Gorsuch: It doesn't matter who appointed you.
Hirono: That doesn't square with the view that you expressed in the article.
Gorsuch: We have talked about it a few times. [Yes, we have.]
Gorsuch: Courts have to be open to civil rights claims.
Hirono is still discussing his article. Let me just go over one example, she said. Talking about lawyers looking for plaintiffs. Citing Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a challenge to public-sector union's agency fees. The court deadlocked 4-4 on the question after Scalia's death. Why did you aim your criticism at the left in your article, rather than at constitutional litigation (like Friedrichs) from the right?
Gorsuch: I was agreeing with a self-described "liberal" commentator on his own assessment. I also have explained that I have seen plenty of examples on both sides, and really across the ideological spectrum, of lawsuits that perhaps belonged before legislatures.
Hmmm. Looks like perhaps someone did bring Gorsuch some coffee.
Your article also suggests that courtrooms should only be used for extraordinary cases, says Hirono. Who makes that decision?
Gorsuch: I don't recall using those words.
Hirono: It's in the article.
Gorsuch: I represented a lot of people in a lot of pretty ordinary cases, and hear pretty ordinary cases.
Hirono: What you said in your article definitely endeared you to Heritage and the billionaires who recommended you for this job.
Hirono: I remain concerned about how you view the law.
Hirono: I am also concerned about the direction of the court more generally.
Hirono: We have seen the damage that the court can do to our political process when it tilts the process so heavily against ordinary Americans.
Hirono criticizing Citizens United and Shelby County -- have made it harder for millions of Americans to have their voices heard and votes counted.
Gorsuch: Those cases are precedent, obviously they have impact.
Hirono: Would you acknowledge they have affected the composition of the court?
Gorsuch: There aren't Republican and Democratic judges.
Hirono: Clearly elections have an impact because we have you, not Merrick Garland.
Hirono: Would you acknowledge the composition of the court influences the decisions that it makes?
Gorsuch: My new colleagues have new ideas, new practices.
Hirono: Hasn't the court affected the composition of who is in Congress, making it harder for Congress to take meaningful action?
Gorsuch: I wasn't involved in those decisions.
Hirono: I wish you were right and Congress could move forward.
Grassley: We have two people left, there will be a vote at 4:50. So I would ask you to finish and then we will go vote and reconvene, hopefully by 5:20.
Next up: Republican senator Tom Tillis.
Sorry. Misspelled his name. It's Thom Tillis.
If Al Franken can admit his mistakes, so can I.
There are discussions about bear claws and sunrises.
Ah, we are talking about RFRA. Sorry -- I got distracted and lost my place.
Tillis: We heard about IDEA case this morning. Bittersweet, he says. Provides some help to children with autism, but what will happen? There will still be uncertainty because we haven't done our jobs. I can pretty much guess what's going to happen.
Okay, I have to sign off, but you will be in good hands with Molly Runkle going forward.
Tillis-- In third round, we have to talk about increased polarization
Kennedy-- Some have criticized my friends on the other side for asking you how you will rule in certain cases. It's not appropriate, but I wish I could know the answer to that too. We live in the real world. One of the main reasons some voted
Kennedy-- If you act in a way unlike one would not expect, his constituents would have something to say about it.
[perhaps alluding to Republican appointees who have voted with the liberal side]
Gorsuch-- I understand the desire to know my preferences or how I would rule
Gorsuch-- I am bound my ethics. I have tried to be as open as I can be
Gorsuch-- if I did make a bunch of campaign promises... what does that mean to litigants, the future of our country. I don't want to be with weak link in this chain
Gorsuch-- starting with interpretting a statute, first you look at the text, fixed meaning at the time, apply it according to plain meaning, public, not private understanding
Kennedy-- what if the words are unclear