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What Klobuchar and Franken asked Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

Both of Minnesota's U.S. senators are on the committee that is questioning Gorsuch.

For 10 hours Tuesday, a group of senators – including Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken – continued to question Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch was President Donald Trump's pick to fill the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which has been vacant since former Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February of 2016. Former President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the seat, but the Senate, controlled by Republicans, never held hearings or a vote.

Gorsuch's confirmation hearings will continue Wednesday – but here's a look at what Minnesota's senators asked the judge during Tuesday.

Franken on politics, and the case of the frozen trucker

Senator Franken's Questioning of Judge Neil Gorsuch in Confirm...

WATCH ➝ My questioning of Judge Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Posted by U.S. Senator Al Franken on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Franken's questions frequently centered around the politics of Gorsuch's nomination. Franken asked the current nominee how he felt about the treatment of Garland, fished for his thoughts on other cases, and also used quotes from Trump advisors and colleagues that describe Gorsuch as a means to an end – not as an impartial judge of the law.

Each time Gorsuch rebuffed Franken, keeping his words short (and sometimes being cut off by an impatient Franken) and not sharing much.

Late in Franken's questioning, Gorsuch said he'd been "trying to faithfully answer your questions as best I can, consistent with the constraints I have as a sitting judge. Here to answer questions about my qualifications and my record."

Maybe the most direct questioning of Gorsuch's record came right off the bat, when Franken detailed the case of the frozen trucker. You can read the details from CNN here, but basically the breaks on the driver's truck froze in sub-zero temps in Illinois. He began showing signs of hypothermia while waiting, and relayed that to dispatch, who for hours kept telling him to just wait.

He was fired after unhitching his truck and driving it around to warm up. When it went to Gorsuch's court, the judges agreed he shouldn't have been fired – Gorsuch however wrote this dissenting opinion.

Franken said that dissent worried him, and told Gorsuch: "I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it. And it makes me question your judgment."

You can watch Franken's 30 minutes of questioning here.


Klobuchar started off with easier questions about cameras in the courtroom and disclosure rules, before getting to what she termed the "harder stuff."

She went back to something Gorsuch has previously said, that if a judge likes every outcome they reach, they're probably not a very good judge, then asked Gorsuch about continuing to confirm rulings because of strong precedent, regardless of his own personal feelings.

For context, she mentioned two current Supreme Court justices that, during confirmation hearings said they'd adhere to precedent, but then broke from precedent during Citizens United.

"To us up here, it was a major overturning of precedent, so that's why we're so concerned when people say 'Oh we're going to respect precedent,' and then they come in and do that," Klobuchar said. "And you've suggested that you would actually go further than Citizens United."

They got into a back-and-forth about campaign finance regulations and the Hobby Lobby case, then Klobuchar asks about the philosophy of originalism – that the words on the Constitution should be taken to mean what the writers and people at that time meant.

Klobuchar specifically asks about the Constitution referring only to "him" or "he" in regards to a president, implying a woman could not be president if taken literally. And that the Constitution says Congress has authority over land forces, so would the modern Air Force then not be part of that?

Gorsuch, to both of those points, said of course that wasn't the case.

Klobuchar's questioning starts at about the 5-hour, 30-minute mark here.

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