WASHINGTON, DC—Judge Neil Gorsuch gave his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday on the first day of hearings on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. In it he unpacked his views on the job of unelected judges in a democratic republic, giving his personal story and pledging to be a public servant who faithfully follows the Constitution and the laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives.

“Judging is sometimes a lonely and hard job,” Gorsuch mused, in a wide-ranging speech that ranged from the dramatic, to the humorous, to reflections — at times showing deep passion, and on two occasions even getting emotional.

Born and raised in Colorado, Gorsuch walked the senators through his boyhood years, the humble circumstances and struggles of his parents and grandparents, and the lessons they taught him that molded his character and worldview. He also spoke about the Supreme Court justices who trained him early in his career, including the two he clerked for: Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.

Reflecting on the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a friend and mentor whose seat on the High Court Gorsuch would fill, the Centennial State native said he learned the lesson “that words matter, that the judge’s job is to follow the words that are in the law, not replace them with those that aren’t.”

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