tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN July 17, 2018 8:15pm-10:10pm EDT
to my colleague from oregon. mr.wyden:i thank my colleague from massachusetts for eloquent remarks, and i particularly want to thank my colleague from oregon for putting together this time to speak on issues so important to our state, as senator warren has noted, in issues important to our country. and i in the context of talking about ryan bounds am going to talk about how unfortunately the handling of the bounds nomination moves the senate even farther away from what i think the senate has always been
about, which i would describe as principled bipartisanship. now as i indicated, ryan bounds, an important judicial nominee, is being considered as a candidate from my home state of oregon, and we will vote on him here before the end of the week. and before i begin my remarks, i'd like to ask unanimous consent that the following individual, fellows in my office be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the senate: casey dreier, kathleen carlson, nick st. laurent, gabe capchuck, shannon non kaneee and derek
souther. i would ask unanimous consent that all of them be granted unanimous consent to come to the floor and all of them, mr. president, accept my apologies if i have pronounced any of the names inaccurately. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: thank you, mr. president. as i indicated, i believe that the debate about ryan bounds is not a typical debate on a typical nomination for reasons i'm going to outline tonight. and in my view, it is vital that the senate look at this nomination in a broader context, particularly as it relates to what i call the decline of principled bipartisanship here in the senate. and i want to be clear about
what i mean when i mention the word "principled bipartisanship." and the reason i describe it that way. bipartisanship born of principle. bipartisanship is not about taking each other's bad ideas. i see my friend in the chair, the president of the senate, from south dakota. i wouldn't come up to hip in the name of -- up to him in the name of bipartisanship and ask him to take a flawed idea. and i'm quite sure he wouldn't ask that of me, because i know the president of the senate well enough to know that he's had an interest over the years in bipartisanship built around principle. so bipartisanship is not about taking each other's lousy ideas.
it's about taking each other's good ideas. and the fact is the senate has certainly been very polarized, very divided this session, and yet we've been able to do it when we kept that lodestar of principled bipartisanship in mind. if you had said, mr. president, in january of 2017 that the united states senate would enact a ten-year children's health insurance program, an improved, expanded children's health insurance program, i think people would have said you're had a lose -- you're hallucinating. it can't happen.
and because my colleague, senator hatch and i talked about here was a chance to help children and save money, we were able to do something nobody thought was possible because both of us shared an interest in the well-being of children and cost-effective approaches in health care. mr. president, i know my colleague knows about this. senator crapo who sits a few seats from chairman hatch, chairman crapo, he and i lined up more than 270 forestry groups because the whole system of fighting fire was broken. and we said we've got to do something very different. we've got to end the incentives basically for raiding the fire prevention fund to put the fire out, and the problem got worse.
it didn't make any sense in south dakota. it didn't make any sense in oregon. it didn't make any sense anywhere. but because chairman crapo and i found common ground around principles that this wasn't a cost-effective approach to discriminate against fire prevention, and we saw how important it was to take a balanced approach on natural resources so we could have forest health and get fiber to the mills and protect our land, air, and water, it was an agreement based on principled bipartisanship. so two big issues. not immigration or trade that are in the headlines, but an awful lot of people in america and in our part of the world are going to benefit from the principled bipartisanship that led to an unexpected breakthrough in terms of meeting
the health care needs of our children and a transformative approach, not my words, the words of the forest service, in terms of fighting fire. the fact is the handling of these judicial nominations and ryan bounds in particular is a break, a dramatic, sharp break from this tradition of principled bipartisanship. and i'd like to say, by the way, mr. president, that in oregon, we have followed the idea of principled bipartisanship as it related to judicial nominations as well. i had the pleasure of working with two republicans very
closely on these judicial nominations. the late mark hatfield, a revered figure in oregon, chairman of the senate appropriations committee. and my former colleague, gordon smith. two republicans. nobody ever thought gordon smith and i would work together. we had had a race in 1996. i won by a little bit. he won the next one. nobody ever thought that we would work together, but we worked together on those judicial nominations literally hand in glove. a democrat and republican. senator merkley, who defeated senator smith, brought exactly the same approach to this. and he said, well, how did it work in the past? and i said, well, we had a judicial selection process that
was bipartisan, and we'd have all our offices represented, and i remember when i was the junior senator and mark hatfield was the senior senator, and bill clinton had been elected, i said, senator, i can't imagine that you and i aren't going to find common ground through our selection process and the effort to come together around judges that made sense for our state and our country. and we did. and year after year that's been the case, for almost 20 years. mr. president, i've been the senior democrat in our congressional delegation. it's been an extraordinary privilege that the people of oregon have afforded me. and year after year after year
we would come together not because we always agreed on someone's philosophy or their view on a particular issue, but because we felt in the name of fairness and principled bipartisanship, we ought to strive to find common ground and make it possible to generally send three nominations to the white house that a president would pick from. the nomination of ryan bounds is a total rejection of the idea of principled bipartisanship. and i'm going to talk a little bit more about how the selection process works, but i want to begin by making clear that i'm troubled by the incendiary,
intolerant writings by mr. bounds that came to light only after he was nominated. and i am in fact even more troubled by the fact that he concealed those writings from the independent and bipartisan oregon committee that reviews potential candidates for nomination. in my view, moving forward with this nomination in the face of those revelations is going to have regrettable and irreversible consequences. it not only tramples on oregon's bipartisan judicial selection process, as i'm going to outline and my colleague from oregon already has touched on this, it tramples on a century-old tradition of what is just collegiality, good relations among senators, courtesy, allowing home state senators to review judicial nominations.
