tv Senate Rules Change Paves Way for Neil Gorsuchs Confirmation CSPAN April 6, 2017 3:52pm-5:53pm EDT
improved, because the role of a judge is not to make law. it's to interpret the law as made by the legislative body as best that judge can understand it. and that's why, mr. president, we need someone like neil gorsuch, in my estimation, with good judgment. neil gorsuch, i have spent -- i sit on the judiciary, mr. president. i have spent 20 to 40 hours with him or with people who know him well, hearing their testimony. i have read his opinions. as far as i'm concerned, he is as good as it gets. i can't imagine that president trump could have picked better. he's a thoroughbred, he's a legal rock star, if you read his opinions, you will see he is painstaking in his application of the law to the facts before him. he writes beautifully. his communication skills are absolutely amazing. his analysis and analytical
rigor is clear, it's concise. his decisions are wise. they're disciplined. and he's faithful to the law. he's an intellectual, mr. president. he's not an idealogue. he's a judge, not a politician. he's a whip-smart, clear-writing , strict constitutionalist, snow-skiing, fly-fishing, fourth-generation coloradan. i think he will serve every person in our country well as a member of the supreme court, and that's why i am supporting him. and let me -- let me say one final thing, mr. president. i don't think there is any vote that will be more important than the vote that we will take tomorrow on a president's
nomination to the united states supreme court, so i want to choose my words carefully here. not a single solitary vote is more important than that vote we'll take tomorrow. but that's not to say, mr. president, that there aren't other important issues before this body, and that's why i think it is so important today that we decide to vote up or down on judge gorsuch so we can move on to those other important issues. the fact of the matter is, and the issues i'm talking about, mr. president, are jobs, jobs, jobs, designing a health care delivery system that looks like somebody designed it on purpose, which -- which our acting president has worked so hard on, infrastructure, elementary and secondary education, a skilled work force, and i could go on,
because there is an enormous amount of pain, mr. president, in america today. there are too many americans who are not participating in the great wealth of america. not economically, not socially, not culturally and not spiritually. and we have been elected in the congress to do something about that. i talked to people in my state -- i talk to people in my state every day, mr. president, and i know you do, too. the people of louisiana are fun loving, they are god fearing, and they are plain talking, and this is what they tell me. they tell me, kennedy, this country was founded by geniuses. but sometimes i think it's being run by idiots. and they tell me, mr. president, they say kennedy, we look around our country today and here's what we see. we see too many undeserving -- i
want to emphasize undeserving because i don't want to patriot with too broad a brush, but my people tell me, kennedy, we see too many undeserving people at the top getting bailouts, and we see too many undeserving people at the bottom getting handouts, and they say, kennedy, we're in the middle. we get stuck with the bill, and we can't pay it anymore, kennedy, because our health insurance has gone up and our kids' tuition has gone up and our taxes have gone up, but i tell you what hasn't gone up, they say to me, our income, our income. and these are real people with real problems, and they sent all of us here because they're real mad, and they expect us to do something about it because the sad truth, mr. president, is that our children's generation is at risk of becoming a first
in america, unless this body does something, to be worse off than their parents, because in our country today, for too many americans it's harder than ever to get ahead, and that's why so many americans feel stuck. they feel like the hope and change that they were promised has become decline and uncertainty. and they're looking to us, mr. president, to do something about it. so let's vote. let's vote tomorrow. i understand reasonable people disagree. i understand unreasonable people can disagree, too. but i'm going to vote for neil gorsuch to be an associate justice of the united states supreme court, and then i'm going to ask this body to move on to other important issues that are keeping moms and dads awake at night when they lie down and try to go to sleep. thank you, mr. president.
with that, i yield. mr. inhofe: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, when we lost the honorable justice antonin scalia, we were all saddened. he was such a legend on the court. i'm really proud that president trump has nominated a successor worthy of filling his shoes. judge gorsuch was -- has garnered respect and approval from people across the legal community. he has unrivaled bipartisan support. it's unfortunate that the
democrats have tried to block his nomination. it's not going to work, but they tried. recently, i had the honor of meeting judge gorsuch. it was kind of interesting because i was not on his list to visit. in fact, i even said don't waste your time on me, i know your credentials, i'm going to support you anyway, and i'm not on the appropriate committees that would pass judgment. but he did call and we met, and i'll tell you, you have to meet and talk to the guy in person to know what kind of an individual that he really is. of course, being from oklahoma, i'm sensitive to the fact that he is the -- from the center of the west. in fact, none of our judges out there, with the exception of california, are what we call the western united states, in the area where people need to be properly represented. as the judge of the tenth circuit court of appeals, he's heard from utah, wyoming, colorado, kansas, new mexico, and my state of oklahoma.
