In the days to come, America will learn about Judge Neil Gorsuch the jurist.
On Monday, the American people got an insight into Neil Gorsuch, the man.
Gorsuch, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, began what are expected to be several grueling days of hearings Monday with an opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The 49-year-old judge spoke of his upbringing in Colorado and his parents and grandparents. He then choked up as he spoke of his wife, stopping his speech to embrace her.
“I could not even attempt to do this without Louise, my wife of over 20 years,” he said. “The sacrifices she has made and her open and giving heart that leave me in awe. I love you so much.”
Gorsuch showed his humility as he spoke about the prospect of serving on America’s highest court.
“Sitting here I am acutely aware of my own imperfections,” he said. “But I pledge to each of you and to the American people that, if confirmed, I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution.”
He then explained his view of the court’s role.
“Under our Constitution, it is for this body, the people’s representatives, to make new laws. For the executive to ensure those laws are faithfully enforced. And for neutral and independent judges to apply the law in the people’s disputes,” said Gorsuch.
“These days we sometimes hear judges cynically described as politicians in robes, seeking to enforce their own politics rather than striving to apply the law impartially. If I thought that were true I’d hang up the robe. But I just don’t think that’s what a life in the law is about,” Gorsuch said.
Earlier in the hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, delivered a shot at Democratic senators who have said, in effect, that Gorsuch will do Trump’s beckoning on the bench and that it is therefore their duty to block him.
“Some of my colleagues seem to have rediscovered an appreciation for the need to confine each branch of government to its constitutional sphere,” Grassley said. “I don’t question the sincerity of those concerns. Some of us have been alarmed by executive overreach, and the threat it poses to the separation of powers.”
Grassley praised Judge Gorsuch as a nominee “whose grasp on the separation of powers, including judicial independence, enlivens his body of work.”
To be confirmed, Gorsuch needs 60 votes. That would require eight Democrats to join the 52 Republicans in the Senate, assuming all of the Republicans support him.