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Mar 20, 2017 2:03 PM

Hassan tells NH1 News what she'll be looking for during Gorsuch hearings


CONCORD – Sen. Maggie Hassan says she wants to know where Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch stands on “protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

New Hampshire’s freshman Democratic U.S. senator’s comments came as Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee got underway on Monday morning.

The federal appeals court judge from Colorado was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by last year’s death of associate justice Antonin Scalia.

Asked by NH1 News if there’s one thing she wanted to hear from Gorsuch at the hearings that would make her considering supporting his confirmation, Hassan answered “what’s important with any judicial nominee is that they have the legal expertise and experience and the character to serve on the court. But it’s also really important that they understand and are committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans and that’s what I’ll be looking for during his hearing process to see if he’ll commit to that.”

Hassan said she’ll make up her mind on the nominee after the Judiciary Committee hearings.

Hassan spoke with NH1 News after addressing and taking questions Monday from the audience at a New England Council breakfast at the Bedford Village Inn.

Many Democrats are still enraged over last year’s move by the Senate’s GOP majority to prevent any hearing on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Scalia, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland.

But Hassan told the audience at the breakfast that “Judge Gorsuch should have a hearing because that’s what the constitution requires and we are obligated and honored to have the responsibility of engaging in advise and consent on judicial nominations.”

Senate Republicans hope to schedule a Judiciary Committee vote on the Gorsuch confirmation during the first week of April, with a full Senate vote days later.

READ: Hassan meets with Gorsuch and Ayotte

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