Skip to main content

Charles Schumer
  Senator Schumer on Supreme Court Nominee  CSPAN  April 4, 2017 9:21am-9:35am EDT

9:21 am
>> now, debate from the senate floor as members declare whether they will support the nomination of judge neil gorsuch for the
9:22 am
supreme court. >> mr. president. >> the democratic leader. >> i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. >> without objection. >> thank you, mr. president. everything my friend and colleague from nebraska for her indulgence.. before i begin, i want to express concern here in the united states for a friend in o st. peter's or, russia in the wake of an explosion on their subway system this morning. russia has been and is a lot recently, typically adversarial terms. today's attempt to remember that whatever our differences, wish no ill to the people of any swi nation. thoughts, prayers are with the family of the russians who were killed this morning. we wish a swift recovery to the injured and hope the perpetrators are soon brought to justice. mr. president, i rise this adva judge neil gorsuch to the supreme court, which was just
9:23 am
advanced by the judiciary committee. this afternoon it has become clear that judge gorsuch does not have 60 votes necessary to end debate on his nomination. so mr. president, now the focusw is shifting on the issue of whether judge gorsuch will get 60 votes on the cloture motion and towards the fundamental question before us. will the majority leader break the rules of the senate in order to get judge gorsuch on the bench?ch my friend and majority leader has said several times that judge gorsuch will be confirmed by the end of the week one way or another. what he really means when he says that as it judge gorsuch dozen or 60 votes in the senate, the republicans must, underline must exercise the nuclear optiok to pass judge gorsuch on a simple majority vote.
9:24 am
i think the majority leader reasons that if he says it enough times, folks who start believing that that he has no choice, that they shouldn't. it is a premise no one shouldic. swallow. the majority leader is setting up a false choice. support judge gorsuch or he'll have no choice but to break the rules. maybe to the majority leader, the nuclear option is the only option, but there are many of alternatives. the majority leader makes up hio mind independent of what democrats do on issue aftermaybe issue. but on this one, he says he has no choice. he has no choice because the right wing of the republican party, organizations like the heritage foundation will go after him if he doesn't. he certainly has a choice to do the right and courageous name. d instead, republicans are playing the game if they started it. they say democrats started this process by changing the rules of
9:25 am
nominees in 2013. they fail to mention the history that led up to that change, the reason that majority leader reid changed the rules was because republicans had ramped up the use of the filibuster to historic proportions. they filibustered 79 nominees in the first four years of president obama's presidency. to put that in perspective, prior to president obama commentary 68 filibusters on nominations under all other president from george washington to george bush. under president obama exclusively in the first four years of his administration, republicans filibustered 79 times, 79 nominees. they deliberately kept up in the d.c. court of appeals because it has such influence over decisions made by the
9:26 am
government. we all know the hard right federalist society and the hard right heritage foundation want to limit what government can dod the deal we made in 2005, a group of senators, so-called gang of 14 allowed several of the most conservative jurists in the land to become judges and be confirmed to that circuit court. when president obama came in from her republican colleagues insisted on holding three seed of that court open. they literally said they would not allow the seed to be filled at all by president obama. sound familiar? there arlen knows it is. at the time, i pleaded with senator alexander several times. my dear friend from tennessee to let us vote on some of the judges to the d.c. circuit.
