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tv   Senate Debate on Gorsuch Nomination  CSPAN  April 6, 2017 1:37am-3:13am EDT

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if these groups sought a widely independent jurist, they would have been as supportive as i was of chief judge garland. instead, they funneled money to push senate republicans to hold chief judge garland's nomination hostage and to have the senate defy the constitution of the united states for the first time ever in not ayoullowing you -- not allowing us to vote on him, not allowing advice and consent.
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the groups i've talked about the billionaire donors who fund them, have a clear agenda, one that's anti-choice, anti-environment, and pro-corporate. i do not -- i am not willing to gamble, in my mind, that they gambled in billions of dollars for judge gorsuch. they chose him for a reason. they're supremely confident he shares their far-right agenda. so is the white house. the white house chief of staff has said that judge gorsuch has the vision of donald trump and with this nomination we're talking about a change -- of potentially 0 -- a change of potentially 040 years of law. people who vetted him want a nominee who will expand the strike zone to the detriment of hardworking americans. in the hearing he did nothing allay my keynes. in fact, he -- to allay my
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concerns. in fact, he solidified them. they were fundamental questions but he would not answer them. other supreme court nominees have been far more forthcoming. for example, when i asked judge gorsuch 0 straightforward question about whether the framers of the first amendment believe it permitted the use of a religious litmus test, he refused to answer. any first-year law student knows the answer to that one. i then asked then-judge roberts a similar question over ten years ago whether the interment of u.s. residents who have a particular nationality or ethnic or religious group could be constitutional. he said, i'd be surprised if there are any arguments that could support that. he gave real answers to basic
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questions and he earned my support. so i had hoped that if judge gorsuch was not willing to be transparent in front of the lights and cameras, would he answer written questions. he again declined. he refused to express any knowledge that congress has more powers, even though we know we do. he would provide no answer with regard to the supreme court's decision in shelby county that got the voting rights act or about women's rights to obtain contraception. he refused to answer whether the first amendment prohibits any president from proposing a religious test. now previous nominees respected the judiciary committee's constitutional role by answering questions in a substantive way, not mere platitudes. the difference is clear for
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moderates. as an editorial put it, gorsuch's affable muteness sent a message. i am above the people and their concerns. i have no more interests than anyone about the ideologues who advance my nomination and the president who has declared war on the american government. and i ask consent at the end of my statement the full editorial be printed in the record. thank you. you know, if there were automatic moves on decisions, all judges would reach the same results. well, they don't. legal decisions that matter in interpretation often matter in justice. we know judge gorsuch at the justice department raised broad and discredited assertions of
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executive power. he also once complained about liberals rye lie on the courts -- rely on the courts to vindicate their constitutional rights but when he became a judge he had no problem twisting statutory language to limit the rights of workers, of women and children with disabilities. in fact, last summer he wrote a concurrence to his own opinion to argue that the chevron doctrine should be overturned. the chevron doctrine not only forms the basis for our modern government, but it's well-settled law and has been so for decades. as it was written in "the new york times," the administrative state is an optional complex society. it's indispensable. but it is rejection of that -- his rejection of that has shown he is not a mainstream nominee. his judicial record demonstrates a partisan agenda, hostility towards our government's power
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to enact environmental, labor or consumer rights or other regulations that keep hardworking americans, that they have a safe and level playing field. not just a wealthy few, but all hardworking americans. he spoke repeatedly about the limited role that judges play in our democracy. his actual record belies that claim. i think that's precisely why these extreme right interest groups selected judge gorsuch. that's why the president's chief of staff promised he'll bring a change of 40 years of law, but that's also why i cannot support this nomination. it is why the senate republicans have brought us to this precipice. you know, we understand why they paraded before the senate the most extreme and partisan
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slate of cabinet nominees i've ever seen. first they tried to repeal the affordable care act. that collapsed under the weight of their own intra party in fighting. then by party line votes they rolled back more than a dozen environmental workplace, privacy, health care and transparency protections. think about it. they've not sought compromise for anything in this congress. that's not the way to vote. what they did, i'll give you one example, they repealed an important internet privacy rule that protects americans' online activity. that means by the party-line vote, hardworking americans will now see their private internet activity sold to the highest bidder for greater corporate profits. they're allowing these companies to come basically in and spy on your house because they're making money.
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they didn't stop there. they rolled back protections to ensure that all students have the same educational opportunities. they eliminated rules to require employees to maintain records of workplace injuries so employers can avoid accountability. in other words, you have major injuries; you have to keep a record of that to make sure nobody knows this is a dangerous place to work. they've rolled back rules holding coal companies accountable for their pollutions rolled back protections under the title 10 program which means in underserved communities or rural areas like vermont, title 10, which is critical to make sure, making sure women have access to the basic health care they need, republicans are taking it away. that's what one-party rule gets you. they are looking out for corporate interests, but they struggle in looking out for the interests of hardworking americans. in fact, three times this year
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the most of any vice president since 1911, vice president pence was forced to make the trip to capitol hill to break a tie and ensure some of these extreme measures. and it's like the gorsuch nomination. they have no interest in playing by the rules. they prefer to break them. the unprecedented obstruction of chief judge merrick garland is going to be a permanent stain in this body. in fact, days after the 2016 election, republicans who turned their back on the constitution for a whole year refused, even though they had sworn an oath to uphold the constitution which is advice and consent, for a whole year they p refused to advise and consent and have a vote on chief judge merrick garland. but right after the election, we're told now we must rubber stamp president trump's nominee.
