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Gorsuch sidesteps tough questions in Supreme Court confirmation hearings

Free Press wire reports | 3/24/2017, 6:33 p.m.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch said on Wednesday presidents must obey court orders and expressed uncertainty about language in ...
Judge Neil Gorsuch responds to questions Tuesday during his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was grilled for three days. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Judge Gorsuch said he was bound by court precedent in the 2008 decision, adding it would be “heartbreaking” to suggest he would like ruling against disabled students.

Judge Gorsuch seems assured of winning committee approval, moving his nomination to the full Senate. His challenge then would be to gather enough Democratic votes to avoid a prolonged floor fight.

Judge Gorsuch sidestepped answering whether he thought a series of contentious past cases had been decided correctly, including those on abortion, gun rights, political spending and religious rights.

“What worries me is you have been very much able to avoid any specificity, like no one I have every seen before,” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel’s top Democrat, told Judge Gorsuch.

She asked Judge Gorsuch to explain a document dating from his work in former President George W. Bush’s Justice Department related to 2005 anti-torture restrictions.

The document asked whether aggressive interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration had yielded valuable intelligence or stopped a terrorist incident, and Judge Gorsuch had written “yes.” He said he was merely doing what he was told by the administration. “My recollection of 12 years ago is that was the position that the clients were telling us,” he said.

Sen. Feinstein expressed concern about women’s rights and preserving legalized abortion, and asked Judge Gorsuch about his views as an “originalist” seeing the Constitution’s meaning as unaltered since its enactment despite centuries of societal change.

“No one is looking to return us to horse-and-buggy days,” Judge Gorsuch said.

Regarding the Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the law, Judge Gorsuch said it does not matter that some of the drafters of the language “were racists, because they were, or sexists, because they were.”