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tv   First Hour of Debate on Supreme Court Nominee  CSPAN  April 6, 2017 9:32pm-10:35pm EDT

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and the confirmation of judge gorsuch will shape our benefit generation and all will be able to benefit from his quiet in mice decisions. i'm looking forward to confirming judge neil gorsuch. it's going to happen tomorrow i'm proud to give him my vote and justice will be well served. >> the senate has considered the nomination of judge neil gorsuch for many we have set credentials with his incredible record. we have heard glowing praise on a nearly daily basis from colleagues, from students, from judges, newspaper editorials from democrats and from gorsuch republicans. judge gorsuch is independent and he is fair. he is beyond qualified and he
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will make a stellar addition to the supreme court. hardly anyone in the legal community seems to argue otherwise and yet our democratip colleagues are poised to block this incredible moment a with the first successful partisan filibuster in american history. it would be a radical moved in e something completely unprecedented in the history of our senate and out of all proportion to the eminently qualified judge who is actually good for us. but then again, then again this isn't really about the nominee anyway. the opposition to this particular nominee is more about the man that nominated him and
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the party he represents and the nominee himself. as part of a much larger story, another extreme escalation in the left never ending drive thei voice of the courts in the confirmation process. a singular aim securing raw power for the cost of the country or the institution. it underlies why this threatenee filibuster cannot be allowed to succeed or to continue for the sake of the senate, for the sake of the court and for the sake of our country. i take a look back through history will help every colleague understand why. in i have always had a particular interest in the history of judicial nominations.
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i rem my service is a senator vitter member serving on the judiciary committee during a time when two different judicial nominees were being considered. c one herald carswell was voted down on the senate floor correctly in my view. floor another also failed to receive the necessary support fornfirmai confirmation but in error i thought. it piqued my interest mr. president and what advise and consent should he and the senate and what it actually meant in practice. i would learn later that i was witnessing the stirrings of what would soon become the so-called judicial wars the lefts effort to transform judicial confirmation from constructive debates or qualifications into raw ideological struggles with no rules and no limits.
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it's a struggle that escalated among democrats and decided to wait for our present number -- president reagan's nominee bork. democrats launch one personal attack after another not because suffered some ethical failing but because his views were not bears. here's how the "washington post" described it at the time. the post said it's not just that there has been an intellectual poker is asian and personal savagery to the elements that the attack profoundly distorting the record and the nature of the man. would as npr would later observe the lefts all-out campaign to seek the nomination legitimizes ideological wars over nominations at the supreme court i was there. i saw it all.
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i remember the viciousness of it i also remember feeling aees turning point for a judicial nominee would no longer be evaluated on their credentials but on their ideology. that observation unfortunately has proven correct with democrats raising the stakes, raising the stakes and moving the goalposts each step of the t they certainly did so under the next republican president george h.w. bush. we all know what happened last august. the gloves were off for bork, the brass knuckles came out for congress. here's how left-leaning columnists describe the situation. here's what juan williams said. to bring some news reports on thomas over the past month is to discover a monster of a manst totally unlike the human being
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full of sincerity and struggles i saw as a reporter. that was juan williams on clarence thomas. he has been conveniently transformed into a monster about whom it is fair to say anything. to him it is fair to do anything williams said. by the time bill clinton won thd presidency board had become a verb and high-tech lynching was on the lens of the nation. words were fresh and deepen this democratic president had the chance to name two justices of his own to the court. in now mr. president republicans could have responded in kind to these nominees but that's not what happened. when president clinton nominated ruth debate or ginsburg the
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senate confirmed her 96-3. 96-3 did when president clinton nominated stephen breyer the senate confirmed him 87-9. o i like the vast majority of republicans voted for both of them. we did so in full knowledge of the considerable ideological differences between these nominations and ourselves. ginsburg in particular mr. president have expressed notably extreme views even advocating for the abolition of mother's day. a nominee for the supreme court advocating the abolition of mother's day and yet confirmedot three.o could we have tried to filibuster these nominees?t we sure, but we didn't.
