Supreme Court confirmation hearings are the stuff of novels and movies, but they are the stuff of reality TV, too.
For critics of the nominee — any nominee — the object is drama, even confrontation. For defenders of the nominee, the object is boredom. A confirmation hearing with no sparks and no controversy is a surefire path to a seat on the court.
So far, Gorsuch critics have been having difficulty getting traction — having been trumped, as it were, by other controversies. But there has been plenty going on behind the scenes.
Gorsuch has met privately with 72 senators, and for the past week has been holed up with former clerks and Trump administration aides for mock hearings known as "murder boards," practicing for his public grilling. Robert Bork, who in 1987 famously went into his confirmation hearing the odds-on favorite for confirmation, refused to submit himself to these practice sessions and paid dearly with a performance that made him sometimes sound arrogant and less than fully candid.
"Nomination is the phrase that would be technically used, but candidacy is really more accurate, given what the Supreme Court confirmation process has become these days," says Paul Clement, who served as solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.