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tv   Senator Cornyn on Supreme Court Nominee  CSPAN  March 30, 2017 3:44am-4:00am EDT

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neil gorsuch is anything but an ideologue. he's as fine a judge as we have in this country, albeit conservative in nature. he has as fine an academic background as anybody on the court ever. and he's a terrific human being on top of all that, a good husband, father, a terrific judge on the tenth circuit court of appeals. to be honest with you, i thought it was really nice to have somebody picked from the west. it might bring a western perspective of freedom into the judicial system. and i have no doubt that neil gorsuch will do that. now, to make this a big political issue it seems to me is beyond you00 -- 100%. mr. president, as we all know
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now, this chamber will consider the nomination of neil gorsuch to serve as the next justice on the united states supreme court. yesterday i talked a little bit about his qualifications, his background and his temperament. and as the nation saw back during the 20 hours of hearings that we had before the judiciary committee, i think people saw the real neil gorsuch, somebody who, again, by virtue of his qualifications, his education, his training, and his temperament and experience is extremely qualified to serve on the supreme court. he did pass every single test with flying colors, even as my colleagues and some activist groups have done their ways to object to what may be the one of the best qualified for our nation's court in history. one argument we've heard from
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the opponents of the nominee in three days of grueling hearings was that he failed to convey his approach to judging, how he would approach the job. but i want to point out that that is simply not the case. judge gorsuch made clear that the text of the statute, the text of the constitution, the text of a precedent would guide his judging and would be the place where he starts in deciding any case. as he has repeatedly written and stated publicly, the job of a good judge is to understand what the law means and interpret what lawmakers have done. i know some of our colleagues and some of the activist groups who were critical of judge gorsuch are upset that he doesn't believe in a living constitution. in other words, that the constitution as written and ratified by the states does not mean what it says, but judges
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have a license to interpret the words in a way to pursue some other purpose, some other agenda, political or personal or the like. judge gorsuch rejects that approach and rightly so. indeed, how could a judge claim to bear allegiance to the constitution if he doesn't actually start in interpreting the constitution by reading the text of the words? what would a judge decide on if not the text and the original meaning? well, to that effect, i received a letter from a friend of mine and an expert in this area, brian garner last week. brian is a well known writer and lawyer and is a distinguished research professor of law at southern methodist university in dallas, texas. brian's written extensively on judging and appellate advocacy
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and the law generally. he was in attendance at the hearings last week, and as i said, he's written a number of books, including with judge gorsuch on judicial precedent and with justice scalia on reading law. but in a recent letter, brian echoed the same point made by both of these men at different times, that adherence to the text is essential to our system of government. he said the very fact of having a written constitution meant that we had fixed its meaning in permanent form. that seems so obvious, but apparently it's not obvious to some of the critics. he said the very fact of having a written constitution meant that we had fixed its meaning in permanent form. in other words, our constitution is not meant to float on the whims of judges over times bound only by
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precedent. it's actually written down so that even judges have to start with the very text. and if you think about it, the independence that we've given the judiciary -- lifetime tenure -- they don't have to stand for election. they're not accountable to the voters or the people. the reason why the founders created such an important role for the judiciary is because they believed there ought to be an umpire. they call balls and strikes. when congress passed laws or when lawsuits were filed, they could determine the fidelity of those laws to the text of the constitution that had a fixed meaning. well, sometimes this is called originalism, but it's not a political doctrine or an excuse to get certain outcomes. mr. garner makes the point that although his personal politics differ dramatically from those of justice scalia, those
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personal politics are irrelevant because the job of a judge is to apply a fair reading of the law. and if you can't do that, then maybe you ought to run for the senate or congress, get involved in politics rather than judging, because a failure to apply the law as fairly read is essential in any good judge. because judges aren't given lifetime tenure, the sort of independence that nobody else in our government is given, just to enact their own visions of policy. judge gorsuch affirmed time and time again that he won't do that. that he will only interpret the law as he has throughout his career as an independent judge with faithfulness and fidelity to the text and the original understanding of the
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constitution. mr. president, the letter i've been quoting in part is here in my hand, and i'd ask unanimous consent that following my remarks that it be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: now i know there's some on the other side of the aisle that have indicated that adherence to an originalism is a liability or claim that it is somehow a radical doctrine out of the mainstream. but that's just a scare tactic. it's completely wrong. let me remind my colleagues that during her confirmation hearings, now-justice elena kagan told the same committee, we are all originalists. hardly a radical position if justice kagan and judge gorsuch agree with originalism. it's certainly not a methodology of interpreting law that should stir any concern. yesterday some of our democratic colleagues continued to
