The battle over the nomination of federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme court will begin in March, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley announced Thursday.
Members of the committee and Gorsuch will give opening statements on March 20. The next day, the senators will begin questioning the nominee, Grassley said in a statement.
Gorsuch, while lauded by Republicans as an ideal replacement to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died a little more than one year ago, is sure to face some resistance from Democrats, whose support he will need to reach the 60-vote threshold for confirmation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has criticized Gorsuch for not speaking out publicly about Trump's criticism of other judges. The senator also said Gorsuch's record shows the judge has sided with corporations over working people, as well as "a hostility to women's rights."
Trump, lashing out after U.S. District Judge James Robart that blocked the president's controversial executive affecting nationals from seven predominantly Muslim nations, called Robart a "so-called judge."
Gorsuch called Trump's criticism of the judiciary "disheartening" and "demoralizing," according to a Democratic senator he met with. A spokesman for the team shepherding Gorsuch's nomination in the Senate confirmed Gorsuch used those words.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects Gorsuch to be confirmed — and in short order.
"He'll be confirmed, hopefully before the April recess," on April 10, McConnell said at a news conference Friday.