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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Neil Gorsuch took on controversial topics such as Roe v Wade, sex discrimination and gun rights in a marathon session before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also said attacks on the judiciary by anyone (including President Trump) were "demoralizing".

Highlights from day two of his confirmation hearings:

  • On Roe v. Wade: "The holding of Roe v. Wade…is that a woman has a right to an abortion." He said if Trump had asked him to overturn Roe he "would've walked out," but said they did discuss the case.
  • On gay marriage: Gorsuch sidestepped, since "there's ongoing litigation" on the matter.
  • On asking women employees and not men about pregnancy plans: "It is highly inappropriate," but would not say it constitutes sex discrimination. Allegations that Gorsuch said women abuse maternity leave before quitting to raise their children led to this exchange:
  • On surveillance of Americans: He said he doesn't exactly agree that POTUS has the right to surveil Americans, despite having written a defense of Bush's NSA surveillance.
  • On whether the President can authorize torture: "Nobody is above the law, and that includes the President."
  • On physician assisted suicide: Gorsuch does not support it.
  • On gun rights: "It's not a matter of me agreeing or disagreeing, it's a matter of the law," said Gorsuch, indicating that he'd uphold the landmark Heller decision.
  • On campaign finance: Gorsuch cited Buckley v. Valeo, which says limits on campaign spending are unconstitutional.
  • On the Chevron Doctrine: He said it's up to the judicial branch to interpret the law, not government agencies.

Also of note:

  • Gorsuch noted that 99% of the time he has ruled in the majority, and is rarely reversed by SCOTUS: "My opinions have attracted the fewest number of dissents from my colleagues."
  • Al Franken, however, said Gorsuch's opinion in one case (TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board) was absurd: "I know it when I see it…it makes me question your judgement."

Go deeper

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.

Bolton lauds Barr for standing up to Trump

John Bolton. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

John Bolton says Attorney General Bill Barr has done more to undercut President Trump's baseless assertions about Democrats stealing the election than most Senate Republicans by saying publicly that the Justice Department has yet to see widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

What he's saying: “He stood up and did the right thing," Bolton said in a Wednesday phone interview.