March 20, 2017

Can we expect the Gorsuch hearings to be anything but bland blather?

I could link to things like "Want to Know Where Supreme Court Nominees Stand? Don’t Bother Asking" (in the NYT), but it's tiresome.
A rhetorical version of dodge ball is a favored tactic for nominees regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum. It has been employed successfully by a liberal like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and by a conservative like Clarence Thomas. John G. Roberts Jr., at the 2005 Senate hearing on his nomination as chief justice, famously likened his role to that of an umpire calling balls and strikes, a disinterested neutral force....
Maybe this is news to someone, but Supreme Court nominees have learned to say the same stock things and to reveal nothing. The only interest is whether the nominee looks the part, sounds intelligent (while saying basically nothing), seems earnest but relaxed, and shows a little humor or personality. But not too much!

And whatever you do, don't reveal that you'd enjoy yourself by saying "I think it would be an intellectual feast" or some such thing. Don't be Bork. Be like everyone since Bork. We went from Borking to boring, and now no one is fool enough to think it's worth it to be anything but boring.

I've set C-SPAN to record, but don't expect me to simulblog the thing. I remember being so excited to live-blog the Roberts hearings, but that was after going more than a decade without a new Justice. I've blogged 4 confirmations now — Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan. It has been 7 years since Kagan's confirmation. And yet, the Gorsuch hearings present a very dull prospect. (By design.)

62 comments:

sojerofgod said...

I wouldn't waste one second on this clown show.
Sample Question:

Mr. Gorsuch, thanks for taking a break from beating your wife and dominating your dog to come down and speak with us. Now that you are here, can you describe to me why a scum sucking Nazi type like you wouldn't be sitting on the court in White robes (with a hood, of course) while you rolled back the civil rights laws and re-enslaved all persons of color?
answer yes or no please...

Expat(ish) said...

I told my wife that this nomination was the most presidential thing I'd seen since Bush showed up at the WTC site with a bullhorn after 911.

Let me count the ways:
1> Most powerful man in the world appoints someone who is skeptical of his power
2> Congress will have to grant someone power over them when he is skeptical of THEIR power
3> It was a fulfilled campaign promise (rare!)
4> It was politically adept, placing ones foes in a position where they can either go along or hurt themselves - all without hurting the country either way

A note on that last point - I always figured Obama figured he could peel off enough R's to support Obamacare that it would become a success like Social Security. As good a campaigner as he was, he was not the politician to pull it off. LBJ could have, for example.

-XC

The Godfather said...

Any Supreme Court nominee who can be outsmarted by a Senator should not be on the Court. Other than that, the hearings are meaningless.

Mary Beth said...

I could link to things like "Want to Know Where Supreme Court Nominees Stand? Don’t Bother Asking" (in the NYT), but it's tiresome.

What's the word for that? (When you say something like "Not to mention ______" where you are specifically mentioning something while saying it's not worth mentioning.) I know it's been discussed on this blog but I can't remember what it's called.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

George Will's questions for Gorsuch (in the Washington Examiner) are good ones. Probably too good actually to be asked.

Fernandinande said...

Maybe this is news to someone, but Supreme Court nominees have learned to say the same stock things and to reveal nothing.

Well, a couple of federal judges have recently decided if a person has expressed an opinion on an issue, those opinions override what is actually written, for ever and ever, laws without end, amen.

Ann Althouse said...

"Apophasis (Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀπόφημι apophemi,[1] "to say no"[2]) is a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up.[3] Accordingly, it can be seen as a rhetorical relative of irony. The device is also called paralipsis (παράλειψις) – also spelled paraleipsis or paralepsis – or occupatio,[4][5][6][7] and known also as praeteritio, preterition, antiphrasis (ἀντίφρασις), or parasiopesis (παρασιώπησις)."

Bay Area Guy said...

Robert Bork said that joining the Supreme Court would be an "intellectual feast". He talked about substantive issues, as a famous Yale Law Professor would likely do.

And for that, the Left Borked him with an assist from a few squishy Republicans.

