How far is Senator Schumer willing to push these hearings? As every response of Gorsuch, and the question that brought about Gorsuch’s response, is parsed and commented on, the main question is how politicized are the Democrats willing to make these hearings?

Because much – if not almost all – of their questioning has been about the political consequences of applying the law in cases Judge Gorsuch as ruled on. Not whether the law was faithfully applied. The Kansas professor battling cancer for example. One can argue about how politicized confirmation hearings were in past times, but clearly Congress is reaching a new low water mark here.

And much of their base – the left that is – is demanding they do this. It’s not about Judge Gorsuch’s abilities as a judge, which have been roundly praised by almost anyone who has had dealings with the judge. No. It’s about his views – or the assumptions made about what his views are or might be – that matters.

Aren’t they just being honest? The Democrats that is. Of course he’s pro-life, pro-gun rights, favors religious freedom, and does not view business as guilty until proven innocent through the flaying purgatory of high taxes and detailed regulation. That’s why he was nominated. He’s a conservative who will – if and when appointed to the Supreme Court – take Scalia’s place on the bench and ensure America doesn’t have a liberal-leaning SCOTUS. That’s the whole point.

Isn’t it?

Not quite. Yes the administration wants a conservative justice. But you need both of those words. A conservative economist? A conservative talk-radio host? A conservative judge from the lower courts whose rulings have been conflicted and who has been accused of corruption or having submitted to influence-peddling? No one would suggest any of these examples are anything but ridiculous.

You need an eminently qualified jurist. That seems obvious, but when partisan litmus tests – like the ones Senator Schumer has been pushing for Congress to adopt – become the whole point of any hearing, then any nominees ability as a judge becomes secondary. A distant second.

Yes, what should matter is a judge’s philosophy. Her or his view of how the constitution should be read and the law applied, based on that philosophical view. But her or his ability to follow the law faithfully as a judge has to be front and center. Congress – especially these hearings – is more of a red-meat circus with lion tamers poking the animals in their eye. Like Senator Franken, defender of Colorado sheep and lame sarcasm.

So human-interest stores and partisan grilling that pretends to be lawyerly is what the hearings become. Somehow, Congress has to ensure that a qualified Supreme Court Justice emerges from all this partisan baiting, and soundbite fishing. It’s getting harder every time.

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