Gorsuch asks for a moment to speak
Gorsuch: I just wanted to say for the record, if anyone is still watching, I've spent the last two months in these buildings with you, 72 of your colleagues, and I wish the American people have seen what i've seen. They would be much bigger believers in government. I want to thank each and every one of you for doing what do you for the american people, the seriousness with which you take this project, Mr. Chairman, Thank you
Lee up, thanks Gorsuch for his comments
Lee-- one of my colleagues mentioned an email that you had sent praising remarks by AG Gonzales in 2006. I have a copy of the transcript that day. The remarks you were praising indicate that the committee took a break, the email was sent a half hour before the comments that were deemed problematic. Do you Judge Gorsuch have the ability to see 30 min into the future?
Gorsuch-- RIght now I kind of wish I did
Coons-- thanks Louise and Gorsuch's family and clerks who have been with Gorsuch through this demanding and long process. I just want to conclude a conversation I opened on Browder case
Coons-- in Browder, you dealt with a case when a police office rammed a car and killed one person
Coons-- I was struck that you went out of your way to write a concurrence to your own majority opinion, wrote a concurrence that would narrow federal court's ability
Gorsuch-- I vindicated the 1983 claim in that case, as I have in many cases
Gorsuch-- I wrote separately to indicate that sometimes judges judges best when they judge least. If there is already a state court claim that can deal with everything a plaintiff wants, there is a doctrine that suggests that we should defer to state proceedings in some circumstances
Gorsuch-- I was bound by our precedent [he said emphatically] but suggested we should take another look at our precedent
Coons-- The larger point is that in Browder, you are pointing that the Supreme Court could overturn precedent to narrow the scope of 1983, but in our convo about RFRA, you said Congress should resolve that. Why didn't you call on Congress to limit 1983?
Gorsuch-- I wasn't calling for that.
Gorsuch-- In Browder I upheld the claim
Coons-- I just want to come back again to substantive due process. What factors do you look at to determine whether a right is fundamental under 14th amendment?
Coons-- If I hear you right, your concurrence to your own opinion, is expressing that if you are confident that there is no threat to recovery in a state court, then it should go to state court rather than federal court
Gorsuch-- I think you now have a handle on where I was coming from and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify
Crapo up-- thanks Gorsuch for his time and candor, yields back his time
Franken up-- thanks Grassley and Gorsuch. Enters letters into the record
Franken-- During oral args for Shelby County, Scalia said that a Senator would have nothing to gain for voting against VRA, so the Court shouldn't read anything in to the overwhelming support for the bill, says it is not the kind of question you can leave up to Congress
Franken-- Scalia suggested that the Court looked at Congress' judgment to determine if it makes sense. This highlights Scalia's willingness to legislate from the bench and ignores the facts
Gorsuch-- I admire Scalia, but his words are his words and mine are mine
Franken-- Despite a unanimous Senate vote, Justice Scalia questioned Congress' motives. It seems to me he is using his personal views. Do you agree that this kind of thing could be considered judicial activism?
Gorsuch-- not appropriate for me to comment
Franken-- I think it's important, this idea of judicial activism. Scalia was reaching beyond legislative history to question the motives. Is that appropriate?
Franken-- In the wake of Shelby County, states that previously required preclearance, started testing what they could do
Franken-- Are you disturbed by a state's attempts to discriminate against voters based on race?
Gorsuch-- there are remedies to solve this...
Franken-- there used to be preclearance
Franken-- The argument that we should judge candidates based only on qualifications is betrayed by the fact that those Senators blocked Garland, who has every qualification
Franken-- I don't blame you for what happened to him and this isn't about Garland. But if the Garland issue wasn't here, we would be talking about the same things. We have been asking tough but fair questions, because we are deeply concerned about the Roberts Court's rulings have done to the rights of Americans. In one 5-4 decision after another, we have seen the ROberts COurt answer questions not before it, overturn precedents, and do all this at great cost to consumers, workers, middle class, small business, to those who don't own a car and have a drivers license so it's harder for them to vote
Franken-- This is about people getting to court, people getting to vote, Americans losing faith in our democracy. While I agree that it is your job to follow precedent, I also want to know that you will consider the real world consequences of your decisions. I want to know that you understand why we are here asking you these questions.
Gorsuch-- We're all in the same boat together. The ship, we're all it. Of course I care about this country, I care deeply, thank you
Cornyn-- let me offer an alternative view to Franken, disagree with his description of Shelby County
Cornyn-- VRA one of the great accomplishments of America in protecting the right to vote. But the Supreme Court did not gut the VRA, Section 2 is very important
Cornyn-- Here is what the Court did, Congress did not update the formula in Section 5 requiring preclearance. Instead of update the formula with current voting records, it had decades old info, which kept more states in the requirements of Section 5.
Cornyn-- Formula did not recognize current reality
Cornyn-- I just wanted to use the opportunity to say when people disagree with SCOTUS, it's easy to jump on and criticize, nobody likes to lose
Cornyn-- judges are by and large patriots performing a public service
Cornyn-- We've made great strides in minority voting rights
Cornyn yields without asking a question