsuch’s dissenting vote in favor of a trucking company that fired a driver for leaving behind his cab to find help after freezing weather disabled his trailer brakes.
Feinstein also went through the typical liberal laundry list, suggesting Gorsuch's nomination would be crucial in an upcoming spate of court hearings on everything from guns to abortion.
"The Supreme Court has the final say on whether a woman will continue to have control over her own body," said Feinstein. "It decides whether billionaires and large corporations will be able to spend unlimited sums of money to buy elections. And whether states and localities will be able to pass laws, and make it harder for poor people, people of color, seniors, and younger people to vote. It is the Supreme Court [who will rule] on whether corporations will be able to pollute our air and water with impunity."
Feinstein, long an advocate of strict gun control, said the Supreme Court will have ultimate say on efforts by the "extremist" National Rifle Association to allow use of military-style rifles.
Then came the turn of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). He also complained the Republicans did not have hearings on Garland.
"This unprecedented obstruction is one of the greatest stains on the 200-year history of this committee," said Leahy.
Leahy said extreme special-interest groups met in private to create a list of nominees for the court, and to vet them for President Donald Trump. Leahy did not offer proof for his claim.
"I do not know of any other Supreme Court nominee who was selected by interest groups rather than by a president," said Leahy. "Now, [Senate Republicans] are arguing that the Senate should rubber-stamp a nominee selected by extreme interest groups and nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes."
Leahy said Trump has hostility toward judges, prosecutors, and a free press. Leahy also accused Trump of trying to install a "Muslim ban," although Trump's executive orders restricting travel are temporary, and only affect six Muslim-majority nations long known to be troubled hotbeds of terrorist activity.
Still, Leahy said his vote on Gorsuch had not yet been decided.
Next up on the Democratic list was Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). He also complained that Garland did not get a hearing in 2016.
Durbin also went on about cases that allowed corporations to spend money on elections, and how the Supreme Court allowed Hobby Lobby to avoid paying for contraceptives for its employees.
Indicating Democrats will portray Gorsuch as heartless, Durbin also brought up the story of the trucker, and how Gorsuch ruled against his claim.
And he repeated the claims of Democratic law students that Gorsuch suggested women take advantage of companies that offer paid maternity leave.