Feinstein discussing Roe v. Wade , calls it settled law for the last 44 years
All 11 Republican members and all 9 Democrats are here, which is the norm at the beginning of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing but not the norm at most congressional hearings.
Sen. Luther Strange, the Republican who was appointed to succeed Jeff Sessions after Sessions became attorney general, was in the room earlier, though I'm not sure whether he is still here. He's not a member of the committee.
Feinstein-- "they must understand the Court's decisions have real world consequences". Hatch up next
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is now up and says, "I've served on this committee for 40 years, and some things with confirmation hearings never change."
Hatch's first Supreme Court confirmation hearing was that of Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981. Sen. Leahy was also on the committee at that time. One would have to go back to Justice John Paul Stevens's hearing in 1975 to have no current members of the committee.
Hatch criticizing the confirmation process of being more like a political campaign
Hatch spending much of his statement arguing that Gorsuch should not be asked to weigh in on potential future cases, focuses on impartiality
@AndrewH: Neal Katyal is on the panel to introduce Gorsuch along with the nominee's two home-state senators: Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner. I believe the introductions come after senators' opening statements and before Gorsuch's opening statement.
Hatch quotes Ginsburg from her hearing, "A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts"
Hatch also quotes Sotomayor: "Any self-respecting judge that comes in with an agenda" that can tell you how he will vote "is not someone you want as a judge"
Leahy up, calls Senate inaction in Garland "totally unprecedented"
Leahy says blockade of Garland "never grounded in principle or precedent"
Leahy also criticizes Trump's consultation with Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, says he's not aware of any justice in history chosen by interest groups instead of the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Leahy was chairman of the committee for Sonia Sotomayor's and Elena Kagan's hearings. As I mentioned earlier, he has given up the ranking member's slot to Sen. Feinstein.
Leahy says unlike Roberts, Gorsuch's views have been articulated, he would be the first originalist in 25 years. "I worry that [originalism] goes beyond being a philosophy to being an agenda."
Leahy says he has not yet decided how he will vote, which he argues contrasts
him from Republicans who blocked Garland, says he believes it is his constitutional duty to consider the nomination
Sen. Cornyn up now, follows up on Hatch's focus that confirmation hearings are now more about politics than impartiality
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, up now, is the only other Republican on the committee besides Grassley and Hatch who has been through a Supreme Court confirmation hearing before. He goes back to John Roberts' hearing to be chief justice in 2005.
Cornyn says "Scalia brought the Constitution to life" for his readers, esp. law students
Cornyn says framers intended limited role for judges, and he quotes Alexander Hamilton, "the judiciary may be truly said to have neither force nor will, but merely judgment."
Cornyn says Gorsuch would be "our only Western justice," but he's forgetting Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a native Californian who served on the 9th Circuit, and Justice Stephen Breyer, a native Californian who did move east.
Of course, Justice Scalia made a jibe not long before his death that Californians were not real Westerners.
Cornyn says it would be wrong to Gorsuch to be asked how he would rule on cases, or for him to pre-judge them, also quotes Ginsburg on offering "no forecasts, no hints"
That was in his dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Durbin also says he will consider Gorsuch on the merits, calls for a vote
Durbin discusses Hobby Lobby, on which Gorsuch ruled. Also bring up frozen truck driver case, says it was cold out "but not as cold as your dissent, Judge Gorsuch"
Durbin: "You're going to have your hands full with this president. He's going to keep you busy."
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is the first newbie when it comes to Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Sen. Lee up next. Both he and his brother are on Trump's potential nominee list
Lee is also the first former Supreme Court law clerk to speak today. He served Justice Alito during Alito's first term. Lee had served Alito as a clerk on the 3rd Circuit, and was one of two slightly older, more experienced clerks Alito hired when he joined the court during the middle of the term.
There will be two more former law clerks on the committee we will hear from. Ted Cruz (William Rehnquist) and Richard Blumenthal (Harry Blackmun).
Some of the spectator seats in the hearing room have been empty for awhile. I wonder how long the line is to enter.
Lee comments that Sen. Graham was the only member to show up to Gorsuch's 10th circuit hearings because they were so unremarkable, jokes that he would have been there too, had he been a Senator at that time
Those empty seats are now being filled.
Lee criticizes earlier arguments that Gorsuch is an originalist and that originalism is outside the mainstream. He references the Kagan confirmation hearings, in which Kagan, referring to founding fathers, said "sometimes they lay down very specific rules, sometimes broad principles, either way" we try to apply what they would do, "in that way we are all originalists."
I misspoke earlier when I said every member of the committee is here. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is not here, likely because he is at the big Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, is up with a discussion of the court's Republican nominees favoring corporate interests.
Whitehouse has a book out this year called "Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy," which includes a chapter about the court's Citizens United v. FEC decision. There was a copy for sale at half-price over the weekend at Second Story Books in Washington, one of the city's better used-book stores.
Whitehouse accusing Republican-appointees on the Court as
"for corporations, against humans"