9:27 am
i asked them to go to senator mcconnell and say the pressure on our side could change the rules after all these filibusters was going to be m large. but to avoid it i said. senator mcconnell said no. republicans refuse all of her overtures to break the deadlock that they imposed. so if the majority leader wants to conduct this partisan they started exercise, sure we can trace it all the way back to the hamilton burr duel. the fact of the matter is that republicans blocked merrick garland using the mostck unprecedented maneuvers. now we are likely to block judge gorsuch and that means that neither party has gotten their party's choice in the last two years. so mr. president, we can go baco and forth and blame each other, but in the recent history of the vacancy caused by justice scalia
9:28 am
step, we both lost. we lost merrick garland because of the majority leader's unprecedented loc aid and republicans will lose on judge gorsuch because we are doing something that we think is reasonable and asking he be able to earn 60 votes as so many others have. we think the two are notbo equivalent, but in either case, we both lost. we are back to square one and republicans have total freedom of choice in this situation. no one is forcing them to break the rules. they don't have to treat the nuclear option as if it is their first and only option. it is a bold choice. to my friends on the other side, the answer isn't to change the rules.. the answer is to change the nominee is. presidents of both parties have done so in the past when supreme
9:29 am
court picks fail to merit confirmation. i again, the answer isn't to change the rules. past nominee. the leadership division encouraged to see him pass and i believe he should seriously consider a different option. the senate, republicans and democrats should sit down together to come up with the mainstream nominee who can earn bipartisan support. we are willing to meet with them anywhere, anytime to discuss this nominee. now i know my colleagues on them other side will say judge gorsuch with the mainstream nominee and democrats would never support any judge nominated by president trump. we disagree. we probably can't support any h nominee who sold pettiness by the heritage foundation in the federalist society.ol they were the sole gatekeepers for the scalia vacancy and each
9:30 am
is well known to be a right wing social interest group dedicated to moving the bench way to the right. their selection of judge gorsuch shows that. both "the new york times" and the "washington post" did analyses done by experts that show that judge gorsuch would be a very, very conservative, many with the right wing justice oni" the bench. "the new york times" that he be the second most conservative justice on the bench, second only to justice thomas. more conservative than the late justice scalia. and the "washington post" actually said he would be the most conservative justice on the bench based on his record. even more conservative than the very, very conservative justice thomas. in fact, we democrats have never let special interest groups be the gatekeeper. we have said to any special
9:31 am
interest group. we have never said to any special interest group as president trump did, give us a that's we'll choose from that list. that's what republicans did. we have never done it. in the past, presidents have done just what we are suggesting for selecting supreme court justices. c president bill clinton died and took the advice of republican judiciary committee chairman orrin hatch in nominating o justice ginsburg and justice breyer inside of bruce babbitt. president obama took the advice of republican senators when he picked merrick garland, a consensus mainstream nominee. president trump on the other hand ignored the senate and only sought the advice and consent of right wing special interest groups when making supreme court takes. he had to shore up his support in the higher grades so he said
9:32 am
i am outsourced team the entire selection process to two groups who again are not consensus groups. they would admit that themselves the heritage foundation, the federalist society. lo and behold, the process didn't produce a nominee who could earn 60 votes. by contrast, justice ginsburg earned 93 votes. justice breyer earned 87. so mr. president, we are offering president trump and our friends on the other side a way forward. they don't have to break the rules to get a justice on the bench. they don't have to break the senate confirmation process, a fundamentally weakening then constitutional principle of advice and consent to get justice on the bench. the president, president trump could simply consult with members of both parties to try and come up with a consensus
9:33 am
nominee who could get approved and meet a 60-vote threshold. is the answer again isn't to change the rules. it is to change the nominee. and we democrats are not going to oppose every republican nominee. of course we realize the nominee select the best way would not completely agree with our viewsd the judge gorsuch is so far out vote to earn both to pass the senate. even justice roberts and alito, two very conservative judgeste aren't a bunch of democratic vote in each got more than 60 in his nomination, the other 72 votes in the closure process. so mr. president, the republicans are free actors. they can choose to go nuclear or they can sit down with democrats and find a way forward that
9:34 am
preserves the grand traditions of this body. the majority leader himself hasn said the one thing the two leaders have always agreed upon is to protect the integrity of this institution. he continues, i take we can stipulate you said, this is a direct quote them in the senate it takes 60 votes on controversial matters. mitch mcconnell in the senateg takes 60 votes on controversial matters. and he has long said for that proposition for the many years i've been here. the supreme court he i believe meets the majority leader standard for 60-vote. and i hope instead of crippling the senate in a partisan way, removing that 60-vote threshold for controversial matters at the supreme lord, my republican friends consider the optiolu