Constitution Daily

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What to expect at Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings

March 17, 2017 by NCC Staff


On Monday, the Senate will start several days of hearings involving Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Here is a quick overview of what to expect.

1. The hearings start at 11 a.m. on Monday in the Senate Judiciary committee. They will be broadcast live on C-SPAN and other media television and Internet outlets. Here is a link to the official live stream:

2. The first day of hearings won’t feature much of Gorsuch. Committee members are expected to make speeches that day, with Gorsuch in attendance. He will also read a statement later in the day. Testimony about Gorsuch’s nomination will be at the committee’s conference room at the Hart Senate Office Building.Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee chair, will run the hearings, with as many as 20 Senators making statements and asking questions.

3. Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee chair, will run the hearings, with as many as 20 Senators making statements and asking questions. There are 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the commitee.

4. The committee will be reviewing Gorsuch’s past judicial decisions and other public comments. If you are really interested, the Judiciary Committee has published, on its website, the candidate questionnaire and other materials collected related to his nomination, with nearly 200,000 pages of documents. Here is the link:

5. Gorsuch is expected to testify on Tuesday, March 21. He has been preparing for questions over the past few weeks, with help from the White House counsel’s office and former Senator Kelly Ayotte.

6. The Democrats will grill Gorsuch over some of his decisions on the 10th Circuit bench. In all, Gorsuch wrote 240 opinions over a decade of service at that federal court.

7. Gorsuch’s in-person testimony may only last one day- but that could be a long day! That was the hope expressed by Grassley when he scheduled the hearings back in February. “That could be a short day if we’ve got one round. Or if we’ve got two rounds or three rounds, it could get to be a long day, but ... my intention is to get it done that one day,” Grassley said last month.

8. The remaining day (or two) will add testimony from expert witnesses. Outside witnesses and members of the American Bar Association are expected to testify on the final day of hearings.

9. Will the hearings last for just three days? The hearings for Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor each lasted four days. Kagan testified for two full days back in 2010 as did Sotomayor in 2009. In 2006, Samuel Alito testified for 18 hours over a 2 ½ period and answered about 700 questions, according to official transcripts. Alito’s entire hearing process lasted five days.

10. What kind of questions will Gorsuch get? In prior years, past e-mails, memos, law review articles, and public statements have been questioned by the Senators, along with case decisions and general questions about the Constitution.

After the hearings, the committee will vote to recommend the nomination to the full Senate for a vote in the weeks following the hearing. Once a committee recommendation is made, then the full Senate will take up the debate, including the threat of a filibuster from the Democrats.


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