my view is that this approach cheapens the constitutional responsibility of the senate to provide or uphold advice and consent on nominees. it has the potential to forever lower the basic standards of honesty and decency to which the senate holds a nominee. it will be a signal that a nominee can conceal information the public has a right to know. histories of prejudice and scorn, the potential nominees could find embarrassing and disqualifying, should that information come to light. and it signals that the republican majority believes the end justifies the means in the course of seating judges, a
prospect that certainly speaks to the larger debate that the senate is going to have on the supreme court in the months ahead. so, i'm going to begin by walking through a number of the issues beginning with excerpts from the writings that mr. bounds failed to disclose to our bipartisan judicial selection committee. i want to make it clear again, mr. president, i find much of what was written to be disgusting and baffling, and i am, again, especially concerned that it was concealed from the committee. first, the passage in which mr. bounds targeted ethnic minorities and expressed a dripping disdain for multicultural values. mr. bounds wrote, and i quote, during my years in our
multicultural garden of eden, i have often marveled at the odd strategies that some of the more strident racial factions of the student body employ in their attempt to, quote, heighten consciousness. promote diversity and otherwise convince us to partake of that fruit which promises to open our eyes to a p.c. version of the knowledge of good and evil. mr. bounds said, i'm mystified because these tactics seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a nazi, talking about book burning. now, mr. president and colleagues who are following this, i am the child of jewish refugees who fled nazi terror in
germany. not all of our family got out. we lost family. one of our very dear family members was gassed at auschwitz. to compare as mr. bounds did the work of organizations that promote multiculturism and tolerance here in the united states to nazi book burning rallies is beyond extreme. our diversity is a core strength of america, and the constitution protects the rights of minority americans to celebrate their diversity. mr. bounds clearly doesn't see it that way. now in an even more sarcastic passage, he wrote, and i quote, the opponent is the white nail
and his coterie of mean-spirited lackeys, oreos, twinkies, coconuts and the like, he enjoys making money, buying things just to make sure people with darker skin don't have access to them. he enjoys killing children and rebels and the death of minorities. it's your white male pro-choice, for instance, that is often proscribed for your desire for poor black and hispanic women to exploit their children as frequently as possible, unquote. these are his words. words that invent an absurd sense of victimhood based on a fictional reading of how ethnic minorities view others. i would just ask my colleagues how could somebody who wrote and
published statements like those, statements that were printed in stanford's newspaper for anybody to read, be capable of hearing a case involving matters of race in an impartial fashion? after intoxicated athletes vandalized the gay pride monument at stanford, mr. bounds wrote, and i quote, we hear of sensations, of personal violation and outrage and of suspicion that male athletes and fraternity members are bigots whose socialization patterns induce this sort of terrorism. perhaps all of this is true, but the castigation of athletes and arafat boys for -- and frat boys for antihomosexuality prejudices is predicated on this motivation for vandalism that has not been
articulated. he continued, and i quote, the vandals might think hate crime charges, fraternity members regardless of their individually demonstrated prejudices or for that matter sexual orientation face mandatory sensitivity training, and sensitivity insinuates itself a little further into the fissures of our community. so in that passage, mr. bounds somehow managed to make victims out of homophobic vandals and attack the concept of sensitivity. it's the sorts of division in american society. it's as if he believed being sensitive to minorities who are the targets of hate and prejudice on a daily basis was an unreasonable prospect.
