Editorial Opinion
March 24, 2017

Gorsuch hearing launches liberal looniness into orbit

by Bob Hoig, Publisher
Midlands Business Journal

The week produced studies in attack politics gone awry. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota was a run-away winner with his zany questioning of 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created 13 months ago by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Franken, an alum of Saturday Night Live, was at his SNL best when he latched on to a Reince Priebus comment that Gorsuch high court membership would enable conservatives to win cases for 40 years.

It wasn’t stipulated whether that meant 40 years into the future or reversing 40 years of bad law. Franken asked Gorsuch what Priebus meant?

A Powerline online report captured the zeitgeist, neatly observing: “We all know that Franken isn’t a lawyer, but you don’t need to be one to understand the foolishness of asking a witness what another person’s statement means.”

Gorsuch seemed to strain not to laugh at Franken before instructing the senator to “ask Priebus.”

Other Franken gambits were equally off-putting. As when he seized upon Gorsuch’s work as a research member of a team of lawyers assisting the George W. Bush campaign in Ohio to get the gay marriage issue on the 2004 ballot. Franken seemed to want to parlay Gorsuch’s law school friendship with Ohioan Ken Mehlman into a non-existent strategic role.

Franken seems outraged that voters decide that issue.

Gorsuch rebuffed Franken’s follow-up question about how he felt about gay marriage. Gorsuch declined to answer. Any response could affect some future case.

During his three days of hearings, Gorsuch showed his mastery of preparing for a case, his own in this instance.

Sen. Diane Feinstein of California asked about his record as a judge for giving a worker a “fair shot.” “Maybe there is something in your background that I don’t know about?” she offered.

Gorsuch responded: “I’ve participated in 2,700 opinions over 10 and a half years. And if you want cases where I’ve ruled for the little guy, as well as the big guy, there are plenty of these.”

He reeled off a dozen or so, citing too his unanimous approval as a 10th Circuit judge.

Lawyer Feinstein seemed clearly embarrassed, possibly having forgotten the hoary law school admonition: “Never ask a question when you don’t know the answer.”

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