So, now we get Vanilla, and only Vanilla.

Thanks, Democrats!

WisRich said...

I've heard the first day...the whole day...is on opening statements. No actual questions until tomorrow.

No thank you, I'll pass.

sojerofgod said...

A few others:

Annaphylaxis: Preventing persons named Ann or Anna from being around

Prophylaxis: amateurs only! Please!

coreopsis: Either a deadly infection, or a flower. you pick.

sojerofgod said...

Dang it o forgot
Parapelagic: two whales.

lgv said...

Regardless of his answers, Senate Democrats will be "troubled" by his answers. They will be unable to vote for a candidate whose favorite color is ____________!

The Godfather said...

Regarding George Will's suggested questions, not only is it unlikely that any of them will be asked (as MDT says), it's unlikely any of them would be answered if asked.

rcocean said...

Yes, its just a dog and pony show. And it always was.

Even the Bork hearings changed no one. Senators are Like SCOTUS judges, they go through the motions of having hearings (arguments) and appearing objective and open-minded, but in fact they've made up their minds before the hearings(arguments) begin.

One reason Bork failed in the court of public opinion is that he didn't realize the Senators weren't interested in being fair or engaging in any kind of constitutional law discussion the Democrat Senators were just looking for "Sound bites" that would make Bork look bad on Evening News.

Big Mike said...

I suppose the Democrats could do as they did with Clarence Thomas and dredge up some chippie to assert Gorsuch made lewd jokes in front of her and sexually harassed her, the payoff being a lifetime of sinecures for the "lady." It almost worked once.

sojerofgod said...

Parameesium: Two mice. (Pixie and Dixie)

Michael K said...

You mean you would pass up the chance to watch Franken show what an idiot he is ?

It might be amusing if, instead of the questions his staff wrote for him, he accidentally got out his shopping list and read it.

rcocean said...

One thing I did like about the Bork, Thomas, and Roberts hearings was the way all three of them sliced and diced "Slow Joe" Biden whenever he tried to get "intellectual" .

What a Pompous Douchbag Biden was.

I didn't watch the Alioto hearings because I'd gotten bored of it. I never watched the Democrat hearings because there were no point.

rcocean said...

George Will can eat shit and die. I'm tired of that traitor fool still posing as some sort of Conservative.

Let him go write for Slate.

Static Ping said...

The Supreme Court was supposed to be boring. It was supposed to be nine eggheads dealing with arcane legal issues with no political bias. It's boring. At times very important, yet boring. The exciting parts of government were the President, making speeches and sending troops out and sinking pirate ships, and the Congress, where debates can get heated and occasionally are settled by beating someone with a cane.

Then someone got wise that there were such things as penumbras which made the Supreme Court, if not god, at least the Sanhedrin. This was abetted by the other branches that were happy, at least in part, to have someone else decide things so they didn't have to vote on it. The flaw in every government type is there are human beings with great ambition but little useful talent, less morals, and exceptional laziness who find government the most lucrative vocation.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

According to NPR this morning, this is the big iceberg that'll sink Gorsuch: Gorsuch Told Law Class Women Often Manipulate Employment for Maternal Leave

The student allegedly filed a complaint with the school and everything. Very serious, very troubling--definitely good reason to keep this guy off the Court. Anita Hill 2.0...although I can't seem to remember how that one turned out, so maybe its not a great comparison.

I wonder--as a former law prof. yourself, any special insight into this one, Professor Althouse?

Bruce Hayden said...

To see where things are likely to go, I think that you need to work backwards, and that is that Judge Gorsuch gets confirmed. He probably would have been confirmed anyway, because I think that Trump would look at it as part of winning. But it became critical to US domestic security that he be confirmed when the judge in Hawaii, essentially without reading the revised EO, issued a TRO keeping it from going into effect, combined with the decision the same day by the en banc 9th Circuit that also ignored settled jurisprudence for political expediency. Trump can't afford to lose this one, so won't. Gorsuch will be confirmed, unless a dead hooker or live boy is found in his bed.