next i will turn to mr. bounds' views on sexual assault on campus. here he wrote there is nothing really inherently wrong with the university failing to punish an alleged rapist, regardless his guilt in the absence of adequate search. there is nothing the university can do to objectively ensure that the rapist does not strike again. he continued expelling students that is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim's recovery. there is no moral imperative to risk egregious error in doing so. now, mr. president, i would be the first to say a disciplinary proceeding in the university is not a courtroom. they don't operate under the same legal standards. however, universities that receive federal dollars do have a legal obligation to protect the young women on their campuses. once again, this is something
that the nominee, ryan bounds, seems not to comprehend. so when you take these writings together, the merit of diversity, the advancement of ethnic minorities, the protection of survivors' sexual assaults, these are issues at the heart of some of the most significant cases that come before federal judges. mr. bounds' writings reflect that he held shocking views on these matters as a young adult, views that he hid by concealing the writing. there are plenty of inflammatory examples beyond those i have quoted here today and touch on additional topics. i hope senators in those -- and those following this would find
my judgment not something you can debate. this is indisputably appalling stuff. now, i believe having talked to some colleagues they might want to dismiss the writings because they came when mr. bounds was a young man and one would certainly hope that people mature as they age. i would agree with that. if mr. bounds had done two things. first, if he had disclosed the writings to our independent and bipartisan oregon committee. in other words, been candid with the bipartisan and independent committee like the oregonians who came before them for close to two decades. i don't think that's asking too
much, to be candid, to be straightforward, as those other oregonians who went on to distinguished service on the federal bench did for almost two decades. and in addition to disclosing these writings to the independent bipartisan committee, if he had recanted and apologized for these horrendous remarks. in my view, he has failed to take either action. now, when you think about this, nobody would ask mr. bounds to recant every utterance, every writing, every belief he held as a young adult. i think we all likely think that was unreasonable, and i understand that when there is a republican in the white house
and a republican in charge of the judiciary committee, i'm not going to see eye to eye with every judicial nominee who comes up for a vote, and that's why i have gone to some length tonight, mr. president, to mention that it's the senior democrats for essentially two decades, whether it be mark hatfield or gordon smith, two very thoughtful republicans, and now our colleague jeff merkley, we have always, always tried to be deferential in trying to find common ground in recognizing what party was in the white house, what party controlled the senate. so i'm not asking mr. bounds to transform himself into thurgood marshall. it's completely reasonable to expect an admission that comparing the promotion of
diversity to nazi rallies was wrong. i can only imagine, mr. president, what my late parents, both of whom fled the nazis at a very young age, and all they wanted to do was serve in our military, wear the uniform of the united states. my dad writing propaganda pamphlets that were dropped on the nazis. i can only imagine what my parents would say to mr. bounds' ideas comparing diversity to nazi rallies, dismissing the value of diversity is wrong and insisting that it's not worth protecting the victims of sexual assault because it's impossible to guarantee safety from rape ists.
but instead, mr. bounds hid these writings rather than recant, take back their content. the comments he made since they came to light in my view suggests mr. bounds sees this as a matter of clumsy word choice and youthful indiscretion. the -- he only really wrote about it after it became a threat to his nomination. i don't think it was a true apology. it's as if he believed he can waive the writings off as a messy, isolated little episode from the past. in my view, and something i'm going to talk about going forward, mr. president, nominees for the federal bench must be held to a higher standard. you are up for a lifetime appointment on a powerful
federal court. you have to be truthful and forthcoming in your nomination process. ryan bounds has not, and that ought to be a reasonable judgment from what i have outlined thus far. now i want to touch op the second important issue, and that's the way this nomination has literally trampled on our bipartisan selection process for judicial nominees. and as i have said, mr. president, i am proud for the better part of two decades, prospective judicial nominees have been identified and vetted by our bipartisan committee made up of oregonians from across the state, from all over the legal community. as i indicated, it was especially important to me to partner with my republican
colleagues to ensure that all sides had a voice in this issue. in fact, even before i came to the senate because i was the senior democrat in our deligation, then as a member of the house, i always wanted to hear senator hatfield's views, to talk about what he thought was in oregon's interests. when there has been a vacancy on the bench, our selection committee performs thorough -- a thorough statewide search for candidates. it conducts very rigorous interviews. it provides a list of recommended potential nominees to oregon senators. senator merkley and i reviewed these recommendations, and we respect that not everyone on the list is going to be somebody we would have chosen ourselves.
they are not all people we would agree with 100%. after our review, the two of us submit a short list to the president for his consideration. for us, this is the beginning of how we put advise and consent in practice, and when the trump administration came to office, senator merkley and i wrote to the white house counsel to guarantee he was aware of our long-standing bipartisan selection process. as part of the independent committee work, candidates are asked to disclose anything in their past that would have a negative impact on their potential nomination. it ought to be obvious to any lawyer, even to anybody with a casual interest in american law and history that the incendiary writing, particularly about minorities, would qualify as
potentially threatening to a nomination. this was the point at which, this is the exact point at which mr. bounds withheld any and all information about his writings. now, it's not as if mr. bounds simply declined to look back far enough into his past when he was interviewed. in fact, mr. bounds cited certain activities from his precollege days going back to high school in an effort to paint a picture of diversity and tolerance. so the reality is he misled the committee by omitting the writings that i have described tonight. when his writings came to light in february, five of the selection committee's seven members, including the chair,
said they would have changed their decision to include mr. bounds among their recommended candidates. that's a really important statement. mr. president, it's not widely known and always will say in the newspaper, the distinguished president of the senate recommended so and so. the president chose his recommendation. we know that's generally not the case. we forward a list of individuals, usually three, thar bipartisan committee felt would be qualified to serve on the bench. and in the case of mr. bounds, when his writings, the ones that he neglected to tell the committee about, came to light,
five of the selection committee's seven members, including the chair, said that they would have changed their decision to include mr. bounds among the recommended candidates. our bar association, our local bar association wrote that mr. bounds' writing, and i quote, expresses insensitive, intolerant views toward racial and ethnic minorities, campus sexual victims and the lgbtq community. the association statement went on to say that it, quote, strongly disavows the views expressed in those articles, the ones i have read tonight, mr. president, as racist, misogynistic and homophobic. i'll repeat the last part. racist, misogynistic, homophobic and disparaging survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
those are not my words. those are the words of mr. bounds' local bar association based in portland. the association, in addition, requested mr. bounds resign from the chairmanship of its equity, diversity and inclusion committee, which he complied. other member groups of the oregon legal community added their voices and urged the leaders of the judiciary committee to turn to other potential nominees. the leaders of the oregon women lawyers and the oregon asian pacific american bar association wrote the following: these were not comments from the twitter sphere or errant social media posts. they were well thought out, carefully constructed published articles in which bounds repeatedly diminished, mocked and advocated wholeheartedly against the principles of inclusion for which our organizations have fought.