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be retribution and did our levelale best to let that slide after the concepts of we respect the senate tradition against filibustering supreme court nominees.beyond now the tradition of the filibuster extended beyond the supreme court. when president clinton named two highly controversial nominees from california to the 9th circuit some on my side wanted to defeat their nominations with a filibuster. the republican leadership said let's don't do that too to their great credit majority leadery lott and judiciary chairman hatch and florida congress not to do that. to advance the nomination he and senator hatch and i and the vast majority of republican conference voted for cloture to give them an up-or-down
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we didn't do this because we supported the nominees.ed in fact most of us voted against their actual confirmation but we thought they deserved an up or down vote which after all was the tradition of the senate. given that we were in the majority and these nominations were highly controversial to advance into an up-or-down vote was not was not as you might imagine popular. but we resisted the political pressure. again we respected the senate's tradition against filibustering judicial nominees. but it would matter little. it would matter little to our democratic friends. less than a year later president bush 43 comes to office.
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before he had submitted a single judicial nominee our democratic colleagues held a retreat in farmington pennsylvania. they are, according to participants they determined to change the ground rules for how they would handle judicial as "the news york times" reported democrats apparently decided quote there was no obligation to confirm someone just because they are scholarly end quote. our friend the democratic leaded said what he and his colleagues were trying to do was set the stage, set the stage for yet another escalation in the last judicial war.enate senate democrats soon became the majority in the senate due to then the party switch. to help implement the appeared of from their retreat to change the ground rules the democraticy leader used his position on the
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judiciary committee to hold a hearing on whether ideology should matter in the confirmation process. now mr. president it will surprise you that the conclusion he and his colleagues waged a ii should so they killed in committee either through action or by committee vote qualified judicial nominees that did not fit their preferred ideology. i know because i was on the committee then. 18 months later our dimock reddick colleagues lost control of the senate and therefore control of the judiciary the committee. our colleagues the current democratic leader again took center stage. "the news york times" noted that over the last two years every maneuver available in the senate judiciary committee to block the appointment, to block
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the appointment of the bushial administration judicial nominees then in 2003 according again to "the news york times" he recommended using a tactic to filibuster to block. mr. schumer urged democratic colleagues in the senate to use but some were realistically -- and that is where the senate. a filibuster to block votes on nominees that he and other dimock rats have decided to oppose. it's hard to express how radical a move that was at that time. because it completely changed the way the senate had handled these nominations throughoutal
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history. even filing cloture on a judicial nominee has been where before then and debating, actually debating any judicial nominee by filibuster other than a bipartisan opposition to the nomination of abe fortis in 1968 in a presidential election year is simply unheard of. no longer. democrats blocked cloture 21 times while 10 different circuit court nominees including he and outstanding lawyers like miguel estrada. his nomination was filibustered an incredible seven times. l these are not inflated statistics mr. president like the supposed 70 filibuster's democratic colleagues are now alleging occurred during the leader includes the prior democratic leader unnecessarily filing cloture petitions. what i'm talking about are real
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and repeated filibusters used by dimock rats to defeat nominations. in the face of this holy unprecedented change in normss and traditions of the senate we republicans contemplating using the nuclear option. we decided against it. 14 colleagues three of them serving in this body reach an accord where filibusters would be overcome for five of the 10 nominees in question. regretfully miguel estrada was not one of them. an he withdrew his nomination after being put through an unprecedented ordeal. and yet the ink was barely dry on the accord dimension when senate democrats led in part by our friend the democratic leader began to do something exceedingly rare in the nomination process. they tried to filibuster samuel
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alito's nomination to the supreme court., no member of the republican conference by the way has ever voted to filibuster supreme court nominee, ever. nobody on this side of the aisle has ever done that. again it would have been easy easy for republicans to retaliate when president obama took office but just like under clinton that's not what happened how did we treat obama's lower court nominee? well, at the time our democratic colleagues decided to fill up the d.c. circuit one way or the other in the democratic leader put it. senate republicans have debated the grand total of two, two of so, mr nominees. so mr. president at the time they decided to employ the nuclear option and fill up the d.c. circuit.
