tv Senators Durbin and Schumer on Supreme Court Nominee CSPAN April 4, 2017 12:41pm-1:08pm EDT
jeff sessions, the current attorney general, talked harry reid out of filing cloture because it wasn't necessary. clt necessary. wasn't necessary. clt we didn't want the pretense of the possibility of a filibuster on the table. a different story than we are seeing today but this is where our democratic colleagues have taken us. the senate's pro gorsuch bipartisan majority by confirming him, will they really suggest is eminently qualified nominee, first successful partisan filibuster in american history, americans will be watching. the future of the senate will
hang on their choice. >> i ask consent to speak in morning business. >> without objection. >> there is a poet, it went like this. when i was going up the stair i met a man who wasn't there. he wasn't there again today. i wish that man would go away. i thought about that poem when i listened to the majority leader's speech about how cooperative he has been when it comes to supreme court nominations. the name he forgot to mention was merrick garland. merrick garland was nominated by president obama to fill the vacancy of justice antonin scalia. merrick garland, the only presidential nominee to the supreme court in the history of the united states senate to be
denied a hearing and a vote. merrick garland, who senator mcconnell said i will not only refuse to give him a hearing at a vote, i refuse to even see him. merrick garland, found unanimously well-qualified by the american bar association, merrick garland, a person who received bipartisan support for appointment to the dc circuit court of appeals, the second highest court in the land. when the majority leader comes to the floor to talk about how cooperative he has been with previous presidents for supreme court nominees he conveniently omits the most obvious reason our problems this week, the unilateral decision barring the majority leader to preclude any vote on merrick garland to fill the vacancy of justice scalia. i know judge garland, i met with
him several times. he is a balanced, moderate, experienced journalist who should be on the supreme court. we shouldn't be entertaining neil gorsuch, we should be celebrating the first anniversary of merrick garland's service on the supreme court. the reason we are not, mitch mcconnell and senate republicans refused us that opportunity. they said no, you can't vote. their logic, the logic was wait a minute, this is the last year of president obama's residency. why should he be able to fill a vacancy on the supreme court when we have an election coming soon? interesting argument. two things troubling, i do believe president obama was elected for four years in the second term, not he, which meant he had authority in the fourth year as he did in the third year. secondly, the republican argument ignores history.
it ignores the obvious history, when we had a situation with president ronald reagan in his last year in office with a vacancy on the supreme court and the democrats in charge of the senate and democrats in charge of the judiciary committee, president ronald reagan, a lame-duck president and his last year nominated anthony kennedy to serve on the court, sent the name to the democratic senate where there was a hearing from the senate judiciary committee had a vote that sent him to the courts. you never hear that story, do you because it doesn't fit into mister mcconnell's playbook as to why he would wait for a year and refused to give merrick garland a hearing at a vote. the reasoning is obvious. clearly he was banking on the possibility that the electorate would choose a republican president and that is what
happened so that a republican president, in this case donald trump, would fill the vacancy, not barack obama. when i hear the speeches on the floor by senator mcconnell about his bipartisan cooperation, he leaves out an important chapter, the last chapter, the one that brought us to this moment in the united states senate. when i look at the situation before us today, a sad situation for the senate, said in that we have reached a point where the supreme court nomination has become so political, more so than any time in history. where did the name neil gorsuch come from? it came from a list prepared by two organizations, the realist society and their heritage around asian. these are both republican advocacy groups representing special interests, funded by special interests who came up with the names and gave them to presidential candidate donald trump.
