The second day of the Gorsuch Supreme Court hearing was the first in which the nominee for associate justice had to endure questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The question and answer sessions consisted of senators trying to get Neil Gorsuch to reveal how he might rule on this case or that and the nominee deflecting the question with answers containing as little information as possible. The Democrats did not lay a glove on him and, for the most part, beclowned themselves. Fortunately, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, provided a rare moment of levity.

Cruz asked Gorsuch what the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything. Gorsuch responded that the answer was 42. Everyone who had ever read Douglas Adams’ comic science fiction novel, “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” laughed uproariously.

There was a method to Cruz’s madness. Often, judges and justices will put newly sworn clerks at their ease by asking light questions from the bench. Cruz and Gorsuch, both of whom have clerked at the Supreme Court, are familiar with the practice and understood what was going on.

Gorsuch had to be on edge after hours of inane questioning from some of the members of the Committee. Between the endless attempts of gotcha and the rambling misunderstandings of constitutional law, Gorsuch might be forgiven for wanting to come across the table if he heard one more question posed in such a way. Cruz broke up the mood, set the witness at ease, and punctured the air of false seriousness.

The instance was not the first time Cruz used pop culture to inject levity. During his famous filibuster meant to induce the repeal of Obamacare, the senator from Texas read from “Green Eggs and Ham” while his young daughters watched in rapt attention on Cspan. Many of Cruz’s enemies rolled their eyes, but the reading provided a little human touch to a politician who is also a dad.

Gorsuch has dealt with the ordeal he is being put to with great grace and composure, relentlessly not taking the numerous baits that some of the senators placed before him.

The betting is that he will be confirmed and will serve on the Supreme Court for many decades.

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