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senate republicans had confirmed 215 obama -- and defeated just to. just 215 we had confirmed, just to sort democratic colleagues decision to deploy the nuclear option was not in response to. obstruction but was in the words of the "washington post" at power ploy. by the way the time i don't recall the democratic leader or any other of our democraticren't colleagues repeating the refrain you nominee you don't change the rules, he changed the nominee. they weren't saying that then. what did they do? they change the rules. power it was a power play but it was
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also something else. it was a tough admission by democratic colleagues of the senate's tradition of up or down votes for judicial nominees that were first upset back in 2003 by starting the process of filibustering judicial nominees was a tradition they should have respected. unfortunately it took them 10 years to realize this and the white house republicans used on a smaller scale themselves and operated a decade early. so mr. president how did we treat president obama supreme court nominees? did we try to filibuster them? like our democratic colleagues for justice alito? of course not. when president obama nominated
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sonia sotomayor and elena kagan we treated each nominee fairly as they would later say themselves and we secured an up-or-down most republicans had significant misgivings about these nominees. many of us voted no on the th confirmation but we didn't think it would be right to deny them an up-or-down vote. ranking member jeff sessions of the judiciary committee at the time and i even protested when then democratic leader reid tried to file cloture on the cake in nomination because we were determined to prevent even the hands of a filibuster. again respected the senate tradition against filibustering supreme court nominees. now i know our friends on the
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democratic side will interject with predictable protest about last year. they seem to forget their own position on the issue. stan the senate chose to follow then standard set forth by then senator biden. when he was chairman of the hims upon by the current democratic leader himself. senate exercised itson constitutional advise and consent role by withholding its consent until after the election. the next president regardless of party could select the nominee. it's a standard i held to to even when it seemed inevitable that our next president is going to be hillary clinton. it's also a standard that president obama's all legal had counsel admitted democrats would have followed themselves had the
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shoe been on the other foot. the majority of the senate expressed itself in by withholding consent. the majority of the senate now express itself like providing consent for judge gorsuch. the bipartisan majority that supports them can't do so if a partisan minority filibusters. they are prepared to do so for the first time in american history and the democratic leader has news openly about holding the seat vacant for an entire presidential term. we will not allow their latest unprecedented act on the judicial nominations to take hold. mr. president this will be the first and last partisan filibuster of a supreme court
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nomination. now all this history matters. i know the democratic leader would rather not visit the circumstances that brought us to this moment. i know the democratic leader would rather not talk about it. of course he doesn't want to talk about it. he and his party decided to change the ground rules for handling judicial nominations. he and his party pioneered, pioneered the practice of filibustering the lower court judicial nominee. he and his party launched the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee. he and his party deployed the nuclear option in 2013. now they are threatening to do something else that's never been
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done in the history of ther a sp senate successfully filibuster a supreme court nominee on a purely partisan basis. and for what reason? for why it reads in? because he is unqualified? because he is unfit for the job? no. because he was nominated by republican presidents. this is the latest escalation in the left never-ending judicial war the most dangerous yet and it cannot and it will not stand. there cannot be two sets of standards one for the nominees of the democratic president and another for the nominee of the republican president. the democratic leader claimed the nominee justices who are in the mainstream of republican
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presidents nominate justices who are far out by the mainstream. in what universe are we talking about here? i would say to my friend from new york few outside of manhattan or san franciscotream believe that ruth bader ginsburg is in the mainstream but neil gorsuch is not. according to longtime democrat in the left-leaning constitution society there is simply no principle reason not to vote no on judge gorsuch's nomination. even less of one to block that vote from occurring at all.y let me say this to my democratis colleague. if you truly cannot support the nomination of this eminently qualified nominee then at least allow the bipartisan majority of
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the senate that supports gorsuch to take an up-or-down vote. you are ready to play the nuclear option in 2013. don't trigger it again in 2017. under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. out of the previous order at the time of the cloture vote on the gorsuch nomination between senators grassley and feinstein or their designees. -- >> i was going to ask you mr. president, is going to ask you -- they met the senator per mile. i was going to ask unanimous consent to that extent. again >> i'm going to add something to what you just said so let me start over again. i ask unanimous consent that the
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senate until 10:45 be equally divided between senator feinstein or her designee or myself and the time from sch 10:45 to 11:00 the research for senator schumer's remarks. >> is there objection? seeing none. the >> the democratic whip. democratic whip. >> mr. president my understanding i'd like to ask for clarification as the remaining 1718 minutes is deeply divided. that's what my unanimous consent request said. hymn i just wanted to get more specific senator braynon not question what you asked for. we so we have nine minutes each for eight minutes each? >> i will probably need more than nine minutes but i will put the resume statement in the record. i defer to the chairman of the committee. >> within the next hour or so we
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will learn whether the minority leader will come to their sensei and whether they will engage in the very first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee. all indications are that they are committed to their course. that's unfortunate, it truly is. the question you have to ask is this. what exactly is so objectionable about this nominee that he should be subjected to the first partisan filibuster in u.s. history? is he really not the well-qualified? columbia for bachelors, harvard for law school and oxford for a doctorate. he clerked for not one but two supreme court justices over 10 years from the circuit court.
