WASHINGTON -- A smiling and confident Judge Neil Gorsuch talked of his family, his Colorado roots and his love of fly fishing in his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, steering clear of the partisan controversy over President Donald Trump and the Republicans' snub of Judge Merrick Garland, the nominee of former President Barack Obama.
Gorsuch said he had an earnest and idealistic view of judges, saying they had a duty to faithfully follow the law, without regard to politics or ideology. Sometimes, he said, judges are "described as politicians in black robes," he said, adding he would quit and "hang up the robe" if he thought that were true.
He said that in his decade as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver he had participated in deciding 2,700 cases, and 97 percent of those resulted in unanimous rulings. "I was in the majority in 99 percent of the cases," he added.
But of course, the Supreme Court regularly takes up the cases where judges have disagreed on the proper outcome.
The minority Democrats spent most of Monday's opening day raising doubts over whether Gorsuch could be trusted to fairly decide cases involving corporations or on social controversies such as abortion.
On Tuesday, they will have a full day to question him.
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said he expected Gorsuch would be approved by the committee and confirmed by the full Senate in early April.
"We have 52 Republicans, and I haven't heard of any opposition" among them, Grassley said after the hearing. He predicted that after the four days of hearings, "people will have a difficult time voting against (Gorsuch)."
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