For the second day in a row, the focus of the hearing shifted from the judge appearing before the senators to a judge who never had the opportunity.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Gorsuch about Judge Merrick Garland, whom President Barack Obama nominated to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat last year. Republicans, who control the Senate, refused to consider the nomination, arguing that because it was an election year the voters should get to decide who fills the seat.
Gorsuch had kind words to say about Garland, echoing his previous treatment of his fellow judge. When Gorsuch was nominated, his spokesman said the first call he made was to to Garland “out of respect.”
However, Gorsuch declined to weigh in on the Senate’s decision not to take up Garland’s nomination, saying that he could not discuss politics.
“I think it would be imprudent for judges to start commenting on political disputes between themselves or the various branches,” Gorsuch said.
Leahy, who also mentioned Garland on Monday, had no such reservations, calling Garland’s treatment “shameful” and saying he believed it “severely damaged” the reputation of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We were anything but the conscience of the nation in that regard,” Leahy said.