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tv   Democrats Continue Filibuster Threats as U.S. Senate Formally Begins...  CSPAN  April 4, 2017 2:15pm-8:01pm EDT

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the worst in 200 years of senate custody. we seen a lot of people make statements over the past several weeks about neil gorsuch, people who met with him an hour in their office or spent an hour or two requesting them. >> c-span cameras in the hallway, we are going to head to the floor of the senate, about to gallon and bring you any news coming out of these meetings here over on c-span3 and as the second senate is ready to gallon, members are expected to hold a procedural vote on the nomination of judge gorsuch to the supreme court. d>> duly noted. >> proceed. all in favor say aye. those opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i move to proceed to executive session to consider executive calendar number 33, the nomination of neil gorsuch to be associate justice of the supreme court of the united states and i ask for the yeas and nays.
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the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not the yeas are 55. the nays are 44. the motion to proceed is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, supreme court of the united states, neil
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m. gorsuch of colorado to be an associate justice. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before i start, i ask unanimous consent that the debate time on the nomination of judge gorsuch during tuesday's session of the senate be divided as follows: the time until 3:30 under the control of the chairman of the judiciary committee, the time from 3:30 until 4:30 to be under the control of the minority, the time from 4:30 to 5:30 be under the control of the majority, 5:30 to 6:30 under the control of the minority, and finally the control from 6:30 to 6:45 be under the control of the majority. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none, without objection. mr. grassley: mr. president,
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today we'll continue to debate the nomination of judge neil m. gorsuch to serve as associate justice of the supreme court of the united states. the judiciary committee held four full days of hearings last month. the judge testified for more than 20 hours. he answered more than a thousand questions during his testimony and hundreds more questions for the record. we've had the opportunity to review 2700 cases that he's heard, and we've had the opportunity to review the more than 180,000 pages of documents produced by the bush library and the department of justice.
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now, after all of this, my democrat colleagues unfortunately appear to remain committed to what they've been talking about for a long period of time, filibustering the nomination of this very well qualified jurist. even after all this process, there's no attack against the judge that sticks. in fact, it's been clear since before the judge was nominated that some members in the democratic leadership would search desperately for a reason to oppose him. as the minority leader said before the nomination, and i quote him, it's hard for me to imagine a nominee that donald trump would choose that would
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get republican support that we could support, end of quote, from the minority leader. he said later, and i continue to quote him, if the nominee is out of the mainstream, we'll do our best to hold the seat open, end of quote. but then the president nominated judge gorsuch. this judge is eminently qualified to fill justice scalia's seat on the supreme court, and there's no denying that whatsoever. so let me tell you something about him. a graduate of columbia university and harvard law school. he earned a doctorate in philosophy from oxford university and served as a law clerk for two supreme court
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justices. during a decade in private practice, he earned a reputation as a distinguished lawyer and appellate judge, both trial and appellate judge. he served with distinction in the department of justice. he was confirmed to the tenth circuit court of appeals by this body unanimously, voice vote. and the records he's built during his decade on the bench has earned him the universal respect of his colleagues both on the bench and the bar. this judge is eminently qualified to do what the president appointed him to do. now, faced with an
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unquestionably qualified nomin nominee, my friends on the other side of the aisle, my democratic colleagues, have continually moved the goal post setting test after test for this judge to meet. but you know what? this judge has passed all of those tests, all with flying colors. so the people on the other side of the aisle, our democratic majority, are left with a no vote, a no vote in search of a reason. so let's go through some of their arguments. first the minority leader announced that the nominee must prove himself to be a mainstream judge. now, is he a mainstream judge or
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not? well, you consider his record. judge gorsuch has heard 2700 cases, written 240 published opinions. he's voted with the majority in 99% of the cases and 97% of the cases that he's heard have been decided unanimously. only one of those 2700 cases was ever reversed by the supreme court, and it happens that judge gorsuch did not write the opinion. then consider what others say about him. he's been endorsed by prominent democratic members of the supreme court bar, including neal katyal, president obama's
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acting solicitor general. this acting solicitor general wrote a "new york times" op-ed entitled, quote, unquote, why liberals should back neil gorsuch. mr. katyal wrote, quote, i have no doubt that if confirmed, judge gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law, end of that quote. he went on to write that the judge's record, quote, should give the american people confidence that he will not compromise principle in favor -- to favor the president who appointed him, end of quote. there's another well known person likewise david frederick,
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board member of the liberal american constitution society says we should, quote, applaud such independence of mind and spirit in a supreme court nominee, end of quote. so after hearing both what people on the right and the left have said about the judge, he is mainstream, but the goal post seems to move. next we hear that the judge doesn't care about the little guy and instead rules for the big guy. now, first of all, that's a goofy argument. just as liberal law professor knoprofessornoah feldman, he sau
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ask professor feldman, he says this criticism is a quote, unquote, truly terrible idea because, continuing to quote, the rule of law isn't liberal or conservative, and it should not be, end of quote. the strategy on this point became clear during our hearing. pour through 2700 cases, cherry-pick a couple where sympathetic. the presiding officer:s were o.the presiding officer: -- sympathetic plaintiffs were on the losing end of the argument and find a reason to attack that judge. mr. grassley: and because of that case or two, label him, quote, unquote, against the little guy. now, as silly as that argument
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is, the judge himself laid out -- laid waste to the argument during the hearing when he rattled off a number of cases where the so-called little guy came out on the winning end of the legal arguments of a case. at any rate, as we discussed at length during his hearings, that the judge applies the law neutrally to every party before him, and that's what you expect of judges. i disagreed with some of my colleagues who have argued that judging is not just a matter of applying neutral principles. i think that view is inconsistent with the role of our judges and the role they play in our system and more
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importantly in regard to the oath that they take. that oath requires them to do, quote, equal right to the poor and the rich, and to apply the law, continuing to quote, without respect to persons. now, naturally, this is what it means to live under the rule of law, and this is what our nominee has done during his decade on the bench of the tenth circuit court of appeals. so the judge applies the law, quote, unquote, without respect to persons as he promised in his first oath he would and he will repeat in the oath when he goes on the supreme court. then, of course, the judge, as
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they move these goal posts, the judge has been criticized for the work he did on behalf of his former client, and that former client was the united states government when he was in the justice department. of course, we've had a lot of nominees over many years who had worked as lawyers in the government. mostry, justice kagan worked as solicitor general. as we all know, she argued before the supreme court that the government could constitutionally ban pamphlet materials. now, that's a fairly radical position for the united states government to take. so we are asked about -- when asked about the argument during her hearing, this is her answer.
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she said she was a government lawyer, making an argument on behalf of her client -- that's the united states government -- and it had nothing to do with her personal views on the subject. but now there's a whole different standard for some people of this body. the answer is apparently no longer good enough. now to hear the other side tell it, government lawyers are responsible for the positions that their client -- the united states government -- takes and a position that they have to argue. i respect my colleagues who are making this argument, but this argument does not hold water. what then are my colleagues on the other side left with, after moving these goalposts many times, after making all these arguments that don't stick?
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what are they left with? because they can't get any of their attacks on the judge to stick, all they're left with are complaints about the so-called dark money being spent by advocacy groups. yes, that's where the goalposts took them, to dark money. as i said yesterday, that all speaks volumes about the nominee, that after reviewing 2,700 cases, roughly 180,000 pages of documents from the justice and the george w. bush library, thousands of pages of briefs and over 20 hours of testimony before our committee and hundreds of questions, both during and after the hearing, all his detractors are left with
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is an attack on the nominee's supporters, people out there that probably the nominee doesn't even know. and they raise money to tell people about him, which they have a constitutional right to do under the first amendment -- freedom of speech. the bottom line is that they don't have any substantive attacks on this nominee that will stick. so they've shifted tactics yet again, moving the goalpost, and are now trying to intimidate and silence those who are speaking out and making their voices heard in regard to this nominee. but here is the most interesting thing about this latest development:
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there are advocacy groups on every side of this nomination. there's people out there for him and raising money and spending the money for him, and there's people out there against him, raising and spending money so people know why they disagree that this nominee -- with this nominenominee. and, of course, that's nothing new. that's been true of past nominations. and there's nothing wrong with citizens engaging in the first amendment freedom of speech and in the process of being for or against and encouraging public debate of whether a person ought to be on the supreme court or not be on the supreme court. now, it was certainly true when liberal groups favoring the garland nomination poured money
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into iowa to attack me last year for not holding a hearing. for that reason, i didn't hear a lot of my democratic colleagues complain about that money that could well be called dark money as well. and, of course, there are groups on the left who are running ads in opposition to this nominee and threatening primaries. they're actually threatening prior mayors against -- primaries against democrats who may not toll the line and might not help filibuster this nomination. for some reason, i'm not hearing a lot of complaints about the money that's being raised to make some democrats that might support this nominee look bad. and, as i've said, there's nothing wrong with citizens
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engaging in the process and making their voices heard. this is one of the ways that we're free to speak our mind in a democracy. it's been true for a long, long time. as i said yesterday in the committee meeting, if you don't like outside groups getting involved, the remedy is not to intimidate and try to silence that message; remedy you ought to follow is to support nominees who apply the law as it was written and then, in turn, leave the legislating to a body elected to make laws under our constitution, the senate and the house of representatives. but regardless of what you think about advocacy groups, about their getting involved, there's
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certainly no reason that they should go to great lengths to talk about this in our committee or talk about it to the nominee because he can't control any of that. the truth of the matter is that democrats have no principled reason to oppose this nominati nomination, and those are words from david frederick that i've quoted before. it's clear, instead, that much of the opposition to the nominee is pre-texture -- pre-textural. the merits and qualifications of the nominee, partnersly, no longer matter. the only conclusion that we're left to draw is that the democrats will refuse to confirm then any nominee that this republican president may put
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forth. there's no reason to think the democrats would confirm any other judge the president identified as a potential nominee or any judge that he'd nominate. in fact, we don't even need to speculate on that point because the minority leader has spoken that point and made his point very clear. he said, before the president made this nomination -- and i want to quote him one sentence, "i can't imagine us supporting anyone from his list." end of quote. so, it was very clear from the very beginning that the minority leader was going to lead this unprecedented filibuster. the only question was what excuse he would manufacture to
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justify it. the nominee enjoys brought bipartisan support from those who know hill -- enjoys broad bipartisan support from those who know him, and he enjoys broad bipartisan support from those i in the senate. i recognize that the minority leader is under very enormous pressure from special interest groups to take this abnormal step of filibustering, filibustering a judge because filibustering the senate is not unusual. but filibustering a supreme court judge is very unusual. and i know other members of this caucus are operating under those very same pressures as well. in fact, yesterday while the committee was debating the nomination, a whole host of liberal and progressive groups held a press conference outside
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of the democratic senatorial campaign committee demanding that the campaign arm cut off campaign funds for any incumbent democrat who doesn't filibuster this nominee. those groups argue that because the democratic senatorial campaign committee had already raised a lot of money off the minority leader's announcement that he was going to lead a filibuster, that that committee shouldn't provide that money to any member who refused to join this misguided effort. well, all i can say is that it would be truly unfortunate for democrats to buckle to that pressure and engage in the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court justice nominee in u.s. history.
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in other words -- another way to say that is, the first partisan filibuster in the 228-year history of our country since 1789. if they regard this nominee -- if they regard this nominee as the first in our history worthy of a partisan filibuster, it's clear they would filibuster anyone. but i've said since long before the election that the new president would nominate the next justice and that the judiciary committee would process that nomination. that's just what we've done through the committee, and now we're doing it on the floor. so i urge my colleagues not to engage in this unprecedented
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partisan demonstration. everyone knows the nominee is a qualified mainstream, independent judge of the very highest caliber. republicans know it, democrats know it, and the left-leaning editorial boards across the country prove even the press knows it. so i urge my colleagues on the other side to come to their senses and not engage in the first partisan filibuster in u.s. history and, instead, join me and vote in favor of judge gorsuch's confirmation. i yield the floor. mr. gardner: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, mr. president. for the opportunity to come to
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the floor today and support judge neil gorsuch's confirmation to the united states supreme court. as a coloradan, it gives me great honor to be here to talk about his nomination, the exceptional qualities of judge gorsuch and how he will make us proud from the bench of the united states supreme court. i also want to commend my colleague, chairman chuck grassley, for his work on the senate judiciary committee, for presiding over a very fair series of hearings, giving members on both sides of the aisle ample time to learn about judge gorsuch, to question judge gorsuch, to have the time to present their side of the argument, depending on whatever side that was going to be. but because of the fairness of the hearings, because of the fairness with which chairman grassley executed the hearings, it's quite obvious that this chamber is faced with a very exceptional judge, a very exceptional nominee, and a
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nominee that really is no excuse to vote against. neil gorsuch really is about the story of the west, a fourth-generation coloradan, exciting to stand here to talk about somebody who shares so much of our western experience and western heritage with us. somebody who serves on the 10th circuit court in deny very, a circuit -- in denver, a circuit court that represents 28% of the land mass of the united states. neil gorsuch's background and upbringing represents the hard work of westerners. his grandfather worked in union say, the main railway terminal in downtown denyvestment he put himself through medical school and went on to become a surgeon. he raised 17 children. neil's paternal grandfather was his legal inspiration. after serving in world war i, john gorsuch put himself through
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undergrad and law school at the university of denver by driving a trol trolley car. he made time to help denver's welfare department and participated in numerous civic organizations building a legendary law firm in denver known as gorsuch kurgis. this is the kind of upbringing that made neil gorsuch who he is. in his younger days neil moved furniture, shoveled snow like so many of us in colorado. he mowed lawns, the kind of upbringing that brings grit and determination to any person who knows hard work. it is that ethic that helped neil consistently realize academic excellence. it's been debated on this floor his academic credentials he would bring to the supreme court. his background and education at columbia, law school at harvard, ph.d., and the
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teachings he carries out at the university of colorado school of law. this week we're going to hear a lot of finger pointing, a lot of accusations. we're going to hear a lot of blame. but the one thing that we may not hear too much about is the person that we're debating -- neil gorsuch. and that's because when it comes to judge gorsuch, people understand what a well-qualified, highly qualified judge that he is. people understand the incredible legal mind that he would bring to the supreme court. so instead of debating the merits of the nominee, they're going to debate how we got here to the place we are today, that by the end of this week architects of obstruction may force this chamber to vote on partisan lines on something that should be a bipartisan effort. in colorado, if you go to downtown denver, you'll see an
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area known as confluence park. confluence park is a great place in colorado where people go to spend an afternoon, perhaps a weekend on a hot summer day, where two rivers join together. there at confluence park, colorado's the noble laureate has a poem inscribed in a plaque that says i wasn't here yet i remember them, the first night those wagon people pushed aside enough of the cottonwoods to put our city where the blue woods rested. it is the point in colorado where we're always looking toward the mountains toward that great blue sky, that's what neil gorsuch has done his entire life. somebody who is forward-thinking, understands the majesty of our west and who understands the majesty of our form of government. a system that has three separate but equal branches of power. he's led a life dedicated to the majesty of our constitution, somebody who understands the pillars of our government, that
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no one branch of government should gain unfair advantage over the other. that's what we ought to be debating this week. but instead we're going to live the consequences of decisions that were made over a decade ago. it's interesting that judge gorsuch servants on the tenth circuit because one of his fellow judges on the tenth circuit court was nominated by president bush in 2001, 2002, 2003. he was tim timkovich who was caught up in the very first round of filibusters that changed the way this chamber worked on nominations. it was a calculated determination by some in this chamber to use a tool that had never been used before in such a partisan fashion, set a lethal partisan fashion that it would bring down judges and ultimately lead to a corrosion of senate
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custom, a corrosion of over 200 years of senate practice when it comes to judges, confirmations and ultimately this week we'll see whether or not it leads to the disruption of how we confirm united states supreme court justices. make no mistake about it, over the past 200 years we've not seen this moment before, a successful partisan filibuster of a supreme court justice. people are going to talk about this around the country as they read the news, as they listen to the radio, as they watch on tv what is happening in the united states senate. and most will just wonder, well, is the nominee qualified? because if the nominee is qualified, then why are we trying to have an argument about he said, she said 15 years ago, 16 years ago? if the nominee is qualified, well qualified, they should be
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confirmed. why are we going to change 200 years of senate practice and custom if the nominee is highly qualified? has what it takes to serve on the supreme court. that's the choice members of this chamber will have to make over the next several days as we work to confirm judge gorsuch. in 2006, when judge gorsuch was confirmed to serve on the tenth circuit in denver, this chamber did so unanimously by voice vote. there are a dozen members in this chamber who served then who did not oppose his nomination then. many of whom seem willing today to block his nomination to the supreme court. one thing has changed in the intervening years. that's who serves in the presidency, who serves in the white house, who serves as president and whether that nomination came from a republican or democrat. the nomination now in 2006 came from a republican and still he
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was confirmed unanimously. judge gorsuch now appointed, nominated to serve on the supreme court, appointed by a republican again, and yet those very same people who supported him 11 years ago are now objecting to his service on the high court. that after an exemplary decade of service on the tenth circuit court. service that showed judge gorsuch joining in over 2,700 opinions of which he joined the majority the vast amount of time. service in which he got to know the colorado legal community, and as we've discussed over the past several days and several weeks and past month, the people who know judge gorsuch best are the people who serve with him, who worked with him at the department of justice, who practiced law with him and who serve in the colorado legal community. i thought it was important that we spend some time talking about the people who know judge gorsuch best, because i think their opinion matters in this.
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people of colorado who want judge gorsuch confirmed. i want to start with a series of quotes from supporters of judge gorsuch back home in colorado. again, those people who know him the best. this particular quote comes from not a republican, not a conservative, but this quote comes from steve far ber, who served in 2008 as the democratic national convention cochair. again, this is not a conservative. this is not a republican. this is -- this is the cochair of the 2008 democratic national convention. we know judge gorsuch to be a person of utmost character. he is fair, decent, and honest, both as a judge and a person. steve farber continued, we all agree that judge gorsuch is exceptionally well qualified to join the supreme court. he deserves an up-or-down vote. this isn't mitch mcconnell
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saying this. it's not cory gardner, republican senator from colorado saying this, this is a very prominent figure in colorado's legal community and somebody who served in the 2008 democratic national convention. and one of those 12 people who supported judge gorsuch in 2006 was then-senator barack obama, who was seeking the nomination at mile high stadium at this very, very convention that steve farber was cochairing. steve farber says we should confirm judge gorsuch, up-or-down vote. norm brownstein said judge gorsuch deserves a fair shake in the confirmation process. another very prominent democrat lawyer in denver. and we've heard a lot of people talk about the cases, those 2,700 opinions that he was a part of. we heard senator grassley talk about arguments against judge
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gorsuch, people who have said that judge gorsuch was always against the little guy. he was siding with corporations. here's a quote from a denver lawyer, a denver attorney and democrat on representing underdogs before judge gorsuch. judge gorsuch issued a decision that most certainly focused on the little guy. and why did marcy glenn say this? marcy glenn said this because she knows that judge gorsuch voted with the majority of the court in 99% of the cases, the opinions. those 2,700 opinions, 99% of the time judge gorsuch ruled with the majority. that's not trying to look out for the big guy or the little guy. that's about following the law. that's about a court that recognizes it's not in the business of focus groups or policy preferences, popularity
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contests or poll testing. it's about a judge who recognizes that the rule of law matters and that you take an opinion where the law leads you and takes you. not where your personal opinion takes you. 99% of the time judge gorsuch voted, sided with the majority on the court. 97% of the time those rulings were in the majority. those decisions were unanimous. it was 99% that he sided with the majority. 97% of them were unanimously decided. this is a judge who is as mainstream as we have seen, somebody who understands the obligation and the duty that they have to the law, somebody who understands what it means to be a good judge. i want to read a letter that senator bennet and i received from the colorado legal community. as members of the colorado legal community we are proud to support the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to be our next
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supreme court justice. we hold a diverse set of political views as republicans, democrats and independents. bipartisan support back home from those people who know the judge the best. what does neil gorsuch think it takes to be a good and faithful judge? just read from judge gorsuch. it seems to me that the separation of legislative and judicial powers isn't just a a formality dictated by the constitution neither is it about ensuring that two institutions with basically two obligations are balanced one against the other. the distinctive powers were distinct by nature and separated by the constitution design. an independent right of the people essential to the preservation of rights later enumerated in the constitution and its amendment. now consider if we allow the judge to act like a legislator unconstrained by the bicameralism and hurdles of article 1 the judge would need only his own voice or those of
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just a few colleagues to revise the law willy-nilly in accordance with his preference add the task of legislating would become a simple thing. notice how easily it is to revise this to account for changes in the world or to fix mistakes, unable to throw judges out of office in elections you'd have to wait for them to die before you had chance for change. even then you'd find change difficult for courts cannot easily undo the errors given the weight they afford to precedent. life appointed judges are to legislate. the idea of self-government would seem to wither to the point of pointlessness. it seems for reasons thriek these hamilton explained that liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone but it has everything to fear from the union of the judicial and legislative powers. that's what judge gorsuch said makes a good and faithful judge. and so over the course of the next week, over the course of the next several days, we're
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going to flesh out in detail some of the decisions that people may find they disagree with. we'll flush out in detail judge gorsuch's temperament at the committee hearings but there's no doubt that judge gorsuch has the support of the american people who believe he should be confirmed. there is no doubt that judge gorsuch has the support of people who cochair the democratic national convention, prominent attorneys who know him best from colorado. there's no doubt that his is an upbringing from the west that's the story of how we built the west. and so i hope that over the course of the next few days republicans and democrats alike will come to the conclusion that we will do this country a service instead of having partisan fights, but to have bipartisan support of a judge who will truly make this country proud, of a judge who truly -- who will represent the law, not personal opinion. and so, mr. president, thank
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you for the opportunity for being on the floor today and i look forward to being here for the rest of the week as we talk about the qualifications of judge gorsuch and we talk about the nomination. but more than anything, let's make it clear that for 200 years, 200-plus years we have allowed judges to come to this floor for the supreme court confirmed by simple majority with no threshold, no 60-vote requirement. we've done so without partisan filibusters. i think if we can maintain that custom, that practice, this country will be better served. and there is no reason to change two centuries of practice in this body simply because they've decided they don't like the person who made the nomination. mr. president, thank you, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order the time until 4:30 will be controlled by the democrats.