mr. president, that's really an important point. mr. bounds wasn't sitting down at his latop, his ipad and pounding out a couple hundred characters. he was thinking carefully and published articles that he clearly spent a lot of time trying to get the words so it reflected what was on his mind, and people have recognized it. no 280 characters for those articles. the oregon hispanic bar association, the lgbtq bar association of oregon wrote the following: we believe mr. bounds' failure to disclose those writings and conduct related to that demonstrates mre appropriate judgment and discernment to faithfully uphold and apply the laws of the united states of america. these, mr. president, are the
voices of oregon's legal community. the nominations process is supposed to be responsive to those voices. apparently none of what i have gotten into tonight has been of any interest whatsoever to the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, the majority leader, or the white house, because they simply moved forward with the bounds nomination anyway. and really there was no substantive discussions with them at all. it appears now that the white house simply had no interest in respecting the bipartisan 20-year-long history of tackling these nominations in a way that reflects principled bipartisanship. mr. bounds was their choice from the beginning, and no
revelation, no red flag, no matter how big was with going to change them. our independent group of experts, people with bipartisan roots that go back decades had no interest in delay. but, mr. president, blowing up a decades-old bipartisan tradition is bad, then blowing up a tradition that dates back more than a century is even worse. for 101 years, going back to chairman charles culbertson from texas, the judiciary committee sought advice from senators from their home states by returning what is known as blue slips. it is the definition of
senatorial collegiality, courtesy, if you will, an effort to make sure that all felt they were going to be heard. the committee sends blue slips out to home state senators when a nomination comes up. at that point the home state senators have a few options. once they review the nomination, they can return the blue slip with a positive or negative recommendation. the committee moves forward. or the home state senators can withhold the blue slip. senator merkley and i withheld our blue slips. we have not consented to a hearing, a markup or a debate on the floor. and the reason we have done that is because mr. bounds purposely misled the independent oregon committee that reviewed his candidacy by concealing the disturbing writings from his young adulthood. in my view, that's exactly the
way the blue-slip process is supposed to work. history shows that this tradition has benefited both sides with a check on the power of the president and a moderating democratic force on the judiciary. it helps to ensure that administrations are not seating flawed nominees or extremist judges whose views are simply far from the mainstream of the lives that they have considerable power to change if confirmed. in fact, let me quote a letter from the entire senate republican conference sent to the last president at the very beginning of his term in 2009. what that means is that whole side of the chamber in 2009, every member of the senate republican caucus sent to
president obama at the beginning of his term in 2009 a letter with one of the very first lines saying unfortunately the judicial appointments process has become needlessly acrimonious. we would like to improve this process, and we know you would as well. so at a time when this side in the chamber, everybody over there was out of power, and they had no choice but to appeal to the other party's goodwill. they went ahead and struck a bipartisan court. their letter described the nominations process as shared constitutional responsibility. they wrote that dating back to the nation's founding the senate has, quote, been a unique constitutional responsibility to provide or withhold the advice
and consent on nominations. the principle is senatorial consultation or senatorial courtesy is rooted in the special responsibility and its application dates back to the administration of george washington. they continued, and i quote, democrats and republicans have acknowledged the importance of maintaining this principle which allows individual senators to provide valuable insights into their constituents' qualifications for federal service. and here is the heart of the letter that came from this side of the body. we hope your administration -- this is all of my colleagues on that side, on the republican side -- we hope your administration, the obama administration will consult with us as it considers possible nominations to the federal courts from our states. regretfully, if we're not consulted on and approve of a nominee from our states, the
republican conference will be unable to support moving forward on that nominee. so there you have the heart of the fury that we represent tonight, mr. president. when a new democratic administration came into office, my republican colleagues sprang into action to defend the blue-slip process. that letter was sent on march 2, 2009, to president obama, and our colleague, senator leahy, was then the chairman of the judiciary committee. the letter clearly indicates that leader mcconnell and his republican colleagues believe that nominations should not go forward without blue-slips having been returned. that was when there was a democrat in the oval office, a democrat held a gavel in the judiciary committee. they had the power to tell the republicans in the minority to get lost. take a hike. democrats did no such thing.
we upheld the blue-slip tradition on this side of the chamber, where my good friend, senator merkley and i sit. we went along with the unanimous request from that side of the chamber in honoring blue-slips. there were no hearings on kwraourbl -- judicial nominations when a democrat held the gavel in the judiciary committee, when neither home state senator had consented. in fact, the judiciary chairman, senator leahy, has emphasized he went above and beyond with several committee leaders before him had done to respect the rights of the republican minority. somebody watching in the gallery or on tv, somebody who is hoping to see the congress pick up again on what i've described,
this preupbd bipartisanship, i was probably to hear republicans are operating with the same bipartisan comity now that they're in power. those people are in for some serious disappointment. if the senate approves the bounds nomination, it will be the first time in more than a century that a judge has been confirmed without a blue slip from either home state senator. the fact that mr. bounds wrote these appalling things i've described ought to at least slowed this nomination down to be considered. for him to have hidden the writings is disqualifying. i don't think the matter can be ignored or wished away. and the fact that these writings are embarrassing and reflect poorly on him in retrospect does not in any way give him a license to conceal them.