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if we don't, it will forever damage the senate. i remind republicans we have a choice here. we can work together with president trump to find a mainstream consensus nominee. the process used when president obama selected chief judge merrick garland, he sought the advice of republican and democratic members of congress and was told this is a person who would get a solid majority vote. he said we reached out to every member of the constitutional committee, constitutional scholars, to bar associations representing an array of interests and opinions from all across the spectrum. and then president obama nominated somebody who in normal times would have gotten a fast majority of votes of republicans and democrats. president trump would have followed that template, we would not be in this extraordinary place. let me conclude this, in the
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committee i said i respect this institution as much as anyone. i've been here for 42 years. i've devoted myself to the good the senate can accomplish. we 100 senators stand in the shoes of 320 million americans. we should be the conscience of the nation. first and foremost, we must do what's right by 320 million americans. but i'm not going to vote solely to protect an institution when the rights of hardworking americans are at risk. it's for these reasons i must oppose this nomination. i ask consent my whole statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: i thank the president. how much time do i have? the presiding officer: the democrats have approximately 36 minutes remaining. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. mr. president, i rise today as the ranking member of the judiciary committee to speak about the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to the supreme court of the united states. in committee, at the outset of the hearings -- in committee,
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at the outset of the hearings, i remarked that our job was not to evaluate legal doctrines and theories or review judge gorsuch's record in a vacuum. our job is really to assess how this nominee's decisions will affect the american people and whether he will protect the legal and constitutional rights of all americans. so i've had this in mind throughout the entire process. let me begin with an aside. i represent a large state, and i do pay close attention to constituent letters, calls, and e-mails. a weekly report lets me know on what issues people are focused and what they think. and i take this feedback very seriously. in general, my barometer has been that when i receive over 30,000 calls, e-mails or letters, that's when i know an
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issue is reasonably meaningful to many people in the state. to be clear, i don't base my final judgment on any issue or nominee solely on the numbers of calls and letters i receive. however, this is a representative democracy, so i find this to be an important measure of what california constituents are thinking. when it comes to this nomination so far, my office has received a total of 112,309 calls, e-mails, and letters from california constituents. 92,799, or 83%, oppose this nominee. and 19,510, or 17%, support this nominee. let me just read a few of the calls. one constituent from silverado,
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california, wrote, in 1971 when abortion was illegal, i was forced to have a child at age 16. that was 46 years ago. with gorsuch, we would step back into that world where women and girls have no choice but an illegal and unsafe abortion or become a mother. that's wrong. the choice is untenable and dangerous. filibuster gorsuch and do whatever it takes. now i was a college student in the 1950's, and i remember very much what life was like before a woman had the right to privacy, to control her reproductive system according to roe v. wade. another constituent from san diego e-mailed,, quote, as a beneficiary of the right to marry three and a half years ago, i personally understand
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how important supreme court decisions are. i also attended a segregated elementary school when i was a little boy. i do not trust that neil gorsuch would advocate for the best interests of women and minorities. please do not confirm him. a woman from richmond, california, wrote, i believe that we the people will have a difficult time getting fair and equal treatment with gorsuch being on the supreme court. he will help the rich corporations and the poor and middle class will suffer. now, i don't comment on any of these because none of these are sacrosanct, but they are opinions. and brandon gregg from burlinggame wrote the republicans did not give memorial day a hearing, instead waiting until trump could propose a young right-leaning judge who will take our country backwards. gorsuch will not advance the agenda of human rights within
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our constitution but will plunge us back into the past where minorities had little protection. women did not have equal rights. people of color were denied the right to vote. and protections for all people that we take for granted did not exist. this is not the world i want for myself, my children, and my p grandchildren. filibuster gorsuch's confirmation, please. bottom line, californians are letting me know loud and clear that who sits on the supreme court matters. unfortunately, up to now much of the press coverage on this nomination has been about politics and process. in contrast, little has been said about how the supreme court affects the lives of americans, their families and their communities. so let me say in the past 24
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years that i have been a member of the judiciary committee, i have seen that the supreme court is in fact the last word in so many areas, the personal rights of all americans, including who they can marry and whether women have the right to privacy that allows them to control their own bodies. the supreme court determines whether decisions about health care will be determined by families or businesses. the supreme court has the final say on whether states and localities will be able to pass laws that make it harder for low-income people, people of color, seniors, and students to vote. the supreme court will decide whether corporations are able to pollute our air and water with impunity. and it's the supreme court that will be the final word on
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executive authority, whether it's usinged to waterboard, detain individuals indefinitely or overreach in other ways. each year more than 350,000 civil and criminal cases are filed in federal courts. the supreme court hears arguments for only about 80 cases a session and makes decisions on approximately 50 more cases without hearing arguments. now, this means the supreme court only hears a very small percentage of cases, less than .02%. before the current vacancy, the most significant questions were closely decided by 5-4, with five votes coming from republican-appointed justices. these include important
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decisions that affect our elections like shelby county and citizens united, decisions that weakened the power of average voters by expanding the role of dark money and gutting a key provision of the voting rights act. we also saw a 5-4 decision in heller that overturned 70 years of precedent on the second amendment and blocked the district of columbia's commonsense gun regulations. as my colleague senator whitehouse outlined in the judiciary committee, in the last several years, this supreme court has issued an additional 11 5-4 decisions that promote the rights of corporations over the rights of everyday people. on topics as wide-ranging as age