The critical 8 votes are likely those of the 8 Trump state Dem Senators up for reelection next year. The left, and apparently, Schumer, are telling them that they will be primaried if they don't toe the line, but if they do, and vote against cloture, the GOP will use that against them in the fight next year for their seat. Best thing that they could do politically for themselves and their party would be to vote with the Reps for cloture. But this "resistance" thing has the grass roots and operatives on the left running a scorched earth campaign, and that means not giving anything to Trump and the GOP. Which means that I expect that there are going to be a lot of histrionics, giving cover to at least a couple of those eight to vote against cloture (likely sacrificing their seats for the cause), the Republicans go nuclear, Gorsuch is confirmed, and the 9th Circuit is schooled on the meaning of separation of powers and deference to the elected branches. Maybe they could rub salt in the wounds and let him write the decision (given his views on admin law).

Edward Bo said...

It's kind of like those ridiculous halftime interviews with football coaches, where the interviewer asks the losing coach what he's going to do differently in the second half. All we ever get is things like "we're just going to execute better". I'm still waiting for someone to say "we're going to run more play action passes and some trick plays on third and long".

Darrell said...

Maybe a tree will fall and kill Al Franken.

rcocean said...

"Best thing that they could do politically for themselves and their party would be to vote with the Reps for cloture."

Most of the 8 have been following Schumer and voting against every Trump nominee. There's no reason they won't do the same with the SCOTUS nominee.

It doesn't really matter. Graham and Lady Collins seem happy with the pick (McCain never goes maverick on SCOTUS picks) so I doubt any Dem votes will be needed.

Mike said...

No.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Can we expect the Gorsuch hearings to be anything but bland blather?

Definitely. Emotional vitriol, astonishing displays of ignorance by US Senators.

Danno said...

After having watched or listened to Bork and Thomas and being thoroughly disgusted with this process, I will abstain from dwelling on this kabuki theater.

If I was McConnell, I would end the confirmation hearing at noon today, go nuclear, confirm him immediately, swear him in later this afternoon, and watch the Dems go reeling into the rocks.

Todd said...

Danno said...
After having watched or listened to Bork and Thomas and being thoroughly disgusted with this process, I will abstain from dwelling on this kabuki theater.

If I was McConnell, I would end the confirmation hearing at noon today, go nuclear, confirm him immediately, swear him in later this afternoon, and watch the Dems go reeling into the rocks.

3/20/17, 9:44 AM


I would trade away my next 5 Xmas and birthday wishes to have that happen!

buwaya said...

Its all votes about a vote.
All the talk is fluff and packaging.

Clark said...

The question in the background: Are the Republicans (Sen. Hatch, I'm looking at you) finally ready to go nuclear? Everything turns on that.

AllenS said...

reeling into the rocks -- I like that.

Darrell said...

Maybe Amy Schumer will fall and kill Chuck.

Chuck said...

Never forget Bork. Bork changed everything. Bork was rejected; we got Anthony Kennedy instead, and Kennedy gave us Lawrence, Windsor and Obergefell.

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have always been a kind of Praetorian Guard of liberalism. Cranston; Kennedy; Biden; Leahy; Metzenbaum; Durbin. And it has arguably more leftist in the make-up of the Democrats' side of the panel than it is now, with Leahy and Durbin plus Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons, Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary singlehandedly made Bork a verb. We will never forget.

My prediction is that a cloture vote will pass (or fail, depending on your terminology) with every Republican and about 10 Democrats voting to allow a floor vote. And that Gorsuch will then be confirmed, 56-44. (Or 56-to-whatever, if one or more Dems vote "present.")

And no nuclear option will need to be invoked. Alito was confirmed 58-42, in a situation where he was moving the court much farther right than had been the case while O'Connor was on the bench. Thomas was confirmed 52-48 under circumstances far more contentious than Gorsuch's.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Clark - I don't think that is an issue right now with GOP Sens going nuclear. Trump needs a conservative Justice confirmed ASAP, or the deep state has won. Other than our senile Senior Senator here in AZ, I just don't see that many Repubs going against Trump so early in his Administration, esp when doing so would make them look bad, or at least weak. If former boxer Dingy Harry Reid still had the boss job there, everyone would expect it of him, being a fighter - why not McConnel and the Republicans?