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ms. hirono: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, over the next hour, a number of my colleagues and i will join together to speak in opposition to the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to be an associate justice of the united states supreme court. we are joining together today because this nomination is not just about the future of the supreme court, it's about the future of our country. there is no question about judge gorsuch's credentials or about his intellect. he is a graduate of columbia and harvard and has been a judge on the tenth circuit court for more than a decade. in fact, his credentials are a stark contrast to so many of the dangerously unqualified individuals president trump appointed to his cabinet. judge gorsuch should not get a pass simply because we are relieved that president trump didn't nominate a member of his family or a reality television personality for this job.
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credentials cannot and should not be the only points we consider when evaluating a lifetime appointment to the supreme court. in fact, we should expect that anyone nominated to the supreme court will at least have impressive credentials. by many accounts, judge gorsuch would be the most conservative justice on the court, even more conservative than justice thomas or justice scalia. right-wing advocacy groups cheered his nomination and have spent over $10 million to support his nomination. they spent this money because they have high confidence that he will rule in their favor on so many of the tough cases that will come before the supreme court. these groups, including the heritage foundation and the federalist society, selected judge gorsuch because he meets their litmus test for how they think a justice should rule.
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and they selected him because they understood judge gorsuch clearly met the litmus test the president outlined during his campaign. to paraphrase, donald trump wanted a judge who would prioritize the religious freedom of a corporation over the rights of its employees, uphold an expansive view of the second amendment making it much tougher to enact sensible gun legislation to protect our communities, and who would overturn roe v. wade as donald trump put it automatically. judge gorsuch's credentials are just a starting point. for the people who need justice most urgently, judge gorsuch's view of the law, his judicial philosophy will make a world of difference. the working families, women, differently abled, people of
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color, lgbtq community, native peoples, these are the people who will be impacted by the decisions a justice gorsuch would make. today, april 4, is equal pay day, which means that it took women until today to make the same amount that men made in 2016. women have had to work more than three months longer to catch up, on average, to men. this significant pay disparity has extended -- existed for centuries but has been illegal in the united states since the passage of the equal pay act in 1963. approving illegal pay disparity under this law has been challenge, as we all know. nationally, women are paid only 79 cents for every dollar a man is paid. in hawaii, women are paid only 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. that is a little better than the
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rest of the country, but it is no way good enough. at the median salary, that 82 cents translates into about $8,000 less for a woman in hawaii. that's a lot of money in my state, where the high cost of living makes it even more difficult for working families to get ahead, not to mention many working families in hawaii, as well as in other states, are headed by women. my immigrant family was headed by my mother. as we mark equal pay day, i am well-aware of the tremendous impact a single justice can have on the lives and rights of millions of americans. under chief justice john roberts, the supreme court has issued numerous 5-4 decisions which have favored corporate interests over the rights of individuals. cases like shelby county, like citizens united, like hobby
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lobby. one of the most deeply flawed of these 5-4 decisions was in a 2007 case called ledbetter v. good year tire and rubber company. that decision had the effect of denying justice to a woman who had suffered pay discrimination for more than a decade. the court said, in effect, that because lilly ledbetter didn't learn of the pay discrimination until it was too late, our justice system could not help her. put another way, under the ruling, employers could discriminate against women so long as the employers made sure the woman didn't find out about it. this would not be hard to do, as employers are not likely to announce that they are providing discriminatory pay to their female employees. this is what happened to lilly ledbetter. she didn't know. this decision was deeply wrong and surprised many court watchers.
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it undid years of judicial precedent. i remember learning of this decision in hawaii. i was serving on the house education and labor committee of the u.s. house of representatives at that time. the supreme court decision interpreted federal law which fell within the jurisdiction of the committee on which i sat. george miller, then chair of the committee, immediately announced that we would change the law to be interpreted the way it had been before the court applied their own narrow and wrong interpretation. we passed the lilly ledbetter fair pay act with a democratic congress in 2009. frankly, i doubt a republican-controlled house and senate would have done the same. it was the first bill president obama signed into law. i was there for that bill signing. though we could not retroactively help mrs. ledbetter, this law reversed the supreme court decision and ensured that the
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injustice she endured did not happen to other women or to anyone else. clearly, the composition of the court and identity of the fifth justice matters a great deal in the real world of 5-4 decisions. yet, during his hearing, judge gorsuch refused to even acknowledge the role that judicial philosophy plays in the role of a justice and he downplayed the impact the law could have on people's lives, repeatedly saying he merely applied the law. if justices merely applied the law, then the law was so clear, we wouldn't have so many 5-4 decisions in the most critical cases. judge gorsuch told me during our meeting in february that the purpose of title 3 courts -- these are the federal courts -- is to protect minority rights. but i found through examining
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his writings and decisions that judge gorsuch's view of the law lacks an understanding of people, their lives, and how the court's decisions would impact them. this was particularly true in examining his ruling in the hobly lobby decision, where judge gorsuch demonstrated a cavalier attitude about how his decision would impact the thousands of women working at the hob will he lobby company -- at the hobby lobby company. in this case, judge gorsuch decided that a corporation with tens of thousands of employees, many of them women, has rights to the exercise of religion protected by the religious freedom restoration act and that it could use those rights to deny the thousands of women it employed access to contraceptive coverage. during the hearing, i pressed judge gorsuch on whether he considered what would happen to the thousands of women who
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worked at the hobby lobby, many of them working paycheck to paycheck, who would now be denied access to contraceptive coverage. he responded by saying, quote, i gave every aspect of that case very close consideration. end quote. i fail to see what consideration judge gorsuch gave to those me mail employees. certainly not evident in the record. justice ginsburg's dissent when this case reached the supreme court in hobby lobby, in which three other justices joined, did affect the real impact this would have on women. justice ginsburg wrote, "the exceptions sought by hobby lobby in conestoga would deny legions of women who do not hold their employees' beliefs access to
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contraceptive coverage." in the tenth circuit's opinion, which judge gorsuch joined, and his own concountries, judge gorsuch showed grave concern with the potential complicity of the hobby lobby owners. these are the corporate owners, in violating their beliefs. but he gave little or no consideration to the compelling interests of these women, their thousands of female employees, in having access to contraceptive care. judge gorsuch's -- judge gorsuch failed to address our concerns during his hearing. rather than recognizing the impact of his decision on thousands of women who work at hobby lobby and millions more who work at companies all across the country, judge gorsuch repeatedly said that if we didn't like what the court was doing or what he was doing, then congress could change the law. as though that is such a simple
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thing. this is not an academic exercise. this is about the real-world impact, not just of the hobby lobby decision but of decisions a justice gorsuch would make for the next 25 years from which there is no appeal. judge gorsuch's nomination raises so many serious concerns for women across the country that i look forward to addressing over the next hour. during his hearing, judge gorsuch told us time and again to focus on his whole record as a judge and not on certain cases or things he wrote in books, articles, or e-mails. in fact, my republican colleagues have suggested we are
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being unfair when we try to look at the things he's said and written in order to discern how judge gorsuch would approach cases, if confirmed. we wanted to get at his heart. we wanted to get at his judicial philosophy. some of my colleagues have even so far -- gone so far as to suggest that by raising legitimate questions about judge gorsuch's record as part of our advice and consent responsibility, we are attacking judges in the same way president trump has done during his two and a half months in office. this is fundamentally wrong and deeply misleading. it's like comparing apples and oranges. that comparison doesn't begin to describe the difference. two weeksing a in the middle of judge -- two weeks ago in the middle of judge gorsuch's confirmation hearing, president trump renewed his tac on
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judge -- his attack on judge watson of hawaii for blocking the president's unconstitutional muslim ban. although i wasn't then in the senate, i recall during justice sotomayor's confirmation hearing that republican after republican ignored almost the entirety of her 25 years on the federal bench. instead, they focused on question after question at her confirmation hearing on a gross mis-heed reading of one -- misreading of one speech, one speech she gave to a group of young women about the value of diversity on the bench. republicans on the judiciary committee and in the senate twisted her phrase "wise latina." that is a term she used in her speech. they twisted her use of the phrase "wise latina" well beyond meaning. looking at that speech, it is
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clear she meant to instill confidence in young women and a sense that they, too, needed to participate in a life of the law. that the law was not -- is not a place that excludes them. senate republicans turned these words into a baseless attack to undermine justice sotomayor's well-earned reputation of fairly applying the law in thousands of cases that had appeared before her. she had been on the bench for 25 years, but they focused on two words and one speech she gave during that time. many republicans then cited that speech to justify their opposition to her nomination. so when i hear my republican colleagues touting their fairness towards president obama's supreme court nominees, i recall not just their omitting
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any mention of justice merrick garland, the well-yes earnings didded, well-respected moderate whom they blocked from even having a hearing; i also remember justice sotomayor. i remember that my republican colleagues ignored her unanimous well-qualified rating from the american bar association, her long record and the tremendous chorus from the right and the left supporting her historic nomination. if confirmed, judge gorsuch's decisions will have a profound impact on the country not just during his time on the court, but for generations to come. this is particularly true for women whose constitutional right to an abortion will be threatened by a justice gorsuch.
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during the presidential campaign, donald trump laid out his litmus test for nominating a justice. he said, for example, that overturning roe v. wade would happen automatically, in my opinion -- and i am quoting the president -- because i am putting pro-life justices on the court. that was candidate trump's well-articulated litmus test which he followed through on in his nomination of judge gorsuch. during his hearing, my colleagues and i tried to get a better sense of how and whether judge gorsuch would follow the president and uphold this constitutionally protected right. based on his lack of response, i am skeptical that a justice gorsuch would uphold this critical right that generations of women fought to preserve. in 1992, in casey, the supreme court reaffirmed the case --
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the court holding of roe that the right to an abortion is constitutionally protected. the court held that these decisions are protected because they are among -- i'm quoting the court -- the most intimate and personal choices a person makes in a lifetime. end quote. in his 2006 book on the future of assisted suicide, judge gorsuch argued that casey should be read more as a decision based merely on respect for precedent rather than based on the recognition of constitutional protections for personal autonomy or for intimate or personal decisions. when i asked judge gorsuch about this, although he recognized that roe and casey are precedents of the supreme court, he did not go further and acknowledge that the
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constitution itself protects the right to make intimate and personal decisions. in the time since casey, the court has relied on the protection for intimate and personal choices to decide many nonabortion cases, such as the owe owe owe -- obergerfeld case which recognizes the right to marriage equality. we need a justice who understands and accepts the importance of this right, that it is the constitution that provides protections for intimate and personal decisions. otherwise, i am concerned he will join the court and chip away at those protections. judge gorsuch said that the judicial robe changes a person. this was another way of telling us to ignore his only strongly held and frequently expressed personal views and indeed his
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judicial philosophy which he continued to not discuss. of course if judicial philosophy didn't matter, senate republicans would not have engaged in the unprecedented act of blocking president obama's nominee merrick garland, a well-credentialed, well-respected, moderate nominee, from even having a hearing. they held the seat open to be filled by the next president, preferably a republican one. in neil gorsuch, the republicans got a nominee selected by a right-wing organizations who are counting on judge gorsuch to rule in in accordance with their very conservative views that put corporate interests over individual rights. that's why, to put it simply, who wears the judicial robe matters.
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just as a federalist society and the heritage foundation want judge gorsuch to wear the robe, the people who come before the bench, the millions of hardworking americans whose lives will be affected by the court's decisions want a justice who will protect their rights. they want a justice who will wear the robe that protects their rights. i note that i'm joined by senator duckworth of illinois, and i yield time to her. senator duckworth. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. ms. duckworth: thank you, mr. president. today on equal pay day we're reminded of the fact that women across the country still make less money for the exact same work as their male counterparts, which is especially problematic for women of color for whom the gap is even wider. we're also reminded of how
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violates our court system is for the future of equal opportunity for women in america and to the future of our working families. the next supreme court justice will enter the court at a critical moment for women's rights, a moment which could change the course of reproductive rights, voting rights, disability rights, and civil liberties in our nation for generations to come. so naturally i much lie my colleagues on the judiciary committee wanted to know how these critical issues in judge gorsuch's philosophy. i have concerns with his record of failing to protect women's health, granting corporations and health care providers leeway to undermine women's access to care. i'm also troubled by his rulings on disability rights that would jeopardize access to public education for students with disabilities, which is particularly alarming for the 27 million women in america who live with a disability. it's personal for me. as an american living with
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disabilities, my life isn't like those of my colleagues in congress. getting around can be difficult. i can't always get into restaurants or other public spaces even here in the capitol. i have to spend a lot of time planning how to get from one place to another. i understand that not everyone thinks about these things, and for most of my adult life i didn't either. but after i became injured in combat in iraq, i learned how important the protections of laws like the americans with disabilities act and individuals with disabilities education act are to ensuring millions of americans with disabilities can live and thrive with dignity. without them, americans like me wouldn't be able to get to work, go to school, go to job, pay taxes, go shopping, or do any of the things most of us take for granted. that's why i'm speaking out today, because it matters deeply to me that our next supreme court justice understands just how vital these
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protections are for americans living with a disability. it's not just a disabilities rights issue. it's a civil rights issue. similarly, a women's access to health care is also a civil rights issue, and it's an issue that affects every single american. when a woman can't get the care she needs, her family suffers. and when her family suffers, her community suffers and our nation suffers. that's why i find it so deeply troubling that judge gorsuch has time and again actively worked against reproductive justice. in a dissenting opinion, he argued in favor of defunding planned parenthood in utah based on evidence that other judges deemed as false. in the hobby lobby case, he made it clear that he favors the religious beliefs of corporations over the rights of women to make their own choices about their bodies. what's worse, that isn't the only time that judge gorsuch
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ruled to put corporate rights over human rights. you may have heard about a case in my home state of illinois in which judge gorsuch ruled in favor of the rights of a trucking company over the rights of an employee in grave danger through no fault of his own. that's deeply troubling to me. he also dissented in a ruling giving a female ups driver just the opportunity -- the opportunity to prove sex discrimination, and then again on a decision to fine a company that failed to properly train a worker resulting in that worker's death. judge gorsuch's record makes it very clear that he's willing to elevate large corporations at the expense of everyday americans, jeopardizing our civil rights. that's why it was so important to me that he explain his judicial philosophy, that he explain to me his view on so many of these critical issues. but then during four days of hearings before the judiciary
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committee, judge gorsuch had the chance to clarify the philosophy behind his past rulings, to explain how his rulings may reveal his judicial philosophy as a supreme court justice. however, instead of addressing these concerns, he dodged these questions, questions on some of the most important issues of our time. he wouldn't even express clearly his views on roe v. wade. the american people simply deserve better than that. earning a lifetime appointment to the supreme court requires much more than a genial demeanor and ability to artfully dodge questions. it requires honesty in answering even the toughest questions. that's why i cannot vote to confirm judge gorsuch. i take seriously my constitutional responsibility as a united states senator to offer the president my informed consent, and it's clear judge gorsuch has not provided some of
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the most essential information needed to grant him a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court. therefore, i'm voting no on his nomination and supporting continued debate on the subject, because i can't vote for a nominee with so many questions left unanswered. i thank you, and i yield back to the gentlewoman from hawaii. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i'm joined by my colleague from california, senator harris. i yield to her. the presiding officer: the senator from california. ms. harris: mr. president, i'd like to thank the senator from illinois for her important remarks just now and for her leadership and her friendship to so many of us. she's been an extraordinary hero of mine personally, and so many of us look to her leadership. so i thank her and for her speaking on the nomination of judge gorsuch. mr. president, across the street from this chamber stands the united states supreme court, and above its doors are
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the words equal justice under law. as senators, we have a solemn responsibility to ensure that every man and woman who sits on that court upholds our ideals, and that ideal. as a united states senator, i take that responsibility extremely seriously. you see, almost two decades after the supreme court's landmark ruling in brown v. board of education, i was part of only the second class to integrate the berkeley, california, public schools. if that court had ruled differently, i likely would not have become a lawyer or a prosecutor or a district attorney or the attorney general of california. and i certainly would not be standing here today as a united states senator. i know from personal experience
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just how profoundly the court's decisions touch every aspect of americans' lives. and for that reason, i rise to join my colleagues in strong opposition to the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to the united states supreme court. as you know, judge gorsuch went through four days of hearings in front of the senate judiciary committee, and here is what we learned: we learned that judge gorsuch refused to answer the most basic of questions. he initially even refused to share his views on brown v. board of education. we learned that judge gorsuch has a deeply conservative world view, and we learned that judge gorsuch interprets the law in a theoretical bubble, completely detached from the real world. as he puts it,, quote, focusing
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backward, not forward. if judge gorsuch joins the united states supreme court, his narrow approach will do real harm to real people, especially the women of america. america deserves a supreme court justice who will protect a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own health. judge gorsuch won't. judge gorsuch carefully avoided speaking about abortion, but he's clearly demonstrated a hostility to women's access to health care. last year when the court he sits on sided with planned parenthood, judge gorsuch took the highly unusual step of asking the court to hear the case again. judge gorsuch determined that a 13,000-person for-profit corporation was entitled to exercise the same religious beliefs as a person.
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that meant the company did not have to provide employees birth control coverage and could impose the company's religious beliefs on all of its female employees. i ask my colleagues, why does judge gorsuch seem to believe that corporations deserve full rights and protections but women don't? as we mark equal pay day today, americans deserve a supreme court justice who will protect the rights of women in the workplace. judge gorsuch won't. in employment discrimination cases, judge gorsuch has consistently sided with companies against their employees. these employees include women like betty pinkerton, the facts of the case were undisputed. her boss repeatedly asked her about her sexual habits and breasts size and invited her to
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his home then fired her when she reported sexual harassment. judge gorsuch ruled against betty. why? part of the justification that he offered was that she waited two months before reporting the harassment. americans deserve a supreme court justice who upholds the rights of all women, including transgender women. judge gorsuch won't. when a transgender inmate claimed that the prison's practice of starting and stopping her hormone treatment was a violation of her rights, judge gorsuch disagreed. as the national womens law center observed, quote, his record reveals a troubling pattern of narrowly approaching the legal principles upon which every day women across the nation rely. they write that his appointment, quote, would mean a serious
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setback for women in this country and for generations to come. but judging by his record, if judge gorsuch becomes justice gorsuch, women won't be the only ones facing setbacks. take luke, a young boy with ought tism -- autism when his parents switched him to a school that specialized in autism education. judge gorsuch ruled that the support luke received in public school was good enough. in the middle of a senate hearing two weeks ago, the supreme court unanimously ruled that judge gorsuch was wrong on the law. or consider alphonse mad inn. he was stuck on the road in
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subzero temperatures and abandoned his trailer to seek help and save his life. for leaving the trailer, he was fired. judge gorsuch wrote that the company was entitled to file him for not enduring the cold and not staying in his freezing truck. then there is grace wayne. she sued when her university refused to provide the medical leave her doctor recommended. judge gorsuch called the university's decision reasonable, i quote, and rejected her lawsuit. sadly, grace died last summer. mr. president, judge gorsuch has an ivy league credential, but his record shows that he lacks sound judgment to uphold justice. he ignores the complexities of human beings, the humiliating sting of harassment, the fear of
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a karns patient -- of a cancer patient or a worker who feels his life is in danger. in short, his rulings lack a basic sense of empathy. judge gorsuch understands the text of the law to be sure, but he has repeatedly failed to show that he fully understands those important words: equal justice under law. for the highest court in the land, i say -- let's find someone who does. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i thank my colleague from california for her persuasive remarks. i am joined by my colleague from massachusetts, senator warren. i yield to her.
