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tv   Senators Mc Connell and Grassley speak on Gorsuch Nomination  CSPAN  April 6, 2017 6:17am-6:39am EDT

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majority leader. mr. mcconnell: neil gorsuch is imminent -- eminently qualified to serve on the supreme court. he was confirmed by the senate to his federal judgeship with no
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democratic opposition at all, none. he participated there in more than 2700 cases writing in the majority 99% of the time and enjoying unanimous support 97% of the time. he received the highest possible rating from a group the democratic leader called the gold standard for evaluating judicial nominations, the american bar association. he's earned high praise from across the political spectrum with democrats and republicans alike attesting to his qualifications, his fairness, and his impartiality. he also enjoys the support of the bipartisan -- of the senate. yet, there is an attempt to have a filibuster on the first supreme court nominee in
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american history. judge neil gorsuch is one of the most impressive nominee we have ever seen. if a widely praised nominee can't get past a democratic filibuster, no nominee could. democrats would filibuster ruth bader ginsberg if president trump nominated her. we all know why. democrats are bowing to hard-left special interests that can't get over the results of the election and thus demanding complete democratic opposition on everything this president touches. as "the washington post" has written they seem to endorse -- it seems some democrats made up their minds long ago to oppose whomever the president nominated. the democratic leader himself indicated as much before judge gorsuch was even selected. he even mused on a liberal talk
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show about holding the seat open indefinitely. so it p doesn't really matter -- so it doesn't really matter who this president nominates, a democratic minority is determined to successfully launch an unprecedented filibuster regardless. perhaps that's why democrats still have yet to put forward a cogent rationale to oppose him. not that would be easy, you understand. as a long-time democrat and board member of the left-leaning constitution society put it, the senate should confirm judge gorsuch because there's no principle reason to vote no. well, if there's no principle reason to vote no on this nomination, there's no principle reason to prevent the senate from taking a vote on it at all. but that's just what a partisan democratic minority of the senate is threatening to do.
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for the first time in the 230-year history of the senate. so let me remind colleagues of something i said yesterday when president clinton nominated justice ginsberg, i voted to confirm her. when president clinton nominated justice breyer, i voted to confirm him. when president obama nominated justice sonia sotomayor and justice kagan, i led my party to ensure an up-or-down vote. i knew i would disagree with their opinions on the cower, and i -- on the court, and i certainly wasn't wrong about that but it was the right thing to do. i understand my colleagues are under a great deal of pressure from the far left. i think everyone in office can
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empathize with the situation they are experiencing. listening to these hard-left special interests may seem like the expedient thing for democrats to do for their party today, but i'd ask them to make their decisions based on what they know is right for the country tomorrow. there's still time for them to make the right choice. there's still time for them to support a nominee who even long-time democrats have praised are at -- or at the very least do not block him with the first successful partisan filibuster in american history. so i hope democrats reevaluate their position before the important vote we'll take tomorrow. i'll hope they'll consider what their actions will mean for future supreme court nominations. i hope they consider what their actions will mean for this body more broadly. as we all know, the american people will be watching, history will record the decision democrats make, and there is
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simply no principle reason to oppose this exception supreme court nominee. mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: we're continuing to debate the nomination of judge gorsuch to serve as associate justice of the united states supreme court. my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have said that this is an important moment for the united states senate. i couldn't agree more. i think it's important to reflect on why we're here and how we got here. before i turn to the supreme court and the current debate, let me take it just -- let me take just a few minutes to talk about lower-court nominees and provide a little bit of history and context, especially for the benefit of some of the senators who weren't here over the last few years. i'm going to start way back in
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the spring of 2001. president george w. bush had just been elected president. as we know -- we all know in fact -- it was a close election and it was heartedly fought. the senate was closely divided with the republicans in control. given how close the presidential election was, there were elements of the hard left who refused to accept the results of that election, some blamed ralph nader, others blamed governor jeb bush, and still others blamed the supreme court. many on the hard left claimed that president george w. bush wasn't, quote, unquote, a legitimate president. liberal interest groups were egging on the democratic leadership to fight the new president at every turn.