he knows the issues in the western states, what we're facing, and he has expertise to deal with them. he's handled the issues that we have -- that have come before him with a lot of care and -- and fairness. oklahoma of course, we know this because oklahoma is in the tenth circuit. his reputation is such that regardless of party affiliation, countless groups, organizations, and individuals have come out in support of judge gorsuch, including neal katyal. neal katyal was the acting solicitor general in president obama's cabinet. so he's a cabinet member of president obama. he testified before the senate judiciary committee and wrote an op-ed piece in "the new york times." keep in mind, when you listen to this, this is a quote from an op-ed piece in "the new york times" that one of the individuals from the
administration of president obama said this. this is a quote. his years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence, a record that should give the american people confidence that he would not compromise principles to favor the president who appointed him, unquote. that comes frounote. that comes from an obama appointee. not only is he well liked but he also has an impressive resume serving as law clerk to two different judges, supreme court justices. he attended columbia, harvard, oxford. it doesn't get any better than that. it's clear that he has the qualifications and as recently as last administration, that was really all you needed to be confirmed as a united states -- to be on the supreme court. but what the democrats have done to block his nomination has never been done before. and this is significant. people don't realize -- people who are critical of maybe some of the procedures that are
taking place, they forget the fact that there has never been in the history of america a successful partisan fillibuster of a supreme court nomination, never been. this would be the first time this happened. i support the majority leader in changing the rules in the face of this unprecedented action by a majority party -- minority party. there's really no reason for their fillibuster on this highly qualified individual other than partisanship and catering to their liberal base. changing the rules of supreme court nominations had to be done, and if the situation had been reversed, the democrats would have done the same thing in a heart beat as we saw in 2013 when they did the same thing. judge gorsuch deserves to be a -- on the supreme court. he does not deserve to be blocked because people are upset that we observed the biden rule that is not providing for any action on a nominee for a supreme court vacancy once the
election season is under way and they lost the election. that's joe biden, not jim inhofe. in addition to this impeccable job and experience and educational background, he's perhaps best known for his defensive religious liberty, including a roll in the dis-- role in the dispute during the obama administration that required employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs to their employees as part of their health insurance. one of these employers was hobby lobby. now, everyone knows who hobry lobby is. i knew back in the 1970's when the green family who started hobby lobby were actually operating out of their garage making picture frames, and look at them today. i've known them for a long time. they started out their business with a $600 loan. now, they have over 700 stores
across the united states and are the largest privately owned arts and crafts store in the world. joseph gorsuch and the supreme court agreed with hobby lobby when they upheld the religious liberty rights. i'm going to read to you his concurring opinion. it's very profound. he wrote, and this is gorsuch. this is after they made the determination that the hobby lobby did not have to give these drugs to their employees. he wrote, quote, it is not for a secular courts to rewrite the religious complaint of a faithful adherent or to decide whether a religious teaching about complicity imposes too much moral disapproval on those only indirectly assisting wrongful conduct. whether an act of complicity is or isn't too attenuated from the underlying wrong is sometimes itself a matter of faith. we must respect the faith.