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the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. thank you to the senator from hawaii for calling us here together today. mr. president, it is clear that president trump's nominee to the supreme court, neil gorsuch, does not have enough support in the senate to be confirmed under our rules. when a supreme court nominee does not have enough support to be confirmed, the solution is to pick a new nominee, but republicans in the senate are threatening to pursue a different path. they are considering breaking the senate rules to force the nominee on to the supreme court anyway. now, i'll be honest. i think it is crazy that we are considering confirming a lifetime trump nominee to the supreme court at a moment when the president's campaign is under the cloud of an active, ongoing f.b.i. counterintelligence investigation that could result in indictments and appeals that will go all the way to the
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supreme court so that trump's nominee could be the deciding vote on whether trump or his supporters broke the law and will be held accountable. that is nuts, and i believe we should tap the brakes on any nominee until this investigation is concluded. but even if none of that were happening, i would still oppose the confirmation of neil gorsuch. my objection is based on judge gorsuch's record, which i have reviewed in detail. judge gorsuch's nomination is the latest step in a long political campaign by right-wing groups and their billionaire backers to capture our courts. of the last 30 -- over the last 30 years as the rich have gotten richer and working families have struggled to make ends meet, the scales of justice have weighed in favor of the powerful.
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they have invested vasts sum of money into reshaping the judiciary and their investment has paid off in spades. recent supreme court decisions have made it easier for corporate giants who cheat their customers to avoid responsibility. recent supreme court decisions have let those same corporations and their billionaire investors spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections and manipulate the political process. recent supreme court decisions have made it easier for businesses to abuse and discriminate against their workers. giant corporations and right-wing groups have notched a lot of big wins in the supreme court lately, but they know that their luck depends on two things. first, stacking the courts with their allies and second stopping the confirmation of judges that don't sufficiently cater to
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their interests. that's part of the reason that they launched an all-out attack on fair-minded mainstream judges, judges like merrick garland, a thoughtful, intelligent fair judge to fill the open vacancy on the supreme court. these very same corporate and right-wing groups handed donald trump a list of acceptable people foil the supreme court -- to fill the supreme court vacancy. and as a presidential candidate, he promised to pick a justice from their list. who made it on to the right-wing list? people who, unlike judge garland, displayed a sufficient allegiance to their corporate and right-wing interest. judge gorsuch was on that list and his nomination is their reward. even before he became a federal judge, judge gorsuch fully embraced right-wing,
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pro-corporate views. he argued that it should be harder, not easier, for shareholders who got cheated to bring fraud cases in court. and on the bench, judge gorsuch's extreme views meant giant corporations to run over their workers. in hobby lobby when he had to choose between the rights of corporations and the rights of women, judge gorsuch chose corporations. in consumer protection cases when he had to choose between the rights of corporations and the rights of the consumers they cheated, judge gorsuch chose corporations. in discrimination cases when he had to choose between the rights of corporations and the rights of employees who had been discriminated against, judge gorsuch chose corporations. time after time in case after case judge gorsuch showed a remarkable talent for creatively
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interpreting the law in ways that benefited large corporations and that harmed working americans, women, children, and consumers. now, when it comes to the rules that prevent giant corporations from polluting our air and our water, from poisoning our food, from cheating hard-working families, judge gorsuch believes that it should be easier, not harder, easier for judges to overturn those rules, a view that is even more extreme than that of the late justice scalia. republicans assert that judge gorsuch is a fair mainstream judge, but right-wing groups and their wealthy anonymous funders picked him for one reason because they know he will be their ally and that's not how our court system is supposed to work. judges should be neutral
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arbiters dispensing equal justice under law. they should not be people hand picked by wealthy insiders and giant corporations. for the working families struggling to make ends meet, for people desperately in need of health care, for everyone fighting for their right to vote, for disabled students fighting for access to a quality education, for anyone who cares about our justice system there is only one question that should guide us in evaluating a nominee to sit on any court, whether that person will defend equal justice for every single one of us. judge gorsuch's record answers that question with a loud no. republicans have a choice. they can tell president trump to send a new nominee, a mainstream nominee who can earn broad support or they can jam through
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this nominee. if they do jam through judge gorsuch, the republicans will own the gorsuch court and every extreme 5-4 decision that comes out of it. republicans will own every attack on a woman's right to choose, on voting rights, on lgbtq rights on secret spending in our political system and on freedom of speech and religion. republicans will be responsible for every 5-4 decision that throws millions of americans under the bus in order to favor the powerful moneyed few who helped put judge gorsuch on the bench. right now the presidency is in the hands of someone who has shown contempt for our constitution, contempt for our independent judiciary, contempt for our free press, and contempt for our moral democratic
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principles. if ever we needed a strong, independent supreme court with broad public support, a supreme court that will stand up to the -- for the constitution, it is now. if ever there were a time to say that our courts should not be handed over to the highest bidder, it is now. and that is why judge gorsuch should not be confirmed to sit on the supreme court of the united states. thank you, mr. president. i yield. ms. hirono: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i thank my colleague from massachusetts for her impassioned, well reasoned, persuasive remarks. all too often judge gorsuch
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fixiates on the plain meaning -- what we call the plain meaning of the word in a law and decides on its own meaning that he would give to that word. sometimes he'll resort to the dictionary act or webster's dictionary to ascertain what he would consider the plain meaning of the law, but what he doesn't do time and again in very important cases that impact lots of lives is that he doesn't look to the context or the purpose of the law to the point where sometimes his decisions are just bizarre and lacks common sense. so there was a reference made to a -- the transam trucking case where the truck driver was in freezing weather, the brakes on
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his truck were not working properly so he faced the choice of freezing to death or doing something about it but then risking being fired. so he did something about it and he got fired. and judge gorsuch, in his reading, very, very narrow reading of a word in the applicable provisions, deemed that his firing was correct. and when he was asked by senator franken at the hearing what would you have done if you had been in that situation, there you are, you're about to freeze to death, you have a truck that is not operable in a safe way unless you unhook the -- the attachment to it, what would you have done? and judge gorsuch basically said i don't know what i would have done. i was not in his shoes. what any of us would have said,
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of course we would have done what the truck driver did. but in his very narrow reading of the words of the applicable provisions, he came to the decision he did, and that is why he couldn't respond to senator franken. it is particularly important that judge gorsuch explain to us how he would approach these kinds of cases. it is particularly important in what i would describe as reneed well -- remedial legislation such as the individuals with disabilities act, better known as idea. this is protecting the rights of special needs children. that is the population for which this law was enacted. judge gorsuch had a case before him, and it was referred to by my colleague from california.
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a young boy who was not getting the kind of educational opportunities that he should have gotten under idea. but judge gorsuch read that remedial legislation which should be broadly interpreted to protect the class in a group that the law was passed to help. he read it very, very narrowly, and he said the school, all we need to provide merely de minimus education for this child. he put in the words merely. de minimus effort on the part of the school to provide this young boy educational opportunities, it was bad enough, but judge gorsuch added the word "merely." so during the time of his hearing, the supreme court related basically the same law was at issue, idea, and the supreme court, while we were having the hearing on judge gorsuch's nomination, overturned
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judge gorsuch's standard of merely de minimus unanimously. even the roberts court found judge gorsuch's standard of review too limiting and too narrow. so the young boy in question, his father testified at the confirmation hearing and asked him how he -- what he was thinking as the decision of judge gorsuch came down, and he said he knew that this decision would negatively affect hundreds and hundreds of children, special needs children all across our country. this is why i sought assurance from judge gorsuch that he would be the kind of justice who understands, as he told me when i met with him, that the purpose
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of title 3 -- which in the federal courts, title 3 is to protect the rights of minorities. so i wanted reassurance from judge gorsuch during his hearing, and i tried time and again to get a sense of his heart, what his judicial philosophy was. i was looking for reassurance that he was the kind of judge who understands the importance of ensuring that victims of discrimination cannot only ask for but can also receive protections from the courts, and who demonstrates a commitment to the constitutional principles that protect the right of women to make the intimate and personal decisions of what to do with their own bodies. mr. president, i note that i'm joined by my colleague from washington state, senator murray, and i yield to her.
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mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague from hawaii for her really important statement on this. i come to the floor today to express my serious concerns along with other women from the senate about the nomination of judge neil gorsuch for the supreme court, particularly about what it would mean for women across the country today and for generations to come. like the overwhelming majority of my democratic colleagues, i have decided to vote against judge gorsuch's nomination, and i will be opposing a cloture motion ending debate. now, i don't take this decision lightly, but with the future of women's health and rights and opportunity at risk, it's a decision i must make. mr. president, the trump administration has broken nearly every one of its promises, but one it has certainly kept is its promise to turn back the clock on women's progress.
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it is clear, mr. president, the republicans in congress are committed to doing the same. last week, just a few days ago, senate republicans, with the help of vice president pence, overturned a rule that prevents discrimination against family planning providers based on the kinds of services they provide to women. it was shameful and unprecedented. now, not missing a beat, congressional republicans are already gearing up to attach riders to our coming budget bills in order to cut off access to critical services at planned parenthood for millions of patients. mr. president, there are similar attempts to undermine women's access to health care in cities and states nationwide, and more be often than we would like, the supreme court is going to be the place of last resort for protecting women's hard-fought gains. mr. president, if the buck has o stop with the supreme court on
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women's health and rights, i do not want judge gorsuch anywhere near the bench. time and again, judge gorsuch has sided with the extreme right wing and against tens of millions of women and men who believe that in the 21st century, women should be able to make their own choices about their own bodies. let me just give you a few examples. when the tenth circuit ruled in the case of hobby lobby versus burwell that a woman's boss could decide whether or not her insurance would include birth control, judge gorsuch didn't just agree, he thought the ruling should have gone further. judge gorsuch has argued that birth control coverage included in the a.c.a. as an essential part of women's health care, one that has, by the way, benefited 55 million women, is a, quote, clear burden on employers that would not long survive. when it comes to planned
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parenthood, he's already weighed in on the side of defunding our nation's largest provider of women's health care, and what was his reasoning? judge gorsuch thought that in light of completely, completely discredited sting videos taken by extreme conservatives, women in the state of utah should have a harder time accessing care they need. and i should note that just last week, the makers of those false videos received 15 felony charges. mr. president, i also want to be clear as well about what judge gorsuch's nomination could mean for a woman's constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortion services under the historic ruling in roe v. wade, which was just reaffirmed last summer by this court. in his nomination hearings, judge gorsuch wouldn't give a clear answer on whether he would uphold that ruling which has meant so much to so many women and families over the last four
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decades. judge gorsuch has donated repeatedly to politicians who are dead set on interfering with women's constitutionally protected health care decisions, and he has even made deeply and accurate comparisons between abortion and assisted suicide. mr. president, i remember the days before roe v. wade very clearly. i have heard the stories of women faced with truly impossible choices during that time. women from all across the country have shared those deeply personal experiences because they know what it would mean to go backwards. and last thing, mr. president, attempts to control women's bodies aren't always about reproductive rights. sure enough, judge gorsuch is on the wrong side here as well. he concurred in a ruling against a transgender woman who was denied regular access to hormone therapy while she was in prison.
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this ruling rejected the idea that under -- the idea that under our constitution, denying health care services is cruel and unusual punishment. mr. president, that is not the kind of judgment i want to see on the bench, and i think most families would agree. families who have already done so much to lead the resistance against this administration and its damaging, divisive agenda are fighting this nomination as hard as they can. they know the trump presidency will be damaging enough for four years, but judge gorsuch's nomination will roll back progress for women over a lifetime. i am proud to stand with them, do everything i can to make sure they are heard loud and clear here in the senate, and i oppose judge gorsuch's nomination in light of everything it would mean for women. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. hirono: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii.
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ms. hirono: i thank my colleague, senator murray, for her continuing long-standing leadership on behalf of women and families in our country. mr. president, over the past hour, my colleagues and i have laid out a clear case against confirming judge gorsuch to the united states supreme court, but as we approach a vote on his confirmation, i encourage my colleagues to scrutinize judge gorsuch's judicial philosophy, even as he refused to outline for us or describe for us what that philosophy is. but we have come to certain conclusions based on four days of hearings. during his hearing, judge gorsuch refused time and again to answer our questions on his judicial philosophy or his approach to the law. he insisted that he was merely a judge, as if the use of the word ended any discussion or scrutiny of his record. judge gorsuch painted a picture
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for us of the court that is really straight out of a norman rockwell painting. and he said during his hearing, quote, one of the beautiful things about our system of justice is that any person can file a lawsuit about anything against anyone at any time, and a judge, a neutral and fair judge, will hear it. norman rockwell painting. it's a wonderful idea that anybody can file a claim to protect their rights or interests. it's also a wonderful idea to assume that those claims will be heard and ruled upon by neutral judges, apparently uninfluenced by their own strongly held and frequently expressed personal views and judicial philosophy. many of my republican colleagues have echoed this view and argue that judge gorsuch's credentials should be enough -- columbia,
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harvard. they argue that it is wrong or even unfair to question how judge gorsuch might approach the kinds of difficult issues that come before the supreme court. of course, if judicial philosophy didn't matter, senate republicans would not have engaged in the unprecedented act of blocking president obama's nominee, as i mentioned, merrick garland, a well-credentialed, well-respected, moderate nominee from even having a hearing. in fact, many of the republican senators did not even extend the courtesy of meeting with judge garland. they would not have held the seat open to be filled by the appointee of a republican president, one selected for him by right-wing organizations. when my colleagues and i asked judge gorsuch about his judicial philosophy, he said his words, his views, his writings and his clearly expressed personal views had no relevance to what he
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would do as a justice. he told us to look at his whole record, so i examined his whole record. i saw in that record too little regard for the real-world impact of his decisions. i saw a refusal to look beyond the words, to the meaning and intent of the law. even when his decisions lacked common sense, as in the frozen truck driver case, and far too often to the benefit of big corporations and against the side of the little guy. the decisions of judges have real-world impacts for millions of people beyond the parties in a particular case. this is especially true of the supreme court, which issues decisions that don't just reach those in the case in front of them -- the frozen trucker, the women who work at hobby lobby faced with lack of critical health care, the special needs child entitled to educational
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opportunities under the idea. the supreme court does not just interpret laws. the supreme court shapes our society. will we be just? will we be fair? will america be a land of exclusivity for the few or land of opportunity for the many? will we be the compassionate and tolerant america that embraced my mother, my brothers and me so many decades ago when we immigrated to this country? yet these values seem too often absent from judge gorsuch's record and from his view of the law and the court. the central question for me in looking at judge gorsuch and his record and listening carefully through four days of hearings was that whether he would be a justice for all of us. not just for some of us. and i came to the conclusion he
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would not be a justice for all of us. i oppose this nomination. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? i'm sorry. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. under the previous order, the time until 5:30 will be controlled by the majority. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i have several of my colleagues on this side of the aisle want to speak. i just want to take a minute and a half or so to clarify some things that i've heard from the other side that needs to be counteracted. first of all, dealing with -- i don't know whether they mentioned the word ginsburg rule but we do have this ginsburg rule that was set out a long time ago when judge ginsburg come before the senate for her confirmation, that she can't comment on things that might come before the court because it's obviously you're violating
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judicial ethics. and then some comment on some things that people have said about brown v. the board of education. the very fact that judge gorsuch has declined to offer his opinion on legal issues that are likely to come before the supreme court demonstrate what we should all expect of him, his judicial independence. that's what you expect of every judge. the judge's decision not to offer his opinion on issues that may come before him is inconsistent with judicial ethics rules and is consistent with what i've referred to already as the ginsburg rule or the ginsburg standard, which all supreme court nominees in recent memory have followed. as justice ginsburg said, commenting on these issues is not fair to the parties who
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might come before the court in future years. that's what judge gorsuch said as well. questions to this end are nothing more than an attempt to compromise the judge's independence and he showed us that he wasn't going to have his independence compromised because he's going to do what judges should do, look at the facts of a case, look at the law and make those decisions just based on that and send no signals what so ever ahead of time -. one said the judge should have announced that he agreed with the ruling in brown v. board of education but didn't offer enough information about this opinion in an appropriate discussion of precedence. he said this. i quote our nominee.
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senator brown v. board of education corrected an erroneous decision, a badly erroneous decision, and vindicated a dissent by the first justice harland in plessy versus ferguson where he correctly identified that separate to advantage one race could never be equal, end of the quote of our nominee. so the judge spoke about precedent very appropriately. he answered our questions in a manner consistent with his obligations and with past nominees. and one more point. i keep hearing complaints that the judge won't make a commitment to follow roe v. wade, but my colleagues' requests either boil down to a request for a promise to reach
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results that they want. they demanded -- to roe v. wade on the one hand and a promise to overrule citizens united on another hand as examples. asking the judge to make commitments about precedent is inappropriate. and i've said this so many times in my -- and my colleagues repeated many types as well. it compromises the judge's independence instead of being beholden to the president, my colleagues would have the judge be beholden to them, and this nominee isn't going to be beholden to a president and he's not going to be beholden to any senator because if he did that, he would be compromising his views. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, two months ago the president nominated judge neil gorsuch, a judge on the tenth circuit court to the suprem. this week we'll be voting on his confirmation. i want to say that i'm grateful to my colleague, the senior senator from iowa, for his leadership during this process, and for getting this nomination to the floor. we're fortunate to have him as chairman of the judiciary committee. mr. president, we have before us a supremely qualified candidate for the supreme court. judge gorsuch has a distinguished resume. he is widely regarded as a brilliant and thoughtful jurist. most importantly, however, he is known for his impartiality and his absolute commitment to the rule of law. judge gorsuch understands that the job of a judge is to apply the law as it is written. and here's the fundamental thing. even when he disagrees with it.
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a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge. judge gorsuch has said that more than once. why? because a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is likely making decisions based on something other than the law. and that's a problem, mr. president. because there's no such thing as equal protection or equal justice when judges make decisions based on their personal feelings about a case instead of based upon the law. a judge's job is to apply the law as it is written, whether he likes the results or not. judge gorsuch understands this. mr. president, a lot of people from across the political spectrum have spoken in favor of judge gorsuch's nomination. and one thread that runs through their comments is their confidence that they can trust judge gorsuch to apply the law as it is written.
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here's what neal katyal, an acting solicitor general for president obama had to say about judge gorsuch. he said, and i quote, i have no doubt that if confirmed, judge gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law. his years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence, a record that should give the american people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him, end quote. a former law partner and friend of judge gorsuch, a friend who describes himself as, and i quote, a long-time supporter of democratic candidates and progressive causes had this to say about judge gorsuch. gorsuch's approach to resolving legal problems as a lawyer and a judge embodies a reverence for our country's values and legal system. i have no doubt that i will disagree with some decisions that judge gorsuch might render as a supreme court justice.
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yet my hope is to have justices on the bench such as gorsuch who approach cases with fairness and intellectual rigor and who care about precedent and the limits of their roles as judges, end quote. again, mr. president, that's from a self-described long-time supporter of democratic candidates and progressive causes. during his years on the bench, judge gorsuch has had a number of law clerks. on february 14, every one of judge gorsuch's former clerks except for two who are currently clerking on the supreme court sent a letter on his nomination to the chairman and ranking member of the senate judiciary committee. here's what they had to say and again i quote. our political views span the spectrum, but we are united in our view that judge gorsuch is an extraordinary judge. throughout his career judge gorsuch has devoted himself to the rule of law. as law clerks who have worked at his side, we know that judge
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gorsuch never resolves a case by the light of his personal view of what the law should be, nor does he ever bend the law to reach a particular result that he desires. for judge gorsuch, a judge's task is not to usurp the legislature's role. it is to find and apply the law as written. that conviction rooted in his respect for the separation of powers makes him an exemplary candidate to serve on the nation's highest court, end quote. and again, mr. president, that is the unanimous opinion of 39 of judge gorsuch's former law clerks whose political views in their own words span the spectrum. e. donald elliot, an adjunct professor at yale law school had this to say good gouge gorsuch. judge gorsuch's philosophy isn't mine but among judicial conservatives judge gorsuch is as good as it possibly gets.
