Good morning, everybody, and thank you for joining us.
It's been a long week but we are almost through. Today we will hear from 28 witnesses.
Senators Grassley, Feinstein and Kennedy (who walked past me as I went through security) are here.
Grassley is now getting started, calls Gorsuch's testimony "impressive"
"I think he's shown a great command of the law" and humility
Grassley: We'll hear from a number of distinguished witnesses both for and against the nominee.
Senator Klobuchar is also now here.
She has been among the most pointed questioners for Gorsuch.
Each witness will have five minutes for testimony, then we'll move to any questions.
Feinstein says she has no opening comments
Two representatives of the ABA are now up
Grassley now swearing in Nancy Degan and Shannon Edwards. Both women are on the ABA's standing committee on the federal judiciary committee.
Degan is lead counsel, Edwards is a representative from the 10th Circuit
Degan: For past 60 years plus, the fifteen lawyers from this committee have evaluated nominees for the federal bench -- focusing on integrity, competence and temperament, not political affiliation, philosophy or ideology
Degan: We do not seek information on how a nominee will vote. We assume a SCOTUS justice must have exceptional qualifications.
Committee members solicit lots of information from attorneys from the relevant circuit.
Senator Sasse has arrived and is now whispering with Senator Kennedy.
Senators Graham and Hatch have also just arrived.
Degan is explaining the process -- basically, lots of interviews with a wide variety of people, including classmates (back to high school), colleagues, clerks, others
Degan and Edwards also interviewed Gorsuch themselves on Feb. 27
Together a 1000-page document was produced, which each committee member reviewed
Degan: Rating of "well qualified" is reserved for those who merit the committee's strongest endorsement. Gorsuch received a unanimous vote for "well qualified."
Degan now requests that report made part of record.
Grassley first compliments those involved in making these reviews
Grassley: Wel qualified rating not given lightly, right?
Grassley now quotes statements attesting to Gorsuch's integrity.
Grassley also notes that committee report states that Gorsuch's qualifications and competence far above the bar
Grassley is still picking out comments from the report praising Gorsuch -- now about his independence
Grassley: "I whole heartedly agree with the American Bar Association's assessment of Judge Gorsuch"
Grassley: I'm being repetitive, but would you describe again the scope of review to make these conclusions?
Degan: To merit the rating of well qualified, we found Gorsuch preeminent member of legal profession, has ability and experience, and has integrity, competence, and temperament, which we concluded by interviewing many people
Edwards: We contacted over 5000 individuals
Edwards: That's why the report is 944 pages long.
Feinstein: I very much respect what the ABA does
Feinstein: Did you review DOJ documents of Gorsuch's tenure there?
Degan: When we received our information from DOJ at start of process, we did not receive the responses that were recently submitted to the committee
Degan: I did take a quick look at what those included, 170,000 pages, so Edwards and I saw in some of the hearings
Degan: As Gorsuch indicated in his questions this week, he was working as a lawyer with a client -- the gov
Degan: We did not have an opportunity to review those materials. We base our report on knowledge of those who know him personally. We could review, but based on what I've heard, don't think it would change
Feinstein: I am referring to a much smaller number (makes a gesture with her hand)
Feinstein: I'm curious about his thinking about torture. I regret not asking more questions in this area. I hold the view that a member of this government is held to a different standard than an attorney in private life. If you think something is wrong, you have an obligation to do something about it.