that's what he wrote in hobby lobby. in a very similar thing, around the same time frame is a case that was known now to be the little sisters of the poor. he joined in an opinion defending the rights of nuns not to be forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. he said -- and this is another profound statement that he made. he said when a law demands that a person do something the person considers to be sinful and the penalty for refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes a substantial burden on that person's free exercise of religion, unquote. it's not just petitioners of the christian faith that judge gorsuch has come and decided with. he upheld the religious beliefs of a native american prisoner and of a muslim prisoner who found their ability to practice
their faith restricted in one manner or another. he comes to his decision not because he's seeking some predetermined outcome. he comes to those decisions because that's where the facts of the law and the constitution lead him. for example, in the lynch case, another oklahoma case, gorsuch referred to the chevron deference as a judge-made doctrine for the abdication of the judicial duty. chevron deference is a judicial rule that requires judges to defer to an agency's interpretation. we're talking about a bureaucracy. an agency's interpretation of the law if the law is considered ambiguous or unclear or if the agency's interpretation is reasonable. now, this deference to the agency gives them a lot of authority, a lot of power. moreover, it can provide a lot of uncertainty to the regulated community. judge gorsuch wrote in the
chevron deference, allows agencies to reverse -- this is allowing agencies to reverse decisions. reverse its current view 180 degrees any time based merely on the shift of a political wins and still prevail in court. you know, i know a little bit about this. i spent a lot of years being the chairman of a committee called the environment and public works committee. we during the obama years had a bureaucracy that was trying to change the law instead of following the law. and it was exactly what he was talking about in this case, judge gorsuch when he talked about the chevron deference, giving deference to a bureaucracy. you imagine being in business, especially heavily regulated one that has to worry about every four to eight years that the rules might change. and how would you make your plans for such a thing. i think gorsuch's opinion on chevron deference is an
important debate to have. do we as coequal branch of government continue to give up our powers to the administrative state or do we take our power back and write laws as they should be implemented? furthermore, does the judicial branch as a coequal branch of government continue to give up their power of interpretation to the administrative state? these are important fundamental questions that should be addressed, and i'm glad that judge gorsuch nominated -- his nomination has brought these cases to the light. although judge gorsuch was nominated by a republican president, this doesn't mean, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle should have any concern about judge gorsuch's decision-making ability. you know this is important to point out because being a judge is not about making decisions that are in the best interest of any political party or really
about making decisions based on facts and the law in the constitution without bias. during his confirmation, he stated his judicial philosophy saying, i decide cases. i listen to the arguments made. i read the briefs that are put to me. i listen to my colleagues carefully. and i listen to the lawyers in the well. keeping an open mind through the entire process as best i humanly can, and i leave all the other stuff at home. and i make the decision based on the facts in the law. who can argue with that? and he's proven over a period of time that he would do that. and through the whole debate, it's become evident that the democrats are asking him to rule in favor of causes, not to follow the law. and this is what a judge does and should be. regarding the roles of balance of our government, gorsuch is what a judge should be. he believes congress should write the lay. the executive branch is to carry them out.
the judicial branch is to interpret the laws. and the confirmation of judge gorsuch will shape our nation for generations to come and all of us will be able to benefit if his wise decisions. i'm looking forward to confirming judge neil gorsuch. it's going to happen tomorrow. all this will be over. and i'm proud to give him my vote. and justice will be well served as such. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call:
-- from florida. mr. nelson: i have cast my no vote with regard to the judge and will so again whenever we get to final passage, but i want to take the opportunity to talk about the chaos going on in venezuela. if it wasn't enough chaos, last week venezuela's supreme court stripped its legislative branch of its powers just -- just stripped them of powers, and only because the court had gotten such significant criticism that it reversed its decision, apparently even the very shaky president of
venezuela maduro weighed in to get them to reverse the decision. this is supposed to be a democracy and yet it being run as a dictatorship where even the judicial branch goes and does something crazy and the president of the country gets up and tells them, you better reverse yourself there's too much criticism. this is the nonsense going on in venezuela and, of course, what went on last week further undermines venezuela's so-called democracy and its only the latest in president maduro's creeping dictatorship, and that's what it is. because he was repeatedly and violently suppressed protesters and jailed his political
opponents in violation of any understanding of human rights. and he's used that same supreme court to block members of the national assembly from taking office and he has used that supreme court as a rubber stamp to overturn the laws that the national assembly does that he doesn't like. isn't it a sad state that venezuela has reached. the president has also thwarted opposition efforts to recall him, president maduro, in a national referendum, and in so doing, he was able to appoint a vice president with ties to hezbollah and now a vice
president that appears he has sanctioned drug trafficking. meanwhile the poor venezuelaian people suffer the consequences of the political, the humanitarian and the economic crisis. venezuelaians are dying because of severe shortages of food and medicine and other products. the economy is in free fall and crime and corruption are rampant. and last year 18,000 venezuelaians sought asylum in the u.s. more than any other nationality. calling on president maduro to cease undermining democracy, release all political prisoners,
respect the rule of law, and respect human rights. there obviously is no sign that he is going to be doing this. so what should we do? well, first of all, we ought to get our secretary of state to work with the international community, including the organization of american states, to help resolve this crisis and alleviate the suffering for the venezuelian people. that's the first order of business, to try to eliminate the suffering of people. and it's all so true. whenever a dictator takes control as has happened in venezuela, it's the people that suffer first. additionally, i'm suggesting and i'm calling on the administration to fully enforce
and where appropriate expand the sanctions on those responsible for continued violence and human rights violations that are perpetrated against the people. it's very interesting. a lot of these so-called big guys in venezuela, they love to travel. they love to have bank accounts. they love to come to miami. they love to have u.s. bank accounts. let's slap some severe economic sanctions on these guys. the situation is increasingly dire, and we must stand with the venezuelian people in their struggle for democracy and human rights. mr. president, i yield the floor.
mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, while we have a lull in the debate, i want to take an opportunity to talk about -- since we had an utter inability of the house of representatives to come together
on any kind of health care bill, this senator would suggest instead of the mantra repeal and replace since now that seems to be dead, why don't we take the existing law that has provided a lot of things for the average citizen and in my state of florida for the average person this means a great deal to have the availability of health insurance which they never had and can now afford. but there needs to be fixes to the law known as the affordable care act that was passed several years ago. and indeed one of those fixes could be a kind of smoothing fund that has the insurance companies vie for this business on the state exchanges, that
they would be able to have this fund as a resource for them to get over some of the humps. also, certainly for some of the insureds. just because you're at 400% of poverty and, therefore, no longer eligible for some of the subsidies to enable you to buy health insurance and, by the way, for a single individual, that's only about $47,000 a year of income, that person that makes $47,000, $50,000 a year, they can't afford to go out and spend $8,000, $10,000, $11,000 on a health insurance policy. so we need to adjust that or in other words, fix that as well. there needs to be some
additional fix of a subsidy there for the people that are just over 400% of 306rty. trans-- of poverty. translate that another way for a family of four, that's only about $95,000 a year. and on a tight budget like that, they simply can't afford health insurance. they need some help. so with a few little fixes like that to the existing law, the affordable care act, we could get this thing tuned up and indeed continue to provide what we need in order for people to have health care. one other fix. there are about four million people in the country that if their state legislatures and their governor would expand
medicaid and some of those governors are now expressing interest in doing this, expanded under the federal law up to 138% of poverty, four more million people would be covered with health care. in my state of florida alone, that's 900,000 people that otherwise would be getting health care that do not because the state of florida government has refused to expand medicaid coverage up to 138% of poverty. how much is that? for a single individual? that's someone making about $16,000 a year. a person like that can't afford health insurance. a person like that can't afford any kind of paying for any health care. and what happens to them when they get sick they wait and wait
to try to cure themselves because they can't pay a doctor. and then when the sickness turns into emergency, they end up in the emergency room. it's uncompensated care. the hospital eats it but the hospital, of course, passes on that uncompensated care to all the rest of us that are paying our premiums on health insurance. it just makes sense to do. so with a few fixes, we would be able to tune up the existing law to provide the health care that most of us want to provide. seems like to me that it's common sense and it's common sense that can be done in a bipartisan way. and it is my hope and my prayer that the senate and the house will come together and
ultimately do this. mr. president, i thank you, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, the senate has decided on a purely partisan basis by invoke be the so-called nuclear option. for the first time in our history, nominees to the supreme court of the united states may advance from nomination to confirmation with a simple majority vote in this body. and i've heard many of my colleagues ascribe blame equally to both sides, and i'm -- and i've heard analysts and experts say the same. -- scholars like nor man oren seen and thomasman of the brookings institute have demonstrated that our political polarization over the last several years and hence our current impasse has been driven
predominantly by the ever more conservative ideology of the republican party. regardless, here we are. the gorsuch nomination lacks the traditional level of support required for a supreme court seat, and the majority leader has chosen a step that democrats clearly and emphatically rejected when we needed to confirm nominees who had brought -- broad support but were blocked because they were submitted by president obama. i had hoped it was not too late for cooler heads to prevail. unfortunately, adherence to the principle of 60 votes for consideration as a justice of the supreme court and indeed the existing rule in the senate was ignored and we are at this impasse. since many have drawn a false equivalence between the so-called nuclear option vote of several years ago and what
occurred today, let me take a moment to explain from my part why i very reluctantly supported a change to senate precedent for nominees other than the supreme court in 2013. during president obama's hen tenure, republicans necessitated more cloture votes that were taken under -- than were taken under every previous president combined. let me republicans necessitated more cloture votes than any other previous president combined, from george washington to george w. bush. republicans demanded cloture votes 79 times over five years. in contrast from the founding fathers all the way through george w. bush, the senate only faced that situation 68 times. republicans obstructed obama nominees more in five years than
