WASHINGTON — Nominees appearing before the Senate all have one goal in mind: Win confirmation. And when one party controls the Senate and the White House, the strategy of saying as little as possible doesn’t vary much. But because Supreme Court nominees spend days in televised hearings, they still manage to reveal things about themselves, professionally and personally.

Here are a few things we learned about Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the high court:


Gorsuch was careful in his phrasing and steadfastly refused Democratic attempts to get him to talk about abortion, guns, campaign finance and a host of key issues in a way that might signal how he’d rule. “If I did make a bunch of campaign promises here, what’s that mean to the independent judiciary?” he said.


A judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver since 2006, Gorsuch described how he comes to decisions, starting with past decisions, or precedent. “It’s the anchor of the law, it’s the starting place for a judge,” he said. Democrats seemed more interested in knowing when Gorsuch might decide a past decision needs to be jettisoned, and which ones in particular. He listed factors, including “age of the precedent, how often it’s been reaffirmed, the reliance interests surrounding it, whether it was correctly decided, whether it was constitutional versus statutory.”


Shortly after Gorsuch’s final day of testimony began, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled public schools must do more for learning-disabled students than Gorsuch’s 10th Circuit had deemed sufficient. The opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts took aim at a phrase from an earlier case that Gorsuch himself wrote about minimum standards. “Merely more than de minimis progress” doesn’t cut it, Roberts wrote. “If I was wrong, senator, I was wrong because I was bound by circuit precedent and I’m sorry,” Gorsuch said when Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois asked him about the ruling.


Democrats remain upset about how Republicans treated Judge Merrick Garland. Gorsuch praised Garland, but cited the need to remain above the political fray. “Senator, I appreciate the invitation. But I know the other side has their views of this, and your side has your views of it. That by definition is politics,” Gorsuch told Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota.


He has degrees from the some of the best, and oldest, schools – Columbia, Harvard and Oxford – a Supreme Court clerkship, more than 10 years as a federal judge and a couple of books to his name. Even Democrats acknowledged that he has an enviable resume.


Gorsuch was describing the most prominent signature on the Declaration of Independence with a word of more recent vintage. “No one remembers who John Hancock was but they know that that’s his signature, because he wrote his name so bigly, big and boldly,” Gorsuch said.