a list of 21 names, issued them in march and september, the last campaign year and neil gorsuch's name was on the list was the federalist society was created in 1982. it nominally is an organization committed to original is in, look to the clear meaning of the constitution, what the founding fathers mend. they say that over and over again. look to the constitution and read it and then we will know what we should do. that within a speech given by edwin meese, then attorney general in 1985 explaining the federalist society credo. on its basis it sounds at least arguably defensible, there would be an organization that is so committed to the constitution that it once supreme court nominees that will follow is literally as possible, but as
justice william brennan on the supreme court said, if they think they can find in those musty volumes in the 18th century all the answers to all the questions on the issues we face today, here is what he called it, that is arrogance posing as humility. arrogance posing as humility. that is what they said the federalist society was all about. if that were all the federalist society was about, you could argue they should have their day in court, choosing someone from the supreme court but it is more than that. when you look at those who finance the federalist society, it is a short list because they refuse to disclose their donors was when you look at those who support the federalist society, the classic names are republican support, the koch brothers, the mercer family, the ones who pop up over and over again.
why would these organizations be so determined to pick the next nominee to fill the vacancy on the supreme court? because there is so much at stake. my colleague sheldon white house shit shared a digital hearing, went through the box score when it came to the supreme court and how they rule when given a choice between special interests and corporate elite, average workers and consumers and families, and as senator white house pointed out, in detail, overwhelmingly this court has ruled for special interests, 69% of their rulings in favor of the chamber of commerce position so why would a special-interest organization like the federalist society care? they want to keep a good thing going from their point of view and that is why this is a different supreme court nominee. i yield the floor.
>> mister president. >> the democratic leader. >> i sat in the back of the room to listen to my colleague from illinois. he wanted very much to respond to the majority leader and i thought he did a great job. it was a pleasure to listen and one of the marston cingulate -- most articulate members who served in any legislative body as well as many other good traits. today is equal pay day. unlike many holidays on our counter, i will get to gorsuch in a minute, don't worry, unlike many holidays on our calendar, equal pay day is not a commemoration of some achievement. equal pay for women is not even close to a reality. women still make $.71 for every dollar a man makes it a similar position, african-american women are making $.64 on the dollar, latino women making $.54 on the dollar, it is holding the
american dream, and two women in the country, equal pay day is not a commemoration, a reminder glass ceilings are everywhere, hugely consequential, tangential, tangible barriers women face every single day that men do not. in 2007 the supreme court in a 5-4 decision by a conservative majority, lily ledbetter could not pursue a claim she was entitled to equal pay, the lily ledbetter fair pay act reverses on spare supreme court decision was the first bill president obama signed into law in 2009 and that leads me to the supreme court, just one of so any examples of what is at stake in the nomination of judge gorsuch to the supreme court which we now debate here on the floor of the senate. i was listening to the majority leader earlier this morning and
i cannot believe he can stand here on the floor of the u.s. senate and with a straight face say that democrats are launching the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee. what the majority leader did to merrick garland by denying him a hearing at a vote is even worse than a filibuster. for him to accuse democrats of the first partisan filibuster belies the facts and history and the basic truth. and when mitch mcconnell deprive president obama it was a nuclear option. the rest is fallout. let me repeat that. adam schiff put it better than i could ever. when mcconnell deprived president obama of a vote on garland it was a nuclear option.