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reinforce my view that they don't really have any legitimate objection and reason to filibuster judge neil gorsuch. this is about judge gorsuch. this is not about president trump. this is not about merrick garland. this is not about anything else. we will have a chance to vote on the nomination of judge neil gorsuch for the united states supreme court. that is the question that will be presented to the senate for an up-or-down vote. and any fair-minded person would have to conclude that he is an independent legal mind and that he won't legislate from the bench. he has the intelligence, experience, and character to be a good judge, as he has been for ten years on the tenth circuit court of appeals out of denver. and he has an unflinching commitment to upholding a faithful interpretation of the constitution and our laws. so i look forward to confirming him next week. the question for our democratic friends is whether or not
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they're going to launch the very first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in the history of the united states. it really is unprecedented what the democratic leader, senator schumer, has suggested that for the first time in the history of the united states senate, a partisan filibuster will be used to attempt to defeat the nomination of a supreme court justice and to deny the senate the opportunity to have an up-or-down vote. now just to be clear, there are two votes here i'm talking about. one is the so-called cloture vote, where we close off debate. that takes 60 votes. and then once that passes, then it's clearly a majority vote, and 51 votes will carry the day. but what the democratic leader has suggested that they -- he wd deny the senate the opportunity
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to get to that second up-or-down vote. and that's simply unprecedented. and it's unprecedented for a very good reason. because in order to believe that 60 votes would be required to confirm a nominee to the united states supreme court would be to suggest that the founding fathers, when the constitution was written and when it was ralphed somehow believed -- when it was ratified somehow believe that the senate rules were incorporated in the constitution, when that's clearly not the case. clearly not the case. the constitution is a separate document. the senate rules are a different thing. but again, never have they been conflated to suggest that somehow in order to confirm a nominee to the supreme court, that you need 60 votes. i understand the pressure that our friend, the democratic leader, is under, because after this last election, he's now had to straddle two
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competing camps within the democratic party. traditional democrats versus the democrats led by the wing of bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. and i understand the pressures that he must feel and the reason why he would do something that is unprecedented and suggest that we filibuster this nomination. well, we already know that some members of his conference have said they will agree to an up-or-down vote. our friend from west virginia, senator manchin, has said he opposes the filibuster. senator leahy, the former chairman of the senate judiciary committee, has said he's not inclined to go along with it either. senator cardin, our colleague and friend from maryland, has stopped short of agreeing with the minority leader's strategy.
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and senator heitkamp from north dakota has said that she believes the nominee deserves an up-or-down vote. if the democratic leader follows through, as i said, it would be unprecedented. never before has there been a successful partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee. i would just say to our friends across the aisle, time and time again democrats have accelerated the arms race on judges, and every single time it's come back to bite them. we remember 2013 when senator harry reid, then the majority leader, broke the senate rules in order to change the rules in order to lower the threshold for circuit court and district court nominations. he did that because of the desire to pack the district of columbia court of appeals, because that was the court that
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had primary jurisdiction over cases coming out of the obama white house, its regulations and the like. and in order to get a court that would be more likely to rubber stamp and approve of obama policies, senator reid felt it was imperative to pack the d.c. circuit court of appeals, which unfortunately, he was able to do with the vote of the democrats across the other side of the aisle, to break the senate rules to change the rules for the purpose solely of rubber-stamping obama administration policies. the question before the senate this time is very different. those who would break precedent are those who would filibuster a supreme court nominee like judge gorsuch because it's never been done before. but i would ask our democratic colleagues, if judge gorsuch is not acceptable to them, is
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there ever going to be a nominee from a donald trump that you would find -- from a trump administration that you would find acceptable? they tried to find fault with judge gorsuch, and they have simply been unable to do so, and so they keep moving the goal post and raising different issues because they, frankly, are desperate to find some reason to justify this unprecedented filibuster. but if they do, if democrats block judge gorsuch from receiving an up-or-down vote, then there's simply no republican nominee to the united states supreme court that they won't filibuster. if judge gorsuch isn't good enough, i dare say there will never be another nominee that's good enough to allow an up-or-down vote if this unprecedented filibuster is allowed to stand. so i hope our colleagues will reconsider, mr. president, and that on cooler reflection, that
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not driven by the radical elements in their own party, but rather by their good judgment and their sense of responsibility not only to their constituents but to the constitution itself and to the important role that the senate plays in the advice and consent function to a nominee to the united states supreme court. so i hope they reconsider, and i hope when the roll call vote is held, that our colleagues will provide the 60 votes we need to get cloture so we can f. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i rise today in support of the nomination of judge neil gorsuch of the supreme court of the united states. last week the judiciary committee heard testimony from the judge. after listening to the judge's flawless testimony


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