Confirmation hearings begin for Supreme Court nominee

"The Republican majority leader declared that the Senate would not provide any process to any nominee selected by President Obama despite the president having almost a year left in his term", Leahy said.

Even before the president made his choice, senators set the stage for the second-straight year of partisan clashes over the seat, left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is criticizing the increasing partisanship in Senate consideration of judicial nominations. Notably, before the case reached the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch authored a concurring opinion.

The panel's chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, opened the first day of hearings on Monday.

"No matter your politics, for all of these reasons you should be concerned about the preservation of our constitutional order and, most importantly, the separation of powers", Grassley said.

There are now 11 Republicans and nine Democrats on the committee, so there's no doubt Gorsuch will be approved.

If Mr Gorsuch, 49, is approved by the Senate he would restore a 5-4 conservative majority on America's highest court.

Monday's session, the first of at least three days of hearings scheduled for Gorsuch's nomination, begin at 11 a.m. with opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"We would have seen the democratic process controlled by five unelected lawyers in Washington DC", he said.

"Oh, what a difference an election makes", Hatch said.

As far as Mr Gorsuch's qualification for the post was concerned, senators did not dispute his "impeccable academic record".

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"The nominee before us today is not President Trump", said Sen.

How does the process work?

"Senator McConnell has promised to get this nomination done before the Easter recess", said Gary Marx, the senior advisor to the Judicial Crisis Network.

President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch in February. Gorsuch's non-judicial writings contain several powerful clues about his views on the constitutionality of abortion.

Durbin also told the judge, "You're going to have your hands full with this president", who has attacked individual judges who ruled against him.

Among the consequential issues, she said, is Roe v. Wade establishing the legal right to abortion. "It's a framework on which to build", Feinstein said in the hearing.

A third was employer rights.

Democrats plan to ask about the case of Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver fired for abandoning his trailer on the side of a road after waiting several hours in subzero temperatures for a fix truck. After he disobeyed the order he was sacked. "We need them to understand that simply stating their opposition to Neil Gorsuch is not enough", NARAL President Ilyse Hogue wrote in an email to the group's list that went out this morning. They describe Gorsuch as thoughtful, considerate and fair-minded. Gorsuch, Sisk said, asked the class for a show of hands "if they knew of a female who had used a company to get maternity benefits and then left right after having a baby", Sisk wrote.

At the same time, Grassley tries to head off expected Democratic arguments that Gorsuch often ruled in favor of corporate plaintiffs.

However, the Democrats could signal they're willing to stand up to Gorsuch and Trump if they drill deep into particular aspects of his philosophy, such as whether he really believes the Constitution should be interpreted based on how it was originally understood.

Gorsuch has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver since 2006.

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