in my view, my colleagues and majority all look at this issue the same way. the republican majority working hand in hand with the trump administration is now on the verge of breaking a century of bipartisan tradition to seat a nominee with very, very serious red flags. and in fact, chairman grassley has now held hearings on four circuit court nominees who didn't have blue slips from one or both of their home state senators. recently leader mcconnell changed his tune on what the blue slip was about. he was quoted as saying, and i quote, the blue slip ought to be a notification of how you're going to vote. not the opportunity to blackball. i've got two reactions to that. senator merkley and i have been called a variety of things over the years, but i don't believe anybody has ever said we're
interested in blackballing people. we're interested in doing our jobs. we are interested in carrying out our constitutional responsibilities and our constitutional responsibilities to our constituents. second, blue slips have never been simply an indication of how senators will vote. mr. mcconnell -- leader mcconnell knows it. the letter he and his colleagues sent in 2009 is proof. so they invent this new interpretation of how the process should work demonstrates, as i indicated, a republican majority has changed the rules of the game. my colleagues on the other side ought to be aware of this new responsibility because of how the administration, the majority leader, and the judiciary committee handled the bounds nomination, this, colleagues, is going to be the end of the
blue-slip process. this is lights out, lights out for a process that ensured fairness for each senator. and i'd wager that when the next democratic administration comes in and democrats hold the gavels in the senate, a republican leader demanding a say in judicial nominations is going to find it hard not to be treated like a take-out menu shoved unsolicited under the door way. mr. president, i have outlined the letter that my republican colleagues sent to president obama in 2009. it talked about a shared constitutional responsibility, but the administration seems to
define advice and consent as senators rubber stamping whatever nominations are sent their way. this is a historic moment, and i think it is part, as i indicated, of a larger context, a pattern of the majority violating norms, misleading the public, bending rules to their absolute limits to reshape the judiciary and to seat judges that are far, far, far from the mainstream. justice scalia passed away unexpectedly with 237 days left in president obama's second term. the process of deciding on a nominee is still the open seat, president obama is something he didn't have to do, something that upset many democrats, progressive democrats. he specifically chose a moderate
nominee as a show of good faith. after all, in 2010, when another seat opened up, my friend who chairs the finance committee called justice garland a fine man, a consensus nominee. what a difference a few years makes. judge garland didn't even get a hearing in 2016. the republican majority in the senate ran out the clock on his nomination. now when republicans control the white house and the senate, they change the rules here in the senate so they could confirm supreme court justices without needing a single democratic vote, a clear, clear double standard. mr. president, i'm going to ask that the remainder of my remarks be put in the record and close with just one last point. there are values on the line now
that are important to the people from my state and to americans, particularly the right of all american women to make their own choices about their reproductive health and their health care. the roe case is settled law. it's been that way for 45 years. but now there is really a prospect of it being turned back. and the poor and the vulnerable have the most to lose. these are all issues that are part of the broader con text i have wanted to address here tonight. i'm not sure if senator merkley was here at this particular
moment. i see my colleagues, but my time has expired. my colleagues have been very patient. we had a bipartisan selection committee for judges. the late mark hatfield, gordon smith, senator merkley, predecessor, democrat, republican, all of whom said that we don't want to bring the same vitriolic discourse to judicial selection that constitutes so much of the public debate today. what we sought to do in the oregon congressional delegation, merkley, mark hatfield, gordon smith, is we sought to buttress
the public trust. what we are seeing now in oregon and with the judges that are being given such short shrift, such unfair treatment in my view raises the question of whether the current structure of america's courts can survive. that's what's at stake in these, and i think what we are discussing tonight is going to be only a preview of the tense debate on the judiciary that's sure to come. i think we're capable of better. oregon has shown it for two full decades as it relates to judicial selection. i urge the senate to return to that kind of collegial process exemplified by the blue slip,
exemplified by the oregon bipartisan selection committee, and until that happens, i will have to urge a no vote on the bounds nomination, and with that, i thank my colleagues for their patience and i yield the floor. mr. casey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: i rise tonight not just -- i think about 24 hours since the news broke across the airwaves about what the president was saying and what he was not saying in helsinki with vladimir putin just a few feet away from him. that was a terrible moment for our country, but in the aftermath of that, folks came together from across the country, across all kinds of usual lines of division.