Darrell said...

Maybe Amy Schumer will fall and kill Chuck. Schumer.

Mike said...

Did anyone else answer the yes or no question?

Chuck said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
George Will's questions for Gorsuch (in the Washington Examiner) are good ones. Probably too good actually to be asked.


They are tremendous, serious questions. (The Will column also appears on the NRO website.) Gorsuch might like answering them, but Bork -- or rather, Borking -- has made such inquiries impossible.

What a sea-change, since Scalia (who also would have loved Will's brilliant questions) was confirmed 98-0.

JAORE said...

"And no nuclear option will need to be invoked. "!

Maybe. But Alito was before the RESISTANCE!

Cue the Sharpton video, "Resist we much."

Mary Beth said...

Apophasis

Thank you!

Bruce Hayden said...

@Chuck - as I (hopefully) said, that is the best outcome for the Dems, and, in particular the ones from Trump states. Not voting to end debate would, essential ally, let them be accused of trying to win by cheating, as the Dems arguably did with the election results, the Russian involvement allegations, the recent court decisions on the immigration EOs, etc. never mind that filibusters have been around in the Senate for longer than any of us have been alive - the Dems eliminated them when convenient, why shouldn't the Republicans? Then, the Reps don't need the Dem votes for confirmation, and these Senators can pander to the left all they want. The Dems might as well hold onto the potential of a filibuster for a time when one of the left wing Justices is replaced, and there is a chance to push the Court harder to the right.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Apophasis (Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀπόφημι apophemi,[1] "to say no"[2]) is a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up.[3] Accordingly, it can be seen as a rhetorical relative of irony. The device is also called paralipsis (παράλειψις) – also spelled paraleipsis or paralepsis – or occupatio,[4][5][6][7] and known also as praeteritio, preterition, antiphrasis (ἀντίφρασις), or parasiopesis (παρασιώπησις)."

Wise ass.

Chuck said...

Bruce Hayden;

Yeah, I heard Ted Cruz put the chances of a filibuster at 50%, and the chances of a Gorsuch confirmation (whether "nuclear" or not) at 100%.

I don't think that Senator Cruz is closely clued in on either the Republican or certainly the Democratic leadership. He's Ted Cruz. But nonetheless I was a bit surprised to hear him put the chance of a filibuster as high as 50/50.

Trump lovers and Trump haters alike in the Republican Party all know that Gorsuch is going to be confirmed. The clearer we make that to the Democrats, the fewer people will get hurt in the process.

Mary Beth said...

Wise ass.

She was answering my question about the first sentence of the blog post.

Clark said...

@Bruce Hayden -- Do you think Senators Hatch and Graham would vote to end the filibuster (on SC confirmations)? If they would then they probably won't have to.

Danno said...

Blogger Darrell said...Maybe Amy Schumer will fall and kill Chuck. Schumer.

I'm glad you clarified that. I would rather miss old Chuck, the life-long Republican, if only for watching him skirmish and get annihilated daily by Drago and a few others, even though he is always right and has to get the last word in.

Anyone else?

Michael K said...

"Trump lovers and Trump haters alike in the Republican Party all know that Gorsuch is going to be confirmed. "

Right now, I think that Democrats are all about virtue signaling to their left wing base that is still consumed with rage at Trump.

If the Democrats were to be rational about this, they would save their ammunition for after Ginsburg takes her dirt nap.

I just don't know if they can be rational this early in Trump's term. Millions of angry left wing Democrats (Some of whom are related to me) still think he can be impeached.

Maxine Waters is the spokesperson for this wing of the Democrat Party.

Gahrie said...