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he has had 2700 cases. it's clear then that he isua extremely well-qualified. so what is it? what makes this nominee so objectionable? the truth of the matter is that throughout this process the minority led by their leader has been desperately searching for justification for their preplanned filibuster. over the course of the last couple of months they have trotted out one issue after another but nothing will stick. they said he is not mainstream but that's not true. everyone from obama solicitor general -- has said he's mainstr mainstream. they said he is an independent but everyone knows that he is an
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independent judge. he is his own man and he understands the role of a judge. then they rolled out this ridiculous argument that he is for the big guy and against the little guy. even liberal law professors like noaa feldman made fun of that attack. he called him quote unquote a truly terrible idea. then they said we should hold him responsible for the legal position that he took on the half of the united states government. the only problem there is that we have had a lot of nominees who representative the united states government. they were for him and the government was their client. the other side certainly didn't want to hold justice kagan responsible for taking the truly extreme position as solicitor
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general that the united statess government was constitutionally permitted to ban pamphlets. so that argument fell flat as well. then of course after they ran out of substandard arguments against the judge and his record they resorted to attacks on his supporters or the president who nominated him or the selection-- process. anything, anything to distract from the judge and the stellar record that he has. they trotted out this absurd claim that we should reject the judge up because of some opinion he has written but it does those who support his nomination have the gall to actually speak out and make their voices heard. except they forgot to check with their own supporters, first to
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make sure none of them are spending so-called dark money. of course they are spending money on advocacy just as the law permits and the constitution under the first amendment.nd as we all know issued advocacy during supreme court nominationa is absolutely nothing new. those who are complaining about advocacy today don't seem to remember the tv ads that the far left ran attacking judge bork in 1987. i remember those ads. i remember that adds the left ran against justice thomas as c, well and of course outside groups on the left have attacked every republican nominee since so expressing selective outrage over issue advocacy doesn't
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advance their cause either but they still keep it up. finally the talking point we have heard repeated most often over the last 24 hours is candidate trump outsourced the election process to conservative groups. i must say i find that argument the oddest of all. it's the kind of thing justice scalia would call pure applesauce. the president did not outsource his selection process to conservative groups. he made his list public for the entire country to review during the campaign. the first president to do that., anything then he outsourced the selection process to who, the voters, the american people. so what do you do? do you are out of substandard
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arguments from the other side. even shots fired at the judge's supporters somehow boomeranged and hate your own advocacy groups. but we have seen all of this before. i have been through a few of these debates over the years when the republican occupied the oval office. the nominees may change but the attacks remain the same. you will hear today the same poll tested catchphrases we have all heard time and again. you will hear fire, you would hear words and phrases like outside of the mainstream, far right and extreme. invariably these are words that the left tries to pin on every b president and the people he submits to the senate.
