Good morning from the Senate. We'll be getting started in just a moment.
The room is starting to fill up, but it's still mostly people milling about. No senators have arrived. We're still 10 minutes before start.
Yesterday featured opening statements from senators and Judge Gorsuch. Neal Katyal introduced the judge before he spoke.
Today will be the first day of questioning.
We also expect the court to release opinions this morning at 10am.
Senators are all coming to their seats
Gorsuch has also taken his seat. Lots of cameras clicking
Everything should get started shortly. Gorsuch is saying hello and greeting spectators -- including one with a pound.
Things are quieting down. We should be getting started soon.
Grassley says he's waiting for one member
Sen. Feinstein has arrived, Grassley welcoming everyone
We are immediately turning to members' questions with the goal of getting through everyone's first round today
Good morning, everyone. Senator Charles Grassley has started.
Grassley is starting his questioning. Grassley discussing separation of powers
Grassley is talking about some of the praise that Gorsuch has received from Democrats.
First question: Describe what judicial independence means and whether you'd have any trouble ruling against the president who nominated you.
Gorsuch says the question is a softball. No difficulty ruling against a president based on what the laws and facts required.
No such thing as a Democratic or Republican judge. When he thinks of judicial independence, he thinks of Byron White [for whom he clerked].
When asked about his judicial philosophy, Gorsuch said, White would say he decides cases.
I read the briefs, listen to colleagues, listen to lawyers. This experience reminds him what it's like to be a lawyer in the well.
I take the judicial process very seriously, says Gorsuch. I go through step by step and keep an open mind. I leave all the other stuff at home.
It means the judicial oath, to administer justice to poor and rich alike, and to discharge duties of his office impartially.
Happy to talk about separation of powers too, Gorsuch says.
Can you give me some cases to show your independence, asks Grassley.
Gorsuch: I have decided over 2700 cases, was in majority in 99% of them.
Gorsuch: My opinions have attracted the fewest number of dissents from my colleagues, according to Congressional Research Service.
Gorsuch: When I have dissented, likely to be from judge appointed by either Democratic or Republican president.
WSJ says, that of the 8 cases of mine that went to the Supreme Court, 7 were affirmed.
In the eighth case, the court disagreed on procedural point; remanded; we decided again, cert. denied.
Separation of powers was the genius of the Constitution. Most important part of whole Constitution, according to Madison.
Not an accident that framers put Article 1 first: Congress makes the laws.
Article 2: President executes the laws.
Article III: to make sure cases and controversies are fairly decided.
Judges would make pretty rotten legislators. We are life tenured, you can't get rid of us.
At the same time, with respect, legislators might not make good judges, because they are beholden to the people.
We want a scrupulously fair decision maker, says Gorsuch. Someone who will put politics aside.
Grassley: I have heard my colleagues and non-senators say that, now more than ever, we need a justice independent of the president.
A lot has been made about candidate Trump's list of potential judges, says Grassley. To me, very transparent. Clinton didn't distribute such a list.
You weren't on the first list, says Grassley. When did you first learn that you were on the extended list?
Gorsuch: There were two lists over the summer, I wasn't on the first one. I remember having breakfast with a friend, Brian (who is here, apparently), who said "you aren't on the list." Gorsuch said, "I love my life in Colorado. I wouldn't change a thing."
Walking away from breakfast, he got an email from Brian (don't know last name) who said that there is a new list, and I"m on it. We were all surprised. We are where we are, says Gorsuch.
Grassley: Tell me about the process. Did anyone ask you to make any promises/assurances on how you would rule?
Gorsuch: I think you would be reassured by the process that unfolded. I tried to live under a shell during campaign. Watched baseball and football, but heard lots of talk of litmus tests. But I don't believe in litmus tests.