I just don't know if they can be rational

FTFY

Roger Sweeny said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson, George Will's "Questions for Gorsuch" is actually in the Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/questions-for-judge-gorsuch/2017/03/17/5c1c62f4-0a65-11e7-b77c-0047d15a24e0_story.html?utm_term=.72d02c046163

damikesc said...

I don't think that Senator Cruz is closely clued in on either the Republican or certainly the Democratic leadership. He's Ted Cruz. But nonetheless I was a bit surprised to hear him put the chance of a filibuster as high as 50/50.

Their base REALLY wants one and they don't wish to disappoint their base. I give a damned good chance of a filibuster because of that.

khesanh0802 said...

I will make a fearless prediction that Gorsuch will have enough D votes to be confirmed. The NYT had a pretty glowing article about him and the WSJ did the same quoting several Dem party members as being in favor. The seven D senators in Red states can't afford to join a filibuster attempt. That we means there only has to be one other principled D to avoid a filibuster. I agree with Michael K that the Ds would be wise not to force a removal of the filibuster before the Senate has to deal with RBG's replacement ( soon I hope).

Unknown said...

It would be better if they returned to the days when the nominee did not appear at the hearings.

n.n said...

It's good practice to avoid trigger warnings before securing an operational objective.

Chuck said...

Clark said...
@Bruce Hayden -- Do you think Senators Hatch and Graham would vote to end the filibuster (on SC confirmations)? If they would then they probably won't have to.


This little question is one of the cleverest and most insightful things on this page.

Chuck said...

And Clark; my own then-Senator Carl Levin (at that time on his way out of the Senate and heading into retirement) voted AGAINST the Harry Reid nuke-option on executive branch appointments below SCOTUS. He was one of a couple.

It may be that the whip-count told them what they needed to know, and by virtue of seniority, Levin was one of only a couple of Dems allowed to vote their conscience.

Rest assured, that about 75% of the Senate or more thought that the nuke-option was a terrible idea. And still think so. And pointing to Hatch, Graham, McCain and some others (Cornyn, Collins, Grassley, etc.) is exactly right. It will pain them, to go nuclear. And maybe inflicting that pain is all that Schumer and Durbin can do. Schadenfreude and all.

rcocean said...

"If the Democrats were to be rational about this, they would save their ammunition for after Ginsburg takes her dirt nap.

Democrats NEVER "save their ammunition". And it NEVER hurts them.
They shoot endlessly, day after day, at every target. And I've never heard a liberal advise their side to "save our ammunition" because they need to save it for "bigger game".

I wonder why.

Michael K said...

"I've never heard a liberal advise their side to "save our ammunition" because they need to save it for "bigger game".

That's why they are in the minority and will stay that way.

Just be grateful.

Swede said...

No.

Now hurry up and get him to the full Senate for his up/down vote. Pray the Dems don't support this nominee so that the nuclear option is triggered.

They're going to need it in order to replace Ruth Bader Gotafootinthegrave anyway, might as well get it out of the way.

The Godfather said...

Suppose the Dems filibuster Gorsuch, and the Reps fail to nuclearize. What happens?

Before Democrat judges decided to overrule the President on immigration, I would have said that both sides would stand down and take a breather. Now, I think Trump finds a federal judge (there's bound to be one, somewhere, and that's all it takes) to rule that the filibuster of a Supreme Court Justice is unconstitutional and enjoins it. And the judge refuses to stay the order. Before an appeal can be filed, a majority of the Senate confirms Gorsuch, and he is sworn in as the 9th Justice.

Implausible? No. Payback is a bitch.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Check out that same NPR story from this morning that I linked to earlier--they had to add that the student raising the issue now (who allegedly complained back then) is a former aide to a prominent Democrat and that several other students in that law class dispute her version of events.

That shit collapsed FAST! Shouldn't have pulled the oven open so quickly on your delicate souffle of an obvious bullshit hit piece, NPR. Beautiful!

Michael K said...

God, women are risky students. I am right there with the professors who will not meet alone with a female student in an office with the doors closed.

Gahrie said...

God, women are risky students.

I teach high school, and I refuse to be in a room alone with either a female staff member or a female student.