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judge gorsuch tries very hard to get the law right. he's not an ideologue, not the kind to always rule in favor of business and against the government. instead he follows the law as best he can wherever it might lead, end quote. well, mr. president, i could go on. the voices raised in support of judge gorsuch are numerous. unfortunately, no amount of testimony in favor of judge gorsuch seems to be enough for democrats. senate democrats are apparently determined to oppose judge gorsuch despite the fact that they're struggling to find any good reason to justify their opposition. senate minority leader came down to the floor on march the 13rd to announce the determination to -- urged his colleagues to do the same. why? apparently the senate minority leader is not convinced that judge gorsuch, quote, would be a mainstream justice who could rule free from the biases of
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politics and ideology, end quote. that's right, mr. president. despite the fact that everyone, liberal and conservative, seems to describe fairness as one of judge gorsuch's distinguishing characteristics, the senate minority leader is not convinced the judge will be able to rule without bias. he's worried that judge gorsuch won't be a mainstream judge. mr. president, over the course of 2700 cases on the tenth circuit, judge gorsuch has been in the majority 99% of the time, 99%. and 97% of the 2700 cases the opinions were unanimous. i'd like the minority leader to explain how exactly a judge who is in the majority 99% of the time is out of the judicial mainstream. is the minority leader trying to
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suggest that all the judges on the tenth circuit, including the ones appointed by democrats, which i might add is a majority on the circuit are extremists? mr. president, the fact is, democrat opposition to judge gorsuch has nothing to do with his qualifications. let's just get it out there. i doubt that any of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle really think that judge gorsuch is out of the mainstream or that he lacks the qualifications of a supreme court justice. no, the truth is that democrats are opposing judge gorsuch because they're mad that it's not a democrat president making the nomination. they can't accept that they lost the election so they're going to oppose any nominee, no matter how qualified. mr. president, it's extremely disappointing that democrats plan to up end a nearly 230-year
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tradition of approving supreme court nominees by a simple majority vote simply because they can't accept the results of an election. democrats have no plausible reason to offer for opposing the supremely qualified nominee. i hope that a sufficient number of senate democrats will think better of their opposition and vote when we have that opportunity later this week, mr. president, to confirm judge gorsuch to the supreme court. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. kennedy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. there are, of course, mr. president, two issues before the senate with respect to judge neil gorsuch. the first issue is simply should or should not neil gorsuch be confirmed as an associate
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justice to the united states supreme court. there's also a second issue, and the second issue is should the senate even be allowed to vote? those two questions are both important and they're interrelated. i want to talk about the first one first. i sit on the judiciary committee, mr. chairman. we heard last week, two weeksing a about 20 -- two weeks ago about 20 hours of testimony from judge gorsuch. i think he answered about 200 questions in writing. one of the objections offered by our friends on the other side of the aisle, the democratic party, is that judge gorsuch refused to answer some of the questions. now, that's just not accurate. many of the questions that were asked of the judge, both by
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democrats and republicans, were fair questions. some of them not so much, mr. president. judge gorsuch was asked, in effect, what's your position on abortion, how will you vote? he was asked, how will you vote on gun control? he was asked, how would you vote on cruel and unusual punishment? the eighth amendment. he was asked how he would vote on questions dealing with the tenth amendment. and he didn't answer those questions. and then he was criticized for not answering those questions. he didn't answer those questions, mr. president, because he couldn't. he's a sitting judge of the united states court of appeals for the tenth circuit. let me read you, mr. president, cannon 3-a-6 of the code conduct
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for united states construction. it states, quote, a judge should not make public comment on the merits after matter pending or impending in any court. end quote. let me read you, mr. president, rule 2.10-b of the american bar association model code of judicial conduct. it provides, and i quote, mr. president, a judge shall not in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court make pledges, make promises, or make commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the judicial office. now, say what you want about judge gorsuch, but don't criticize him for not violating
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the oath of his office and not making promises or pledges or commitments like a politician on how he would vote on the united states supreme court, because justices are supposed to decide the case on the merits. as i mentioned, mr. president, i watched judge gorsuch answer questions for -- personally for over 20 hours. and he was asked some other questions other than the ones i've referenced. and i was intrigued by some of the questions that judge gorsuch was asked. my friends in the democratic party kept trying to draw distinctions with judge gorsuch between the parties and cases that he had decided. my friends kept talking about the big guy, the little guy, the
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corporation, the consumer, the employer, the employee, and the suggestion was made that judge gorsuch -- he didn't vote enough for the little guy or the little gal, or whatever that means. and what struck me when he was asked these questions is what we were supposed to be talking about, mr. president, was the faithful application of justice. now, i was taught in law school that justice, lady justice is supposed to be blind, that neither the wealth nor the power nor the status of the party should matter. that's why the picture that we see so often of lady justice, she's blindfolded. she isn't looking at the parties at all to see whether they're wealthy or not-so-wealthy. she isn't looking at the parties to see whether they're a corporation or a consumer or what race they are or what gender they are or what part of
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the country they're from. lady justice is supposed to be blind. because we're a nation of laws, not men. and of all places in our country, an american court of law -- and i am very proud of this -- is supposed to be the place of last resort where you can come and get a fair shake. and that's how good judges operate. they give everybody a fair shake. a good judge is supposed to make his or her decisions based on the law, not the parties. good judges are supposed to be impartial, to call it like they see it, to call the balls and strikes, and that's exactly what neil gorsuch has done throughout his entire career, and i promise you, mr. president, i sit on the judiciary committee, and if any president, whether he is a republican or a democrat, ever brings a nomination before the judiciary committee when i'm on
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that committee, and that nominee starts talking about the wealth or the power or the status of the parties and how it will influence or not influence his decision, suggest that will make a difference, i will vote against that nominee -- i don't care who nominates him -- every single time, because knows not american justice. mr. president, we talked about two cases in particular, and you've probably heard them talked about here on the floor. and on the surface, they don't seem to be related. judge gorsuch ruled in both of these cases. but i think they interact in a very important way. and they tell us a lot about the man. they tell us that he doesn't play politics. he doesn't rule for the big guy, just because he is a big guy, or the little guy just because he is a little guy. the first case we heard a lot about was a decision by judge gorsuch in a case called trans am trucking. you're going to hear a lot about that case. then in the case judge gorsuch
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made a decision that was unfavorable to a trucker, and he ruled in favor of the trucking company. little guy versus big guy, and judge gorsuch ruled for the big guy. but it's important, mr. president, to know why. to look at the reasoning in that case and not just the result. during the discussion on the case, judge gorsuch made it very clear that he only made that decision because he believed that that was what the statute controlling the facts of the case required; a statute that was passed by a legislative body duly authorized by the people to make the law, unlike our courts, which are supposed to interpret the law. judge gorsuch did not decide that case the way he did because he didn't sympathize with the trucker. he decided that case the way he did because he was doing his
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best to accurately apply the law as best he understood it to the facts before him. once again, that's what's called justice, blind to the parties. and actually judge gorsuch explained himself what he thinks about decisions like this. he did it in another case that i will talk about in a moment. let me read his direct quote. this is what gorsuch -- judge gorsuch said. quote, often the law -- often the law can be an ass, an idio idiot -- quoting, of course, charles dickens -- and there is little we judges can do about it, for it is or should be emphatically our job to apply, not rewrite, the law enacted by the people's representatives. indeed, a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely
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a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels. now, that statement, mr. president, came from the second case i referenced. it was a case called a.m. holmes. in a.m. holmes, a 13-year-old seventh grader was arrested for fake burping repeatedly in class. now, the majority said it was okay for him to be arrested and that when his family sued the police officer, the police officer n enjoyed qualified immunity. judge gorsuch dissented. this time he ruled for the little guy, literally and figuratively judge gorsuch said, in my opinion, reading the
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statutes passed by the legislature, this young man's family can file this lawsuit because disciplining a 13-year-old seventh grader for fake burping in class by arresting him instead of disciplining him is a bridge too far. now, once again we have a little guy versus a big guy. this time judge gorsuch ruled for the little guy. but, again, we have to look at -- beyond the result, mr. president. even though he ruled for someone we can all sympathize with, judge gorsuch didn't base his decision on that. he based it on a good-faith application of the statutes controlling the facts of the case. he applied the law as written by the legislature. that's what legislatures do, mr. president. that's what congresses do. they make law, and judges interpret the law. and, to be blunt, mr. president, that's what we want in a judge.
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i don't want -- i want a judge. i don't want an ideologue. i'm not interested in a judge who will use the judiciary to advance his own personal policy goals. i want a judge, mr. president, who will apply the law as written by the legislature or, in the case of the constitution, as written by the framers of the constitution, as best that judge understands the law. not to try to reshape the law, as he wishes it to be. mr. president, just a comment about the last question that i raised earlier. again, one issue is whether or not we should confirm judge gorsuch to the supreme court. but the second issue is whether the senate should even be allowed to vote at all. and that's what this is all about when you distill it down to its basic essence.
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we're going to hear a lot about lower class and we're going to hear a lot about the -- we're going to hear a lot about cloture, and we're going to hear a lot about the nuclear operation. but this is what it all boils down to. should we or should we not be allowed to vote? i understand that reasonable people can disagree. i also understand that unreasonable people can disagree. and everybody in this body has a vote, and we all represent states. there are two senators from every state, big states and little states. and everybody is entitled to be able to vote his or her conscience. but it is very, very important, not only for the american judicial system but for american democracy, that the united states senate be allowed to vote on judge gorsuch. and so, to my friends on the other side of the aisle, i would say, please allow us to vote. please -- you can vote for or against judge gorsuch.
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i won't second-guess your judgment, if you act sincerely. and i believe many of my colleagues are sign sear. they're wrong, but they're sincere. but please allow the united states senate to vote on this nomination. that's why i was sent to washington, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: this week the senate will fulfill one of our most important responsibilities: advice and consent for a nominee to the supreme court. the stakes don't get much higher than a lifetime appointment to a court of final appeal, especially as the court is presumed over the last two generations to take more and more political and moral questions out of the hands of the people. president trump has nominated judge neil gorsuch, a distinguished jurist honeds the critical -- who understands the
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critical role of the constitution. no senator genuinely disputes his qualifications, his judicial temperament, his outstanding record over the last decade on the tenth circuit corporation. indeed judge gorsuch would have been headed toward an easy noncontroversial confirmation based on the comments by democratic senators. the senior senator from colorado introduced judge gorsuch at his confirmation hearings with this high praise. i have no doubt that judge gorsuch has profound respect for an independent judiciary and the vital role it plays to check on the executive and legislative branches. i may not always agree with his rulings, but i believe judge gorsuch is unquestionably committed to the rule of law. the senior senator from indiana recently announced his support for judge gorsuch saying, i
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believe he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and his -- is well respected among his peers. the senior senator from west virginia has noted judge gorsuch has been consistently rated as a well-qualified jurist, the highest rating a jurist can receive, and i have found him to be an honest and thoughtful man. the junior senator from north dakota also praised judge gorsuch for his record as a balanced, meticulous and well-respected jurist who understands the rule of law. remember, these admiring statements all come from democrats, and all of them support an up-or-down vote on confirming judge gorsuch. even those who oppose judge gorsuch used to sing a different tune about the standards for judicial confirmation. for instance, the senior
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senator from california put it best when she said, i think when it comes to filibustering a supreme court appointment, you really have to have something out there, whether it's gross moral terpitude -- gross moral terpitude -- or something else that comes to the surface. speaking of a previous republican president's nominee she further said, now i mean this is a man i might disagree with. that doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court. in fact, president obama filibustered a supreme court nomination while he was a senator, yet later expressed regret over that decision. he said, i think that historically if you look at it, regardless of what votes particular senators have taken, there's been a basic consensus, a basic understanding that the supreme court is different. and each caucus may decide who's going to vote where and what,
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but that basically you let the vote come up and you make sure that a well-qualified candidate is able to join the bench, even if you don't particularly agree with them. despite all this, though, it appears a radical democratic minority intends to filibuster judge gorsuch's nomination. and the minority leader is encouraging this extreme fringe claiming if judge gorsuch fails to earn 60 votes and fails to demonstrate he's mainstream enough to sit on the highest court, we should change the nominee and not the rules. i will return later to the minority leader's central and ironic role in all of this, but for now let's take a trip down memory lane to understand just how radical this partisan filibuster would be. no supreme court nominee has ever failed because of a
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partisan filibuster. never. not once. ever in the 228 years of our venerable constitution. one nominee -- justice abe fortas to be elevated to chief justice -- lost one cloture vote in 1968 on a bipartisan basis and withdrew under an ethical cloud. but no supreme court nominee has ever been defeated by a partisan filibuster. and this historical standard has nothing to do with changes in the senate rules. the filibuster has been permitted under senate rules since early in the 19th century. it's not a recent are 0 -- recent or novel power. the cloture rule was adopted 100 years ago. in other words, at any point in our history a senate minority could have attempted to filibuster a supreme court nominee.
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they had the tools. the rules permitted it. it would have only taken one senator -- just one. yet it never happened for a simple reason. self-restraint. while written rules are important, sometimes the unwritten rules are even more so. habits, customs, mores, standards, traditions, practices, these are the things that make the world go round, and the united states senate, no less than in the game of life. our form of self-government depends critically on this form of self-government. let's reconsider some recent nominees in light of these facts. justice clarence thomas, probably the most controversial nomination in my lifetime, perhaps ever. he was the subject of a vicious
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campaign of lies and partisan smears, a high-tech lynching, in his words. he was confirmed in 1991 by a bare majority of 52-48. yet justice thomas did not face a filibuster. not a single senator tried to block an up-or-down vote on his nomination. not joe biden, not ted kennedy, not robert byrd, not john kerry. not one. why? any one senator could have demanded a cloture vote, could have insisted upon the so-called 60-vote standard, and perhaps defeated justice thomas' nomination. but they didn't because they respected two centuries of senate tradition and custom. likewise, with justice sam alito whose nomination unquestionably shifted the court's balance to the right in 2006. he too received fewer than 60 votes for confirmation.
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58, to be exact. but he received 72 votes for cloture. here again, a large bipartisan majority upheld the senate tradition and custom against partisan filibusters of supreme court nominees. even judge robert bork, whose name is now used as a verb to mean unfair partisan treatment of a judicial nominee, received an up-or-down vote in 1987. yes, judge bork, who only received 42 votes for confirmation, didn't face a partisan filibuster. but let's not stop at supreme court nominations. let's also consider other kinds of nominations so we can understand just how radical is the democratic minority's position. to this day, there has never been a cabinet nominee defeated by a partisan filibuster. never, not once, ever in 228
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years of senate history. and to this day there has never been a trial court nominee defeated by a partisan filibuster. never, not once, ever in 228 years of senate history. and until 2003, just 14 years ago, there had never been an appellate court nominee defeated by a partisan filibuster. that's just how strong the custom against filibusters was. it had never successfully happened in 214 years. from our founding through secession and civil war, through world war, no matter how intense the feeling and momentous the occasion, no matter how partisan the atmosphere, senators always exercised self-restraint and allowed up-or-down votes for nominees to the supreme court, the court of appeals, the trial
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court and the cabinet. but that changed in 2003, thanks in no small part to the senior senator from new york, chuck schumer, now the minority leader. with the help of left-wing law professors, he convinced extremists in the democratic caucus to filibuster president bush's appellate court nominees. so for the first time in more than two centuries of the united states senate, a radical minority defeated nominations with a partisan filibuster. why did the senate start down this path? some point to racial politics in miguel estrada, one of the most talented appellate litigators of his generation and president bush's nominee to the d.c. circuit. that court is often a proving ground for future supreme court nominees, and mr. estrada's confirmation might have enabled president bush to nominate him
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subsequently to the supreme court. a republican president appointing the first hispanic justice? well, surely the democrats couldn't allow that. but whatever the reason, there can be no doubt -- no doubt -- that the minority leader set in motion a chain of events over the last 14 years and brought us to the point he claims to deplore today. so the democrats can spare me any hand wringing about senate traditions and customs. the minority leader and like-minded extremists in the democratic caucus can also spare us their exaggerated claims of republican obstruction of president obama's judicial nominees. the democrats, after all, were the ones who broke a 214-year-old tradition, specifically to obstruct ten of president bush's nominees. of course the republicans
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followed suit. though i note they filibustered fewer judges over more years spent in the minority. put simply, the democrats broke one of the senate's oldest customs in 2003 so they could filibuster republican judges. and they subsequently filibustered more judges than did the republicans. so it should come as no surprise that the democrats took an even more radical step in 2013 when they used the so-called nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for executive branch, trial court, and appellate court nominations. they broke the senate rules by changing the senate rules with a bare majority, not the effective two-thirds vote required under those rules. the radical democrats will accept no constraints on their will to power when in power. whatever it takes to pack the courts with liberal extremists
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or block eminently qualified republican nominees is exactly what they'll do. but don't take my word for it. let's review what the democrats were saying last year when they all believed they'd be in power with hillary clinton as president and democrats controlling the senate. we didn't hear much talk about the sacred 60-vote standard back then. on the contrary, the democrats were promising to use the nuclear option again, this time to confirm a democratic nominee to the supreme court. former senate minority leader harry reid said, i have set the senate so that when i leave we're going to be able to get judges done with a majority. if the republicans try to filibuster another circuit court judge, but especially a supreme court justice, i've told them how, and i've done it in changing the rules of the senate. the junior senator from virginia who would have been vice president had secretary clinton
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won, said quite frankly about the supreme court vacancy, if these guys think they are going to stonewall this vacancy or other vacancies the democrat majority say we're not going to thwart the law. the junior senator from oregon warned if there's deep abuse we're going to have to consider rule changes. and the senior senator from new mexico perhaps summed it up best of all when he said the constitution does not give me the right to block qualified nominee, no matter who is in the white house. a minority in the senate should not be able to block qualified nominees. don't think for a minute that the radical democrats would not have made good on these threats. they've exercised little restraint on judicial nominations over the last 14 years. they betrayed over 200 years of senate tradition and custom.
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they wouldn't start respecting those traditions now. in reality, there were good reasons to respect and uphold the old senate tradition against filibusters and nominees before 2003. first, our responsibility under the constitution is not to choose, but to advise and consent. a partisan filibuster would essentially encroach upon the president's power to nominate the person of his choice. second, nominations aren't susceptible to negotiation. we can't split someone down the middle solomon-like. we can vote yes or no. this isn't the case with legislation where differences can be split, promises negotiated, bipartisan consensus reached. third, when legislation fails to win 60 votes, it's not the end of the world. it can go back to the drawing board or be enacted through
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other legislative vehicles. but when nominations are long delayed or defeated, then real work is left undone. cases go unheard. disputes go unresolved. the law remains unclear. it would have been better for the senate, if the minority leader and the democrats had recognized these things in 2003. and not -- and not started us down this path. it's rarely a good thing when an institution ignores or breaks its customs and traditions, its unwritten rules. they should have known better and they should have acted better. but we've come to this point because the radical democrats didn't act any better. now they propose to create a new standard never known to have existed before. the senate will not confirm a republican president's nominee to the supreme court because if
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the democrats will filibuster neil gorsuch, then they will filibuster any republican nominee. i will never accept this double standard and neither will my colleagues. republicans aren't going to be played for suckers and chumps. after this week, the senate will be back to where it always was and where it should have remained -- nominees brought to the floor ought to receive an up-or-down majority vote. don't expect to hear regret from me about it. there's no moral equivalence. to suggest that is to divorce action from its intent and aim. in 2003 and again at this moment the radical democrats overturn venerable senate traditions, the republicans are acting to restore them. those who cannot see the difference, to borrow from bill
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buckley, would see no difference from a man who pushes an old lady into the path of an oncoming bus and the man who pushes the old lady out of the path of the bus because, after all, both men push around old ladies. so i'm not regretful. i'm not racked with guilt. i'm not anguished. i'm really not even disappointed. there are no school yard taunts of you did it first, there are no charges of hypocrisy, there's no pox on both our houses. the republicans are prepared to use a tool the democrats first abused in 2013, to restore a 214-year-old tradition the democrats first broke in 2003 and we're supposed to feel guilty. please. the radical democrats brought this all on themselves and on the senate. the responsibility rests solely
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and squarely on their shoulders. the minority leader is hoist with his own -- the senate is restored to a sensible century's old tradition and judge gorsuch is about to become justice gorsuch. not a bad outcome. not bad at all. pretty good, in fact. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. cruz: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, i come to the floor today to support the nomination of neil gorsuch to serve as associate justice on the supreme court of the united states. by any objective measure judge gorsuch is impeccably qualified. he is a graduate of columbia
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university and harvard law school and awarded a doctorate from oxford, he was a law clerk to justice byron white and justice kennedy and he has been a respected federal appellate judge for a decade. judge gorsuch has spent a lifetime in the law and his record indicates that he will make an ex emery -- exemplary justice. two weeks ago judge gorsuch testified for 22 hours before the senate judiciary committee. his conduct before the hearing only further confirmed what his record demonstrates -- that neil gorsuch is a principled jurist and a good man. i was glad for all of us to get that confirmation because judge gorsuch bears a heavy responsibility. he is being asked to fill the seat of justice antonin scalia.