the rest is fallout. even though my friend the majority leader keeps insisting that there is no principled reason to vote against judge gorsuch, we democrats disagree. first, he instinctively favored corporate interest over average americans. second he has shown a scintilla of independence from president trump and third, as my colleague from illinois elaborated on, he was hand-picked by hard right special-interest groups, not because he called strikes, they would not put that money into a collar of balls and strikes, these are ideologues who want to move america far to the right, he was pushed by special interest groups because his views are outside the mainstream. according to analyses of his record on the 10th circuit conducted by the new york times and washington post, by experts on the court, judge gorsuch would be one of the most
conservative voices ever on the supreme court should he achieve that. the washington post said, quote, gorsuch's actual voting behavior suggests he is to the right of both alito and thomas and by a substantial margin. that would make him the most conservative justice on the court in recent memory. that is why the heritage foundation and the federalist society put judge gorsuch on their list. emily of the new york times in a brilliant article i urge all my colleagues to read, the reality is judge gorsuch embraces a judicial philosophy that would do nothing less then undermine the structure of modern government including the keep our water clean, regulate financial markets and protects workers and women. i asked unanimous consent that article be added into the
record. >> without objection. >> there are clearly principled reasons to oppose judge gorsuch and enough of we democrats have reasons to prevent his nomination from moving forward on thursday's cloture vote. the question is no longer whether judge gorsuch will get enough votes on the cloture motion, the question is now will the majority leader and our friends on the other side break the rules of the senate to approve judge gorsuch on a majority vote? that question should be the focus of the debate on the floor and it should weigh heavily on the conscience of every senator would ultimately my republican friends face the simple choice. they can fundamentally alter the rules and traditions of this great body or they can sit down with us democrats and the president to come up with a mainstream nominee who can earn bipartisan support and pass the
senate. no one is making republican colleagues change the rules, no one is forcing senator mcconnell to change the rules. he is doing it at his own volition just as he prevented merrick garland from getting a vote at his own volition. senator mcconnell and my republican colleagues are completely free actors in making a choice, a very bad one in our opinion. i know my friends on the other side of the aisle are comfortable with this choice so they are scrambling for arguments to justify breaking the rules. let me go through a few of these justifications and explain why each doesn't hold up. first, many of my republican colleagues will argue they can break the rules because, quote, democrat started it. in 2013 when we lowered the bar for lower court nominees and cabinet appointments. let's talk about that was the
reason jointly to read changed the rules was because republicans had ramped up the use of the filibuster, the very filibuster they now decry, to historic proportions, they filibustered 79 nominees in the first five years of obama's presidency. let's put that in perspective. prior to president obama there were 68 filibusters on nominations under all other presidents combined from george washington to george bush, now we had 79, our colleague, leader mcconnell, filibuster is wrong, 79, more than all the other presidents put together. they deliberately kept open three seats on the second most important court in the land, the dc court of appeals because it had such influence over divisions made by the government.
this is the court other than the supreme that the federalist society, the heritage foundation hate the most. the deal that a number of senators made in 2005 allowed several of the most conservative judges to be confirmed to that court, very conservative people, left a bad taste in my mouth and i'm sure in my colleagues and many others. but then, when president obama came in they listed on not filling any additional seats on the court which would have of course been democratic seats and eventually held open three of the 11 seats on the court. they said they would not allow those seats to be filled by president obama. in erie precedent with the majority leader repeated with merrick garland. he didn't want to the dc circuit to have obama appointed,
democratic appointed nominees, he didn't want that on the supreme court so he blocked merrick garland, he didn't want it on the dc circuit so they wouldn't let any of president obama's nominees come to the floor. merrick garland's nomination was not the first time the majority leader held open a judicial seat because it wasn't the president of his party and that was not during an election year. at the time, i spoke to my good friend from tennessee, senator alexander. i asked him to go to senator mcconnell and say the pressure on our side to change these rules after all these unprecedented number of filibusters, was going to be large. i said to senator alexander let's try to avoid it. senator mcconnell, the republicans, refused all our overtures to break the deadlock they imposed.
to be clear democrats changed the rules after 1776 days of obstruction on president obama's nominees. my republican friends are contemplating changing the rules after barely 70 days of president trump's administration. .. my republican friends are clotuo contemplating changing the rules after barely more than 70 days of president trump's administration. we moved to change the rules after 79 cloture petitions have to be filed. they are talking about changing the rules after one nominee fails to meet the 60-vote threshold. so yes democrats changed the surmount an unprecedented slowdown that was crippling the federal judiciary. and we left the 6 the 60-vote threshold impact for the supremo court deliberately.
