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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:
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • 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

Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe

A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes to retire, will be CEO of Trump media org

Rep. Devin Nunes. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will retire at the end of the year and become CEO of Trump's new media organization.

Why it matters: Nunes, once considered a moderate member of the party, became one of the fiercest defenders of former President Donald Trump throughout both of Trump's impeachments and the Intel committee's Russia investigation.

DOJ cites discrimination in lawsuit against Texas over voting districts

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Black and Latino voters and has "again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans" when they approved new redistricting maps.

Why it matters: A DOJ assessment of the new districts found that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.