— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 21, 2017
The second day of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation took a comical turn when Sen. Lindsey Graham expressed relief that Donald Trump hadn’t chosen a TV judge. Hours later, the subject matter turned grim when Sen. Al Franken confronted Gorsuch over a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals case, in which he’d ruled in favor of a corporation and against an individual who faced an unfathomable dilemma. In the above clip (there’s more videos with tons of context below), Franken unloads on Gorsuch for applying the “plain meaning” rule to statutory language while considering the fate of a man forced to choose between dying and endangering the safety of others.
A furious Franken played up his SNL past while summarizing Gorsuch’s decision: “I had a career in identifying absurdity. And this is absurd.”
The so-called “frozen trucker” case, TransAm Trucking v. Dept. of Labor, hails from 2016. A truck driver named Alphonse Maddin missed a refueling stop and nearly ran out of gas on an icy Illinois road. TransAm told him they were en route but never showed up, and Maddin’s brakes froze while he was lingering on the verge of hypothermia. When he called the company, they instructed him to choose between “drag[ging] the trailer with its frozen brakes, or stay where he was.” He continued waiting for hours before finally removing the trailer and seeking safety and fuel. TransAm later fired him for leaving the trailer against orders. The 10th Circuit ruled in favor of Maddin, except for Gorsuch, who wrote this in his dissent: