Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake asks Gorsuch popular horse, duck question during hearing

Mar 21, 2017, 5:46 PM | Updated: 9:41 pm

PHOENIX — Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake turned a normal confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s pick for Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, on its head Tuesday when he asked him a question made popular on Reddit.

“My family’s been texting me questions throughout [the hearing], asking me to ask questions that they would ask,” Flake explained.

On behalf of his teenage son, Flake asked Gorsuch “If he would rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?”

“I’ve never heard it either,” Flake said to a visually perplexed Gorsuch and a hearing room full of laughter. “Apparently it was a question on Reddick a while ago — Reddit a while ago,” referring to the community-based forum.

“You can tell [your son] I’m very rarely at a loss for words, but you got me,” Gorsuch responded, dodging the actual issue at hand.

“I’ll tell him a teenager stumped you there,” Flake said.

Just in case you need a visualization:

But that wasn’t the only question that the Flake family had for Gorsuch — Flake’s brother Scott wanted to know if the judge had ever “worn gym shorts and a tank top under your robe.”

“Senator, on that one, we have what’s called the Fifth Amendment, which is under the Bill of Rights as well and which, of course, protects the right not to self-incriminate,” Gorsuch responded. “So I might have to exercise my rights under the Fifth Amendment on that one.”

The origin of the “duck-sized horse versus horse-sized ducks” question dates back to 2003, when it was first posed in a U.K Metro newspaper and circulated on the blog “City of Sound.”

President Barack Obama was asked the question in a Reddit “Ask-Me-Anything” forum four years ago, but failed to answer the question. Everyone from actor Bill Murray to New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof has answered the question as well, with varying answers and explanations.

However, Flake’s line of questioning wasn’t all Reddit-related: One of the questions that the Arizona senator asked regarded the Chevron Doctrine.

The doctrine, which was set following a 1984 Supreme Court decision, allows courts to defer to federal agencies when Congress passes a law that does not have a clear meaning, unless the agency’s interpretation is unreasonable.

Gorsuch has criticized the doctrine in the past, saying, “The number of formal rules these agencies have issued, thanks to their delegated legislative authority, has grown so exuberantly, it’s hard to keep up.”

Flake, who has supported the confirmation of Gorsuch since he was first nominated by Trump in January, has offered similar concerns on the matter.

“This should concern my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have voiced such strong concerns about rubberstamping,” Flake said in a February hearing. “I don’t think the Founders ever intended for two constitutional branches of our federal government to voluntarily cede their power to the third.”

On Monday, Flake told KTAR’s Mac and Gaydos that he does not believe there will be a heavy Democratic opposition to Gorsuch’s confirmation.

“A number of Democrats just don’t want to go down that road. They’re saying ‘Let’s fight on another hill, not this one,’” Flake told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Monday.

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Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake asks Gorsuch popular horse, duck question during hearing