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Senate confirmation hearings underway for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch




Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks during the first day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2017.
Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks during the first day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20, 2017.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Capitol hill is bustling today. On top of testimony by FBI Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a major hearing that could determine the future of the balance of power on the nation's highest court.

Opening statements began this morning in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

President Donald Trump tapped the federal appeals court judge from Colorado to replace influential conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February of last year.

Democrats are facing pressure from liberal members of their party to push back on President Trump's first court pick, especially in light of Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold hearings on President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. Republicans say Judge Gorsuch is supremely qualified and temperamentally suited to join the court, and observers believe he will follow in the originalist footsteps of Scalia.

What are the strategies of Republicans and Democrats going into today's hearings? What will the goals of both parties be in grilling, or supporting, Judge Gorsuch? What are Judge Gorsuch's goals? What strategies have prior Supreme Court nominees used to survive the hearing process, and what tactics have failed in the past?

Guests:

John McGinnis, the George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law at Northwestern

Margaret Russell, Associate Professor of Law, Santa Clara University