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with each nominee the playbook on the left seems to be the very same. the nomination process it seems is a desperate attempt to retell the same old preordained narrative. so as i said those of us who have been through a few these al episodes have heard it all before and we will hear it in the next few hours again but this time something is very different. t this time they intend to use the same old preordained narrative to justify the first partisan filibuster in the 220 year history of the united states senate and of course this result was preordained because as a minority leader said weeks before the president was even
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sworn into office quote it'se hard for me to imagine a nominee that donald trump would choose that would get republican support that we democrats could support end of quote. you have already committed to the far left that you will i launch the first partisan filibuster in u.s. history. so you are stuck. you have got to press forward, don't you? even though you know the effort is doomed to fail. you know that he will be confirmed and you know in your hearts of hearts that he deserves to be confirmed and that's why this is especially a sad state of affairs. i yield the floor. >> mr. president. >> the minority whip is
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recognized. for three state based the senate republican leader has come to the floor and has given us a history of presidential nominations to the supreme court clearly an investigation is necessary or that must have been hacking into his computer because he can't print the name merrick garland include in the speech. the senator from kentuckyio republican leader has failed to mention that name because that name is the reason we are in this spot today. when justice antonin scalia passed away president obama a exercise his constitutional responsibility to send a nominee to the senate to fill a vacancy on the supreme court and for the first time in the history of the senate, for the first time ever this republican-led senate refused to give this nominee a hearing and a vote. it is never underlined the word never, happened before. he was the reason he was unqualified?al of course not. he was very well qualified
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serving in the d.c. circuit court. the reason was stated clearly by senator mcconnell. we were going to place a bet that the next president would be republicans and let them fill this vacancy so when the republicans come to the floor as politi about the politicization of this process the reason we are here when we should be celebrating the one-year anniversary ofe merrick garland in the supreme court is because they that filled by a republican president. that's exactly why we are here today. this notion that somehow fanciful that the choice of neil gorsuch was made by outside groups is belied by the very words of the president himself who thinks the heritage foundation to special-interest f republicans organizations for giving him the list of nomineesr for the supreme court. it was very open and public and there was political gratitude that they came up with the name neil gorsuch and that's fact.
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when you look at the history the senator from kentucky to republican leader has to accept what is clear. in the history of the united states of america until senator mcconnell under president bee obama exactly 68 nominees have been stopped in the filibuster under senator mcconnell and the republicans. 79 nominees of president obama were stopped. it was in the use of the filibuster never seen before in the history of our nation and it was that abuse and statements that they would be vacancies in critical courts like the d.c. court of appeals therefore ever and ever amen and left thee decision four years ago to say that we would employ a change in the rules so they could finally fill the square positions,us finally break the filibuster
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death grip which senator mcconnell have brought to thisto chamber in a way never before seen in history. the senator from the techie has made history. he comes to the floor again tells us the history. he made history with a number filibusters on his floor and he made history and denying a presidential nominee the opportunity for hearing and a vote which had never, never happened before in the history of united states talk aboutuch,i partisanship. h when it comes to this judge the commit hearings, i was on the judiciaro committee. we took a measure of the man. he was careful to avoid any questions when it came to his position on cases and issues ans values. that's not unusual. supreme court nominees do that so we try to look at his cases. what do his cases that he decided reveal about the man an. two or three cases came right to the front. the first of all the sad story
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of her truck driver on interstate 88 outside chicago in january, two years back. 14 degrees below zero the brakes on this trailer frees any post to the side of the road calls the dispatcher and so stay with the truck we are sending somebody. hours passed. he is now going to hypothermia. he is freezing and because the dispatcher and says i've got to do something. he said you either drag this disabled truck off the interstate and take your best chances are you stick with the truck.he he decided to unhinge the trailer and drive to a gas station, gassed up warmed up and came back and for that he was fired through seven judges looked at that case and decided weather was fair to fire alfonse madden. six of the judges said no. he did the right thing. one judge said i rule for the trucking company that fired him, neil gorsuch the nominee to the supreme court. the hobby lobby case the
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decision was basic. who should decide the health care of thousands of workers? the green family that owns hobby lobby says religious belief should dominate. we should decide family planning and birth control for our families. judge gorsuch that's right own because they photo corp. to corp. is a person and as a corporation they can have sincere religious beliefs. a choice between a corporate ownership of a family and 13,000 employees and their own personal religious rights, judge gorsuch's for the corporation. kansas state university, kansas state university repressor after working for many years is diagnosed with cancer and has to go through own marrow transplants and take six months off and when she's called back to work she calls the university and she says i understand beca
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and i'm afraid to be exposed to influence at this point. they said either come back and teacher your fire but she didn't come back and they fired her and it was judge gorsuch who said their employer was right. kansas state university was right. those are insights of the value of a man who wants a lifetime appointment to niceties of c pre-and court the highest court in the land. the questions we have raised about his judgment and his values goes to the heart of whoe we are and what we want to be. we want the supreme court figurw for corporations and employers could do it on to exclude the opportunities of common people like the truck driver to have his day in court or be treated fairly? that's what it comes down to. the fundamental question of areas and justice. i'm sorry because i love the senate and i spent a good part of my life there but we haveea reached his mom. this effort to fill the course of this nation with republican a appointments even at the expense
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of violating senate traditions that are over 100 years old that has brought us this moment. some have said the nuclear option was used by senator mcconnell when he stopped america garland. what we are facing today is the fallout. mr. president i yield the floora
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>> 's mr. president. >> the democratic leader. >> this past week the american people have been exposed tont contentious debate here on then senate floor about the nomination of judge gorsuch to the supreme court. the american people have heard many arguments about the judges merits and shortcomings. they have also heard senators litigate for decades a fierce partisan wrangling over theon of composition and direction of the federal judiciary. that debate, that long debate has informed the current one about judge gorsuch. newer members may not remember all the details. senator hatch will probablyil and still, the vote on judge gorsucg and the position by the majority leader to move to change the
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rules has roped in all of that history. how did we get here? the truth is over the long history of partisan combat over judicial nominations there is blame on both sides. we believe that the blame should not be between republicans and democrats. we believe the republican party has been far more aggressive in the escalation of taxes and in the selection of extreme judicial candidates while democrats have tended to let judges in the middle. keep this in mind. the last time a republican repua confirmed to the supreme court nomination of the democratic president was 1895. nonetheless each side comes here today in full confidence that their guy is in the right.
