The Latest: Gorsuch flatters senators as questioning wraps

AP News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2017 6:40 PM
The Latest: Gorsuch flatters senators as questioning wraps

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch: (all times EDT):

6:35 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has some flattering final words for the senators who have been grilling him for two days — and who he hopes will soon vote for him.

Noting he'd spent the last two months on Capitol Hill meeting senators, Gorsuch said Wednesday, "I want to thank you — all of you, each and every one of you."

The federal appeals court judge said that if the American people could see what he has seen, "they'd be much bigger believers in the government."

Senators appeared to eat it up.

"Bless you," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley replied.

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3:45 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is a "fine individual, a very good human being" and that he's open to voting for him.

Manchin sat in the audience for part of Gorsuch's confirmation hearing Wednesday. Manchin said he's assessing Gorsuch's demeanor, and "he's been pretty solid" so far. He also has a meeting with Gorsuch next week.

Senate Republicans will need the support of at least eight Democratic senators to easily move forward with Gorsuch's nomination. Or they may change Senate rules to assure his confirmation.

Manchin says Democrats should be open.

Noting that Democrats lost the presidential election, Manchin said: "You're not going to get someone of your preference. You get someone you can live with and someone who has good character and good stature."

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2:40 p.m.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says "it's a little rich" that Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump's comments attacking the federal judiciary while also criticizing Neil Gorsuch.

The Supreme Court nominee is a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Cruz pointed to comments from several Democrats, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said in February that the Gorsuch nomination was "hostile" and that he was a bad nominee "if you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine, or in any other way interact with the courts."

Cruz said "you can't have both at the same time."

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary panel have asked Gorsuch to react to Trump's tweets.

Gorsuch said Tuesday any comments criticizing the federal judiciary are "disheartening" and "demoralizing."

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12:55 p.m.

Democrats are pressing Judge Neil Gorsuch on a Supreme Court ruling issued Wednesday that overruled a standard he'd laid out in 2008.

Gorsuch's opinion said a Colorado school didn't have to pay a private school to educate an autistic boy, saying he had been making some progress and that was good enough under the law.

The unanimous Supreme Court ruling on a separate case requires higher special education standards.

Shortly after the decision, Gorsuch pointed to the case as an example of those where he doesn't like the result, but followed circuit court precedent.

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin said he was concerned that Gorsuch had gone further than that precedent.

Gorsuch responded: "If anyone is suggesting that I like the result where an autistic child happens to lose, it's a heartbreaking accusation."

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10:55 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch says his philosophy of originalism means equal protection for all.

Originalism is judicial philosophy focusing on the Constitution's text. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked how that philosophy reconciles with the rights of gays and lesbians.

Gorsuch noted there is precedent on that issue. He says "it matters not a whit that some of the drafters of the 14th amendment were racists, because they were, or sexists, because they were."

Gorsuch added: "the law they drafted promises equal protection of the law to all persons."

Feinstein also expressed concern about the abortion decision Roe vs. Wade. Gorsuch won't say how he'd rule on that or other issues.

Feinstein says "young women take everything for granted these days, and all of that could be struck out with one decision."

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10:35 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley is pushing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to support putting cameras in the courtroom.

Several members of the committee have sponsored legislation to place cameras in the Supreme Court. Grassley says it would provide Americans with more access to the court and promote a better understanding.

But many Supreme Court justices have opposed the idea.

Asked about the issue Tuesday, Gorsuch said he'd have an open mind. He reiterated that promise to Grassley on Wednesday, saying he'd gotten to know many photographers since he'd been nominated and they're "nice folks."

Grassley joked that former Justice David Souter had said he'd allow cameras in the court over his dead body.

But Grassley noted that Souter is "not on the courts now, so that's one less person."

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9 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch enters the third day of his confirmation hearing — and his final day of testimony — largely unscathed by Democratic attacks. Republicans are predicting he will win Senate approval despite liberal opposition.

A growing number of Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for Gorsuch's confirmation to be delayed because of the FBI investigation of ties between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.

But Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa dismissed that demand as "ridiculous," and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told The Associated Press: "Gorsuch will be confirmed. I just can't tell you exactly how that will happen yet."