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discrimination and harassment to limiting access to courts and juries. so who sits on the supreme court matters. just look at some of the key cases that have come down since this vacancy arose last year. for example, the supreme court deadlocked 4-4 on a case to determine whether unions are able to fight for fair pay and benefits for all workers by requiring them to contribute to a union's action on their behalf. we know this issue will go back to the supreme court. if next time the court rules against unions, like the california teachers association, it will be overturning a 40-year precedent known as agency shop and will permit an assault on workers' rights. also last year, the supreme court heard the case on north
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carolina's law that reduced early voting days, eliminated same-day registration, and established new, restrictive photo i.d. requirements to vote. the fourth circuit struck down north carolina's law, concluding it had -- and i quote -- targeted african americans with almost surgical precision -- end quote. yet when the supreme court took it up, they deadlocked 4-4. who sits on that court matters. after four days of hearings and reviewing judge gorsuch's record, we have learned that he indeed has strong views of what the law should be and how it should be interpreted. well, judge gorsuch was not responsive to many questions. he did tell us that he's happy
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to be called an originalist and that he embraced the term. he also stated that he believes judges should look to the original public meaning of the constitution when they decide what one of its provisions mean. according to him, the -- and i quote -- the constitution isn't some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams but a carefully crafted text judges are charged with applying according to its original public meaning. original public meaning. that takes us back to 13 colonies, four million americans, and 1789. i find this originalist judicial philosophy to be deeply
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troubling. it essentially means that judges and courts should evaluate all our constitutional rights and privileges as they were understood in 1789. to freeze our understanding of the constitution in 1789, i think, ignores the framers' intent. but, more importantly, it would ignore the vibrancy and growth of our nation. we are no longer a society that condones slavery. we no longer permit segregation. we don't allow child labor. we recognize that women not only deserve an education but can be leaders in business, government, and their homes. we cannot turn the clock back 230 years. as justice brennan said, asking judges to resolve legal
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questions by looking only to what people believed when our country was founded was -- and this is a quote -- was little more than arrogance cloaked as humility -- end quote. and that while, quote, proponents of this facile historicism justify it as the deep politicization of the judiciary, the political underpinnings of such a choice should not escape notice, end quote. after all, those who would restrict legal claims to the values of 1789 specifically articulated in the constitution turn a blind eye to social progress. this is judge brennan's speech in 1985 at georgetown university. this is an important point that i think bears repeating. a judge's decision to adopt an
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originalist philosophy is inherently political because it discounts the expansion of constitutional protections beyond white men who owned property and, yes, that's the way it was back then. the united states constitution, i deeply believe, is a living document intended to evolve as our country evolves. we're not supposed to ignore social progress, and i don't believe the founders of our country ever intended us to do so. another concern with judge gorsuch's record is his extreme conservative view of the federal government. for example, he's indicated he believes the long-standing legal doctrine that allows agencies to write rules to effectively implement laws should be overturned. and that doctrine, as the chair
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well knows, is the chevron doctrine, and it was discussed in committee. chevron was itself a unanimous opinion, authored by a liberal justice stevens and joined by conservatives, including chief justice burger. this legal doctrine has been in place for decades and has been cited more than 15,000 times. if chevron is overturned, as judge gorsuch has advocated, many important laws that congress has passed would become affected. and i want to give you a personal example. in 2007, senator olympia snowe and i finally passed legislation, thanks to senator ted stevens and dan inouye, to increase the mileage efficiency of cars. this was critical to address
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because pollution was clouding up our cities, and it was important to improve the functioning of our automobiles. our legislation required the department of transportation to set standards so that fuel economy would increase at least 10 miles per gallon over ten years -- that's the time we could foresee -- and continue to rise after that. we instructed the agency to achieve -- and i quote -- the maximum feasible average fuel economy -- end quote -- and directed the secretary of transportation to consider -- quote -- technological feasibility, economic practicality, the effect of other motor vehicle standards of the government on fuel economy, and the need of the united states to conserve energy -- end quote. that's directly from the bill.
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here's the result: it has just been announced that this program will raise fuel economy to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. i think the specifics were 54 miles to the gallon. this would have been impossible in 2007 when we were trying to pass the bill. we could not possibly understand ten years hence tech any detains -- technicalities of automobile technologies and how they would develop in the years to come. federal agencies simply must play a role. we need their technical expertise and on-going involvement to ensure the legislation we pass is implemented effectively, as ensured by congress. in committee, i discussed judge gorsuch's textuals bill.
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this means that he believes statutes should be interpreted only by, quote, the plain meaning of the language, end quote, combine -- limiting laws and statutes to a dictionary definition that he selected, two, reversing precedent to say that agencies can't interpret ambiguous laws, and, three, reinstating a legal doctrine to further limit agency experts. taken together, these three points would require congress to pass bills so that they are either so specific they would be very limited in effect or so broad they would actually be meaningless. for example, senator collins and i have been wor working on legislation that would require
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the f.d.a. to ensure the safety of personal care products, such as we all use -- shampoo, deodorant, cosmetics, saving creams -- savin shaving creams, lotions. our bill asks the f.d.a. to evaluate the safety of the chemicals that are put in these products. in committee, we had testimony about a shampoo that, once used, hair fell out of the individual's head and many thousands of complaints had been registered. congress does not have the expertise to do the chemical evaluations, and without deference to the f.d.a., the bill would have to be thousands of pages long to cover every contingency for every product made by hundreds of companies, and that's simply not workable.
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if congress can no longer rely on federal agencies and if all laws can only be interpreted by limited dictionary definitions, then government would have no ability to regulate markets, defend against a financial crisis, protect workers, build safe roads, or safeguard our environment. we depend on the scientists, the biologists, the economists, the engineers, and other experts to help ensure that our laws are effectively implemented. and so this is really a dastardly controlling mechanism. under the arguments proposed by judge gorsuch, this would no longer occur. instead, only congressional action would be able to address these important issues.
