More than a year after Antonin Scalia’s death left a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Senate Judiciary Committee is finally ready to consider a candidate to replace him.It’s not Merrick Garland — President Obama’s nominee got stonewalled by Republicans for eight months. It’s Neil Gorsuch, a conservative judge from the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals who President Trump says is the “man who our country really needs and needs badly to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice.”
Democrats are under pressure to exact revenge for Garland and do everything in their power to block Gorsuch’s nomination, but the multiday confirmation hearing that’s scheduled to begin at 11 a.m Eastern time Monday may prove disappointing for anyone expecting major fireworks. Gorsuch has been preparing for weeks to handle the grilling he’s sure to face, and some representatives have already expressed reluctance to expend political capital challenging a nominee who, at least by Trump standards, seems fairly reasonable.Gorsuch, 49, is the youngest Supreme Court nominee since a 43-year-old Clarence Thomas appeared before the Senate in 1991. A Colorado native known for idolizing Scalia, critics claim Gorsuch is a low-key conservative hard-liner who is biased toward corporate interests, but his supporters say he’s eminently qualified for the job, with a near-spotless record that proves he’s a fair and analytical jurist.Watch the hearing live here:Here’s what to look for:The opening statementsThe proceedings will open with a 10-minute statement from Gorsuch, where he’ll deliver his first public remarks since appearing alongside Trump when his nomination was announced. Expect the judge to portray himself as a dispassionate legal scholar who, like Scalia, believes in interpreting the law as it was written. He’ll be followed by 20 senators, who will each deliver a 10-minute opening statement.How does he feel about Trump?Trump has publicly slammed the judges who halted his travel bans, prompting Gorsuch to call the remarks “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” How much will he try to distance himself from the president now?His record on the issuesGorsuch has made several past rulings that could make for eventful exchanges with members of the Judiciary Committee. These include Hobby Lobby, where he ruled that the retail chain wasn’t required to provide free contraception coverage; a case where he ruled that a trucking company was justified in firing a trucker who abandoned his cargo when his vehicle broke down in sub-zero temperatures; and a college professor whom Gorsuch said had no claim for discrimination after she was fired for taking time off to recover from cancer.