When the Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearings next week for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among those who will have a few questions.

She sits on the committee, along with fellow Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

“It’s where you can make sure someone knows the law and get a sense of what they’re like,” she said Friday. “That’s the whole reason for the hearing. If it was just the credentials, we could just look at his résumé.”

Generally, nominees don’t reveal their views on constitutional issues. “So you try to ask questions in a way where you can get the most interesting response in terms of what their philosophy is,” she said.

On the legal questions, the most important thing to consider is the nominee’s past opinions or rulings, she said. “Are they narrow opinions where they try to find consensus with other judges?” she said. “Or are they someone who uses an opportunity to try to do a broader statement and make changes?”

Gorsuch’s originalist interpretation of the Constitution also will inspire questions. Originalism considers the document’s words as they were understood at the time they were written.

“So there should be a lot of questions from not just me but others saying, ‘Well, if that’s true, how do you interpret it in the modern day?’ ” she said. “We no longer have issues about plows and people wearing bonnets. We have drones and cybercrimes.”

For the nonlegal questions, Klobuchar said she considers past behavior, such as how a nominee has interacted with other lawyers and judges. She also looks at speeches, articles and books they’ve written.

“We know he has a good background,” she said. “But we really want to get a sense of how his philosophy will be applied to the modern-day issues that we’re dealing with.”

 

Gabriel Sanchez is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.