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these rules that agencies would write would have to be written by congress, and even that would be severely limited. such a radical change in law would hurt ordinary americans, certainly their safety and certainly our communities. let me say once again, who sits on the supreme court matters. the issues facing our country are consequential, and they have a real-world impact on all of us. justices on the supreme court must understand that the courts' decisions have real-world consequences for men, women, and children across our nation. unfortunately, based on judge gorsuch's record at the department of justice, his tenure on the bench, his appearance before the senate, and his written questions for the record, i cannot support this nomination. i thank the and the potential rules change if that vote
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fails, i rise this afternoon to entreat my friend, the majority leader, to step back from the brink. as i and so many other of my colleagues have made clear, we democrats have principled reasons to vote against this nominee on tomorrow's cloture vote. first, he has instinctively favored corporate interests over average americans. second, he hasn't shown a scintilla of independence from president trump. and, third, judge gorsuch, based on his record and history, has a deeply held far-right special interest judicial philosophy that is far out of the mainstream. he was selected off a list developed by the very hard-right special interest heritage foundation and federalist society. "the washington post," after analyzing his decisions on the tenth circuit, concluded that
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judge gorsuch may be the most hard conservative justice on the bench to the right of even justice thomas. it may be abstract to many americans, but judge gorsuch's judicial philosophy matters a great deal. it will affect dozens of decisions and decades of jurisprudence that could have far-reaching consequences on the lives of average americans. as emily bazelon in "the new york times" put it, the reality is that judge gorsuch embraces a judicial philosophy that would do nothing less than undermine the structure of modern government, including the rules that keep our water clean, regulate our financial markets, and protect workers and consumers. if that philosophy becomes the majority view on the supreme court, average americans are in big, big trouble.
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the prospect concerns almost every democrat here in this body. enough to prevent cloture on just judge gorsuch's nomination tomorrow. this leaves the majority leader and my republican friends with a choice. break the rules of the senate or sit down with we democrats and the president to come up with a mainstream nominee who can earn bipartisan support to pass the senate. enough bipartisan support to pass the senate. we democrats believe the answer isn't to change the rules. it's to change the nominee. as presidents of both parties have done when a nominee fails to earn confirmation. instead, my republican friends seem intent on breaking the rules for judge gorsuch and are trying to find reasons to justify it.
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the truth is each side can blame the other. we believe they're more in the wrong. they believe we're more in the wrong. the game of pointing fingers -- and they started it -- can go back and back and back to the very founding of the republic. if my republican parentheses think they have to -- republican friends think they have to change the rules because this blame game has gotten so far out of hands that democrats will never pass a republican nominated supreme court justice i remind them of justices alito and roberts, two conservatives who nonetheless passed the senate having met a 60-vote bar. that was during a pretty contentious time as well. if my republican friends think that what we democrats did in 2013 was so wrong, and that's reason to break the rules, i'd remind them the only reason we changed the rules was because the republican minority in the senate had forced cloture
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petitions to be filed on more nominees under president obama's first five years than in all the 225 years before him combined. they filed more cloture petitions against president obama's nominees than all the cloture petitions filed from george washington through george w. bush. when democrats changed the rules, however, we purposefully left the 60-vote bar for the supreme court intact because we knew, as the republicans know, that the supreme court is different. justices on the court don't simply apply precedents of a higher court. they set the precedents. that's why justices should be mainstream enough to garner substantial bipartisan support. if the majority leader breaks the rules tomorrow, that's his choice. he would be forever unwinding
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that important principle, erasing the last shred of bipartisanship in the senate confirmation process. if my republican friends think a filibuster on judge gorsuch is so wrong that they have cause to break the rules, i remind them that almost every one of them lined up behind the majority leader when he vowed mere hours after the death of justice scalia that president obama would not get to fill a supreme court seat despite 11 months left in his presidency. that was much worse than a filibuster. even my friend, the republican senator from tennessee, called it audacious. but i think representative adam schiff of california said it best, quote, when mcconnell deprived president obama of a vote on garland, it was a
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nuclear option. the rest is fallout. the fact of the matter is the republicans blocked merrick garland using the most unprecedented of maneuvers. now we are likely to block judge gorsuch because we're insisting on a bar of 60 votes. we think a 60-vote bar is far more in keeping with tradition than what republicans did to merrick garland. the majority leader himself has stipulated -- this is his quote, mitch mcconnell's quote -- in the senate it takes 60 votes on controversial matters. on the other hand, there is absolutely no precedent, rule, tradition or custom that can justify what the republicans did to merrick garland. none. the two are not equivalent. over the long history of partisan combat over judicial nominations, of course there is blame on both sides. we don't believe the blame should be equally shared between
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republicans and democrats. the republican party has been far more aggressive in deploying new tactics and escalating old ones to fight the nominees of the president of the opposing party. the republican party has been far more aggressive in their selection of judicial candidates, picking judges who have an ideology closer to the extremes of american politics while democrats tended to pick candidates closer to the center. keep this in mind, the last time a republican-controlled senate confirmed the supreme court nomination of a democratic president was 1895. let me repeat. that amazing fact. the last time a republican-controlled senate confirmed the supreme court nomination of a democratic president was 1895. so, mr. president, we can argue endlessly about where and
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with whom this all started. was it the bork nomination which received a vote in the democratic senate, by the way? or was it the obstruction of judges under president clinton? was it when democrats blocked a few judges under president bush? or when republicans forced democrats to file more cloture petitions in five years of president obama's presidency than during all other presidencies combined? was it judge garland or judge gorsuch? whenever we -- wherever we place the starting point of this long twilight battle over the judiciary, we're now approaching its end point. we are nearing the final hour, and the stakes are considerable. after the cloture vote on judge gorsuch, democrats will have been denied merrick garland due to tactics we felt were unfair,