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in truth, i doubt that anyone could truly fill justice scalia's shoes. justice scalia was one of a kind and his enormous impact on the law and on the court will impact this nation for generations to come. all of us miss him dearly, but i take solace in the knowledge that one of the ways in which i believe it will be easiest for gorsuch to imitate scalia, perhaps the most important way, is judicial humility. justice scalia's greatest strength was not his amazing wit, his mighty pen, or his larger-than-life personality, as much as we loved those parts of him. rather it was his consistent unwillingness to accumulate power to himself and to the
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courts. he refused to impose his own personal policy preferences on the law, but instead understood that his role as a judge was simply to apply the law that the elected representatives of the people had enacted. this type of judging doesn't take other worldly talents, though scalia had that in abundance. instead, it takes character, integrity, humility. judge gorsuch's lengthy record and his hearing testimony demonstrate that he has those attributes as well. he understands that his role as a judge is to apply the words of the constitution and the laws of the united states to the specific cases that come before him and nothing more. this is critical in an era when the supreme court has come to be seen by many for good reason as
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an activist court, as a superlegislature that seeks to impose its own will in the place of the written law. it is this very humility that angers so many on the left. they don't want someone who humbly applies the law, rather they demand nothing less than a person fully committed to enacting from the supreme court bench whatever policies the left is championing at that given moment because they know their own refuge is the courts because the american people would reject the policies at the voting booth. judge gorsuch is clearly not that kind of person so they have committed to opposing his confirmation by whatever means necessary, legitimate or not.
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indeed, if this were being decided on qualifications and record, judge gorsuch would be confirmed unanimously and we don't have to hypothesize about that because judge gorsuch has already been confirmed by this body a decade ago by a voice vote without recorded dissent. not a single senator objected. not ted kennedy, not hillary clinton, not barack obama, not joe biden, and not even democratic members who still serve in this chamber, like chuck schumer, dianne feinstein, leahy or durbin. they did not speak out against judge gorsuch's nomination to the court of appeals. so what changed? the only thing that changed is that the radical left has become
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angry -- extremely angry -- and my democratic colleagues are worried they will get opposed from the left in their primary. that's it. their base demands total war, total obstruction, and they are begrudgingly bowing to this demand. unfortunately for them it has proven difficult to invent a tax against an obviously well-qualified judge like judge gorsuch. my democratic colleagues couldn't get any legitimate grievance to stick at the hearings last week, despite their best efforts, but it hasn't stopped them from repeating their outlandish attacks over and over again. if the stakes weren't so high, it might even be humorous. but it isn't really funny because the primary argument that the democrats have made is dangerous. their attack on neil gorsuch is
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a direct attack on the rule of law itself. contrary to the foundations of our government and legal system, my colleagues from across the aisle are arguing that judge gorsuch is unqualified to be a justice because he allegedly failed to side with the, quote, little guy over the big guy. in their view, it is now the job of judges to reject equal protection, to take the blindfold off of lady justice and instead judges should put their thumbs on the scale to actively discriminate against parties based on their identity. this notion of partisan results-oriented judging is directly contrary to the constitutional system we have in this country. my democratic colleagues are
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openly calling for judges to enforce their own political preferences from the bench and they want to use a person's willingness or unwillingness to do so as a litmus test for who gets on the court. this isn't even a juris prudential position, it's a political position. it's difficult to imagine a more effective way to destroy our judicial system, the best in the world, despite its flaws, than to adopt this result-oriented approach. make no mistakes, the democrats trumpeting of outcome-based judging will have consequences. judges and potential judges nationwide will now have heard their sieren call -- siren call, if you want smooth sailing in a confirmation hearing, ignore the laws and the facts and pick a
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side that is politically correct at that moment name. my democratic colleagues claim to detest attacks on the independent judiciary, but there aren't many more attacks than true independence and impartiality than the one they are making now. the public, the people that appear in court seeking an honest tribunal have also heard this open call for bias, for prejudice, for discrimination. and i doubt they'll soon forget it. luckily judge gorsuch stood firm at his confirmation hearing. he reaffirmed what was clear from his record, that he will not legislate his own policy preferences from the bench and that he will respect the limited role a judge plays in our constitutional structure. he did all of this in the face of unrelenting opposition from
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my democratic colleagues who demanded that he violate his judicial oath and swear to decide certain cases and political questions in a way that they would prefer. no recent nominee to the supreme court has ever made such pledges and judge gorsuch rightfully refused to do so last week. their demands of judge gorsuch were particularly galling given that this was the most transparent process in history for selecting a supreme court justice. during the campaign, donald trump promised the american people that, if elected, he would choose a justice in the mold of justice schai. he laid -- scalia. the vowedders were able to see -- the voters were able to see precisely who president trump would nominate. they were able to decide for themselves if that was the future they wanted for the supreme court. hillary clinton, on the other
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hand, promised a very different kind of justice. she promised a liberal judicial activist who would vote to undermined free speech, to undermined religious liberty, to undermined the second amendment right to keep and bear arms. in a very real sense, this election was a referendum on the supreme court. the american people could decide for themselves between a faithful originalist vision of the constitution and a progressive liberal activist vision, and the voters chose. donald trump is now president trump, and he has kept his promise to the american people by selecting neil gorsuch from that list of 21 judges. judge gorsuch is no ordinary nominee because of this unique and transparent process unprecedented in our nation's history, his nomination carries with it a kind of
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superlegitimatecy in that it has been ratified by the american people at the voting booth. neil gorsuch is not simply the president's nominee, it is a direction chosen by the american people and i urge my colleagues to confirm him. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to voice my opposition to the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to be an associate justice on the supreme court of the united states. the nomination of an individual to serve on the supreme court is a matter of tremendous importance. supreme court justices have the opportunity to literally shape and even define american history for decades to come. and even more importantly, they have the opportunity to affect the lives and the livelihoods of everyday americans now and in generations yet unborn. few decisions in the senate have been -- have a more profound consequence than the nomination of a nominee for a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land. i recognize this. it's one of the most critical votes that i will take or any senator will cast.
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after reviewing judge gorsuch's record, i have decided to uphold my constitutional duty of service to advise and consent by opposing judge gorsuch's nomination at all stages of the confirmation process, including senate floor up-or-down votes for both cloture and confirmation. now, i didn't come to this decision lightly. i arrived at this conclusion because i believe the next associate justice to the supreme court must be someone who understands the importance of judicial restraint, someone who will adhere to precedent, someone who will respect and has respect for all the co-equal branches of government, someone who views the constitution as a living, not static document, someone whose judicial views actually fall within the mainstream of judicial thought
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and jurisprudence. and someone who has a deep understanding of the law, the constitution and its application s, and critically, i believe that the next supreme court justice must be someone who understands the gravity of their work, that their decisions will affect livelihoods, will affect lives, the libbities and the rights that we value, not just for those in places of privilege and power, but for all american citizens, for all of the people now and for decades to come. the american people need the next justice on the nation's highest court to be someone who will protect the rights for all, for everyone, and will ensure that the words literally inscribed above the supreme court, equal justice under law, that will ensure that those words are made manifest in everyone's lives.
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after careful consideration of judge gorsuch's record, his judicial philosophy and after meeting with the nominee and examining remarks and answers to his requests in the confirmation hearing, i do not believe judge gorsuch meets this high standard, and i cannot support his nomination to be a supreme court justice. judge gorsuch is truly a well-credentialed jurist, but we must understand that a good resume is the beginning and not the end point of a standard by which we must measure nominees to serve on the supreme court. it is -- a resume is necessary, but it is not sufficient to be on the highest court of the land. when it comes to the supreme court, the senate's duty to advise and consent means more than merely measuring an aptitude or an understanding of
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the law. it means more than just looking at someone's colleges and law schools. it means more than just admiring does this person have an impressive reassume. it necessitates an understanding of it. it actually necessitates an empathy for how these decisions will affect the lives of everyday americans. do they have the capacity to stand for all of us? i take literally that the constitution, the way it began, began with the words in the preamble to the constitution. in many ways it is a direct point of what's at stake when you nominate an individual to the supreme court. it is a critical way that we began. it begins by saying we, the people. the inclusion of these words at
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the start of one of our nation's founding documents is actually no accident. it was a subject of consternation and even discussion and debate. it's worth noting that the original draft of the preamble of the constitution of the united states, as prepared by a man named governor morris, it had a different beginning. it said we, the people of the states, new hampshire, massachusetts, rhode island, and so forth. but morris and other drafters of the constitution made the conclusion and really the conscious decision to remove references to states, to bring it back to the people, that the power of government is derived by the people, that that is the fundamental aspect of our society. that we, the people, not people of any one state, not people of any one religion, not people of any run race or class, but we, the people, all of the people.
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in and the debate about this changed. it was actually james madison who argued that, and i quote, in this particular respect, the distinction between the existing and the proposed government is very material. the existing system has been derived from the dependent derivative authority of the legislatures of the states whereas this is derived from the superior power of the people. it is a deference, it is a reverence for the understanding of the power of the people, all people. it is no accident that this is how our constitution began, and it's the spirit in our nation that has helped us for centuries to expand upon this ideal of we, the people. understand this -- some of our greatest leaders fought to make sure that these ideals were far faster, far more inclusive.
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i know, for instance, susan b. anthony who said, and i quote, we the people. not we the white male citizens. not we the male citizens, but we the whole people who form the union. and we formed it not to give the blessings of liberty but to secure them, not to the half of ourselves and to the half of our prosperity, but to the whole people, women and men. you see, this fundamental understanding of our constitution expanded to be more inclusive to include women and minorities and religious minorities, this conception of we, the people, is critical. and it's unfortunate that too often, even with the best intentions, our elected officials, supreme court justice and even presidents have forgotten that the precision of these words, these words that were chosen, but despite this, because of heroes like susan b. anthony and others, the people of this nation have remembered
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them and our nation has grown to be who we are now, and we often actually take for granted the critical role the supreme court has played in focusing on the people, on all the people. this has been the power and the majesty of the supreme court, this focusing of the individual rights, the dignity, the work, the value of all people. the supreme court case in hammer versus daggenhart, the supreme court ruled that congress has the power to enact labor laws that protect children. they remembered we, the people. in this case, the citizens against powerful corporations. in west coast hotel versus parish, the supreme court upheld the constitution of a state minimum wage law, again focusing
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on the people. we, the people. in mapp versus ohio, where the supreme court decided that evidence obtained through the illegal search, the violation of individual privacy, they remembered again we, the people. in "new york times" company versus sullivan, when the supreme court protected the right of everyday citizens to criticize their government, they remembered that sovereignty, that power, that -- that importance of we, the people. in baker versus carr, when the supreme court established the principle of one person, one vote, they remembered we, the people. so many of the rulings during the 1950's and 1960's governing issues of race in our nation.
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so many of us in our nation owe our very success, the opportunity that was expanded because the supreme court against social mores, against laws of states, focused on we, the people. perhaps the most famous of those is brown versus board of education, when the supreme court asserted that separate but equal had no place in the education of our children, they remembered we, the people. in loving versus virginia, when the supreme court ruled unconstitutional state laws that ban interracial marriage, that ideal of being able to join in union with someone you love, regardless of race, the supreme court remembered we, the people. in olmstead versus l.c., when
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the supreme court reinforced the right of people with developmental disabilities to live in the community and not be institutionalized, they saw a greater inclusion of all americans, they remembered we, the people. i stood on the supreme court steps. i sat in the supreme court discussions. in overtafeld versus hodges when the supreme court ultimately ruled that state laws cannot stop you from marrying who you love. they remembered, they saw the dignity and the worth of all of the people and ensured that quality, they remembered we, the people. in each of these cases, so much was at stake, the rights of workers, the rights of children, the rights of people with disabilities, the rights of minorities, the rights of women,
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voting rights, civil rights, our rights, american rights, the supreme court with jurists on the right and the left, jurists appointed by republicans and democrats, looked to people and affirmed dignity and worth and well-being. but these are not just issues that are done in the past. the supreme court is going to be again confronted by historic and deep constitutional cases. there is still so much at stake, and that's why this decision before the senate is so consequential. your right to gain access to birth control, your right to criticize elected officials, your right to marry someone you love, that's still at stake. i cannot vote in support of a nominee who i don't trust to protect american individuals, to understand the expansive nature of that idea of we, the people.
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judge gorsuch is someone who in his own words has said judges should try to apply the law -- i quote, apply the law as it is, focusing backward and not forward. based on his record and his writing, it is clear to me that judge gorsuch's own judicial philosophy leaves out critically important elements of democratic governance. judge gorsuch's evasive answers to questions during his confirmation hearing didn't do anything to allay my concerns. we, the people, the first words of the constitution, but these words i fear that judge gorsuch's record suggests are not his greatest consideration. in fact, at times when he does his judicial interpretations, they look as if those individuals that make up our
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society, we, the people, are the least of his considerations. take, for example, alphonse maddin. the man who was working through the night in the dead of winter as a truck driver, that his brakes unfortunately froze on him. knowing the danger of continuing to drive with frozen brakes, a danger to himself and other motorists on the road, alphonse pulled over to the side of the road and called for help. as several of my colleagues have noted in judge gorsuch's confirmation hearing on the floor -- and on the floor, alphonse waited for over two hours in the freezing cold experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. after no help arrived, alphonse feared for his life and ultima ultimately finally left his
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trailer to find help. less than a week after this incident, alphonse was fined for abandoning his trailer. he filed a complaint with the department of labor, and the case was brought before the tenth circuit court of appeals where all but one of the judges ruled in favor of alphonse, a guy who took a practical decision, an urgent decision to save his own life and not risk the lives of others. but the judge who ruled against this individual in favor of the corporation was judge neil gorsuch. he chose to save his own life and protect the lives of others who would have been put in harm's way if he chose another option, and he was fined for it. every judge on the tenth circuit supported that decision except for judge gorsuch. we, the people, includes luke, a
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student with a disability. he was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. when luke entered kindergarten, he began receiving specialized educational services from his school district as ensured by the individuals with disabilities act or the idea. a law congress debated and passed with republicans and democrats that says children with disabilities are entitled to receive a free and appropriate public education. between kindergarten and the second grade, luke achieved many of the goals of his individualized education program, but when luke's family moved to colorado and he enrolled in a new public school, he had trouble adjusting and luke regressed in areas that he had previously done well in. to better suit luke's needs, luke's parents who tried to get him better care eventually withdrew from his local school and enrolled him in a private
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residential school for children with autism. his parents sought reimbursement for the cost of that private school, but the school -- but the public school district refused to pay. by the time luke's case reached the tenth circuit, a federal judge and two administrative courts had agreed that the school district should pay because luke did not receive the free and appropriate education he was entitled to. the question for judge gorsuch was, what constitutes an appropriate education? in that ruling judge gorsuch wrote the opinion saying that the educational benefit mandated by idea must be merely -- must merely be more than de minimis, more than deminimis. that was the starred that he set for one of our american children. because the school district gave look a deminimis education,
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judge gorsuch ruled that luke's parents were not entitled to reimbursement. just last week the supreme court unanimously rejected judge gorsuch's merely more than today minimis standard -- deminimis standard. unanimously rejected judge gorsuch's standard as contrary to the intent of congress. in fact, at the very moment that judge gorsuch testified before the judiciary committee, chief judge roberts wrote an opinion rejecting gorsuch's idea standard saying when all is said and done a student offered an educational program providing merely more than deminimis progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all. judge gorsuch's misinterpretation of the law depriving a child with a disability, of an education he deserves should be cause for concern to any of my colleagues as they are promoting him to the highest court in the land. it is this idea of who is
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important. institutions or often the powerless who fight against these corporations or big institutions and turn to the court system as their avenue to get the equal justice under the law, that will view them whether it's a corporation, whether it's a government, will view them as an equal under the law and give them the right to be heard. this is what we the people is. it means people like alphonse maddin and luke who judge gorsuch ruled against, and it also means female workers who want access to conextra septemberive -- conextra septemberive -- contraceptive coverage but were denied by a corporation. judge gorsuch ruled for the people and the corporation. we the people means those millions of americans who rely on planned parenthood centers
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for health care. judge gorsuch ruled against those people seeking what in some counties is their only access to conextra septemberive care. we the people means people harmed by medical device manufacturers urging unsafe off label usages, judge gorsuch ruled against the people injured and for the manufacturers, for the corporation. we the people means that a worker fatally electrocuted while on the job due to inadequate training whose families sought justice, judge gorsuch ruled against the individual and for the corporation. we the people means the woman prevented from suing for sexual harassment, not because the sexual harassment doesn't exist
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but because she didn't report it quickly enough, judge gorsuch supported the corporation against the woman. we the people means that a transgender woman who is denied access to a bathroom at work, judge gorsuch ruled against the individual in favor of the corporation. we the people means that every single american deserves to have their rights, deserves to have their civil rights, deserves to have their equality protected by the judicial branch which is often their last avenue towards justice. it's often their last hope against the powerful, against the wealthy. but judge gorsuch's record in everything from worker's rights to civil rights to the rights of children with disabilities to the rights of a guy on the side of a highway to save his own
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life subjects that he has forgotten perhaps the most important element of the constitution, that it exists to protect and serve the american people, not corporations, not lobbyists, not those rich enough to hire fancy, big law firms. it doesn't exist to serve a political ideology. it exists to serve we the peop people. i am not confident in judge gorsuch's ability as a supreme court justice to safeguard the rights and liberties of all americans to prioritize judicial restraint over judicial ideology to ensure equal justice under the law, and to understand and act in a way that indicates that real people's lives who are struggling against often in seemingly insurmountable odds that for them everything is on
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the line, i'm not sure that judge gorsuch on the supreme court can honor this tradition. we the people means an independence judiciary that will not close the courthouse doors on people, on our civil rights. they won't look at li litigants- at litigants as just pawns in a larger ideology contest of ideas but we'll see the humanity of every american who will have a courageous emthy to -- empathy to understand their circumstance and their struggle and put that in accordance with the values of a nation where we all swear an oath for liberty and justice for all, all the people.
