Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch in Senate hearing

DOJ Docs Raise Questions About Gorsuch's Views on Torture and Executive Power

But Democrat Bennet did not say which way he will vote.

Even while insisting that they would evaluate Gorsuch fairly, several spoke angrily about the treatment of Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, who was denied even a hearing a year ago by Senate Republicans.

Gorsuch has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver since 2006. The conservative judge has received strong support from Colorado business leaders and lawmakers, who held a rally in February calling on Bennet to vote to confirm.

"Gorsuch's nomination represents an imminent threat to America's most cherished rights and most vulnerable citizens, and millions of Americans across the country are demanding that Democratic leadership use everything in their power to block it", the alliance said.

Hearings will continue this week, and the confirmation vote is expected to be held April 3.

The Democrats also took shots at Trump himself, and criticized the fact that Gorsuch appeared on a list of potential Supreme Court nominees vetted by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. Robert Bork, whose nomination was ultimately rejected by the Senate, was reported unfavorably in 1987; Clarence Thomas, who won confirmation, was reported without recommendation in 1991. Dianne Feinstein (D. -Calif), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, invoked the shunned judge in her opening statements.

He chided Democrats for showing an interest in such principles now that a Republican is in the White House. "But the reality is, they just don't have the votes and don't have the goods".

"He interrupted our class discussion to ask students how many of us knew women who used their companies for maternity benefits, who used their companies to - in order to have a baby and then leave right away", Sisk said.

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Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a plain-spoken Iowan, will chair the proceedings, which could go as long as four days, providing classic Washington political theatre.

"Let the American people choose", Cornyn said.

Other Republicans argued that Gorsuch should be judged on his own merits, legal writings and decisions - not compared to the man who nominated him.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joked that he was certainly no fan of Trump during the campaign and made the case that Republicans didn't blockade Garland's nomination to allow Trump to make a nomination because a lot of them didn't believe Trump would win.

Hatch blasted Democrats for wanting Gorsuch to outline how he would vote on certain cases, saying that to them, "judicial independence requires he be beholden to them and [their] political agenda" on issues like abortion. Graham urged his Democratic colleagues to give Gorsuch the same deference.

It's all unfolding fully 13 months after Justice Antonin Scalia's death created a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

"I'm dying to hear someone over there tell me why [Gorsuch] is not qualified to be sitting here", Graham said.

Democrats, under intense pressure from liberal base voters horrified by the Trump presidency, entered the hearings divided over how hard to fight Gorsuch's nomination given that the mild-mannered jurist is no right-wing bomb thrower and is widely expected to win confirmation in the end, one way or another. That was a proud moment. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "And will you rubber-stamp a president whose administration has asserted that executive power is not subject to judicial review?"

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