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and republicans will have been denied judge gorsuch because of tactics they think are unfair. our two parties have traded bitter blows in the tortured history of the scalia vacancy, the debate has been saturated with contradictions. but in a very real sense, even though each side thinks their side is more right than the other, neither side is happy with how we got here. and now we are standing on the brink of an irrevocable change to the way this body conducts business. as the majority leader once said, changing the rules is a bell that's very hard to unring. as the clock particulars steadily -- ticks steadily toward tomorrow, what are we going to do. i would like us to step back from the brink. as the democratic leader i still
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hope that i can sit down with the republican leader and find our way out of the pernicious cycle. i believe as the leaders of the caucuses, it is up to us to try. the republican leader and i disagree on many things but we agree on the importance of the senate. each side can stop pointing fingers. each side can lay down their arms. each side can put aside the resentments build up after years of war trench fare on nominees. we can find a way to -- find a way out of this impasse. we shouldn't lose a long-standing rule of the senate that encourages our two parties to work together to fulfill one of the senate's most important
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functions. so the option to sit down with us democrats and talk about a new nominee that can gain sufficient bipartisan support remains on the table right now. i hope my friend, the republican leader, thinks about where we're headed and takes a moment to let reason and prudence prevail over rancor and haste. just as the majority leader holds the power to exercise the nuclear option, he also has the power to avoid it. if the majority leader is willing to cooperate in a bipartisan way, if he's willing to sit down with us in good faith and try to find a way out, he will find an open door and an open mind and maybe -- maybe we can, for the moment, avoid an outcome that no senator from either side wants to see. i yield the noted. mr. boozman: thank you,
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mr. president. mr. president, the senate is at a crossroads. senate democrats, at the behest of far-left activist groups, are leading the charge to break a nearly 230--year-old precedent of confirming supreme court nominees by a simple majority vote. why? well, when you go down the list, there's only one reason. that reason is not based on substance or reality. it's purely partisan. judge gorsuch is eminently qualified. that does in the seem to be in dispute. his credentials are exceptional. his resume is impressive. his judicial dmoonor and -- demeanor exceeds what you would expect for a nominee for the highest court in the land. judge gorsuch checks every box. so much so that the american bar association gave judge gorsuch
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its highest rating. the a.b.a.'s assessment, mind you, has been referred to by the minority leader as the gold standard when it comes to evaluating a nominee's fitness to serve on the court. senate democrats must be concerned about judge gorsuch's pass then -- past then. again, that is not the case. no one was able to dig up anything remotely resembling a scandal in judge gorsuch's past during this process. you can't manufacture a controversy where none exists. nothing about judge gorsuch has come to light during this confirmation process that could conceivably merit blocking a vote on the nominee. i've heard senate democrats try and argue that judge gorsuch is out of the mainstream. that hasn't stuck either. this is a judge that has been with the majority of the tenth
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circuit court of appeals 99% of the time, 97% of his decisions were unanimous. judge gorsuch is about as mainstream as you're going to find. editorial boards from newspapers across the country, including glai -- "u.s.a. today" supports judge gorsuch for the supreme court. do you think they would do that if he was out of the mainstream? now democrats are seemingly creating new standards out of thin air to justify this blatant act. according to their talking points the nominee is expected to tell the senate and the american people on how he or she will rule on matters that may come before the court, especially on issues that --
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rightly pointed out, the standard set by justice ginsburg in her confirmation hearings that it would be inappropriate for a nominee to make commitments on matters that come before the court has been adhered to ever since. this leaves senate democrats with a filibuster that lacks a reason. the minority leader has suggested the senate abandon judge gorsuch's nomination if cloture is not agreed to and ask the president to submit a new nominee. this demand rings hollow. here's the truth -- if this nominee cannot get the senate democrats' blessings for a vote, then no nominee put forth by the president can. again, we are talking about a nominee who has climbed to the top rung of his profession. judge gorsuch is well qualified and well within the mainstream. he was unanimously confirmed to the tenthing circuit court of
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appeals. and as i mentioned earlier, received the highest possible rating after an exhaustive ee vallings -- evaluation from the american bar association. senate democrats failed to create controversy over judge gorsuch's nomination because there is simply none to be found. but that didn't stop them. it's an amazing 1280 -- 180-turn around. senate democrats who just last year pushed for an immediate vote at the height of a presidential election seem to be content to leave that seat empty. they talked about the deadlock court. the democratic leader seems no longer concerned about that. by this logic, a vacant seat on
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the supreme court for a few months would be a devastating blow for democracy but one left open for years is wholly acceptable. this makes absolutely no sense. the only explanation for it is that the senate democrats expecting to be voting on a nominee put forth by a democratic administration, not one put forth by president trump. judge gorsuch will be confirmed to the supreme court this week. it is unfortunate that we may have to break long-standing precedent to do so, but senate democrats' actions are to blame for that. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, we've heard famously that elections have consequences and over the next few days we will have an experiment in what i call, mr. president, the physics of
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politics. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. mr. president, if the democrats use the -- for the first time -- a partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee, we will have an equal and opposite reaction, an unprecedented action is going to evoke an unprecedented reaction. neil gorsuch deserves to be confirmed and i want to share for the next few minutes why. mr. president, for more than two months since the nomination was first announcedded. we've seen that -- first announced, we've seen that judge gorsuch possesses the qualifications and temperament to serve as the next supreme court justice. while all nominations carry
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enormous responsibility, this is arguably the most important position we are tasked with filling. we need someone who is extraordinarily qualified, someone who will respect the foundation of our country, someone who has the mental resilience to say above the political fray. some of my friends on the left have called judge gorsuch unqualified, too conservative and someone who is simply not in the judicial mainstream. judge gorsuch started his legal career by earning degrees from not one but two ivy league schools, columbia university for his undergrad, harvard law for his jurist doctor. he even, as a marshall scholar,
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earned a degree from oxford. when one takes into account these extraordinary educational achievements, it would be simply incomprehensible how anyone would consider him unqualified. his record on the bench is just as impressive. we've heard these numbers so many time that we sometimes just gloss over or glaze over these numbers, but these numbers are powerful indicators of how successful he has been as a judge. out of nearly 2,700 cases, judge gorsuch has been overruled only twice. 98% of his opinions were unanimous, further proving that he falls exactly square in the judicial mainstream.
