Gorsuch forced to defend decision in frozen trucking case

Franken grills Gorsuch on trucking case
Franken grills Gorsuch on trucking case

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Franken grills Gorsuch on trucking case 08:20

Story highlights

  • The trucker, Alphonse Maddin, filed a complaint asserting that his firing violated a federal safety law
  • Franken called Gorsuch's logic "absurd"

Washington (CNN)Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch was thrust on the defensive on Tuesday over a case that Democrats said showed him to be insufficiently sensitive when a man faced a life-or-death decision.

Al Franken of Minnesota asked Gorsuch during his hearing before the Judiciary Committee to defend his decision in a case in which a trucker was fired for abandoning his broken-down trailer in freezing temperatures to seek safety.
The trucker, Alphonse Maddin, filed a complaint asserting that his firing violated a federal safety law. In a 2-1 decision, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Maddin's favor.
    "I don't think you'd want to be on the road with him, would you judge?" Franken asked.
    "Senator, um," Gorsuch stammered.
    "You would or not? It's a really easy: 'Yes' or 'no?'" he pressed.
    Gorsuch dissented in the decision: "It might be fair to ask whether TransAm's decision was a wise or kind one," he wrote. "But it's not our job to answer questions like that. Our only task is to decide whether the decision was an illegal one."
    Franken called Gorsuch's logic "absurd."
    "It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle," said the former "Saturday Night Live" star. "Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it and it makes me question your judgment."
    "I would've done exactly what he did, and I think everybody here would've done exactly what he did," Franken said.