democrats and republicans came together and expressed both outrage at the insult, but also i think a sense of solidarity about the path forward, that this moment of crisis in our national security has to be met with bipartisan consensus. and thank goodness that has prevailed so far, and we have a long way to go, but that was a good moment for the country after a very bad moment. i'm not here tonight to talk about that, but i wanted to point to it as an example of the sides coming together on a big issue. i think there have been other moments this year. at one point when we passed appropriations legislation, there was a strong investment in national security, national defense, but also investments on priorities like education and health care and the opioid crisis and child care, national
institutes of health, on and on, great investments for our country that will help us grow and make us stronger. the farm bill recently passed the senate. that was overwhelmingly bipartisan. so there have been good moments, but i'm afraid on the judiciary, we have had unfortunately the opposite. i have had the privilege since i have been in the senate to work with -- as senator wyden referred to earlier, work with colleagues to have nominations for the united states district court in pennsylvania for the eastern district, the middle district, and the western district. that's been a collaborative process. since 2011, working with senator toomey, we're on opposite sides of the aisle. we have confirmed, i guess it's 14 judges because we collaborate, and there is give and take and there is review and scrutiny. and then ultimately consensus to allow a candidate to go forward. no federal judge in those years
would go forward without the signing of the blue slip that's been referred to tonight by both senators. it happened in the past when there were two republican senators, but now with a split delegation, that tradition continues in our state, and it's a good tradition. it's the right way to do it. that tradition prevailed until recently when it came to appellate court judges. in my case, the -- the united states court of appeals for the third circuit which includes pennsylvania, new jersey, delaware, and the virgin islands. even at the very end of the obama administration, my colleague from pennsylvania objected and would not return a blue slip. that nomination for the third circuit at that time did not go forward. i respected the blue slip that my colleague decided not to sign. the obama administration
respected it, and that nomination didn't go forward. i didn't like it, but that's what the agreement was. now we're into this new world where just recently, just as thm oregon are talking about what's happened in the ninth circuit, in the northwestern corner of our country, in the third circuit where i live and where i work, we had a nomination go forward without a blue slip by -- signed by me. so my point of view was disregarded by both the white house and the senate judiciary committee, in contravention of years of tradition, and not tradition for the sake of tradition, but that practice because it allows you to arrive at a consensus pick that both parties have to agree on. that is not good for the senate, it's not good for the judiciary, and it's ultimately not good for
the american people, because if one party has total control, as the republican party has now with both houses of congress and the administration, you're going to get judges with only one point of view, and that leads me to my last point for the night which will take a few minutes, but i want to make sure this gets on the record. another piece of bad news in terms of the judiciary, unlike that other good news about consensus in other areas of our work, is what has happened in the -- under this administration with regard to the selection process for the supreme court. this has never happened before where during a campaign, organizations -- in this case, only two, two organizations come together and present a list of names. that list of names is the essence of a bargain between a candidate and those groups, and
then that's carried forward in the administration. and now we have a list of just 25 names, 25. the last time we checked, there were about 700 federal judges in the united states of america. the president could pick any one of those federal judges. many of them -- i don't know how many, but many of them chosen by republican presidents. many of them very conservative or conservative, some moderate. but apparently the only way you get on that list is you have to be hard right. you have to pass whatever tests are applied by the heritage foundation and the federalist society. this list is -- has been designed to do the bidding of corporate special interests who are determined to handle health care in a fashion that none of us would want to handle. turn back the power to make decisions on health care back to
insurance companies. it's a corporate agenda that crushes unions or seeks to crush unions, that represent working men and women and promotes policies that will leave, in my judgment, the middle class further behind. so any judge on this list, which i would argue is a corrupt bargain between the candidate and those groups and then now the president and those groups, any judge on this list is fruit of a corrupt process. a corrupt process. just by way of example, the heritage foundation, that's an extreme right-wing organization. that organization just released a new proposal to end protections for people with preexisting conditions to gut medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, and children. they currently -- they recently hosted a press conference for republican attorneys general who are trying to eliminate those protections through the courts.
just in one state, pennsylvania, more than 5.3 million people have preexisting conditions. almost half the population of pennsylvania. that 5.3 million people includes over 643,000 children who have preexisting conditions. so they want to take us back, heritage wants to take us back to those dark days where you could be denied treatment or coverage because of a preexisting condition. i don't know many pennsylvanians who want to go back to those days, to turn back the clock in that fashion. the heritage foundation also called labor unions, which of course helped build the greatest middle class ever known to man. heritage called unions cartels, car tells. in my state, from the formation of the first permanent pennsylvania local labor union in philadelphia in 1792 through
the latimer massacre in northeastern pennsylvania one county away from me to the homestead strike in western pennsylvania, in all those struggles, pennsylvania workers have led the way to ensure that working people have basic rights, good wages, and of course benefits like health care. and yet you have organizations in the united states of america that want to rip away protections that people recently gained when this comes to health care. -- when it comes to health care. the last thing, the very last thing, working men and women in pennsylvania need is another corporate judge on an increasingly corporate court. here's some evidence for that assertion. a review by the constitutional accountability center shows the consequences of the courts corporate tilt finding that the chamber of commerce has had a
success rate of 70% in cases before the roberts court since 2006, a significant increase over previous courts that were thought to be conservative, i guess. in the most recent term, the court sided with corporate interests nine out of ten cases in which the u.s. chamber of commerce advocated for a position. i was elected by the people of pennsylvania, i think, to represent all pennsylvanians and to advance policies and especially when this comes to making decisions about judges and justices, to make decisions in a fashion that would give meaning and integrity to what's inscribed on the supreme court, equal justice under law. i was not sent here to genuflect to the hard right or to any organization, any organization in this case. i was certainly not sent here to genuflect to the hard right with
regard to groups funded by corporate america. president lincoln said it best about what it hoped our nation would be. he called on our nation to work to ensure, quote, that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth, unquote. it seems that some in washington today -- and i have to say the administration with them, with this nomination to the supreme court most recently announced -- are determined to pack the court with a government of, by, and for extreme-right corporate special interests. so i oppose the president's nomination because it is a corrupt bargain, as i said before, with the far right, big corporations, and what can only be called washington special interests. so on a night like tonight when we're talking about major