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he has received well qualified, as my senator from arkansas just stated a few minutes ago, from the american bar association, the highest rating available for a supreme court justice. judge gorsuch is also not new to the nomination process. just a few years ago, in 2006, judge gorsuch was unanimously confirmed by the u.s. senate to the tenth u.s. circuit. now let me say that one more time because so seldom do we see the senate acting in a unanimous fashion, so this perhaps is a moment of reflection that judge gorsuch in just 2006 received unanimous -- a unanimous vote for the tenth circuit. every single democrat serving in
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the senate at that time voted in support of neil gorsuch, including 12 members who are still serving in this chamber today. his bipartisan support has not stopped there. senator bennet from colorado says that judge gorsuch represents the best qualities of colorado and that we need to fulfill our responsibility to this nominee. senator donnelly from indiana said i believe he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and is well respected among the peers -- among his peers. from west virginia, senator manchin acknowledges that while he may not agree with future decisions made by judge
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gorsuch, he also said without question -- let me quote -- he has not found any reason why this jurist should not be a supreme court justice. senator heitkamp from the dakotas said that during her meeting with our supreme court nominee, judge gorsuch reinforced the importance of a judiciary that remains independent from the executive and the legislative branches of government. neal katyal, former acting solicitor general under president obama, said of gorsuch, that he is a first-rate intellect and a fair and decent man. the judge's work reflects his dedication to the rule of law.
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last month throughout his three-day confirmation hearing, judge gorsuch provided detailed and thoughtful responses that should have answered every concern from committee members. as i watched, i was incredibly impressed with his depth of knowledge, his genuine demeanor, and his obvious respect for the rule of law. he understands that his job is not to make the law. let me repeat that because this seems to be an unusual experience. at least it has been for me, to hear a judge understand and appreciate that his job is not to make the law. his job is not to alter the law. but he expressed time and time again that he is committed to interpreting the law as it is written. one of his most memorable comments from his hearing has left a lasting impression on
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me, and i hope it does you as well. he said a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge. reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels. in one sentence, judge gorsuch eloquently summarized what we should expect from our supreme court judges. and also gives insight into how he intends to serve once confirmed. after his extensive and exhaustive hearing, we can clearly see beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man is more than qualified for appointment. any argument to the contrary is based purely on political opposition. today the senate stands on the
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verge of breaking historical precedents. we have let political disagreements get in the way of a judicial seat. a nomination that should stand far above political rancor. a year ago judge gorsuch was serving on the u.s. court of appeals for the tenth circuit. he had no idea that he would find himself in the midst of a partisan battle. there is no question this man has led an exemplary life and deserves a fair vote. we are simply asking for a fair vote. a vote.
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let us move past these political games and confirm a man who has earned this position with nearly a flawless record as one of the brightest judic a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i rise today to offer my support to the nomination of -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. enzi: thank you. i would ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: thank you. as i was saying, i rise today to offer my support for the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to be the supreme court of the united states of america. several weeks ago shortly after president trump announced this nomination, i came to the floor to say what an admirable choice he had made and had known him for some time. now after meeting with judge gorsuch to discuss his nomination and after reviewing
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his qualifications and after observing my colleagues on the senate judiciary committee thoroughly vet him, i'm all the more convinced that this man is eminently qualified to serve as america's next associate justice of the supreme court. i was impressed that both of his senators introduced him to the committee for the hearing. i was kind of surprised that the biggest comments that i heard about the hearing itself was that he didn't answer some of the questions directly. as with previous justice, they didn't answer the questions directly when they are asked a theoretical about some possible future case that would come before them without the details. another reason that i'm convinced that he's very qualified is the people that he went to school with all had good
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comments about him. the people that he went to law school all had good comments. the people that had been in the bar, in the legal arena with him have had good comments about him. and so have the other judges that he's worked with through the years as he moved up through the different process. i'm confident he's qualified to be our next justice because it was extensive judicial -- because of his extensive judicial experience, his commitment to the rule of law and his principled character. neil gorsuch's first job out of law school was a couple blocks from here. even back then he was already preparing to serve his country on the supreme court by learning from some of the best jurists in america. he performed clerkships first for the u.s. court of appeals, for the d.c. circuit, and later for justices byron white and anthony kennedy at the united states supreme court. after working in private
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practice and the department of justice, in 2006, george w. bush nominated judge gorsuch to serve on the u.s. court of appeals for the tenth circuit. the senate confirmed him by a voice vote. that's unanimous. mr. president, let me say that again because it's -- it's relevant to the misplaced, in my opinion, partisan rancor we're hearing over this nomination. in 2006, only senator lindsey graham bothered to attend the senate judiciary committee's hearing to consider neil gorsuch's nomination to the tenth circuit court of appeals. this body, including then-senators joe biden, hillary clinton, and barack obama were so confident with his qualifications to serve as a judge that he was confirmed
