After a grueling week of questioning in an effort to prepare Judge Neil Gorsuch, Senate confirmation hearings begin on Monday for the 49-year-old Supreme Court nominee.
The private rehearsals, conducted by the White House Counsel’s Office, are so intense they’re called “murder boards” and are an informal interrogation into a nominee’s personal and professional record in preparation for the real interrogation which takes place before the Senate.
The private rehearsals included “government lawyers, conservative academics, and some of his former law clerks,” according to the report, which explained that “the goal is to anticipate every possible line of questioning and danger zone — to give measured answers but not reveal too much.”
“He’s a home run, he’s smooth, he’s going to go through great,” said former Bush deputy assistant Attorney General Thomas Dupree, adding, “The senators will take their shots, but I think he’s close to a lock.”
The stakes are extremely high for both Gorsuch and President Trump, who chose the man from a list of 21 potential candidates. “Aides say President Trump hopes a successful confirmation will build momentum for his separate political agenda, and bring a measure of stability and public confidence to what has been a challenging two months in office,” according to the report.
Gorsuch would be taking the seat left empty after Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death last year. His confirmation on the Supreme Court would guarantee a majority of right-leaning judges, which is crucial when the courts face pivotal decisions about high-profile issues, including immigration, the environment, rights for transgenders, and executive authority.
Left-leaning critics, such as Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, point to the power of this pick, noting, “The American people want their justices to be an independent check even to the president nominating you, to follow the Constitution, not their own political values.”
Gorsuch faces welcoming Republicans but also Democrats looking to attack, after having made courtesy visits to more than 70 senators charged with making the decision.
Sources expect him to repeat in the upcoming hearings what he said 11 years ago about the kind of judge he considered unacceptable: “Someone who is not willing to listen with an open mind to the arguments of counsel, to his colleagues, to precedent.”
H/T: Fox News
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