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it was once said that quoteves antagonism is never worse than when it involves two men each of whom is convinced that he speaks for the good news and rectitude. so it is today to the republican friends feel they have cause to change the rules because the non democrats change the rules on the lower court nominees in 2013 we believe we have to change the rules and 2013 because the republicans ramped up the use of the filibusters into historic proportions for cheng -- forcing more cloture votes under president obama than during all other presidents combined. more cloture votes under obama than under george washington all the way through george bush. my republican friends think they have cause to change the rules because we are about to to deny cloture to the nomination of we believe that what republicans
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did to merrick garland was worse than a filibuster, declaring mere hours after justice scalia's death that they would deny the constitutional prerogative of a president withs 11 months left in his term and as my colleague from illinois noted did not hear two words in the long speeches senator mcconnell, mayor arvind. we could litigate these debates the next hour mentioning everything republican leader left out of his remarks. in fact i am. sure we get going to endlessly about where and with whom this all started.d. was it the bork nomination or the obstruction of justice under president clinton? was it with democrats under president bush or whenma? republicans blocked them under president obama?ud was it judge garland or judge gorsuch's?
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wherever replace the starting point of this long twilight battle over judiciary we are now at a point. these past few weeks we democrats have given judge gorsuch affair process something merrick garland was denied. debate with an open mind. i think many of them wanted to vote for judge gorsuch's at theo outset so we consented to and participated in his hearing. but over the course of the hearing during which judge pract gorsuch's employed practiced evasions and judicial platitudes the mood of our caucus shifted. without so much as a hint about his judicial philosophy without substandard explanation of howru we used crucial to questions all we had to go on was his record.
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the more we learned about judge gorsuch's record the more we didn't like judge gorsuch has shown in his rulings and isican. sightings side with corporate interests are from averageutiney americans. wh he routinely challenges the legitimacy of the judiciary. while he made his today's effort to portray himself as top when moderate his record shows far from being the kind of mainstream candidate of the supreme court that could earn 60 votes he may very well turn out to be one of the most conservative justices on the bench. an analysis of his record in "the new york times" shows he's he is the second most conservative john the bench and one that the "washington post" showed to be the most conservatives does even to the right of justice thomas. for these principled reasons
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judge gorsuch was unable to earn enough democratic support fort, confirmation. because of that the majority is about to change the standingow rules of the senate to allow all supreme court nominees to pass on a majority vote. it does not have to be this way. when a nominee doesn't get enough votes for confirmation the answer is not to change the rules. it's to change the nominee. the president of both parties has done so in similar situations. on several occasions supreme court nominees were withdrawn because they did not have enouga support. one was even withdrawn after a failed cloture vote. so this week we have endeavored to give the majority leader and
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my friends on the other side of their away out of this predicament. offered the option to sit down with democrats but democrats anr the president didn't there is enough support by far right special-interest groups. i came here to the floor each day and made an offer to meet anywhere anytime to discuss a new nominee. i hoped perhaps naïvely that we could discuss the way forward that both our parties could live with. unfortunately there were no counter offers our discussions offered by the other side. i thought the offer was meant be sincerely. democrats and republicans are caught in such a bunker mentality in this issue. i know that many of my republican friends are squeamish and uncomfortable with the path we are on. as we democrats are as well. we have reached a point where
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the level of distrust is so higl on this issue we can't even sit down and talk. my republican friends this is out of hand to the notion that democrats will ever vote to confirm a nominee to judge despite the fact that there were democratic votes for justices roberts and alito to get them over 16 despite our attempts to convince them otherwise. but make no mistake about it, for all the back and forth when history weighs what happened tol responsibility for changing the rules will fall on the republicans and leader mcconnell's shoulders. they have had other choices. they have chosen this one. no enforcement to act. they acted with free will. we offer them alternatives. they refused. they hardly entertained and the