matters of justice, how our courts will function, whether they'll be balanced, whether they'll be mainstream judges and justices, i would hope we would go back to that-month-old which still -- that model which still pre-in some cases, collaboration between and among democrats and republicans. it is know being jettisoned at the appellate court level, certainly in the third circuit and now apparently in the ninth circuit and several others. and of course on the supreme court, there's no consultation. there's consultation with two groups and that's it and maybe some others who get their -- who get to be in the room. but if you are a conservative judge in america today, appointed by a republican, you need not apply to become a supreme court justice. you've got to be hard right enough to be on that list of 25. you could be one of those hundreds of conservative judges, but you're not going to get in the 25 because you haven't
demonstrated that you're hard right enough. i think it pains all of us that we're at this point. there were days not too long ago when presidents consulted with both parties, before -- before the -- -- before a supreme court nomination. we new england that. that's as clear -- that's on the record as clear as day. but now we have this list and only the list for the supreme court -- now we have blue slips that are being sent out of win do or not honored when it comes to the appellate courts and i hope that this kind of cancer doesn't go all the way to the federal district courts. but i think all of us wish we were in a different place. and i hope we can return to those traditions which lead to consensus and i think which
leads to bipartisan collaboration and ultimately i think better fulfillment of that goal and that value of equal justice under law. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise today to join many of my colleagues who have come to the floor to speak about our country's third branch of government, and that is our courts. senators have a solemn obligation to advise and consent on the president's nominees to our federal courts, and as a member of the judiciary committee, i take that obligation very seriously. but as senator merkley, who is heading up this evening and has brought a number of people together, says it is not just an obligation of members of the judiciary committee. it is also an obligation of senators when they look at who
the judges are coming out of their particular state, that we have to make sure that this is a person, whoever the nominee is, who represents our country as an independent voice and someone who respects precedent as a member of the federal bench, whether it is on the supreme court level or whether it is on the circuit or federal district court level. in the united states senate, mr. president, we are here to do the people's business and not the president's business. this is an important job, particularly when this comes to nominees to our nation's highest court. the next member of the supreme court will make decisions that will affect the lives of people across the country for generations. in the last decades, the supreme court has decide who had you can marry, where you can go to school, and for people like my grandpa who was a miner, who worked 1,500 feet underground
his whole life, how safe your workplace is. those are decisions that effect people in their lives. and the next justice of the supreme court will make decisions that will affect the lives of people across the country, determining whether health insist can deny coverage to people who are sick or have a preexisting condition and whether women's rights are protected. these are all cases that will be coming up to the highest court of the land. it is for this reason that it is critical that here in the senate we do our jobs and thoroughly examine judge kavanaugh's record. this is part of our jobs in evaluating supreme court nominees regardless of which party controls the white house. in fact, when justice elena kagan's p nomination was considered, as she had worked for an administration, approximately 171,000 pages of documents were made available. given justice kavanaugh's years of service on the d.c. circuit, as well as his previous work in the bush administration, we will
need to do due diligence in reviewing the record. that is part of our jobs. for a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court, the american people deserve no less. this is especially important because, for me, many of judge calf knauss past rulings are very -- kavanaugh's past rulings are very troubling. one area is related to judge kavanaugh's record on consumer issues, since i have done a lot of work in this area, and of course i'm concerned about the executive power issue. i would say that's a paramount concern as well as some of his other decisions regarding health care and women's health care. but i want to discuss the consumer issues because i don't think they get a lot of attention and they should. they matter to people in their everyday lives. so judge kavanaugh ruled in his current job that the consumer financial protection bureau, which protects consumers when this comes to everything from credit cards, loans, and
mortgages, he would rule that it was unconstitutional. he also went out of his way to dissension against net neutrality. judge kavanaugh also wrote a dissent that would have limited a woman's access to contraception. and he ruled against allowing a woman the right to control her own reproductive health decisions in a decision that was later reversed by the full d.c. circuit. we also know that judge kavanaugh has criticized the case called chevron, which ensures health and safety rules stay on the books. it's about how you consider agency decisions and the experts in the agencies. as i noted in justice gorsuch's hearing, overturning chevron would have titanic, real-world. requirements against lead-based paint and clean water protections for our great lakes. finally, as i noted at the beginning, i'll sort of end my discussion of his rulings as i
began, there are concerning implications to judge calf knauss writings which -- kavanaugh's writings by support an expansionist view of executive power. it is an important moment at this moment in our country's history, at this moment when we just saw the president of the united states stand next to vladimir putin and not raise any of the issues publicly that i thought should be raised, where we have members of both parties gravely criticizing those decisions. well, what i can say to the people of our state is, no matter what happens in the white house, our founding fathers set up a system of checks and balances. there is a check because of the courts. they can make decisions when they interpret our constitution. and there's a check because of the house of representatives and the united states senate. well, what does judge kavanaugh say about this? kids are told when they're in school -- and i know i was told
this -- that no one is above the law. but decisions and writings that he has made would not lead you to that same decision. that simple lesson that we were taught. when you look at the article that he wrote for the university of minnesota law review as well as one in the georgetown law review, he has an incredibly expansive view of executive power. he has said that we shouldn't even have the special counsel process when in fact members of the senate, including those on the judiciary committee, democrats and republicans, have gone the other way and said, yes, we want the check of a special counsel investigation when it's necessary, as it has been found to be in this case by the trump justice department, but we want to make sure that that special counsel is protected. that's what the judiciary committee said. we passed a bill out of the committee that strengthened that law, which made it harder for someone to fire the special
counsel. but yet judge kavanaugh in his writings said the president should be able to fire the special counsel. he also said that a president should be able to deem whether or not a law is constitutional. these are certainly questions that i will be asking about in the judiciary committee. and i think we have a right to do that. yes, we can ask about a case that is before the court, but i have seen numerous nominees, including supreme court nominees before i got in the senate, answer questions about things like brown v. board of education, the griswold v. connecticut case. justice alito answer add question about that case. a number of the nominees on the supreme court today have answered questions about settled precedent, and i believe we should be able to ask judge kavanaugh those questions and receive answers. especially for cases that are 45 years old.