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without anybody asking for a recorded vote. with what is, in essence, three of the most influential political figures then serving in the senate from across the aisle, i find this questioning of judge gorsuch's qualifications baffling. i hope my friends will put aside some of the score keeping an give neil gorsuch a fair vote up or down based his suitability for the supreme court. since joining the tenth circuit, judge gorsuch has been a busy man doing exactly the kind of work that makes him qualified for this nomination. the tength circuit -- tength circuit looks at the case in eight states that covers 20% of america's land mass. that jurisdiction includes my home state of wyoming. as a member of the tenth
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circuit, judge gorsuch estimates he sat on appellate panels considering approximately 1,800 criminal cases and 1,200 civil cases. the list of citations is 21-page documents. after hearing those cases and drafting those opinions, even judge gorsuch's detractors criticized a handful of the hundreds of opinions he's authored. i'm confident that neil gorsuch is qualified to be a member of the supreme court because of his steadfast commitment to the rule of law. the many opinions he's written are known for being clear and easy to understand, but most importantly, his opinions reflect his respect for following the law as it is written and applying and adhering to judicial precedent. he's a judge who applies the law to the facts of the case and
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reaches the conclusion that examination yields regardless of his own personal beliefs. as he said, personal politics or policy preferences have no useful rule -- role in judging. regular and healthy doses of self-scept tism always -- self-scept tism always do. judge gorsuch is a defender of america's constitution and the separation of powers that document prescribes. as he said, quote, judges must allow the elected branches of government to flourish and citizens, through their representatives, to make laws appropriate to the facts and circumstances of the day. throughout this nomination process during all of which judge gorsuch has been under a political microscope, we have seen that he is a man of admirable character with a temperament that makes him well suited to serve as a supreme
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court justice. we know he has a resilient character and thick skin, qualities important to any justice, because we've seen his demeanor in response to the criticism of his career about some of his previous decisions, very few of them i should add. we have seen his reaction in the face of accusation about his judicial independence. in spite of that, judge gorsuch has been respectful, remarkably patient, and resolutely committed to upholding the ethical cannons an conduct -- and conduct demanded of him as a jurist. we judge judge gorsuch's character as those he strives to emulate. his legal heroes are justice white who he said followed the
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law without fear or favor to anyone. and justice anthony kennedy who judge gorsuch said, quote, showed me that judges can disagree without being disagreeable. end quote. and justice scalia who says remind us that, quote, the journal's job are to follow the word that are in the law, not to replace them with words this aren't. end quote. neil gorsuch has told us that he has also looked closer to home to his family to shape his character. his mother who he said, quote, taught me that headlines are fleeting but courage lasts. his father, who he said showed him that kindness is the greatest virtue. his pa ternl grandfather, -- pa ternl grandfather said that he taught him that lawyers -- neil gorsuch has demonstrated his commitment to the law, his scholarship and temperament
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befitting a judge. he is eminently qualified to be a member of the supreme court. not in my opinion. that's what the judges have said. but, mr. president, i'm not the only one who believes this. my office has received hundreds of calls and letters from my constituents urging the support of judge gorsuch. he has support in the legal community from both parties. judge gorsuch has earned a well-qualified rating, the highest rating they award from the american bar association. to give him this rating, the a.b.a.'s standing committee on federal judiciary conducted a peer review of judge gorsuch's integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. as children we all learn you might be able to fool your parents or your teachers, but you can never fool your peers,
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you cannot fool ones with whom you work with long hours like most judges and lawyers are known to do. you can't fool your peers. they are the ones who see you at your best and at your worst. that's what so remarkable that dozens of neil gorsuch's law school classmates, people representing many different political and philosophical persuasions signed a letter supporting his nomination to the score. mr. president, among our most important duties as members of this body is to carefully vet all nominees that come before us. never has that responsibility so stark and so substantial as when our nation faces a vacancy on the supreme court. in november, millions of people went to the polls and rejected the kind of tired, partisan bickering when they voted for a change in washington. those same voters went to the polls knowing there was a vacancy on the supreme court and that whoever became the next
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president would choose that nominee. for many weeks now judge gorsuch has been before us as that nominee. he's undergone scrutiny under which most of us would wither. we've all had time to examine his record. i thank chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein, and all our senate colleagues who served on the judiciary committee for conducting such thorough and detailed nomination hearings that provided us ample opportunity to examine judge gorsuch's equal indications and -- qualifications an temperament. i believe there is only one logical conclusion to reach after all of this examination, and that is that judge neil gorsuch is spreeply qualified -- sue presumably qualified to serve as the next associate justice of the supreme court. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this confirmation. i yield the floor
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mr. gardner: we've seen a number of senators come to the it senate floor and debate the qualifications of neil gorsuch, judge neil gorsuch, the president's nominee to the highest court, the united states supreme court. many have come to the floor talking about his high qualifications, the fact that he has the highest a.b.a., the american bar association rating. the fact that he has the support of the 2008 cochair of the democratic national convention. the fact that neal katyal, a very high ranking former official in the obama administration supporting the confirmation of neil gorsuch. and we've had others come to the floor and express their opposition. we've had them come and express their opposition to an individual who has proven himself to be a mainstream judge, who has proven time and time again that he has the respect of his colleagues on the tenth circuit court, the bench of the tenth circuit as well as circuit courts around the cund and has the respect and admiration of the justice of the united states supreme court