the senate obstructed all nominees combined in two centuries. after a nominee would break through, republicans often would vet overwhelmingly to confirm the very nominee they adamantly delayed. tches clear the sole -- it was clear the sole guiding principle was obstruction and delay. obama nominees had the longest wait time. president obama tied with president clinton for tt fewest number of circuit court nominees confirmed during that same period. all that time, judicial vacancies stacked up, critical public service roles went unfilled and the american public regarded congress as a place where nothing of substance could occur. it was under those dire and unprecedented circumstances that
i reluctantly changed the rules, very consciously excluding the supreme court which at that time was, i think recognized as appropriate by all my republican colleagues. but there really is no equivalence between that decision and what the majority did today. even in 2013 at the height of the partisan attacks, it was believed that the supreme court was too much to subject that nomination. the supreme court is a coordinate branch of our government and lifetime appointees have final authority to interpret the constitution. we understood then as we do now that the traditional 60-vote threshold to conclude debate on the highest court in the nation was too important to the consensus driven character of
this body to sacrifice. i think we also have to acknowledge that a president has already nominated a consensus choice capable to earning 60 votes to a seat on the court and that nominee was chief justice merrick garland. the unprecedented treatment he received from the majority has made this the most infamous supreme court nominations in american history. it is all the more disconcerting that he was witnessed to being treated poorly. i have already addressed this body about my deep concerns regarding judge gorsuch's judicial record of ideological activism and championing the powerful over the powerless, but it is worth going into detail on one of his opinions that is emblematic of this and has come
to the floor. in 2008 judge gorsuch heard what is referred to as the luke p. case. in that case the parents of an autistic child sought reimbursement from the school district because the school had not provided adequate acome indication -- accommodations for the child under the individual with disabilities act. the case presented heart-wrenching facts. the child, luke, experienced severe behavioral issues in public and at home. his parents sought advice from the best sources to create the best atmosphere for him to make progress in school. ultimately theying recognized that the -- they recognized that the public school that luke attended could not provide the type of atmosphere by the law for luke. they placed him in a different school setting.
luke's parents exercised their rights under i dea and the colorado office of administrative costs and a federal district court all agreed the law entitled them to reimbursement from the school district. this should have been the end of the matter, but when the school district appealed the case to the tenth circuit, judge gorsuch's decision reversed all of these fact finders to hold in favor of the school district. in order to reach his conclusion, judge gorsuch went to great lengths picking and choosing passages from previous decisions to weave a new standard that eviscerated the intentions of i dea. this ignored intent and created a new outline that schools had to provide de minimis or in
plainer terms to provide almost zero opportunities for children with disabilities. this would force luke into an inadequate learning development and leave his parents with another financial burden and hardship. at the same time judge gorsuch's legal standard threatened to degrade education for all students with disabilities. the good news for luke is that the supreme court seriesed judge gorsuch's position ironically during his confirmation hearings. the nays has been spared the potential harm that could have resulted from lowering expectations from schools nationwide and leaving families like luke's without sufficient recourse. yet, as my colleague and i pointed out, at every turn of this confirmation process, this is far from the only decision by judge gorsuch that is widely outside the mainstream of
jurisprudence. he has not and was not intended to be a consensus nominee to fill the vacancy on the supreme court. it should not come as a surprise that this body is divided over his nomination to the highest court in the land and that judge gorsuch could not earn enough support under the traditional 60-vote threshold. the filibuster was intended to be an institutional safeguard that protects the minority. it should be equally apparent that in this circumstance the filibuster did its job, a large minority of this body viewed judge gorsuch as too extreme for the supreme court and that minority blocked cloture on his nomination. there was no national emergency, no danger, no serious consequence whatsoever that prevented the majority from work -- from reversing course
and working with democrats. in one day the majority has lessened the distinction of our chamber and that across the capitol, opening the door to an even more polarized judiciary. i regret that this is the case and i hope this body can turn back from the course we find ourselves on today. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and also note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
mr. grassley: mr. president, we're now well on our way to confirming judge gorsuch as the next justice of the supreme court. now, i have a few things to say about the way that we've gotten here. earlier today the other side, meaning the democrats, made a very unprecedented break with senate history and with senate tradition. they launched the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in our nation's history. for our part, we republicans insisted that we follow the practice of the senate. we don't engage in partisan filibusters of supreme court nominees. yesterday i came to the floor to speak about the path that brought us to this point as i
