Supreme Court Nominee Confirmation Hearings Begin

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  •  March 20, 2017   

Judge Neil Gorsuch stresses his impartiality, tries to appeal to broad audience

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WASHINGTON ( - On the first day of the Senate Judicial Confirmation hearings for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch offered an opening statement trying to appeal to both the Left and the Right.

After nearly four hours of opening statements by various Republican and Democratic senators, who expressed praise and concern respectively, the meeting closed with Gorsuch's own speech emphasizing his impartial application of the law.

"In my decade on the bench," Gorsuch said, "I've tried to treat all who've come to me fairly and with respect, and afford equal right to poor and to rich."

"I've decided cases for Native Americans in seeking to protect private lands, for class actions, like one that ensured compensation for victims of a large nuclear waste pollution problem produced by corporations in Colorado," he went on. "I've ruled for disabled students, for prisoners, for the accused, for workers alleging civil rights violations and for undocumented immigrants." 


"Sometimes, too, I've ruled against such persons," he added. "My decisions have never reflected a judgment about the people before me, only a judgment about the law and the facts at issue in each particular case."

"A good judge can promise no more than that, and a good judge can guarantee no less," he added. "For a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is probably a pretty bad judge, stretching for policy results he prefers rather than those the law compels."

The White House released a video profile of its nominee, allowing Gorsuch to describe his temperament in his own words.

Gorsuch was nominated to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006 under President George W. Bush, and has taken heat for his rulings against Obamacare, specifically the HHS contraceptive mandate forcing faith-based employers to participate in a regime of contraceptive healthcare coverage for employees.

The 10th Circuit ruling in 2013, which Gorsuch joined and which ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, led to Hobby Lobby's victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014, which voted 5–4 in favor of the faith-based corporation.

Gorsuch, who considers himself an originalist, approaches the Constitution according to the understanding of the Founding Fathers at the time of the document's ratification. He explained in a 2016 speech that judges should "apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be."

Although Gorsuch has no record of voting on abortion, President Trump has repeatedly promised he would nominate someone to the High Court bench who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

During the final presidential debate with Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in October, Trump assured the audience, "I am pro-life," and said a reversal of Roe would mean the issue of abortion would "go back to the individual states."

When moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he wanted the Court decision overruled, Trump answered, "That will happen, automatically in my opinion," after he appointed Supreme Court justices to the bench.


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Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Christine Niles is executive producer and editor-in-chief at

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1