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over 75 years ago justice hugo black encompassed the basic ideal of the role of federal courts in protecting citizens' rights when he wrote these words, and i quote, no higher duty, no more solemn responsibility rests upon this court than that of translating into living law and maintaining this constitutional shield glib dlib -- shield deliberately planned and inscribed for every human being subject to our constitution whatever race, creed, or persuasion. yet judge gorsuch's own writings demonstrate a failure to grasp this understanding of the role of courts to protect all people, and i quote again justice black, whatever race, creed, or persuasion. in an opinion article for the national review entitled
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"liberals and lawsuits ," judge gorsuch expressed his skepticism about civil rights litigation, his skepticism of civil rights litigation is merely a pursuit of a social agenda. he wrote, and i quote, american liberals have become addicted to the courtroom relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box as a primary means for effecting a social agenda from everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private school education. the overwaning addiction he writes is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. i wonder what oliver brown, plaintiff in the seminole case in the brown v. education would say to justice gorsuch, was he addicted to the courtroom to
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advance a quote, unquote, social agenda or was his courtroom an avenue to justice against profound oppression? i wonder what james burgerfeld would say to judge gorsuch, was he addicted to the courtroom when he sought to be able to merry the person he loved? or just to see the idea to make it true that separate but equal is actually discriminatory, demeaning, degrading not just to the individuals who are discriminated against but demeaning to us as a people and a nation. judge gorsuch's actions call into question whether he understands the proper role of the courts. does he understand that federal courts are the proper forum for constitutional disputes which protect americans' basic rights,
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that this is not about liberal or democrat. this is about individuals who are often fighting battles against powerful interests. it was a adjournel -- journalist who said in 1936 liberty must be something more than a man's conception of his rights, much more than his desire to fight for his own rights. true liberty is founded upon a lively sense of the rights of others, and a fighting conviction that the rights of others must be maintained. i do not believe justice gorsuch possesses this fighting conviction that we need a supreme court justice to forcefully and fatherlessly without regard -- fearlessly without regard to wealth, protect the rights of others, protect the rights of all americans, protect the rights of we the people. i do not believe that justice gorsuch will work to fiercely
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defend the rights of all americans. i do not believe he possesses that fighting conviction that we the people must be committed above all else to one another. again, i do not take the decision to oppose justice gorsuch's nomination likely. i understand what is at stake here. i ap fortunate to represent -- i am fortunate to represent hard-working new jerseyans in the united states. when i took the oath to support and defend the constitution, i made a promise to my constituents and the american people not to discharge -- not to only discharge my duties but to at every opportunity to work across the aisle to protect their rights and interests. that means a lot to me. so many of my most proud moments in the senate are from this bipartisan cooperation that i found with so many of my colleagues. i do not stand here today to question their motives. i do not stand here today to impugn them in any way because
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when i go home, people are not concerned about the partisan politics. they're concerned about their lives, their livelihoods, about the issues that affect them and their families, their neighborhoods, their community. they want people in this body and in the courts across the street to protect the rights of americans, to protect consumers, to protect our kids and our environment, but this is in fact what i believe ar our nominee -- what i believe the nominee we are all considering has shown that he will not do. it is no secret that joggers' nomination comes at a very divisive time for this body and challenging time for this k we have experienced great times of turmoil and polarization before in this nation and in this body. in "the federalist" papers writ enover two industriesing a,
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james madison warns in "federalist paper" no 10 about what he calls the mischiefs of factions and its inevitability that citizens in the nation and their political parties will undoubtedly disagree and possess competing interests. madison asserted that the existence of the legislative branch would guard against some of the worst effects of this reality. wrote that those elected to represent the american people and the legislature would be those -- and i quote here -- whose wisdom must -- may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to a temporary or partial considerations. when this bodyat its best, i believe that's true, and i've seen that kind of partnership in this body. but i am afraid that we are indeed at a troubling time, a
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troubling time in history for the united states senate, where it seems that the reverse of madison's have become reflective of the truth we're experiencing. because we're now facing a vote on a supreme court nominee whose confirmation i believe would be a sacrifice to temporary and partial considerations, as opposed to the larger interests of our country. in my short time in this body, just over three and a half years, i've come to this floor to speak on nominations of two different supreme court justices to serve here in the united states. the first was chief justice merrick garland. he was not only well-qualified, intelligent, and capable, but he was moderate. president obama even sought input from republicans about choosing someone who was a mainstream jurist. he was more than qualified to sit on the supreme court, but he
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was actually someone who could bring folks together. his qualifications, his aptitude to serve and his moderate philosophy was not displayed -- was not reflected in how he dealt with that nomination. i believe he deserved an up-or-down vote, even if it was a 60-vote threshold, deserved an up-or-down vote. more than this, he should have had the opportunity to meet with senators, republican and democrat, like gorsuch has met with senators, republican and democrat. he deserved to have a committee hearing. he deserved to be voted on, up or down, in that committee. deserved to have his nomination come to the floors whether a 6 60-vote threshold or a 50-vote threshold. but he did not get that. the garland nomination was a bookend to the era we have been
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witnessing, that i have been witnessing of obstruction. and there has been finger-pointing on both sides. during president obama's time in office, we saw historic obstruction like never before. 79 judicial nominees of president obama were blocked by the filibuster, 79 nominees were blocked, as a time that the judiciary, the independent branch of government, was saying, we are in judicial crisis in many jurisdictions. 79 of obama's justices were blocked, compared to 68 nominees obstructed under all presidents combined, from george washington to george bush. all of the obstruction from democrats and republicans and other parties, only 68 nominees
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were obstructed compared to president obama, where there was 79. i do not suppose the same view as those who last year believed this seat should remain vacant and took the obstruction during the obama presidency to a much higher level. i believe that seat should have been filled, not by an extreme jurist but by someone who could have tempered the partisanship of our time, someone who could have brought us together. it was a wise choice at a divisive time in our country. president obama did not choose somebody from further left. he chose a moderate justice who probably could have could, if he was -- could, if he was given an up-or-down vote, commanded 60 votes. the and at this time, that's what -- and at this time, that's what president trump should have done, put forward a nominee that could have brought this country
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together, a moderate nominee, someone within the judicial mainstream. but he hasn't. i believe a 60-vote threshold right now is more than appropriate at this moment in history. there are republican judicial nominees that could garner 60 votes in this caucus, in this chamber. the 60-vote threshold exists because the person confirmed to serve on the supreme court at this time should be mainstream, and independent enough to garner those two-thirds support. the 60-vote thresholds exist because a confirmation of a justice of the supreme court is one of the most important duties that we perform, one of the most important positions in all of american government. it is someone that will have an impact on our society, shaping it and forming it for generations to come. this president should have sought the real advice and
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consent from the entire senate. but instead he turned to the judicial extreme. and now, more than ever, we need a threshold that can pull our nominees back to the center. so we can begin to heal the divisions. i do not believe ill the best d.c. i do not believe i.t. the best interests of the american people to confirm someone so extreme son a 50-vote margin. it should be 60 votes. i urge my colleagues that this justice threatens those ideals we hold so precious, those words at the again of the constitution, "we the people." i urge people to understand that this is a time, more than ever, that we must continue to fight, to defend the marginalized, the weak, the people who don't possess wealth, the people who
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are standing against powerful corporations, that we cannot reverse a traditio a tradition r courts are the avenue where people can receive equal justice under the law. you cannot put someone in office who has shown throughout their judicial record to be contrary to that. for the sake of this body, now more than ever, it is my hope that we can onto a judicial nominee -- that we can see a judicial nominee that will help heal wounds, not create them, they will help to affirm the ideals of our nation and the very conception that we are one people, we are one nation, we hold one destiny. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. warner: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: well, first, mr. president, let me thank my colleague. i do, too, share there was a better way to go about this
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judicial nomination process. i think as well that traditions such as the 60-vote margin should be maintained and frankly near the party comes to this issue completely with clean hands, with the democrats' action of 2013, but our colleagues' actions, not even giving someone with such character as merrick garland meetings, a hearing and a vote. i will be joining with my colleague from new jersey in voting against judge gorsuch and making sure that we use all of our available tools. so i thank him for those comments. but that sense of what we are dealing with now in our politics today is the subject that i want to speak for a few minutes about, and that is the incredibly important efforts made each and every day by our public servants.
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we often forget that our public servants, our federal employees, go to work every day with the sole mission to make the country a better and safer place. day after day, they go to work receiving little recognition for the great work that they do. since 2010, i've come to the senate floor to honor exemplary federal employees, a tradition that was begun by my friend senator ted kaufman, one of those federal employees is actually sitting at the desk and has helped me and i know so many other senators as we've tried to learn this job. the reason why i wanted to come back today was because today, in light of a government-wide hiring freeze, the reinstatement of the so-called holman rule, a proposed budget that would deeply cut our federal workforce, the targeting of
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civil servants by certain media outlets, this tradition of honoring those who serve oftentimes without recognition, our federal employees, feels even more important. our federal employees, over 170,000 of them virginians, serve their country dutifully regardless of the party in power. not only do they carry out the mission of the administration, that they are serving but they also provide countless benefits to the american public. it is my hope that my colleagues and the current administration will remember these facts and set aside ideology when considering actions that affect our federal agencies and their workforce. so today i want to just take a couple of moments to recognize a few virginians who are working behind the scenes to actually make our government more efficient and more effective. first i'd like to recognize curt
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yeager. curt is the chief explosive scientist at the f.b.i. and in this role he both respects, responds to crisis and oversees the bureau's efforts to better understand the explosives that terrorists use. having studied bomb making for more than 20 years, curt works with both domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies and s. has developed and provided crucial training to every bomb squad in the united states and to many of our foreign allies. through his work, curt has made the united states' civilians, law enforcement personnel and those who serve our country in the military much, much safer. next, i would like to recognize dennis wagner. dennis is the director of quality improvement and innovation group for the centers for medicare and medicaid services. as part of the team at c.m.s., dennis contributed to the
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creation of the partnership for patients, a public-private partnership to increase patient safety and reduce readmissions to u.s. hospitals. their work has produced outstanding results, including 2.1 million fewer patients harmed and $20 billion saved. that's a statistic and obviously work going on at c.m.s., an agency that doesn't get a lot of recognition, candidly, most people don't even know, a person like this, dennis, has made our health care system actually better. third, i would like to recognize edward grace. edward is the deputy chief in the office of law enforcement at the u.s. fish and wildlife service. in that role, edward has been leading a nationwide law enforcement investigation known as operation crash, targeting those who smuggle and trade rhino horns and elegant ivory.
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in addition to assisting with the department's efforts, operation crash has led to 41 arrests, 030 convictions and the seizure of millions of dollars in smuggled goods, results that show that those seeking to engage in this kind of activity, there will be real legal consequences to their actions. finally, i would like to recognize mariella giela, director at the u.s. citizenship and immigration services. mariella and her team has been working to improve the way that uscis interacts with the millions of people who contact their office seeking citizenship, permanent residen residency, refugee status or other assistance. central to that mission are the innovative improvements that she has made to my us rhode island s website as well as the launch
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of, "enna," that in a typical month enters nearly 500,000 questions with sauce rate of nearly 90%. to ensure that this resource was available to a wide range of customers, mariella also oversaw the creation of a spanish-speaking emma that came online in 2016. these important improvements have been crucial to driving efficiency for the world's largest immigration system in the world. again, i hope my colleagues, as we think about budgets and numbers and when we hear people who oftentimes denigrate our federal employees, will remember some of these individuals who not for great reward or recognition, but actually get up each and every day and go to work trying to make sure that our government functions for the hundreds of millions of americans who oftentimes don't acknowledge or recognize their services enough. as i mentioned at the outset, i
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know this is a time when most of my colleagues are speaking on judge gorsuch. i will simply add after careful review of his record, and my belief as well that his unwillingness to really give truly straight answers in terms of comments, whether it was basic decided legal opinions like brown vs. board of education or roe v. wade or citizens united, his failure to even answer those questions has unfortunately led me to join with so many of my other colleagues in voting against him. i still hope that there is a way that we can avoid changing the rules of the senate during this process. and i know there are many colleagues who are working on those efforts, and if they're successful i look forward to joining them. but as we think about judge gorsuch, as we recognize the challenges we've got ahead of us, let us also, those who serve in this body continue to take a moment every day and to say thanks to a federal employee
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who in one way or another works tirelessly day in and day out to make our country a better place. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. (quorumquorum quorum call:
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mr. carper: mr. president ?r. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, last week on the senate floor, this senate floor, i made the case for democrats and republicans joining together to confirm one of the most qualified individuals ever nominated to the united states supreme court.
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i was referring of course to chief judge merrick garland. i don't wish to belabor the point here this evening, but it bears repeating that judge garland brought with him more federal judicial experience than any supreme court nominee in the history of the united states. it bears repeating that judge garland is an extraordinary man, a good man, a brilliant man, a fair judge and a consensus builder on the bench in a day and age when we need consensus builders on the supreme court and other courts across the country. and frankly, we need them right here on this floor, in this body. and it bears repeating that the obstruction of judge garland's nomination was unprecedented in the history of the united states of america and the history of the senate. since the senate judiciary committee has been holding hearings on supreme court nominations, i believe it was in 1916, no supreme court nominee had ever been denied a
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hearing and a vote. since 1916. until judge garland. many of our republican colleagues refused to meet with him. and when his nomination expired at noon on january 3, 2017, 293 days had passed. 293 wasted days. a good man was treated badly. i believe our constitution was treated badly. i believe that the obstruction of judge garland's nomination was unprecedented. i believe it was shameful. from my view, we cannot pretend that his vacate seat on the supreme court, what i believe should be judge garland's seat, is the result of anything other than blatant partisanship. i believe that upholding my oath to protect the constitution means finding an agreement on moving judge garland's nomination forward at the same time -- at the same time as that of judge neil gorsuch, president trump's supreme court
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nominee. i have no choice but to oppose judge gorsuch's nomination this week because anything else would be a stamp of approval for i believe playing politics with supreme court nominees. i cannot support judge gorsuch's nomination because we could not have one set of rules for democratic presidents and another set of rules for republican presidents. some of my colleagues and maybe some of the americans listening at home tonight may be asking themselves, well, senator carper, didn't democrats change the rules for judges when they were in the majority? a fair question. and to that i would say, yes, that's true for lower court nominees, federal district court, court of appeals. but it wasn't because senator harry reid woke up one morning and decided that was the day to change the rules of the senate. a decision of this magnitude didn't happen on a whim. it was because by the time
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november 2013 had arrived, our republican friends had attempted to block -- get this -- more nominations in the first five years of president obama's tenure than all other presidents combined. let me say that again. it was because by the time november 2013 had arrived, our republican friends had attempted to block more nominations in the first five years of president obama's tenure than all other presidents combined. and it wasn't the unprecedented use of cloture motions, 79 cloture motions, during those five years that precipitated democratic senate seeking a solution to support the capability of the senate to do its job. it was because our republican friends refused to consider any nominee -- any nominee -- to the d.c. circuit court of appeals despite three vacancies on our nation's second-highest court.
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yes, it's true that democrats supported a change that allowed a vote on those nominees, but it was because our republican friends took the unheard of position that no nominee -- no nominee, no matter what their qualifications, is entitled to a vote. i should note that democrats were careful to preserve the 60 votes for supreme court nominees. let me just say if there's any position in the federal government that should require at least 60 votes, my view is that it should be supreme court. and that is the rules under which we operate as of this moment. one of the reasons why is because supreme court vacancies come around quite rarely. and when they do, we need to ensure that debate is robust. we need to ensure that the nominee is from the judicial and the political mainstream. and we need to ensure that these lifetime appointments are held to highest standards. in other words, i believe we need a nominee like judge merrick garland. despite his own impressive
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resume, i have concerns with judge gorsuch's nomination beyond the treatment of judge garland. and i have concerns with the way that our debate has not been, frankly, robust. i have concerns that judge gorsuch's views are outside the judicial and political mainstream. and i have concerns that his -- what others have termed evasiveness, but evai sieveness before the judiciary committee does not meet the high standards that we should expect for these lifetime appointments. mr. president, i would be remiss if i did not mention what i referred to last week as the cloud that lingers still over president trump's campaign. like many americans, i read the news related to russia and the trump campaign, and i come to the inescapable conclusion that the cloud is darkening and the forecast is a matter of grave concern for our constitution. f.b.i. director gym comey has
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testified under oath that there is an ongoing investigation to determine the links between the trump campaign and russia, an adversary that attacked our election and undermined a free and fair election to change the outcome of that election. and from all appearances, they did. to hastily move forward with judge gorsuch who is 49 years old who could serve in the supreme court well into the middle of this century without first getting to the bottom of the suspicious and irregular actions of trump campaign officials would be, in my view, a mistake. mr. president, for many americans, this supreme court seat will always come with, well, with an asterisk to it. an asterisk. they believe, i believe that it was a stolen seat that belonged to judge merrick garland. many americans are wondering why are we rushing to fill a lifetime vacancy while president trump's campaign remains under investigation and will for at
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least some while. mr. president, i believe we have some time. judge garland waited 293 days for a hearing and a vote that never came. judge gorsuch has waited 48 days for a hearing and many of our republican friends would like to see him seated this week. again i would say judge merrick garland waited 293 days for a hearing and a vote that never, never came. but what we face here today i think is a rush to judgment, and i would just say we have time. we ought to hit the pause button on this nomination. the american people are watching us and history will judge us. i fear that history may judge us poorly if anyone other than merrick garland is confirmed at this time. i fear that history may judge us poorly if we do not insist that the trump campaign is first
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cleared of any wrongdoing before we move forward. we need to get this right. we have time to get this right. mr. president, the senate has been through it all. good men and women of the senate have always disagreed, sometimes passionately, oftentimes loudly. and i understand that this disagreement before us may seem unresolvable. that is only if we seek to cut off debate and admit defeat. personally speaking, i'm not ready to do that today or this week. i believe we have time. i believe we have the opportunity to right an historic wrong. not just an opportunity to right an historic wrong, but an obligation. we have the opportunity, i think obligation, to get this right. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. my friend from -- no? i yield the floor, mr. president.
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and with that i'd note the absence of a quorum, mr. president. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mcconnell are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mcconnell i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, it's pretty obvious based on the announcement that senators have made that we are experiencing here the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in the history of the country. we've had plenty of time to discuss judge gorsuch and his credentials, both in committee and on the floor, and i think it's now important to move forward. and therefore i send a cloture motion to the desk for the nomination. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of neil m. gorsuch of colorado to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the united states, signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with
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senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s. res. 94. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 94, designating march, 2017, as national read aloud month. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding on the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged, and the senate will proceed. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following senate resolutions, which were submitted earlier today -- s. 111, -- s. res. 111, s. res. 112, and s. res. 113. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measures en bloc? without objection. the senate will proceed en bloc. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, and the motions to
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reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the debate time on the nomination of judge gorsuch during wednesday's session of the senate be divided as followr remarks until 11:00 a.m. be equally divided, that the time from 11:00 until noon be under the control of the majority. the time from noon until 1:00 under the control of the minority. further, that the debate time until 9:00 p.m. on wednesday be divided in one-hour alternating blocks. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. wednesday, april 5. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and morning business be closed. finally, following leader remarks, the senate resume executive session to consider the nomination of neil gorsuch
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as under the previous order. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order, following the remarks of senators rubio and merkley. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, i come to the floor today to discuss the issue of human rights as part of my office's ongoing efforts under the campaign we call expression, not oppression. we highlight human rights abuses around the world and tell the stories of political prisoners and other brave leaders who are being repressed, jailed, beaten, worse. simply for criticizing the government of the nation in which they live. this is an important week for human rights. two nations concerning records regarding human rights, egypt and china, have sent their heads
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of state to meet with our president, and i have, i hope, a chance later on this week to discuss the issues that we confront in china, and there are many. today i want to discuss the state of human rights and our general relationship with egypt. over the past two days, the president of egypt, president elsisi, has been visiting our nation's capital. he had the opportunity to meet with the president and other officials in the administration, and earlier today i had the opportunity to visit with him as part of a meeting with members of the senate foreign relations committee. before entering my remarks, i want to make abundantly clear we are incredibly impressed and grateful and supportive of the efforts the president elsisi and egypt are undertaking battling radicalism and in particular isis. they are undertaking this effort, for example, in the sinai, and it is quite a challenge. withbut i also understand that e ongoing ability to defeat radicalism in the world depends
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on the stability of our partners internally, and that is why the human rights situation in egypt is concerning. i believe it is fair to say it is at its worst in decades, and that is saying something. it's important, some may ask, why does america care about that and beyond obviously our moral calling to defend the rights of all people. it's that it's counterproductive behavior. these abuses, the conditions that exist in egypt and in other places around the world, are actually conducive to jihadi ideology, the ability of recruiting people who feel vulnerable, who feel oppressed. they become more vulnerable to those campaigns when they feel that they are being mistreated. the current government of egypt under the leadership of president elsisi has cracked down on civil society. on that there can be no debate. they have jailed thousands of political prisoners, including, sadly, some americans, and it has responded with brute force
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to those who oppose that government. now, again, i want to reiterate, a strong u.s.-egypt relationship is important to america, to advancing our interests in the middle east. i am here today to speak on behalf of american interests and why this is so important in our relationship with egypt and in the stability of the region, but i must do so by describing the situation on the ground. we simply cannot in the national interests of our country turn a blind eye to the ongoing repression of egyptian citizens by their government. it weakens our moral standing in the world, and as i have already said numerous times, it makes egypt less secure. and if egypt is less secure, ultimately america will be less secure. and today i said that to president elsisi. over the last decades, the congress has provided egypt -- the american people have provided egypt with more than $77 billion in foreign aid.
