I can’t claim that I have listened to every exchange in the full day of hearings on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but the proceedings seem to be following a pattern common for at least the last dozen years, going back to the hearings on Chief Justice Roberts in 2005, and arguably the last quarter-century, going back to the hearings on Justice Ginsburg in 1993. The nominee refuses to answer questions on how she or he would decide particular cases, opposition party senators ask questions aimed at eliciting embarrassing information or politically unattractive statements, and senators of the president’s party ask questions highlighting the nominee’s professional accomplishments and personal charm.
Democrats have consistently been more willing to attempt to defeat or discredit nominees of Republican presidents than vice versa. Few Republican senators voted against confirmation of Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor or Kagan; many Democratic senators voted against confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito.
Judging from the hearings, nearly all Democratic senators seem inclined to vote against the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch. Even those acknowledging his impressive qualifications and temperament, like Michael Bennet of Gorsuch’s native Colorado and Chris Coons of Delaware, have left themselves room to vote no.