Republicans Paint Gorsuch As Fair-Minded On Day 2 Of Hearings Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch faced questions from senators during the second day of his confirmation hearing.
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Republicans Paint Gorsuch As Fair-Minded On Day 2 Of Hearings

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Republicans Paint Gorsuch As Fair-Minded On Day 2 Of Hearings

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Republicans Paint Gorsuch As Fair-Minded On Day 2 Of Hearings

Republicans Paint Gorsuch As Fair-Minded On Day 2 Of Hearings

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Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch faced questions from senators during the second day of his confirmation hearing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK GRASSLEY: Welcome back, Judge Gorsuch.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today on Capitol Hill, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, was back before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

In the second day of his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch faced question after question from senators on both sides of the aisle. Today's hearing was scheduled to last for 10 hours. In a few minutes, we're going to talk about it with our legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg along with Tom Goldstein, who's the publisher of SCOTUSblog, a blog about the Supreme Court.

CORNISH: But first we want to play for you some of today's highlights.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEIL GORSUCH: I have no difficulty ruling against or for any party.

CORNISH: Democrats remain upset about the way Republicans treated President Obama's nomination to the court, Judge Merrick Garland. It's one of the many reasons they've promised to fight Gorsuch's appointment. So job one today for Gorsuch and the Republican majority - present the nominee as a fair-minded, apolitical, independent judge. Here's Gorsuch speaking to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GORSUCH: I have offered no promises on how I'd rule in any case to anyone, and I don't think it's appropriate for a judge to do so no matter who's doing the asking. And I don't because everybody wants a fair judge to come to their case with an open mind and to decide on the facts and the law.

MCEVERS: That did not stop Democrats from pressing Gorsuch on controversial issues, one of them abortion.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: The president said that he would appoint someone who would overturn Roe.

MCEVERS: During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged repeatedly to appoint a judge who would help overturn Roe versus Wade. That Supreme Court decision guarantees the right for women to get an abortion and has been upheld in many cases since.

CORNISH: Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California asked Gorsuch to elaborate on the value of precedent.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GORSUCH: Part of the value precedent - and it has lots of value. It has value in and of itself.

CORNISH: Then she asks him directly about Roe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FEINSTEIN: One other question.

GORSUCH: Sure.

FEINSTEIN: Do you view Roe as having super precedent?

GORSUCH: Well, Senator I - super precedent is a...

FEINSTEIN: In numbers - 44...

GORSUCH: It has been reaffirmed many times. I can say that.

FEINSTEIN: Yes.

GORSUCH: Yes.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, dozens.

GORSUCH: Yeah.

CORNISH: That wasn't the only one of the president's campaign promises to come up in today's hearing. Another Democrat, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, asked Gorsuch about the president's executive orders banning travel from a number of Muslim majority countries. Both versions of that order have been blocked by lower federal courts and could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATRICK LEAHY: President Trump promised a Muslim ban. He still has on his website to this day - he's called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. And a Republican congressman recently said the best thing the president can do for his Muslim ban is to make sure he has Gorsuch on the Supreme Court before the appeals get to that point.

GORSUCH: Senator, a lot of people say a lot of silly things.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's not silly.

GORSUCH: My grandfather...

LEAHY: That's - well, that's more than silly. That's a - he wants - this congressman wants you on the court so they can uphold a Muslim ban.

GORSUCH: Senator, he has no idea how I'd rule in that case.

MCEVERS: On the Republican side, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina noted with a wink that President Trump might be watching the hearing on TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDSEY GRAHAM: In case President Trump is watching, which he may very well be...

MCEVERS: Then he took the opportunity to ask Gorsuch and the president about laws on the books that prevent torture.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GRAHAM: If you start waterboarding people, you may get impeached. Is that a fair summary?

GORSUCH: Senator, the impeachment power belongs to this body.

GRAHAM: OK, that's even better. Would he be subject to prosecution?

GORSUCH: Senator, I'm not going to speculate.

GRAHAM: But he's not above the law.

GORSUCH: No man is above the law.

GRAHAM: OK.

GORSUCH: No man.

MCEVERS: After his exchange with Gorsuch, Graham sounded a little relieved and rapped with an appeal to his Democratic colleagues.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GRAHAM: Thank you. I think you're a man of the law. And I really want to congratulate the president to pick you. Quite frankly, I was worried about who he'd pick - maybe somebody on TV.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: But President Trump could not have done better in choosing you, and I hope people on the other side will understand that you may not like him. I certainly didn't agree with President Obama, but I understood why he picked Sotomayor and Kagan. And I hope you can understand why President Trump picked Neil Gorsuch. I hope you'll be happy with that 'cause I am.

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