we could've changed it. we had free will drenches the senator mcconnell has it now. what we left the 60 vote threshold impact for the supreme court because we knew, and no, p just as our republican friends know that the highest court in the land is different. unlike with the lower courts, justices on the supreme court don't simply apply president of a higher court. they set the precedents. they have the ultimate authority under our constitutional government to interpret the law. justices on the supreme courtn should be mainstream enough to garner a substantial bipartisanh support. hence, why we didn't change thes rule, why would believe in the 60 vote threshold. hence, by 55 for 60% of all americans agree with the 60 vote threshold according to the most recent polls. to me, and i think to most of my friends on the republican side,
that's not a good enough reason to escalate the argument and break the rules for the supreme court. second as i mentioned, i've heard my republican friends completed democrats are conducting the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in history. so that's the reason they can justify breaking the rules. because democrats are the ones taking it to a new level. i can, i have just two words for my republican friends, merrick garland. the republican majority conducted the first partisan filibuster of the supreme court pick when their members refused to have hearings for merrick garland. in fact, what the republicans did was worse than a filibuster. the fact of the matter is the republicans blocked merrick keei garland using the most unprecedented of maneuvers.o now we are likely to block judge gorsuch because when testing on a bar of 60 votes. we think the 60-vote bar is far
more in keeping with tradition and what the republicans did to merrick garland. we don't think the two are equivalent, but nonetheless in the history of the scalia vacancy, so they have to break the rules right now. that's an easy one. i'm the democratic leader. i can tell you myself that there are mainstream republican nominees who could earn adequate democratic support. and just look at recent history. and just look at recent history. and just look at recent history. justices roberts and alito, two conservative judges who many of us on the democratic side probably don't agree with, both learned over 60 votes.. they got democratic votes.
while there was a cloture vote on justice alito, he was able to earn enough bipartisan support that cloture was invoked with over 70 votes. he got only 58. the key vote was the cloture vote. didn' let's have the president consult members of both parties. he didn't with gorsuch, and try to come up with a consensus nominee who could meet a 60 vote threshold. that's what president clinton did with my friend, the senator from utah, selecting justices ginsburg and breyer forgets what president obama did with merrick garland. of course we realize the nominee selected this way would not agree with the men of our views' that's true, but president trump was elected president and he is entitled by the constitution to nominate. but judge gorsuch is so far out of the mainstream that the
"washington post" said his voting record would place him to the right of justice thomas. he was selected by the heritagea foundation and the federalist society without an iota of input from the senate. because of better way to do this, i know it's sometimes may seem like a foreign concept in our hyper polarized politicsopto these days, but there is always the option of actually consulting us democrats on a nominee and discussing a way forward that both parties can live with. we are willing to meet anywhere, anytime. so, mr. president, my my friends on the other side can dredge up these old ones and talking point to the. republicans want to conduct a partisan, they started an exercise, i'm sure we could trace this all the way back to the hamilton burr duel. at the end of the day, they have
to confront the simple choice. are you willing to break the rules of the senate or can you work with us on the way forward? i for one hope that we can find a way to compromise. justice gorsuch, judge gorsuch was not compromised.merric so was chosen with any consultations totes not that there is merely equivalency. as my friend the majority leader has said, quote, i think we can stipulate that in the senat citt takes 60 votes on controversial matters. if anything is a controversial, important matter, it's at the selection of the supreme court. and senator mcconnell has v repeatedly stood for the need,, the ripeness, of 60 votes on important and controversial issues.0 if senator mcconnell wants to change his view on the 60 votes all of a sudden, and republicans
decide to go along with him, it won't be because democrats started it because that's not true. it will be because democrats won't confirm any president trump nominated justice because that's not true. it will be because they choose to do so, and they will have to
bear the unfortunate consequences. i yielded the floor. >> mr. president, yesterday the senate judiciary committee voted out the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the supreme court left by the death of justice scalia., during the meeting as a presiding officer knows, our democratic colleagues trotted out the same old tired arguments we've heard time and time again about judge gorsuch. in the end though, none of those arguments hold water and, of course, many of them are not even about him. instead these arguments revealed how our colleagues across the