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this includes what is currently $1.3 billion per year in military aid. but as the human rights situation in egypt continues to deteriorate and the government refuses to take serious and necessary steps of reform and respecting the rule of law, then this congress on behalf of the american people who are giving $1.3 billion of their hard-earned taxpayer money must continue to pursue reform of our assistance to egypt to make sure that not only is it allowing them to confront the challenges posed by radicalism today, but it also promotes progress in a way that does not leave egypt unstable and ultimately vulnerable in the future. it is in the interests of both our country and egypt and the egyptian people to implement reforms and to release all of its jailed political prisoners, including all jailed americans. nations cannot thrive and they cannot prosper if their citizens are oppressed or are unable to express themselves freely without fear of being jailed,
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tortured or killed. inevitably, these conditions -- as these conditions continue, there will be a street uprising in egypt once again, and it could very well be led by radical elements that seek to overthrow the government and create a space for terrorism. human rights abuses in egypt take on many forms. for example, the lack of press freedom. in 2016, egypt joined other nations in rising to the top of the rankings as the world's third highest jailer of journalists. according to the reporters without borders 2016 world press freedom index, egypt currently ranks 159th out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom. the media, including journalists, bloggers and those active on social media, are regularly harassed and arrested. there are currently 24 journalists jailed on trumped up and politically motivated charges. the crimes, quote-unquote, have included publishing false
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information, inciting terrorism. censorship has grown as they continue to interfere in the publication and circulation of news, although, by the way, a lot of egyptian news coverage is very anti-american. these are just a few examples of the ongoing repression of press freedom in egypt. there are also human rights abuses the egyptian government continues to commit with regards to freedom of association and of assembly. in november of 2016, the egyptian parliament passed a draconian law that if signed by president elsisi would ban nongovernmental organizations from operating freely in egypt. the law would essentially eliminate all independent human rights groups. it would make it nearly impossible for charities to function by imposing strict regulations and registration processes. individuals who violate this law could face jail time simply for speaking out and fighting to defend human rights. passing laws like these has a chilling effect on the senate. here's the good news.
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president elsisi has not signed it yet over four months later, and i truly hope that it's because he is having second thoughts about it, because he recognizes the terrible impact that it will have on its country's future, on their perception around the world and on their ability to make progress and reform, and ultimately because he also recognizes the impact it will have on free nations like the united states who desires to work with egypt on many issues of common interests. i strongly encourage president elsisi to reject that anti-n.g.o. law. there is the issue of political prisoners. according to the project on middle east democracy, since 2013, at least 60,000 political prisoners have been arrested in egypt. 1800 people have received death sentences. and what many organizations have described as politically motivated sentences. in 2014, president el-sisi expanded the jurisdiction of military courts over civilians. according to human rights watch, since the decree was issued, the military courts have tried over
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7,400 egyptian civilians. additionally, individuals have been victims of enforced disappearances in egypt. and they claim that they were tortured and subjected to other forms of abuse when they were taken. there has been little accountability for the -- this excessive use of force. egypt's repression isn't limited to its own citizens. there are currently a number of americans in jail in egypt. there's one american in particular i'd like to personally raise, the case of american egyptian citizen iya hijasi. iya was arrested in may of 2014 along with her husband and other members of an organization which works with abandoned and homeless youth, rescuing these young children off the streets. three years ago, she was arrested and charged with ridiculous allegations, including sexual abuse and paying the children to participate in demonstrations against the government. to date, no evidence has been provided to back these horrible allegations. almost three years later, this american citizen remains in prison. throughout that time, i and
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others here in the senate have been calling for her release, and it's time that the charges against her to be dropped and for her husband and the other workers to be released immediately. because her case and many others like it are an obstacle to better relations, the egyptian people deserve better than the brutal treatment they are receiving at the hands of their government. all human beings do. it's incumbent on us, the elected representatives of the american people, to make clear to friends, allies, partners and foes alike that no matter what issues we're working with you on, negotiating a resolution to or dealing with on some other way, we are not going to look the other way when human rights are being abused. we are going to encourage you to do reforms because in the long run, that is in your interests and ours. we have seen in recent history the consequences when governments do not respect their citizens. it creates instability in these countries. instability is the breeding ground of terrorists and radical elements around the world, and ultimately those terrorists train their sights on us.
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as i told president el-sisi today, egypt is a nation rich in culture and history and it's made extraordinary contributions to the world. it has played a leading role in fostering peace with israel, but it faces a dangerous future if it does not create the conditions within the country where its people can live peacefully and securely without fear. otherwise egypt remains vulnerable to the kind of instability we've seen in syria and libya and other countries. that's why it should matter to the american people. i am disappointed that this issue of human rights did not come up publicly when the president met with the president of egypt, and i hope that that will change in the weeks and days and months to come for it is in our national interest to further these goals. otherwise, sadly, we could very well have yet another and perhaps the most important country yet in the region destabilized and ultimately left vulnerable to becoming a breeding ground for terrorism
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that ultimately targets our people and our nation. mr. president, i ask consent that the senate resume executive session and resume legislative session following the remarks of the senator from oregon, senator merkley. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. rubio: with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, is there a quorum call in place? the presiding officer: there is not. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i rise to address the nomination of neil gorsuch and i'll start by noting that just moments ago, the majority leader was on the floor and did something that has never before been done in u.s. history, and that is on the first day, indeed the first hours of debate on a supreme
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court justice on this floor, the majority leader filed a petition culled a cloture petition to close debate. so here we are in the first day just hours into debate and the majority leader said enough. we don't want to hear any more about this topic. we're going to shut down debate. now, the rules provide some protection for this, and that is it can't be voted on until thursday. so there's time between now and thursday for us to air our views but historically, often debates went on for a substantial amount of time, a week, some for many weeks with no cloture petition being filed, no closing debate, and certainly never before has the majority leader shut down debate, filed that petition on day one trying to ram this
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petition through, this nomination through. well, this is just a continuation of firsts. first events that do absolutely no credit to this institution, no credit to the supreme court, no credit to our nation. in fact, pose a substantial, substantial danger. it was just february 13, a little over a year ago, that judge scalia, supreme court justice scalia died. and almost immediately the majority leader indicated that when the nomination came down from president obama, this chamber would not exercise its responsibility of advice and consent under the constitution, would not provide an opportunity
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for merrick garland to be able to appear before a committee, answer the questions of the committee members, the questions of republicans, and the questions of democrats so they could assess whether or not that individual was appropriate to serve in a supreme court seat. the majority leader made it clear there would be no committee hearing and no committee vote and no opportunity to come here directly to the floor bypassing the committee. in other words, he closed off every opportunity for the president's nominee to be considered, and this is the first time, this is the only time that that has happened in our nation's history when there was a vacancy in an election year. what is the essence of this extraordinary and unusual action in which this chamber fails to
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exercise its advice and consent responsibility under the constitution? were we at a time of war, like the civil war in which the capitol at times was under assault, were we at a moment in which the building was aflame and we had to flea or there was some other significant threat to the functioning of this body? was there some set of extraordinary circumstance, perhaps a massive storm headed for the nation's capital that led for the senate for the first time in u.s. history to say it couldn't take the time to exercise its constitutional advice and consent responsibility, but there was no storm. there was no fire.
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there was no threat. there was no earthquake, not anything that would prevent this chamber from doing its responsibility. well, the president, he has a responsibility under the constitution when there's an open seat, and that's to nominate. and he proceed to consult with members on both sides of the aisle, and he nominated an individual, merrick garland, who had an extraordinary reputation and who essentially was considered to come straight down the main street of judicial thought with opinions that were neither labeled progressive nor conservative. straight down the middle. the president made that nomination on march 16, a month and three days after the seat became vacant, but that was the
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last action to occur, last action this chamber took. a few individuals did courtesy interviews knowing that it would lead to no committee hearing and no committee vote. because the majority team in this chamber decided to steal a supreme court seat. again such a thought has never ever happened in the history of our nation. oh, there have been substantial number of seats come open during an election year, 16. there have been a substantial number of individuals who were confirmed to those 16 seats. and there were a group of individuals who were turned down by this chamber, but in all of the 15 cases that preceded the death of justice scalia, the senate acted. the senate exercised its responsibility, but this time
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was different. this time the majority said we intend to pack the court of the united states of america, not by adding seats to it. that wouldn't work under a democratic president who could then nominate more individuals. no, to pack the court by taking the seat, failing to exercise the responsibility that each of us has under our oath of office, of advice and consent, and send it in a time capsule into the next administration hoping that that time capsule would be opened by a conservative president who would nominate someone who was very conservative indeed, to create a 5-4 bias. now, what was that bias that the majority was looking for? well, it wasn't a bias towards we the people. it was a bias towards the
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powerful and the privileged. but if you take a look at our constitution, that initial opening of our constitution, it does not say we the privileged and we the powerful. it lays out a vision of a form of government with checks and balances to be designed, to function of, by, and for the people. and the majority was afraid that merrick garland would be just that kind of judge who would call the balls and strikes under the constitution in support of the constitutional vision we the people. they didn't want a judge that would call the balls and strikes under our constitution. they wanted someone who would find a way to twist a case in
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favor of the privileged and the powerful. and tonight i'll lay out a lot of how they knew that that was important, both from the perspective of the decisions of the 5-4 court that preceded the death of justice scalia, and also from the writings and the decisions of merrick garland who found every opportunity to take a case, find some word, find some phrase, find some idea to operate as to not operate, to drive is not to drive. that's just language from one case. find some way to find in favor of the powerful over the people.
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merrick garland's nomination lasted 293 days. that is the longest time in supreme court history. now, i'm going to turn and go through the election-year vacancies because i don't want folks to take my word for the case that the senate has always done its job, through more than 200 years has done its job until now. so let's take a look at those vacancies. now, there were a couple of cases, three cases in which there was an election-year nominee and the vacancy occurred after the general election. so this happened when president adams was in office and president grant was in office
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and president hayes was in office. so there's very little time left in the president's term. now, in a number of these cases, all three, the president didn't change office until march of the following year, but the senate didn't even need those extra two months that it had before we amended the constitution. and so president adams nominated john jay. he nominated him three days after the vacancy occurred in the year 1800. and the senate confirmed the nominee. now, here's an interesting twist. the nominee then declined the position. you don't see that very often in the history of the supreme court. and then we go to 1872 when president grant was president and he had a vacancy occur on november 28, just a month before the end of the year and a few
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months before the presidency would turn over following the election. nominated ward hunt. but the senate acted in a little more than a week and they confirmed him. they vetted him. they exercised their advice and consent responsibility, and they said yes, this individual is appropriate to serve on the court. and then president hayes, a vacancy occurred in december of 18 -- now 1880. we were at 1872. and nominated william woods. and here we have a nominee being put forward just very shortly afterwards and confirmed. so that was the first three. that's the set of cases that occurred after the vacancy -- after -- the vacancy occurred after the november election in an election year. let's look at the next set of vacancies. now, in these cases, the vacancy
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occurred before the election, but the nominee wasn't nominated by the president until after the election. so again the senate had a relatively short period of time in which to act. so we have the august 25 vacancy of 1828 under president adams. he nominates quite a few months later, almost four months later, john crittenden, and in this case the senate acted, but they acted to table the nomination. and so he was turned down. and then we had president buchanan, 1860, nominated jeremiah black, and in this case we have the nomination being made just days -- now, this looks a little strange to us because we think of the presidency as changing in january, but the presidency didn't change until march. the nomination occurred in
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february, and the motion to proceed was rejected by the entire body. so, again, that nominee was rejected. then we can turn to president lincoln. the vacancy occurred in the month preceding the election. president lincoln nominated salomon chase just after the election, and the senate said, plenty of time. we'll review that. it was confirmed. and then we can turn to eisenhower. once again, a vacancy occurred in just the month before the election, just three weeks before the election. eisenhower didn't put a nomination to the senate until january, but the senate said, we have a responsibility -- advice and consent. we will review it, we will vet the nominee. and we can vote. and they confirmed. so that's the second set of nominations. that's seven of the 16 nominations.
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so there are still nine to go. let's take a look at those. now in this case, the senate had more time to act. the vacancy occurred before the general election. the nomination occurred before the general election. and before i go through them, let me just note that of these nine, the senate acted -- they acted to confirm in 1804, to table in 1844, to table in 1852, to confirm in 1888, to confirm in 1892, to confirm in 1916, to confirm again six months later, still before the election, two in the same year, and then finally in 1932 the senate confirmed a nomination made in february.
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february 15. the senate still acted. and these individuals, of these nine, we have six who were confirmed, two were tabled, but i've left one out. there's one more nomination that occurred in an election year, just one more. and that happened last year. president obama -- under president obama -- i go back to antonin scalia dying on february 13 and merrick garland being nominated on march 16. of those 16 that we've looked at, the previous 15, the senate acted each and every time, because they had taken an oath in itself uphold the constitution -- in office to uphold the constitution that requires that the senate participate in advice and consent.
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but this time no action -- no action -- no committee hearing, not a set of committee hearings, not even one, no vote in committee, no efforts or acceptance in lieu of the committee in l hall, which would be here in the senate floor, for the first time in u.s. history, the senate stole a senate seat from one president in order to pack the court. i've got to tell you that it isn't just a clever new tactic. it isn't just an excessive exercise of partisanship. this is a crime against our constitution, and the responsibilities of this body. this effort to pack the court is
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a major assault on the integrity of the court. every 5-4 decision that we see in the future everybody is going to look to say, 5-4. hmmm ... how would that be different? and it would always be different if the stolen seat and the judge that fills it is on the winning side, because that side would otherwise have lost. a tie goes to the lower court's decision. so what this does is not only change the trajectory of our constitution from one where it's designed for we the people to a different vision, a government by and for the powerful. it doesn't just change that trajectory, but it draws into question everything the court does in the future.
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wouldn't it have been incredible if president trump's nominee, knowing the constitutional responsibility for the senate to act, knowing that the senate seat had been stolen from a previous president, knowing that it would buy us all the outcomes of the court in the future, had stood up and said, i will not participate in this crime against the constitution and decline the nomination? wouldn't that have been an act of integrity? well, we didn't get that act of integrity from president trump's nominee. and so here we are today on the first day of the senate deliberation on this nominee, and just momentsing a the first time in u.s. -- and just moments ago the first time in u.s.
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history that the majority has exercised the petition to close debate on the first day of a senate debate on a supreme court justice. why is the majority in such a rush? why is the senate majority determined to push this through? -- push this through so quickly, in contravention of the convention of due deliberation on this floor? i knee if the circumstances were -- i know that if the circumstances were reversed and the democrats had participated in stealing a seat from a republican president, my colleagues would be screaming on this floor, and they would be fully justified, and i'm proud that my colleagues on this side of the aisle have never participated in such an assault on our constitution or a failure to exercise our responsibilities
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under our oath of office or a theft of a supreme court seat or an effort to pack the court. but if we had, my colleagues across the aisle would absolutely be standing and saying what i'm saying tonight; that this is wrong, this is destructive, this is damaging, and we should stop and rethink this, because there's really only one nominee who would be a legitimate nominee for president trump to make, only one way to heal this massive wound, this massive tear and rip in the heart of our constitution, this massive failure of this senate body to do its job. there's only one nominee that can heal that, and that is for president trump to nominate merrick garland, for him to get that committee hearing, for him to get that committee vote, for him to get that deliberation here on the floor, and maybe he
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would be approved and maybe he wouldn't, because that's what we see every time the senate has acted. it has not always been to confirm a nominee, but it has acted and deliberated and voted and decided as the constitution calls upon it to do. that would be healing of the wound. it would be a healing of the wound if the senators were to vote the same way they would have voted last year had there been a completely legitimate, ordinary consideration. and then we could go forward without this damage. so i call upon my colleagues who i know have each and every one of them considered that it is their responsibility to build up, strengthen our institutions of government, not to tear them
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down. therefore, i call upon them to reverse this deed before the dark act is completed of stealing a seat and packing the court. i want to turn to consider another piece of this puzzle. if the seat hadn't been stolen and we were simply considering president trump's nominee under ordinary circumstances, what would we find? well, we would find a far righ right-wing justice completely outside of the mainstream. now, why is it that throughout its history this body has honored a rule of having a
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supermajority needed to close debate on a supreme court justice? it has been to send a message, to send a message to the president that you must nominate someone who is in the judicial mainstream, not way out in one direction or another with bizarre findings that would undermine the integrity of the court, not a pattern of attempting to twist the law so that we the people lose and we the powerful win time after time after time. no, someone in the middle of the judicial mainstream. well, that's certainly where merrick garland was. but that is not where neil gorsuch is. he is a lifelong conservative activist, rewriting the law to make it something that it was never intended to be.
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a "washington post" analysis of his decisions that have been considered by the supreme court found that he would be by far the most conservative member of the court, not there with -- where scalia washings not where justice thomas is, not where justice alito is. he would be the most conservative member of the court, to the right of justices alito and thomas and scalia. and i quote, "the magnitude of the gap between gorsuch and thomas is roughly the same as the gap between justice sotomayor and justice kennedy. in fact, our results suggest that gorsuch and scalia would be as far apart as justices breyer
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and justice roberts." that's "the washington post." that's a pretty big gap way to the right, and let's take a look at some of the cases that lead to this conclusion. there is a case known simply as the president toening trucker case -- the frozen trucker case. alphonse maddin, the trucker, was fired for refusing to freeze to death, after waiting more than three hours with a disabled trailer on the side of the road. he unhooked the trailer and he started up the cab and he went to get warm before he could return to meet the repairman for the truck. now, why couldn't he just carry the trailer with him? the brakes were frozen.
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why was he himself freezing? because the heater on the truck was broken. he fell asleep for some hours, woke up and his body was numb. he became concerned about his life and so he unhooked the trailer,went to get warm, came back to meet the repairman. the labor department determined that under the surface transportation assistance act he was wrongly fired, because that act is designed to say that if you operate a truck in a fashion -- if you refuse to operate a truck in a fashion that is unsafe for you, the driver, or unsafe for others, you can't be fired for that. safety comes first. the whole emergency of the act: safety comes first.
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but in this case, neil gorsuch dissented. now, he wasn't writing the majority opinion. he went out of his way to write a minority opinion. the tenth circuit upheld the fact that he was correctly operating the truck, leaving the trailer behind. you can say was he operating the full truck or part of the truck? the point is the tenth circuit said, yes, the firing was wrong. they upheld the labor department under the surface transportation act, said he did exactly what the act was intended. you have to restore his job. the tenth circuit said yes, absolutely. but judge gorsuch went out of his way to write a dissent saying no. and it is completely taking words out of context and twisting them. i encourage you to read it for yourself because it is truly a
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bizarre opinion, an effort to find a way, some way, some path to find for the company instead of the trucker who was protected by the laws written and passed in this chamber and the house and signed by the president. that's how far out of the common sense and the theory of the law neil gorsuch is. or let's turn to a case often referred to as the autism case. thompson rt-j school district vs. luke p. this case says a great deal. because in this case judge gorsuch tried to rewrite a law which is referred to as the idea
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law, or individuals with disabilities education act, to effectively invalidate the law. the law written here was to ensure that individuals with disabilities were provided an education by the school district. not baby sitting, but an education. well, neil gorsuch rewrote that law to say baby sitting's okay. despite years of special education in a public school, luke p. -- the last name with a "p" he wasn't making progress at home so his parents enrolled him in a school with autistic children where he made advances. they fought fo get the school to reimburse them and gorsuch ruled in favor of the school district. and the standard that he put
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forward was the standard that baby sitting is okay, even though the law was written to do the opposite. now this decision that gorsuch wrote, it's so far out of the mainstream, it's so far out of common sense, it's so contrary to the law written here in this chamber that the supreme court -- yes, our supreme court, our eight-member supreme court -- proceeded to say 8-0 that is absurd and wrong, neil gorsuch. and they reversed him. when have we had a nominee reversed 8-0? when have we had cases like the frozen trucker case and the autistic child case where he went to great lengths to find for the powerful over the individual? or we can turn to the utah en banc request, which means --
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tits in a case called planned parenthood association of utah vs. herbert. en banc means that the entire bench hears a case. neil gorsuch was such an activist, so committed to undermining an organization, planned parenthood, that he took the extreme step of initiating himself an en banc review of a decision to block a utah defunding effort. governor herbert used -- of that state used to cover false and misleading videos to strip utah's of their funding. he later -- that is the governor -- acknowledged the fact that he was punishing planned parenthood for its advocacy and services and the organization had not done anything wrong. the tenth circuit granted preliminary injunction against
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utah for violating the organization, that is planned parenthood, constitutional rights. the tenth circuit decided this. but neil gorsuch, ever the activist judge, rewriting the law to make it say the opposite of what was intended, sought to have a review by the entire bench. now let me explain that is not normal. other people may call for an en banc review because they don't like the outcome. but to have a participating judge on the tenth circuit initiate that, that's unusual. it's a message to the world. everyone pay attention to me. i'm an activist, far-right judge. and if you like that, someone who's going to find for the powerful and the privileged over ordinary people, pay attention. that's who i am. kind of like trying out for a
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future supreme court opening. gorsuch's entire adult life has been a mission to revoke a lot of norms that we have come to embrace in our pursuit of the transitions in our society and in our government as we pursue that constitutional vision of equality under the law, protections to vulnerable populations, to workers and to kids and to women and to minorities. but neil gorsuch doesn't like that arc of seeking to provide the protections our constitutional vision laid out. as far as back as college, an ideological warrior who championed a civilian reactionary world view. in a conservative newspaper he started, he characterized efforts to fight racism as, quote, more demand for the
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overthrow of american society than a forum for the peaceable and rational discussion of these people and events. very strange way to characterize efforts to fight racism. racism, discrimination is to slam the door of opportunity on american citizens because of their gender, because of their race, because of their ethnicity, because of their sexual identity. slam the door and disrupt that opportunity for each and every citizen to be treated equally under the law. he also used the opportunity to advocate for social inequality saying men of different abilities and talents to distinguish themselves as they wish without devalue their innate worth as a human society
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and responding a governing class of political ability to make the big decisions for society. not much equality of opportunity in that statement. and as a judge in case after case, he finds expansive rights for corporations at the expense of their employees, consumers, and the public interest. we've talked about the frozen trucker case and the autistic child case. there's also the elect cuted worker mine case. a worker started and wasn't sure how this should be done, training required because of the highly dangerous circumstances when you're operating equipment near power lines, that is just a setting that everyone in the instruction industry knows is extraordinarily dangerous. you can connect that equipment
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to the power line. perhaps somebody has their hand on the side of the equipment and the next thing you know, they're electrocuted. the worker mistakenly brought a piece of that equipment too close to the power line and it was the worker himself who was electrocuted and killed. and the occupational safety and health review commission fined the employer for not properly training the worker under these dangerous circumstances. and the tenth circuit took a look at it and said, yes, the company failed to do the proper training. and the result was someone lost their life. but judge gorsuch dissented, and he said there was no evidence that the company had been negligent. really? failure to train in a highly dangerous situation that results in loss of life?