discussed way back in 2001 -- referring to the year 2001, the current minority leader and some of his allies on the far left hatched a plan to, in their words, change the ground rules with regard to lower-court nominees. i noted a "new york times" article describing the democrat senatorial caucus retreat where the new approach to nominees was discussed. in other words where they discussed the strategy for changing the ground rules of how judges are considered by the united states senate. and so, mr. president, i want to put that in the record, may 1, 2001, "new york times" article entitled "washington talks,
democrats readying for a judicial fight. ". the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: thank you. after a brief time in the majority, senate democrats were back in the minority in 2003. so approximately two years after they had this strategy. it was at that time the senate democrats began an unprecedented and systemic filibusters of -- systematic filibusters of president george w. bush's circuit court nominees. then the tables turned. president obama was elected and republicans held the senate minority. at that time, even though many of us didn't like the idea of using the filibuster on judicial nominees, we also recognized that we couldn't have two sets
of rules, one for republican presidents and one for democrat presidents. our party defeated two nominees for the lower courts by filibuster and denied cloture to two -- to three of president obama's nominees to the d.c. circuit court of appeals. but the other side didn't appreciate being subjected to the rules that they first established -- started using in 2003 to filibuster judges, so at that point in 2013, they decided to change the rules of the united states senate. by the way, they changed -- they
changed the rules by breaking the rules. and i say that because the rules of the senate say it takes two-thirds vote to change the rules of the senate, but they changed it by a majority vote. now, at that time, as we all know, majority leader reid changed the rules for all cabinet nominations and lower court nominees. to say that my colleagues and i were disappointed is a gross understatement. the majority claimed that they left intact the filibuster for supreme court nominees, but my view back in 2013 when they did that was the distinction majority leader reid grew between lower court nominees and supreme court nominees wasn't a
meaningful one. my view in 2013 was that majority leader reid had effectively eliminated the filibuster for both lower court nominees and the supreme court. and here's the reason. there are two circumstances where this issue might conceivably arise. either you have a democrat in the white house and a democrat-controlled senate or where you would have a republican in the white house and a republican-led senate. in the first, there's a democrat in the white house, and the party led by leader reid and leader in waiting schumer was in the majority, and if for some extraordinary reason senate republicans chose to filibuster
the nominee, there is no question that a majority leader reid or a majority leader schumer would change the rules. now, i don't believe that this particular circumstance would ever arise because our side doesn't believe in filibustering supreme court nominees. i have never voted to filibuster a supreme court nominee, not once, and i think i have a pretty good sense of the rest of our caucus. our side just doesn't believe in it. it's not much more complicateed than that simple commonsense statement i just made. and of course even if for some extraordinary reason our side did choose to filibuster a supreme court nominee, we don't have to speculate as to whether the other side would have changed the precedent with
respect to the supreme court. last year, when everyone thought that secretary clinton was going to win the election, their own vice-presidential candidate said that they would change the rules if they needed to if we had a republican filibuster. then, of course, the other circumstance where this issue would arise is what we have is what you have seen this very day, a republican in the white house and a republican-controlled senate. and we saw this very day the minority was willing to take that last step and engage in the first partisan filibuster in u.s. history, and as i have repeatedly discussed because they were willing to do it hueneme as well qualified as
judge gorsuch, it proved without a shadow of a doubt that they would filibuster anyone submitted by this republican president. that's why on the day that majority leader reid took that unprecedented action in 2013 to break the senate rules, to change the senate rules, i spoke on the floor and i concludeed my remarks this way, so i want to quote myself. quote -- so the majority has chosen to take us down this path. the silver lining is that there will come a day when the roles are reversed. when that happens, our side will likely nominate and confirm lower court and supreme court nominees with 51 votes,
regardless of whether the democrats actually buy into this fanciful notion, that they can demolish the filibuster on the lower court nominees and still preserve it for the supreme court nominees, end of my quote from november, 2013, when leader reid took that extraordinary step. so although i'm extremely pleased that we'll confirm such an exceptional nominee to the supreme court in the next day or so, i'm of course disappointed with what we were forced to do to get it done, and sadly i can't say i'm surprised, and i think my surprise or the fact that i can't be surprised, you can tell it from what i said back there, what i just quoted from 2013, the speech that i gave.
