Senator Al Franken (D-MN) wanted to know from Judge Neil Gorsuch whether he thought senate Republicans treated Merrick Garland – President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee – unfairly. Gorsuch wouldn’t answer, because he wanted to stay out of frivolous political disputes.
It’s obvious to me as a total political outsider that Franken is only mad at the Republicans, because they refused to hold confirmation hearings for Garland. It was Obama’s last year in office, and Republicans wanted to wait until the next president took office. If a lame-duck Republican president had done the same thing under the same circumstances, the Democrats would have also refused to consider the nominee.
Ironically (actually, not ironically at all – totally predictably) it was then-Senator Joe Biden in 1992 who argued that they should not consider a Supreme Court nominee so late in Bush’s term in case there was a vacancy. And that’s exactly what Republicans argued in 2016.
This is politics, and this is what most people despise. These are full-grown adults acting like little kids on the playground.
It appears Gorsuch is well aware of these silly political quibbles, and he’d rather just stay out of it.
Al Franken brought up Gorsuch’s career prior to becoming a judge, and pointed out that he was very politically active then. “Basically you had worked on republican political campaigns since 1976,” Franken said. “You had worked for Reagan, Bush 1, Bush 2, you were cited for distinguished service to the United States Senate for work in support of President Bush’s judicial nominees by the senate republican conference, which suggests that even the political aspects of confirming judicial nominees is something that you are not unfamiliar with.”
But when the Senator had met earlier with the Supreme Court nominee, Gorsuch had made clear that he wanted to stay out of politics when it came to his personal opinion about Merrick Garland’s treatment by senate Republicans.
FRANKEN: Now, when we met earlier, I asked you what you thought of the way Senate republicans treated Merrick Garland, and rather than answer the question you replied, “I try to avoid politics.”
But here you are in 2004 pledging your allegiance to the cause and shopping around a resume touting your work on political campaigns dating back to 1976. These messages establish that, for a good deal of your prior career, you didn’t avoid politics. Quite the contrary. You were very politically active. So in light of that, I’d like to ask my question again, do you think Merrick Garland was treated fairly by the United States Senate?
How do you think Merrick Garland was treated by the Republican senators?
GORSUCH: Senator, since I became a judge ten years ago, I have a canon of ethics that precludes me from getting involved in any way, shape or form in politics. The reason why judges don’t clap at the state of the union and why I can’t even attend a political caucus in my home state to register a vote in the equivalent of a primary.
— CNN (@CNN) March 21, 2017
Of course Gorsuch has political opinions, but I think he’s made it pretty clear that he’s been reticent on the subject “since I became a judge ten years ago.”
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