Beginning four days of planned hearings over Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, the proceedings on Monday — light on direct confrontation, heavy on senatorial windiness — set the contours of the debates to come: Democrats raised questions about Judge Gorsuch’s record on issues like workers’ rights and aired concerns about President Trump’s often dim view of the judicial branch. Republicans sought to insulate a plainly well-credentialed jurist whom they hope to install as the court’s next conservative stalwart. And Judge Gorsuch took pains to position himself above politics, on the eve of formal, rigorous questioning from senators on Tuesday.
Leaning often on biography in his speech, Judge Gorsuch cast himself as a humble Westerner, reared on fly-fishing, with malice toward none in his decade as a federal appellate court judge based in Denver.
“My decisions have never reflected a judgment about the people before me, only a judgment about the law and the facts at issue in each particular case,” he said. “A good judge can promise no more than that. And a good judge should guarantee no less.”
A judge who is pleased with every ruling he reaches, Judge Gorsuch added, “is probably a pretty bad judge, stretching for policy results he prefers rather than those the law compels.”
Judge Gorsuch thanked Mr. Trump and did not mention the president’s attacks on the judiciary since taking office, leveled against judges who have ruled against the administration in its push to enact a travel ban from certain predominantly Muslim countries.
He spoke generally of the hard and noble work of judges, perhaps signaling an indirect rebuttal to Mr. Trump’s comments, which he called “disheartening” during private meetings with senators last month.
Judge Gorsuch did not mention Judge Garland on Monday. Democrats, still grappling with how…