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other possibilities. it seemed that the republican leader was from day one intent on changing the rules if he did not get his way and frankly this is how so many of our republican friends have approached the judiciary for a long time. for two decades they have done whatever it is taken to move the bench to an ideological far right position. independent experts have stated that we have a more conservative supreme court that we have had in a very long time. nothing, not even the rules, no. even the common c. of the senate seems to stop them. when the dust settles make no mistake about it. it would have been the republicans to change the rules on the supreme court. but we take no solace that history will put it on their shoulders because the consequences to the senate and for the future of the supreme
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court will be far-reaching. the nuclear option means the end of the long history of consensus on sipri -- supreme court nominations. it weakens the standing of the senate as a whole and as a check on the president's ability to shape the judiciary. in a post nuclear world that the senate and the presidency are ir the hands of the same party there is no incentive to even speak to the senate minority. that's a recipe for more complex and bad blood between the parties, not less. the cooling saucer of the senate will get considerably hotter. the 60 vote threshold on controversial matters is a hallmark in the senate. the majority leader said so himself. foster's compromise, it fosters bipartisanship. it makes the senate more deliberative. 60 votes ought to be the epigraph of the senate using
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that standard on the supremeverl court usually a controversial matter erodes the very nature of this body. bar mr. president the 60 vote bar in the senate is a guardrail of our democracy. when our body politics is veering too far to the right or to the left the answer is not to dismantle the guardrail and go over the cliff. but to turn the wheel back toward the middle. the answer is not to undo theito guardrail. it's to steer back to the middle and get a more mainstreamupreme candidate. with respect to the supreme court the 60 vote threshold operates as a guardrail against judicial extremism. with 60 votes typically a bipartisan supermajority are required for confirmation. court
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nominees tend to be in the judicial mainstream. the only nominee on the court to be confirmed with less than 60 votes was justice thomas who was widely recognized to be the most ideological extreme supreme. court justice. when it comes to the courts the dism guardrails are being dismantled. they would be more 5-4 decision. as the ranking member of the judiciary minute has pointed out. there would be less than the supreme court because it will be seen as a political body an extension of of our most divisive debates and as a result americas faith in the integrity of the court and the trust of the rule of law for. in conclusion mr. president i am
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disheartened that we are here. in the sweep of history the senate has been the place where great seemingly intractable disagreements in american politics finally give way tohavs requir have rules that require it. the story of the senate is one of fierce debate but eventual cooperation. we tend to pull back when things get too heated because we all care about this institution and its role in our national life. in this case resentments from years of partisan trench warfare were too great. stick to the senate forcing us to change senators have decided to change the senate and i worry a great deal about what that means for our future. 20 years ago i think even the
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most partisan would say the 60 vote threshold was basically. inviolable. today it will be gone for all nominations but at least not for legislation.le my friend the majority leader la has said he has no interest in removing the barrier for legislation. i agree with him wholeheartedly and i take him at his word. ensu more in future months to ensures that the 60 vote threshold for legislation remains. just as it seemed unthinkable only a few decades ago that we change the rules for nominees today's vote is a cautionary tale about how unbridled partisan escalation can o ultimately overwhelm our basicno inclination to work together and frustrate our efforts to pull
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back blocking us from steering the ship of the senate away from the rocks.d there is a reason it was dubbed the nuclear option. the most extreme measure with the most extreme consequences s and while i'm sure we'lle continue to debate what got us here i know that in 20 or 30 or histor today, the turning point in the history of the senate and the supreme court. .. principles of bipartisanship, moderation and consensus
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