Otto Preminger’s 1962 film “#Advise And Consent” told the story of the confirmation of a controversial Secretary of State by the Senate. The film was based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of New York Times journalist Allen Drury who used his experiences as a member of the political Press Corps to draw a picture of politics in all its crude details. This week Washington saw the reality behind the film.

Nominees

As the subject of the advising and consenting the nomination of a new Justice for the Supreme Court Judge #Neil Gorsuch is the man in the Senate hot seat whose life and work are being examined in sometimes cruel detail to ensure he is suitable for a place on the Court which decides matters of national interest, particularly in relation to the Constitution.

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His confirmation is not in real doubt as the Republican Party holds the majority in the Senate and therefore there is little likelihood that a nominee by a Republican President will be knocked back. However, in the background of the refusal by the Senate in 2016 to even consider Merrick Garland, Democrat President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace deceased conservative justice Antonin Scalia on the highest bench in the land, the Democrats have decided to make a show of the nomination process.

Delay

The timing of the hearing is of particular interest because it coincided with Monday’s House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing in which FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers were questioned on the investigations onto the allegations of Russian hacking of the presidential campaign in favour of the winning candidate Donald Trump and also the President’s accusation that the Obama Administration had ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower during the campaign.

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With Comey’s confirmation that the investigations had begun in July on the alleged Russian hacking and that there was no proof of wiretapping the two Directors effectively put the spotlight on the new President’s nominee for the #Supreme Court.

In addition, due of the two Directors’ testimony Senate Minority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer asked the majority to withhold consideration to suspend the confirmation hearings until after the result of the investigations were released. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal was no surprise.

Future

As a result Neil Gorsuch was questioned on the first two days on the probability of judging the work of the President who nominated him. This process has already begun with the inevitable Supreme Court challenge on the Moslem immigration executive orders now blocked by the courts. Furthermore a number of issues will in all likelihood also make their way eventually to the Supreme Court’s attention such as the proposed scaling back of the Obama Administration’s environmental protection laws and other controversial pieces of legislation.

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In consideration of these issues the questioning of Judge Gorsuch was particularly pointed as many matters raised by the Democrat Senators dealt with the chance not only with President Trump’s legislation being challenged but also that at some stage even the President himself may be subject to the Court’s judgments.

Republican senators present played their expected role of counteracting against these possibilities raised in the House committee on Monday but they were reinforced by an almost unexpected source.

Tweets

As his nominee spoke of being prepared to confront any matter, no matter on whom and to which political party he or she belonged, President #Donald Trump sent a series of tweets that could only be seen as a challenge to the role of the Judiciary in the American system of government. In one tweet he stated “Someone said I should not criticize judges. OK I’ll criticize judges”

With these words the President makes us wonder whether or not a new version of “Advise and Consent” will be filmed based on the matters that are now playing out in Washington, just as the first film did. It is not a pleasant thought for anyone.