Senators Deliver Opening Statements In Gorsuch Confirmation Hearing

8 hours ago
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish in Washington where Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court began this morning. We'll hear from one of Gorsuch's colleagues on the 10th Circuit in a moment but first to Capitol Hill and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Today's hearings featured Judge Gorsuch before the committee but no real interaction between the members and the nominee. Direct questioning comes later. Today was for opening statements and for laying out battle lines. Here's Minnesota Senator Al Franken, a Democrat.

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AL FRANKEN: During your time on the 10th Circuit, you've sided with corporations over workers, corporations over consumers and corporations over women's health.

CORNISH: What America needs, Franken continued, was a jurist certain to be fair-minded.

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FRANKEN: Someone like Merrick Garland.

MCEVERS: That wasn't the first mention today of President Obama's failed nominee and the Republicans refusal to let his name come to the Senate floor.

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LINDSEY GRAHAM: The bottom line here is I have no doubt in my mind if the shoe were on the other foot, the other side would have delayed the confirmation process until the next president were elected.

MCEVERS: That's Lindsey Graham batting away lingering bitterness over the Garland nomination before allowing how damaging politics can be when it comes to judges. The South Carolina Republican noted how overwhelmingly both Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were confirmed to the Supreme Court.

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GRAHAM: How did we go from being able to understand that Scalia was well-qualified conservative and Ginsburg was a well-qualified liberal and recognize that elections mattered? I don't know how we got there, but here's what I hope - that we turn around and go back to where we were because what we're doing is going to destroy the judiciary over time.

CORNISH: That from Capitol Hill. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.