Judge Neil Gorsuch is headed toward Senate confirmation. Ever since the President made the nomination, it has been hard to imagine another outcome. Short of some scandalous skeletons emerging from Judge Gorsuch’s closet—a closet that, by all accounts, appears safely devoid of anything of much interest—this is a loss Democrats expected. The Republicans have the votes to put Gorsuch on the Court (although they may need to invoke the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster to do so). Gorsuch’s strong performance in the hearings only gave them more reasons to support him.
Knowing this was a loss they were going to have to absorb, Democrats still hoped to at least score some political points during the hearings. It was a highly visible opportunity to advance their concerns with the politics surrounding the nomination process and the nominee’s conservative jurisprudence. Yet here too, I think the Democratic efforts should be judged a loss. They were unable to take advantage of the hearings to advance their agenda in any meaningful way.
It was another long day for Judge Neil Gorsuch. Yesterday, day three of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, was the second round of questions from senators on the Judiciary Committee. In the first round, senators had thirty minutes each to question the nominee; for the second round, senators had twenty minutes each. The headlines were largely the same as the day before: Gorsuch was composed and articulate, if perhaps a bit overly scripted at times; he gave precious little in the way of specific views on key legal issues or precedents, seemingly even less than other recent nominees; and things generally are looking good for the judge to become the next associate justice of the US Supreme Court.
Professor Carolyn Shapiro was a guest panelist on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” on March 22, 2017, to discuss Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s responses to the intense questioning from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee as the hearings continued into the second day. Michael Scodro, a former Chicago-Kent professor, also appeared on the program.
It was a long day for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. For over eleven hours yesterday, the 10th Circuit judge answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Each senator had thirty minutes to question Judge Gorsuch (or, as was often the case, to deliver monologues with question marks at the end). The second day of the confirmation hearings concluded after the dinner hour on a rather strange note, with a senator suggesting that Judge Gorsuch stay away from vodka for the night and the nominee saying he was ready to “hit the hay.”
It’s finally here. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee begins its confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch to become the next associate justice of the Supreme Court.
Judge Gorsuch has been busy during the seven weeks since President Trump nominated him. He has met with 72 senators. He has been studying, going over his own opinions and reviewing major Supreme Court decisions that are likely to be discussed at the hearings. And he has been sharpening his answers by participating in simulated confirmation hearing sessions. (NPR’s Nina Totenberg notes that Robert Bork, who the Senate refused to confirm in 1987, “refused to submit himself to these practice sessions, and paid dearly with a performance that made him sometimes sound arrogant and less than fully candid.” The New York Times just posted a video documentary looking back at the Bork nomination. )
Less than a week away from the confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court and the media machine is ramping up. Journalists are publishing a new round of stories on Gorsuch. Commentators, activists, and politicians are busy attacking and defending the nominee, each side hoping to score a few points before the main event begins on Monday.
In the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro reviewed notes from a 2010 speech Judge Gorsuch submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, concluding that the nominee offered a distinctly “bleak” portrait of the American legal system. Among Gorsuch’s complaints were the expense and delays of the discovery stage of civil litigation. “Not long ago we used to have trials without discovery,” he noted. “Now we have discovery without trials.” Gorsuch also lamented the increasing “vitriol” of the Supreme Court confirmation process.
This panel discussion was co-hosted by our Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and International Law Student Association. The event flyer, slides from our speakers, and a video of the discussion are available here if you missed attending this event.
Dr. James Nolt, Adjunct Associate Professor at New York University Program in International Relations and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute
Edward Harris, Assistant Dean and Associate Professor for International LL.M. programs at Chicago-Kent College of Law
Bartram S. Brown, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Program inInternational and Comparative Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law
Professor Carolyn Shapiro wrote an op-ed for The Hill titled “What Brown can do for Democrats in examining Gorsuch” about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s upcoming Senate confirmation hearings. She suggests that Senate Democrats could question Judge Gorsuch about Brown v. Board of Education and other historical cases to get a better sense of his judicial philosophy and his views on judicial independence.
It’s week six of the Gorsuch nomination. His nomination hearings begin on March 20.
The first anniversary of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia (whose seat Gorsuch, if approved, would take) has sparked a new round of comparisons between the two jurists.
Judge Gorsuch, writes Richard Wolf in USA Today, “represent[s] the first generation of Supreme Court justices to have been influenced by Scalia’s rulings, writings, and teachings while still in law school.” Gorsuch’s writing has often been compared to Scalia’s. Mark Sherman of the AP wrote a story on his accessible writing style.
Kofi Ademola gave some historical context for the Black Lives Matter movement, which was founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. These three black queer women started the hashtag on social media in reaction to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.
The Black Lives Matter website helped build the movement when activists protesting the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson used it to start local chapters across the country.
Criminal Justice Reform in Chicago
In Chicago, Kofi Ademola noted there had already been 20 police shootings in 5 years with no convictions, so the issue of police violence has always been central. He said the goal of Black Lives Matter Chicago is to decentralize power and to centralize marginalized voices and communities.