I will seek to understand your commitment to the rule of law, says Coons.
Next up, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.
I have been astounded at the number of op-eds I have heard from people who don't always agree with you, says Flake. That says a lot about you.
When Flake speech was fed into a teleprompter a while ago, it changed "Gorsuch" to "Judge Grouch." You are about as far as you can get from a grouch -- although that may change by the end of the week, says Flake. Laughter all around . . . .
Flake: Scalia demonstrated how much one justice can affect and shift the gravity of the court.
Flake-- Says no justice in recent history has changed our approach to the law as Scalia
He had an unshakable commitment to originalism and to textualism for interpreting statutes.
The president has nominated a jurist who believes in the rule of law. In meeting with him, I was impressed by his respect for the law and his commitment to service. Also with his recognition that Congress makes the laws, not judges.
Flake: One of my colleagues says Gorsuch is "pro-business"; he faithfully applies the law as enacted by Congress.
Flake: I am not alone in thinking that. Noah Feldman, a "self-described 'liberal'" says judges shouldn't decide cases based on who the parties are.
Excited to confirm justice who views separation of powers as essential part of our Constitution, says Flake.
Also excited about Gorsuch's commitment to protecting religious freedoms, even when unpopular.
"As an Arizonan, I'm proud that Judge Gorsuch is a fellow Westerner"
As an Arizonan, also proud of the fact that Gorsuch is a fellow westerner. Lack of geographical diversity on the Court now.
When I met Gorsuch this week, says Flake, we talked about our western backgrounds. He said that is where his heart is.
Gorsuch is a westerner through and through, says Flake.
In the west, we pride ourselves on being a free people with strong communities and limited government, says Flake.
Can't interfere with willingness of western states to govern themselves.
Flake on Garland-- one of the first calls Gorsuch made was to JUdge Garland, says a lot about the man
There has been a lot said about the Garland nomination, says Flake. I find it striking and very revealing that one of Gorsuch's first calls was to Garland after the Gorsuch nomination. What happened shouldn't reflect on Gorsuch.
Richard Blumenthal: I live in the western part off Connecticut.
Blumenthal up next, jokes that he's from the west... of Connecticut
Laughter . . . Blumenthal is next, by the way. Thanks Gorsuch and his family.
Blumenthal: I want to thank your fellow judges on the fellow bench, some of whom are here.
The judges make sacrifices that are often unappreciated by most Americans who enjoy the benefits of their services. Financial sacrifices, but also personal safety sometimes.
The independence of those judges has never been more threatened or more important.
A big part of the threat comes from Trump, who nominated you, says Blumenthal.
Blumenthal: Trump has launched attacks on credibility and independence of federal judges.
Respect for the opinions of our judges is fundamental, says Blumenthal. Quotes Alexander Hamilton re judiciary as "least dangerous branch."
That is why I believe you have a special responsibility, says Blumenthal, to advocate and defend judiciary against those kinds of attacks.
Not enough to do it behind closed doors, says Blumenthal: you need to do it publicly and explicitly and directly.
We meet in the middle of a constitutional crisis, says Blumenthal. FBI Director Comey revealed investigation of potential ties between Trump's associates and Russian interference in our election.
And so independence of judiciary is more important than ever, says Blumenthal.
You are also nominee of president who established "litmus tests," such as voting to overturn Roe v. Wade, says Blumenthal.
If you are not explicit and forthcoming in your response, we will assume that you will pass the litmus test.
President outsourced the judicial selection process, says Blumenthal.
You must be clear that your views are not those of the Federalist Society, says Blumenthal.
This is not an ordinary time, says Blumenthal. We will not be satisfied by your saying that you can't discuss something because it might come before you.
I met with Alfonse Madden, the trucker who was fired by Trans-Am Trucking when he left his disabled truck in sub-zero weather, says Blumenthal.
I met with children of Grace Wong, who was denied leave by Kansas State University when she had cancer. [These are cases of Gorsuch's.]
Blumenthal was the Senator who said Gorsuch told him he found Trump's comments on the judiciary "demoralizing and disheartening
I am troubled by these decisions, says Blumenthal. The right of privacy goes beyond women's health care to surveillance and government snooping.
In closing: You have a special obligation to be forthcoming and to share your views on long-standing precedent that Trump said would be overturned. The decision before us is not about Justice Scalia or your confirmation 10 years ago.
The Supreme Court is different, says Blumenthal. You now have a record, and we are here to judge that record and to make sure that our decision is the right one for the country. Also that rule of law is preserved for real people with real lives.
To make sure that judiciary will protect us from overreaching and tyranny and real constitutional crisis. Blumenthal is now done.