i knew when majority leader reid did it in 2013 that this is where we were headed, and that's where we ended earlier this afternoon. but the bottom line is that you can't have two sets of rules. you can't clothe yourself in the tradition of a filibuster while simultaneously conducting the first, very first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in history. you can't demand a rules change only when it suits the democrat members of this body. you just can't have it both ways. you can't use the senate rules as both a shield and a sword. but i must say the one thing that doesn't disappoint me is this -- the nominee to take
justice scalia's seat is eminently qualified. he will apply the law faithfully without respect to persons. he's a judge's judge, and come sometime tomorrow, we'll all start calling him justice gorsuch. i yield the floor, suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. suspend the quorum call. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: mr. president, i rise to express my strong support for judge neil gorsuch and to say i will proudly vote in favor of his confirmation tomorrow and to express my confidence that history will judge this nominee to be an outstanding associate justice of the united states supreme court. i hope he serves a long and distinguished career and i believe he will.
i think justice neil gorsuch will turn out to be a credit to the supreme court, to the president that nominated him, and to the senate that will confirm him tomorrow. it's unfortunate that we've had quite a bit of discussion about procedure and the process that has gotten us to this vote which will take place tomorrow afternoon. indeed, i had a conversation with one of my democratic colleagues yesterday afternoon as we were leaving the capitol building. this is a person with whom i've worked on issues and for whom i have a great regard, and i asked him how he was doing and he said, well, okay. i'm just getting ready for the united states senate be forever
changed. and i paused for a moment, and i said, you know, how can it be that two reasonably intelligent senators of goodwill can look at the same factual situation and see it so differently. and i think my colleague did agree that, indeed, that's the situation that we have with what led us to our proceedings today. and, indeed, i do believe that my colleagues on the other side of the issues today, the procedural issues today, are people of goodwill who are trying to do the right thing by their country just as i have been in this -- on this issue. but let's look, first of all, at
the candidate himself and then i might take a moment or two to talk about what we have already done, that decision that has been made. but let's talk about neil gorsuch, about this outstanding future supreme court justice who i believe will be sworn in either tomorrow or the next day. is neil gorsuch qualified? really, can anyone contest that he is highly qualified, perhaps one of the most qualified people to ever to have been nominated by a president for the high court. he has degrees from columbia, harvard law, from oxford university. he has received the american bar association's highest rating, the gold standard that we look at when it comes to judging nominees for the federal bench up to and including the high court, and he served for ten years with distinction on the
tenth circuit court of appeals. and so, clearly, he's got the qualifications and clearly he is among that group of qualified individuals that the president promised to look at back during the campaign. and promised to send that type of individual over to the supreme court. so i -- i really don't think there's much that can be said to contradict the fact that neil gorsuch is qualified and highly qualified. so now let's ask is neil gorsuch somehow out of the broad judicial mainstream? and again, i think it is clear that based on his history, based on his testimony and based on his rulings up until now, he is
part of the broad judicial mainstream that will put him in good company on the supreme court and makes him a worthy successor to justice scalia. he's -- first of all, he's earned the praise of both conservatives and liberals. he's even won the endorsement of president obama's former acting solicitor general who wrote in "the new york times", quote, if the senate is to confirm anyone, neil gorsuch who sits on the united states court of appeals for the tenth circuit in denver should be at the top of the list. so thank you to the former acting solicitor general for
going beyond ideology and political philosophy and saying a true statement that judge gorsuch is outstanding and should be at the top of the list. editorial boards across the country have touted judge gorsuch's credentials and temperament. "the denver post," his hometown newspaper, wrote an editorial praising his ability to apply the law fairly and consistently. and of course there has been newspaper after newspaper from the right and left across this country who come down on this side of the issue saying that judge gorsuch should be confirmed, but let's look also -- and this has been pointed out so often that you wonder if you should say it again, mr. president, but this
judge, judge gorsuch on the tenth circuit has participated in 2,700 cases. he's written over 800 opinions and has been overruled by the supreme court one time. is this a judicial radical? i think not. i think this is someone that is demonstrated to be in the judicial mainstream. one reversal by the supreme court out of 800 written decisions and 2,700 votes cast on panels with the tenth circuit. he's almost always been in the majority, some 99% of the panels he served on, he was in the majority of those opinions and 97% of those decisions were unanimous. so this is hardly some radical
pick as some might have suggested. now, has the process been unfair? and we've heard a lot about this. a lot of my dear friends on the other side of the aisle feel aggrieved for sure. they feel that judge garland, the nominee of president obama in 2016 was treated unfairly. and i would simply make this observation and the american public can decide if this was unfair. this is a vacancy that came up during a heated, hotly contested presidential year. and there is really no doubt that under similar circumstances, had the roles been reversed and had a republican tried to nominate a nominee in the last year of his eight-year term, that a democrat