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where judge gorsuch clerked for justice white, the last coloradoan to be on the nation's high court and where he clerked for sitting justice anthony kennedy. judge gorsuch has been known and become known as a feeder judge, somebody who provides clerks to the supreme court because they understand the quality and caliber of judge gorsuch's work. we know judge gorsuch was a part of 2,700 opinions, decisions that were decided 99% of the time with the majority of his court. we know that 97% of that time these decisions were unanimous. we know about his record as it relates to being reversed or overturned. and we know that our colleagues who are opposing for some reason judge gorsuch continue to come to the floor and talk about apparently the reasons they can't support judge gorsuch, because he won't violate judicial ethics or the ethics of their judge expected to keep, because he won't preview how he would rule under a certain fact
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circumstance. george washington himself could come down from a mountain top and would be rejected by the united states senate fob a supreme court justice. it's pretty incredible to see and hear the arguments that have taken place. some lasting all night. because some of these arguments are nothing more than sour grapes. some of these arguments are nothing northern two wrongs -- nothing more than p two wrongs must make a write. they criticize the biden rule or schumer rule. they believe it it was taken frm them. and in their mind if you do two things that are wrong, it must be a right. we taught our children that's not true. and we know in this instance the american people decided who the supreme court justice would be. in 2006, judge gorsuch, neil gorsuch, was nominated to serve
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on the tenth circuit court. a dozen sitting members of this chamber didn't object to his nomination then. they didn't oppose him. they didn't come and renal ster their no -- and register their no vote. they didn't even show up at his confirmation. lindsey graham was the only one. either a couple of things have happened. nobody did their work then to find out what kind of a judge he was going to be or they have decided that the politics have changed. and to me, that's the most egregious part of this debate is the politics of the time are demanding that there be absolute obstruction. for the first time in over 230 years of a supreme court justice, trying to defeat a supreme court justice with a partisan filibuster for the first time in two centuries. of a judge who votes -- excuse me. a judge who agreed 99% of the time with the opinions of his -- of the court.
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99% of the time his 3-7bs were made with the -- his opinions were made with the majority of the court. 97% of the time they were made unanimously. this is an individual who has outstanding legal credentials. harvard, columbia, most importantly time spent at the university of colorado. he's a fourth generation coloradoan with time, i think the old joke of justice scalia, the late justice scalia was four of the five boroughs in new york have their own supreme court justice. wouldn't it be nice if we had a supreme court justice west of the mississippi river, another additional western voice on the supreme court. a judge who comes from a district, circuit court -- excuse me -- that represents 20% of the land mass. if you're a westerner and you have a choice of putting a judge on a supreme court who is familiar with tribal law issues, a judge who is familiar with water issues, a judge who is familiar with public land issues, that's a pretty good
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pick for the high court to represent a vast part of america that is underrepresented on the nation's high court. this institution can seem pretty puzzling at times because you consistently hear the outcry for bipartisan support. let's work together. let's have bipartisan support. and the president nominates a judge who has strong bipartisan credentials. from the people who know him the best. look, most people in washington,d.c., most people in this chamber have known neil gorsuch for just a couple of months since the time of his nomination. most conversations that this chamber, people in this chamber have had with judge gorsuch have consisted of an hour or two at a judicial nomination hearing, confirmation hearing, or perhaps when he visited the office prior to the hearing. that's the extent of their relationship and their knowledge and their understanding of judge
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gorsuch. but pt people who know him best, the people out in colorado, republicans, democrats, they believe he is well qualified and should be confirmed, that he deserves an up-or-down vote. people like democratic governor bill ritter. he believes that judge gorsuch should have an up-or-down vote and be confirmed. and again, this is apparently some people find judge gorsuch so unreasonable or so unfit to serve on the high court, they might find it hard to believe that in 2008 -- the 2008 cochair of the democratic national convention is supporting judge gorsuch's confirmation. jim lyons, close friend, attorney of president bill clinton, supports the confirmation of judge gorsuch. they know his record. they've reviewed the cases that the opposition has stated that
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they find so egregious. and they still believe he is worthy of confirmation to the court. the standard that has been set by those who oppose judge gorsuch is a standard that simply says, no justice could be confirmed. why? because we knee because judge -- weigh mow that because judge gorsuch's credentials, his academic background, his history, his temperament, his qualifications, his ratings show that he is more than able to serve and deserves to serve on the supreme court. but there is certainly a difference of philosophies that has been presented here, a difference of philosophies that some people believe that a judge shouldn't just be a judge who follows the law or who rules and makes a decision based on where the law takes them but people who believe that a judge somehow has to be maybe a focus group of
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opinion or policy preferences, that a judge should be somebody who puts their thumb on the scale of justice to reach an outcome that's preferred by a political party. that's not what our founders had in mind when they wrote the constitution. that's not what justice is about. judge gorsuch believes that you take an opinion -- you take a decision where the law takes you, where the law leads you, guardian of the constitution. he understands the separation of powers. but apparently that's not good enough for some. they want and activist judge, but i hope that -- i hope that over the next several hours, the next few days that our colleagues will come to realize those who know him best believe that he is qualified, that deservedeserves an up-or-down v. that a judge who votes 99% of the time in the majority agrees with them. mr. president, i thank you for your time today and look forward to our conversations as we
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confirm judge gorsuch


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