Franken Takes Shot at the Late Antonin Scalia's Understanding of the Constitution

March 20, 2017

Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) questioned the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's understanding of the Constitution on Monday during the confirmation hearing for President Trump's nominee to the high court, Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Franken began his line of questioning to Gorsuch by discussing Trump's "litmus test" for his Supreme Court nominee.

"In fact, he openly discussed his litmus test. He said that he would 'appoint judges very much in the mold of Scalia' during the final presidential debate," Franken said. "Then-candidate Trump said, 'The justices I'm going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent.'"

Franken then praised Scalia before taking a shot at his knowledge of the Constitution.

"Justice Scalia was a man of great conviction and, it should be said, a man of great humor," Franken said. "But Justice Scalia embraced a rigid view of our Constitution, a view blind to the equal dignity of LGBT people, and hostile to women's reproductive rights, and a view that often refused to acknowledge the lingering laws and policies that perpetuate the racial divide."

Franken acknowledged that nobody can dispute the late Scalia's love for the Constitution, but he went on to say "the document he revered looks very different from the one I have sworn to defend."

"It troubles me that at this critical juncture in our nation's history, at this moment when our country is so fixated on things that divide us from one another, that President Trump would pledge to appoint jurists whose views of our founding document seek to reinforce those divisions rather than bridge them," Franken added.

Scalia, who unexpectedly passed away last February, served on the Supreme Court for three decades. Prior to serving on the nation's highest court, Scalia was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

He was chairman of the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law from 1981 to 1982 and served as a senior figure in the Justice Department in the 1970s. The late Supreme Court justice previously was a professor at multiple top law schools and received his law degree from Harvard University.

Franken did not attend law school or practice law before entering the Senate in 2009.