majority in the senate would have done exactly as we did. and i'm not guessing when i say this, because the democratic leaders of previous years have said as much. no less than joe biden who was a former chairman of the judiciary committee, later on became vice president for eight years, no less than joe biden said exactly the same. it almost became the biden rule. republican presidential nominees taken up during the final year of a term will not be considered by a democratic senate. and so the shoe was on the other foot and we acted the same, so we'll leave it up to the american people to decide whether judge garland was treated unfairly. i do not believe he was. as a matter of fact, i felt very comfortable, mr. president,
during 2016 saying who fills a supreme court seat is so important, such a significant and long-lasting decision that the american people deserve to be heard on this issue, and i felt comfortable making the presidential election largely about what the supreme court would look like in coming years. and there's no question about it. the american people got to decide in november of 2016 whether they would like a judge in the mold of justice scalia, whose seat we were trying to fill, or would they like a judge in the mold of judge garland, who president obama was seeking to put in place. the -- so i make no apology for saying to the american people you get to decide in this presidential year what sort of
supreme court you want, and the american people made that decision, and i'm comfortable with that. i was asked today by several members of the press about the change in the rules, that i voted for today. it's not a situation that makes me overall joyed. it's not my idea of a good time to overrule a precedent and to substitute another one in its place. you'd rather not do that if you're a united states senator. but the fact is that it puts us back into a place that we were for 200 years in this republic. from the beginning of this congress -- of this senate,
1789, through 1889, through 1999, up to and including three, there was no filibuster -- including 2003, there was no filibuster at all on supreme court justices. there was no partisan filibuster at all on supreme court justices. and no judge had ever been denied his position because of a partisan filibuster. at any level. federal judge, circuit level or supreme court. that changed in 2003, and with the miguel estrada nomination, our democrat friends stopped a qualified judge from going on the federal appeals court. that was the beginning of an unfortunate 14-year experiment
in judicial be filibusters. it's not a filibuster that i think this -- it's not a precedent, it's not an experiment that i think this senate can be very proud of. but it took place over a relatively short period of time over 14 years, and it ended today. as of today, the united states senate is back where it was for over 200 years in the history of this senate and the history of our republic, without the ability to stop a judge on a partisan filibuster. and in fact this fact cannot be contradicted. there has never been in the history of our country, even in this past decade and a half of
having the possibility of a supreme court filibuster, there's never been a supreme court nominee in the history of our republic stopped by a partisan filibuster. and today, that 225-year or so precedent would have ended had we not acted to change the rules back to where we're back to fundamental principles. and i was not willing to see judge neil gorsuch be that first nominee stopped by a partisan filibuster, in the history of our country. i was simply not willing to do that. so we now must proceed to the rest of our business. we will confirm judge gorsuch tomorrow.
i think he will serve well, and then we've got work to do. we've got other nominees to -- to consider, and then we've got an agenda that we need to tend to for -- for our people. i'm nurnlgd, i think, by -- i'm encouraged, i think, by the exchange of first early steps of goodwill after this divisive process. indeed, there was an article in one of our publications today that talked about a healthy feeling now in both caucuses, that we've got to put this procedural episode behind us, this crisis behind us and legislate. i'm glad to hear that sort of bipartisan talk coming from the other side of the aisle. another of my friends across the
aisle said we're not looking for dilatory procedures. when there are things we can work together, we're looking for that. so i'm encouraged and i'm encouraged that even my friend who i was talking to yesterday afternoon will -- will conclude that we have not forever changed the senate in a negative way, that we are in fact back to where we were before 2003 and getting things done. so in the end, this is about an individual that's qualified. it's about a vacancy that needs to be filled, and i for one am highly comfortable that the president and neil gorsuch has put forward an outstanding, imminently qualified judge, and that he will serve us well, and
my vote tomorrow in favor of confirmation will be kasten thiews a.c.c. particularly and proudly, and i think that it will stand the test of time. so thank you very much for -- for your indulgence, mr. president, and at this point i yield the floor and i do believe i see the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
him and his qualifications and i have been watching speeches all week and even headed to the committee hearing so much had been said about him. this is a mainstream candidate. this is a mainstream judge, someone who has voted with the majority 99% of the time. someone who 97% of the time in 2,700. he believes the constitution should be interpreted for its original intent, but he is not outside the mainstream and he is certainly qualified. it's interesting that you see a broad array of individuals come forward to talk about his qualifications. i thought it was interesting that there was no coherent reason to oppose him. there were a lot of opinions on the floor that he would not commit to certain decisions that