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now, that still sounds very familiar for this year that we're in. at the same time one major concern for the hard left liberal interest groups was that president bush, whom they claimed wasn't legitimate, would be able to nominate conservative judges. again, doesn't that sound familiar? senator cornyn went over some of this same subject yesterday, but it deserves discussion now and it deserves, as a reminder where we've been before because sometimes the past predicts the future. so in the spring of 2001, the hard #n-#n left interest -- hard-left interest groups went to the senate democratic leadership with a plan. according to new york "new york,
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42 of the senate's 50 democrats attended a private retreat where a principal topic was forging a unified party strategy to combat the white house on judicial nominees. end of quote. thinking about 2017, doesn't that sound a little familiar. at that meeting marcia greenberger and lawrence tribe spoke at the retreat and pitched to the democrats there their idea of how this crusade could proceed. one who -- according to one attendee, and i want to quote -- they said it was important for the senate to change the ground
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rules and there was no obligation to confirm someone just because they are scholarly. well, let's think about that for a moment. why do you suppose they needed to change the ground rules for confirming judges? it's because up to that point you didn't filibuster judges. you just didn't. you heard the minority -- the majority leader just speak to that point in his short remarks this morning about how things have changed after 200 -- more than 200 years. well, as it happened, less than a month after the caucus retreat, senator jeff fords -- senator jeffords from vermont
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and began to -- switched parties and began to caucus with the democrats. and then they lost the election of 2002 and in the spring of 2003 republicans were back in the majority. now back in the minority, senate democrats went ahead with plans that were enunciated at that retreat to change the ground rules. for the first time in the history of the senate they began to systematically filibuster circuit court nominees, not because they believed the nominees weren't qualified, because these nominees were qualified, not because they didn't believe the nominees had the necessary experience, because these nominees did have the necessary experience. they filibustered those nominees
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because they believed that they were conservative judges. so with respect to appellate court nominees, senate democrats, at the behest of the far left, took the unprecedented step of using the filibuster in a very systemic way for the first time in the senate history. at the time, there was a lot of debate about changing the rules. dubbed the so-called nuclear option so that nominees would be afforded an up-or-down vote consistent with senate history and practice. well, republicans exercised restraint and agreed to step back. then president obama became president. our side didn't like the use of the filibuster for judges, but
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we also didn't think there should be two sets of rules -- one for a republican president and one for a democratic president. common sense tells you that's a legitimate position to take. we defeated two circuit court nominees, one to the ninth circuit and one to the d.c. circuit. then president obama nominated three individuals to the d.c. circuit. one side denied cloture -- our side denied cloture on these three nominees to the d.c. circuit. well, at that point their side didn't like playing by the rules that they wrote so majority leader reed -- then-majority leader reed took another unprecedented step. in november 2013 he utilized the
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so-called nuclear option to eliminate the very tactics that they pioneered. so nuclear option becomes effectively the reed rule. so that's how the filibuster was first used on lower-court nominees and later eliminated. senate democrats took the unprecedented step to utilize that, and then when it no longer benefited them, they used unprecedented means to eliminate it. so this brings me back to where we are today and the rest of this week to talking about a supreme court nominee, judge gorsuch. everyone knows that we had a big debate last year about whether to proceed with the garland nomination. there were 52 republicans who
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believed that we should follow senate history and tradition and not proceed with a nomination in the middle of a heated election year. and i know it frustrates my colleagues to hear me say it, but the fact of the matter is that in 1992, when then-senator biden was senator of the judiciary committee, he announced that he wouldn't hold a hearing to fill a vacancy in the last year of president bush's term. so last year we followed the precedent that senator -- then-senator biden described in 1992 for all of the same reasons he discussed. you get back to this commonsense principle -- can you have one rule for republican presidents and another rule for democratic presidents? we deny feel we could.
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of course, everyone in this chamber knows if the shoe was on the other foot, democrats would have done the same thing because they said they would. in fact, president obama's former white house counsel admitted as much. she said she would have recommended the same course of action if the tables were turned. so now here we are, april 2017, with a nominee before us just like in 2001 we've had -- we had just had a very contentious presidential election. it was close. it was hard fought. and, frankly, some on the hard left reniced to accept -- refused to accept the results of the election. once again left-wing groups are egging on the minority leader to
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take another unprecedented step with respect to judicial nominations. only this time they want him to lead the first, very first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nomination in united states history. and based on the vote we had yesterday, it appears 44 democrats are prepared to follow the minority leader on this fool's errand. no supreme court nomination in our country's entire history has ever failed because of a partisan filibuster. there's no getting around that fact. abe fortas they might refer to was subjected to a bipartisan filibuster over ethical concerns when president johnson tried to elevate him to be chief justice.
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now, justice thomas was confirmed by a vote of 52-48. i was here for that nomination. a single senator, any senator could have demanded a cloture vote, but out of 100 senators, none did that. why? for a simple common sense fact and 200 years of history. you don't filibuster supreme court nominations. but today is entirely different. the minority is committed to filibustering this fine nominee, the first partisan filibuster in u.s. history. so here we are. the president has nominated an eex-- exceptionally qualified judge to take justice scalia's seat on the supreme court. and the democrats will break new
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ground again by conducting a partisan filibuster of that nominee. republicans aren't the ones breaking new ground here. as a matter of fact, the democrats own vice presidential nominee last year emphatically promised that the democrats would further change the rules to make sure an expected president clinton's nominees couldn't be filibustered. so at the end of the day, the fact is that if democrats insist on a filibuster, republicans will insist on following the practice that senators have followed for more than 200 years, and that is not to filibuster -- have a partisan filibuster for somebody going to the supreme court.
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we don't conduct partisan filibusters of supreme court nominees, and we certainly are not going to start with this highly qualified nominee and i hope that those who think back 16, 17 years when this meeting of democrats in retreat came to the conclusion you had to break new ground, that they realize that that has poisoned the well of the comity traditional of the united states senate. and i think maybe a lot of them realize that was a mistake as we realize that is a mistake. and it would be nice to get back to the comity of the senate that existed on judges prior to 15 or 16 years ago but that's going to take people on their side who are present at the same retreat
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who are still in the united states senate to drill a newell because the present one is poison and we need to get back toyou, my friend from west virginia. now, mr. president, as each hour brings us closer to the cloture vote on the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to the supreme court and the potential rules change if that vote fails, i rise this afternoon to entreat my friend, the majority leader, to step back from the brink. as i and so many other of my colleagues have made clear, we democrats have principled reasons to vote against this nominee on tomorrow's cloture vote. first, he has instinctively favored corporate interests over average americans. second, he hasn't shown a scintilla of independence from president trump. and,


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