Neil Gorsuch

In a hearing that stretched through nearly 12 hours Tuesday, the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch took a long step toward Senate confirmation.

Barring an utterly unforeseen reversal when the questioning resumes Wednesday, observers expect Judiciary Committee approval along party lines on April 3 and a similar win on the Senate floor.

Twenty senators took turns asking questions for half an hour each. The Republicans tried to get the country to share their affinity for the nominee. The Democrats tried to tie him to President Trump.

One of the themes that developed on Day 1 of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's hearings is that Democrats plan to make an issue of what they say is the Supreme Court's pro-business leanings. In their opening statements on Monday, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee argued that Gorsuch is likely to continue the trend.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island alleged that when the court's majority is made of Republican appointees, the narrow 5-4 decisions "line up to help corporations against humans."

At his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Neil Gorsuch pitched himself as a reasonable jurist who would do his best to uphold the rule of law without any bias.

"Sitting here, I am acutely aware of my own imperfections," the federal appeals court judge told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. "But I pledge to each of you and to the American people that, if confirmed, I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of our great nation."

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.

With the Senate Judiciary Committee set to open hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, the game of confirmation cat and mouse is about to begin. Senators will try to get a fix on Gorsuch's legal views — and the nominee will try to say as little as possible.

Supreme Court scholars and practitioners on the right and left may disagree about whether they want to see Gorsuch confirmed, but in general there is little doubt about the nominee's conservatism. Indeed, his conservative pedigree is the reason he was picked.

President Trump has selected federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill a Supreme Court seat that has sat vacant for nearly a year, setting up a blockbuster confirmation hearing that could put the new White House's domestic political agenda on trial in the U.S. Senate.