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no, no problem there. why should we require companies to train people in dangerous circumstances? again a complete lack of common sense, a determination to overturn what a review board had found, what the circuit court had found. or we can turn to the hobby lobby case. in this case, neil gorsuch found that closely held for-profit corporations have the right to choose the contraceptive coverage or lack thereof for their employees if doing so conflicted with the corporation's religious beliefs. we didn't actually have corporations in the sense that we have them now when our nation was founded. there were some charters, but not the modern corporation in the sense that we have it.
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and yet, neil gorsuch said we'll just give this corporation personhood, and we'll let a corporation exercise religious beliefs that overrule the religious beliefs of the individuals. but it was the individuals that the constitution was written to defend. it was the individuals' religious beliefs the constitution, bill of rights was laid out to protect. not a corporation. but in a never-ending quest to find for the corporation, to find for the powerful, to find for the privileged, neil gorsuch twisted the law and found that path, laid it out. in writing the brief as a lawyer in 2005, neil gorsuch urged the
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court to ignore the statutory unlegislative history of the securities and exchange act advocating the court limit to ban together to seek redress. this really goes to the difference between we the people and we the powerful. we have a nominee before us right now who doesn't like the idea of individuals being able to operate with a class action suit against the predatory actions of a powerful corporation. in an article about the case, he launched into talk on the lawyers who were providing the ability for individuals to challenge the very powerful corporation, and he said these are frivolous claims. frivolous claims. that take an enormous toll on
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the economy. they put a burden on every public corporation in america. in fact, i'll quote his exact quote. frivolous claims impose an enormous toll on the economy affecting every corporation in america at one time or another and costing businesses billions of dollars in settlements every year. he didn't like this, this burden on corporations to respond when they were challenged for predatory practices. often the transactions between a company and an individual are quite small. maybe they involve a monthly fee to access telecommunications services. maybe they involve a purchase of a single consumer item that costs $50. but the corporation misrepresented what that item was or didn't disclose that it had dangerous paint on it or some other feature. and the only way that ordinary
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people -- we the people -- can challenge the predatory practice of a powerful corporation is to put their cases together in a class action suit so that everybody, the thousands of people who bought that $50 item, can say, hey, you're doing something wrong. you're selling something dangerous and not telling us. you're selling something our children will choke on and not telling us. you're defrauding us and any and a whole series of possibilities. perhaps it's in stock cases, other financial transactions. perhaps it's the way mortgages are constructed. but the individual couldn't possibly take on the powerful companies, room full of top-notch lawyers to reclaim that $50 or that small, modest sum. so a class action is that tool through which the people -- we
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the people -- proceed to take on the powerful. and neil gorsuch doesn't like that. and he doesn't like workers having the chance to confront corporations on the issues of sexual harassment. in pinkerton vs. the colorado department of transportation, judge gorsuch joined an opinion discounting pinkerton's evidence of discrimination and including pinkerton's performance, not discrimination, resulted in her termination.
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>> >mr. merkley: but there is a third big problem with the fact that we are here tonight considering this nomination. the first big problem was the seat was stolen by the republican majority, the first time the theft like that has happened in the history of our nation, in an effort to pack the court. that is a big deal. the second is that trump nominated somebody completely outside the judicial mainstream. the third is something that should give every american pause, and that is that at this very moment investigations are taking place into the conversations, into the meetings between the trump campaign and the russians. now, we know it's very, very
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public that the russians conspired to affect the outcome of our presidential election. we know the tactics they used. they wrote false news stories. they proceeded to have a building with hundreds -- i'm hold 1,000 people in a building doing social media commentatin g to try to have people in america see those comments and go, oh, my good in isn't that democratic nominee terrible? look what happened. an effort, in other words, to give some sort of validation to the false news stories that they were spreadin spreading. we in that russia used a series of bots, basically computers around the world designed to respond automatically on social media and facebook, to do it so
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to make it look like there were millions of people out there commenting on how terrible the democratic nominee was. amplified this message with the goal of causing the algorithms used by companies like facebook, of affecting those algorithms so that facebook would start streaming the false news on their facebook site. so an ordinary citizen would see that and go, oh, my godness, this must be true. it's on facebook. i'm not sharing with you anything that's classified. i don't serve on the intelligence committee. all of this is in the public realm. and the f.b.i. is investigating not whether all that took place. they continue to look to see what else and the details of that. but whether there was coordination, collusion, cooperation with the trump campaign in how they did this.
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let's be clear. the investigation has not concluded, and we don't know the answer. we don't know if the trump campaign coordinated with the russians. but let's also be clear about this: anyone on that campaign who collaborated with the russians to affect the outcome of the u.s. elections has committed a treasonous act, and so we have this cloud of this investigation over us right now where we find out in a few weeks that there were treasonous act acts that completely delegitimize the election that put donald trump
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in the oval office, will we find that? we don't know the answer to that. but what we do know is that we have at least a risk of being in a situation where a swing vote on the judiciary -- on the supreme court is coming from a team that is being investigated. and let's get to the bottom of that and, therefore, know whether there is an issue of illegitimacy before we complete this conversation about filling this supreme court seat. there is an enormous amount of evidence that the trump campaign was familiar with the efforts of a foreign power to alter the outcome of the election. the names have come up in the press -- paul manafort, michael flynn, roger stone, other
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figures in the trump orbit are under scrutiny for that. several of them, the communications have been articulated where and how, and that cloud is very, very real. we had the unusual event a week ago monday in which the director of the f.b.i. came here to capitol hill to talk to the house and to say it's not normal to confirm that our investigations are underway, but he thought in this circumstance, it was appropriate to do so. so those are the three big issues that we are facing. and it's why every senator who values this institution, each senator who has pondered their responsibility under advice and consent and the theft of the
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supreme court seat last year, who recognize that the administration is under a big cloud and that that cloud has not been resolved in terms of the legitimacy of the election or whether there was collusion with a foreign power -- you know, i said that if there was collusion it was a treasonous act. here's why? attack our elections as the russians did is an act of war in the united states of america it is attacking the fundamental values of our republic. we must never let this happen again. we must work with other democratic republics to make sure that russia isn't able to do it in other countries, which we know that they are attempting to do in other elections. but we should absolutely get to the bottom of it before this
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chamber takes a vote on whether to close this debate and whether -- or before is it takes a vote on whether to confirm the justice. so that's the broad -- that is the very broad presentation of the three big reasons we should pull the plug on this nomination, or at least put it in deep-freeze until such time as the russia investigation is when the senate completes its business todacomplete -- as thea investigation is completed. and i am going to spend considerable time going into more details about these three issues, because in my home time in the senate, there has not been an issue that had such grave consequences for the integrity of our nation, the integrity of our senate, our
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integrity of the supreme court. and, quite frankly, the integrity of the presidency as w it affects all three branches. because this couldn'ting be completed without the direct involvement of the executive branch nominating neil gorsuch. p so, i will go back over each of these in much greater detail. as i was pondering why i feel so strongly about this, partly because of the reasons that i've already laid out, is that for generations to come, this chamber will be compromised. for generations to come the supreme court will be compromised. and if we act together, if we hit the pause button, perhaps we can prevent that. and so i feel more compelled to
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be here and to raise my voice and to call for those who care about our nation to stop this insanity of this judicial nomination discussion here on the floor of the senate. that's why i'm going to go on for sometime exploring this. now, you think back when i came here in 2009. when i came to the senate, my memories were of the senate from the 1970's and 1980's, which makes me really now an old guy. i was able to come here as a 19-year-old, as an intern for senator hatfield. and at that point in time, there wasn't a camera on the floor of
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the senate, and there wasn't e-mail, and it wasn't easy to get a document across the capitol hill in a short time. us interns were put to work running paperwork around the hill. but i'll tell you, the institution was in a very different place. so i came here -- i was the third of three interns to arrive that summer of 1976, our bicentennial summer. and the most recent intern is put to work, opening the mail each morning. and so i came in early. we'd have about 100 letters and envelopes. you had aide run them through a machine that sliced the envelopes open. you stack up all the letters and start going through them. this one is on this topic and this one goes to this legislative correspondent. i think there were three or four in the office of senator
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hatfield. and you would go through those 100 letters and put them on the desk of the legislative correspondent, and those correspondents had the newly developed electronic memory typewriters. and they had written paragraphs to respond to different topics, and they would mark on the letter the different paragraphs it should go. here is the introductory paragraph we've use. here we need to address this issue in this letter, so we'll use paragraph 56 from the memory bank. and we use number 84 to address another issue. and then those letters, all marked up, would go to the typing team that would run those memory typewriters and get responses out before the day was over. and i saw a lot that summer. one was that it was possible to actually get mail come directly in because we didn't have to worry about white powder being
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directly inside the envelopes. now if you write an actual physical letter to a senator in this chamber, it goes through a warehouse. it goes through a warehouse where they have to examine it and check it for poisons before it can be delivered to capitol hill. it can take weeks. people knowing this often choose to use e-mail. most of the meal mail that comes in comes in electronically. that summer one of the systems was leaving for an extended vacation in south america. and he was looking to have someone take over the tax reform act of 1976. and i was asked to take over working on that act. and so what that involved was that you would look at all the mail that came on that tax topic, and you would research those issues, and you would draft responses, and those draft
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responses would go up and be approved or modified by the legislative director and by the senator, and then you would make sure knows got in the database and people got their questions answered. and i learned a lot about taxes that summer of 19 he 66. i -- of 1976. i must say when i was first asked to work on taxes, i was kind of disappointed because i thought oh, it'll be really interesting to work on education. it'll be really interesting to work on health care. it'll be really interesting to work on the environment. it'll be really interesting to work on jobs policy. taxes? huh ... not so interesting. so the next few day, as i threw myself into responding -- drafting responses to these issues being raiseds in letters, i was transformed in my opinion about working on tax issues,
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because the taxes affect everything in our body of law. taxes have environmental consequences or they may be an environmental incentive, such as the provisions we have in the tax code to encourage people to insulate their homes or drive a nonfossil fuel-burning car. and they af -- they affect health such as the provisions we have in the tax code that proceed to say if qowr employer provides -- if your employer provides health insurance it's not considered taxable income. and it affects job incentives. it affects everything. there were farmers writing in about tax issues that were being raised. there were teachers writing in. the teachers were concerned that there was a home office deduction that was on the chopping block. what this meant, if you used a bedroom in your home or a study in your home as your office to
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work as an elementary teacher or a high school teacher, you could deduct the cost or the value of that portion of your house as a work expense. well, often when there is an opportunity like that, some people expand the definition of the office to appoint -- and which it's ridiculous. there were some individuals who were saying my entire home is my office. i'll deduct the entire cost of my home, which was never the intention. but teachers were concerned that in the course of correcting that that they might lose a deduction that was a legitimate work expense. there were dozens and dozens of these things. so the bill happened to come up on the floor of the senate, on this chamber right here. and i came -- because i was working that bill, i was assigned to come over and follow the debate. i was up in the seats up above,
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and we considered amendment after amendment after amendment. now there was no negotiation between the two sides over what amendment would come up next. once one amendment was finished, there would be a group of senators trying to get the attention of the presiding officer. and whoever got that attention first, whoever was fastest or loudest and was called on, their amendment was next, and they presented it, and the staff hovered around following it trying to get a copy of it and trying to analyze it. we would run down when the vote was called and meet our senators coming out of the respective elevators, those beautiful double doors of the senate. i would stand there and out would come senator church, senator goldwater, senator humphrey, senator kennedy and senator inouye. and then my senator would come out. i would say here's the story. here's the amendment, here's what it does, here's what people have said about it, and
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he'd come in here and vote. that was a very lucky set of circumstances that i had, but it allowed me to sit up in the chamber and watch this senate, and you didn't have a cloture petition on anything. a cloture petition, meaning a petition to close debate. there was mutual respect. there was a determination of this body to give people a chance to say what they wanted to say, but very rarely did people go on at length, and more rare than that would be a case where a petition was filed to shut down debate. the principle, the idea that originated with our original senate was there is time for everyone to make their views known to each other, so we can benefit from their insights, that we can benefit from their
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life experience, and then we can make a decision. so as a mutual courtesy among senators at the very start of our democratic republic, i saw that courtesy here on the floor as an intern 41 years ago. what a difference it is today. where today for the first time in u.s. history the majority filed a petition to shut down debate on the first day of a debate over a u.s. senate seat under circumstances that are more complex and more disturbing than virtually any circumstances we've seen in more than 200 years over the nomination of a supreme court justice. the first time in u.s. history that a nominee in an election year was not accorded any
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consideration. the first time a seat was stolen. perhaps the first time that a cloud hung over the nominating president -- president trump and his team -- because of the way the campaign was conducted and possible collaboration with russians. and certainly one of the first times, because since the analysis have found that the views of neil gorsuch are to the extraordinary far right, that too adds a certain change from the tradition with the supermajority of the president nominating from the judicial mainstream. so we have these complex set of circumstances that should be thoroughly vetted, should be a situation where no member of this chamber would even think about filing a petition to close debate, wouldn't even consider the possibility of trying to cut
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off debate. debate's gone on foresupreme court folks for weeks and weeks and weeks without a petition being filed. and sometimes that nominee was confirmed and sometimes that nomination was withdrawn. and in the course of it the american people learned a great deal and they were rivetted to that conversation. but this time the majority says that 200 years of history, that 200 years of developed comity here in the senate chamber, the traditions that were still here when i was an intern four decades ago, we're going to wipe that away. well, that's a great concern. and after i was here for a summer, i was very intrigued by the beauty of what we do on capitol hill, the profoundness
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of what we do on capitol hill. we can make a policy that can destroy homeownership for literally millions of families. or we can make a policy that creates the opportunity of fair homeownership for millions of families. that's the power of the discussions that take place on the floor of the u.s. senate. , of this chamber and the chamber on the other side of capitol hill. so during that summer i was wrestling with the question, and that question was my talents are in math and science, but is there a way to pursue a career dedicated to making the world a better place? is there a way to actually pursue public policy as a career?
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and i debate know the answer to that question -- and i didn't know the answer to that question. i went back to college for one trimester out in california, and at the end of that trimester , president carter was going to be inaugurated in january of 1977. and i thought it would be very interesting to see what a new president does. let's see what policies he puts forward, how he builds his executive team, how he delivers his ideas to capitol hill, how he works with capitol hill. and so in january i took a greyhound bus across the nation, arrived here, and proceeded to work a variety of internships while also waiting tables and washing dishes. i worked as a hotel desk clerk up on 14th avenue, on thomas circle. and i worked washing dishes and
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waiting tables for a lum's restaurant, a sit-down hamburger joint. but it was all so i could be here and see this, the magic of public policy and the work done that could affect millions of lives here in this chamber, the work done on the far side of capitol hill that would affect millions of families to the better or to the worse. and in the course of that year, i interned for a group called new directions. it was an environment nonprofit. there was a question on outside of our territorial boundaries, will the nations cooperate so we don't destroy the resources in the international space of the oceans. and how far should our national space extend? and how do we write those rules so that our continental shelf is
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clearly under our control? those are the sorts of questions considered. you know that sea, the law of the sea treaty, that never made it to capitol hill. every time there is a new presidency coming in, someone says remember that treaty from four decades ago? it might really strengthen u.s. control of our offshore areas. and maybe we should r bring it up for discussion. it still hasn't been discussed here. but i also went door to door for work for a group called virginia consumer congress. and they were working to create attention to consumer protection issues in the state capital in virginia. and they would go door to door. they would have a team go door to door and you would proceed to explain the issue that you're working on, the bill you're working on, the organization. ask ordinary citizens to sign a petition in support of that bill being considered at the capital. and you would ask would you like to support the work of this so, so that we can -- of this organization so that we can keep
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doing it. if they made a donation, that helped strengthen the organization. this was the model that became the public interest research group model. and specifically the issue we were working on as we went door to door was to say we can save consumers a huge amount of money if we can simply implement peak load pricing. now, what is peak load pricing? what it means is that you have a meter that when there's a huge demand for electricity, it charges a higher price. and by so doing, it alerts the consumer, hey, don't use electricity now. use it at another time. why would that save consumers millions of dollars? well, here's why. the electric power company wanted to build a nuclear power plant to meet just the peak load. and so they wanted to build a very, very expensive nuclear
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power plant which they would then charge all utility customers for. and a lot of utilities it is written into the law they would receive an 8% return on whatever they invest. the more you invest the bigger your revenue stream is. and that revenue stream is paid for by the citizens who buy electricity. so if you could convince the utility to instead of building a nuclear power plant putting in meters that would tell people, hey, don't use your dryer now, it's more expensive. and shift that peak load, then everybody benefited. you didn't have to have the risk of a nuclear power plant. at that point we had a lot of concerns. we had a lot of difficulties in some of our plants with near meltdowns. and the idea that you could have a radioactive cloud or a china syndrome occur somewhere in a metropolitan area was a very scary thing. and so you simultaneously
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greatly improved public safety while saving people a huge amount of money. and so that's what we were petitioning people for door to door. it was my first introduction to a legislative process that was happening outside the national legislative process. and i must say one of the most -- when you go you door to door, you have so many interesting experiences. you never know what's going to happen when you walk through that door and start explaining to people what you're fighting for and they start sharing their stories. the president of the board, of vepco, virginia electric power company, i went to his and his wife's house -- i didn't know it was his house at the time. huge, huge house in suburban virginia. the wife greeted me, and she talked with me about these issues. she said, you know, my husband is president of the board of
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vepco, but the issues you're raising, i never hear them raising those issues and these are good points you're making, so i want to buy the virginia consumer congress newsletter, which was a $15 donation. that was the biggest dough nation i ever had -- biggest donation i ever had while i was working there. and many, many other conversations. but the reason i came back to be here for those first nine months of the carter administration was to continue to see how does capitol hill work. how do nonprofit advocacy groups, how does the new administration work? how does the senate work? because the senate was so near and dear to my heart after the internship with senator hatfield. and in the course of that year, i came to believe that there was a path to work on public policy, and i specifically decided to work on third world economic development.
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and the part of the reason that i chose that area was that when i was in high school, i had a chance to be an a.f.s. exchange student in ghana, in west africa. and there were only six exchange students sent to africa outside of apartheid south africa. and of those six, five went to cities and one went to a modest town with a family of very modest means, and i was the student that was sent to that very modest town to a family of modest means. and the experience was that i was surrounded by people barely able to afford to eat or sometimes not able to afford to eat. now, my host family was middle-class. they were middle-class by virtue of -- my host father was a