Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch hearing set for March 20

The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch on March 20, the committee chair announced Thursday. "He's displayed independence", Grassley said in a statement.

The hearing will last between three and four days, with Grassley arguing the timeline is in line with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, President Obama's two successful Supreme Court nominees.

Just a day earlier, 39 of Gorsuch's former law clerks sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee hailing him as "an extraordinary judge", who has "impeccable" qualifications, the newspaper reported. Committee questioning of Gorsuch will begin on Tuesday, March 21 Testimony by outside legal experts, including the American Bar Association, will follow. "He is well-qualified and respected", Grassley said.

Gorsuch has been paying courtesy calls on senators for the past few weeks. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the seat left vacant by the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who died a year ago in the middle of the presidential election campaign. While Republicans have cheered Trump for picking Gorsuch, Democrats have voiced significant skepticism. Democrats can seek to use a procedural maneuver to block a confirmation vote if Gorsuch's supporters cannot muster 60 votes, although Republicans could change the Senate rules. To meet that threshold, eight Democrats will have to join with the 52 Republicans to advance his nomination.

If the hearing goes smoothly and the full Senate votes to confirm him soon afterward, Gorsuch could be on the court before the end of the court's current term in June.

  • Larry Hoffman