Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., may have shared a few laughs on Thursday with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but he walked away with concerns about the judge's candidacy for the high court.
The hearings are set for March 20, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced, and will last up to four days.
President Donald Trump introduced Gorsuch on January 31 as his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
Questioning of Gorsuch will begin March 21.
"It is essential that the next Supreme Court justice be truly independent so the court can fulfill its vital institutional role in our system of checks and balances", he said.
But some Republicans are already predicting that Gorsuch will get confirmed.
Just a day earlier, 39 of Gorsuch's former law clerks sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee hailing him as "an extraordinary judge", who has "impeccable" qualifications, the newspaper reported. The committee will then vote on the nomination, and it will move to the Senate floor.
Fourteen Senate Democrats voted to break a filibuster of Justice Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court in 2006, but voted against his confirmation.
With Republicans holding 52 seats in the 100-member chamber, Gorsuch will need to earn the support of at least eight Democrats to win confirmation.
"It's time for him to have the opportunity to speak for himself before the judiciary committee", Grassley said.
Some Senate Democrats have vowed to oppose his nomination in part because of how Senate Republicans treated Judge Merrick Garland, the nominee put forward a year ago by former President Barack Obama.