people can have personal views on issues. everyone does. judges do. but they have an obligation to follow the constitution, to follow the law, and to respect precedent, and that's going to be our job so that the american people can understand where this nominee is coming from, first by reviewing all those documents that i talked about that are sure to come our way, and then secondly to ask the questions that the american people expect us to ask and get the answers that they deserve to have. mr. president, i would also like to briefly address one of the two circuit nominees that are before the senate this week because even as we review the president's supreme court nominee, we cannot lose sight of the importance of our lower federal courts. the overwhelming majority of cases are decided by these lower courts. that is why it is imperative to have judges who are fair and committed to equal justice under the law for all americans. one senate tradition that has
been key to the appointment of good judges is the blue slip. the blue slip is a check and balance that has promoted cooperation and better decision-making about judges across party lines. it is for that reason that i am deeply concerned that the ninth circuit nominee now on the senate floor will be receiving a vote despite not having a blue slip from either home state senator. prior to his nomination, no judge has ever been voted out of the judiciary committee since i've been there without a blue slip from either home state senator since the tradition has been in existence. we have said there should be a blue slip. there is no blue slip in this case. and if mr. bounds is confirmed, he will be the first judge in history to be appointed to the federal bench without a blue slip from either senator from his home state. this is all the more concerning, as noted by senatormarkly and -- by senator merkley and wyden because they tried to work with the white house to find a qualified nominee to fill this vacancy.
they convene add bipartisan committee of oregon lawyers to review applications, to make recommendations. this committee included attorneys chosen by those two senators as well as by republican congressman gregg walden. this is how judicial vacancies in or have been filled for the past two beings did, including the time when former republican senator gordon smith was in office. so this is extremely unfortunate that my colleagues have disregarded this process. i respect them very much. i think they should have had a say. i think they should have been consulted. and i think we should follow the blue slip process. thank you very much, mr. president, and i yield the floor.
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i rise alongside my colleagues tonight to speak on two incredibly controversial circuit judge nominees the senate considers this week. the first, ryan bounds of the ninth circuit, has not received the approval of either home state senator. the majority is unfortunately moving forward with his nomination anyway, breaking a tradition that goes back 100 years, a bipartisan tradition, a moderating tradition, a tradition we need. this is merely the latest example of the majority's sustained effort to toss aside the rules and the customs that have guided the judicial
nomination process for 100 years. in may, michael brennan became the first circuit court nominee to be confirmed over the blue slip objection of a home state senator. if judge brennan's confirmation wasn't proof enough, the majority by moving to vote on bounds over the objection of both oregon senators is signaling loud and clear that future presidents need not work with senators to ensure the selection of consensus nominees to fill these lifetime appointments. for the past 20 years, including during the bush administration, the oregon senators have convened a bipartisan judicial panel to interview candidates. although bounds was one of the candidates approved by the committee, it was later discovered that bounds misled the committee about a number of highly controversial articles he wrote while in college. the majority, unfortunately, is moving forward on his nomination
anyway. five of the seven members of the committee, a bipartisan committee, including the chair, said they would not have recommended bounds if they knew of his writings at the time they interviewed. the majority is unfortunately moving forward with his nomination anyway. in light of these inflammatory writings -- and they were truly inflammatory and nasty, unbecoming of someone being a town circuit judge let alone a court of appeals judge. in light of these writings and the bipartisan committee's assertion they should be disqualifying, senator merkley and wyden correctly and wisely refused to support his nomination. but the majority is moving forward on his nomination anyway. and i might say about bounds, he's not a judge. he doesn't have much of a history. he practiced in private law firm. it seems he's a member of the
federalist society. hard right. that's his only real equal -- real qualification. is he a thoughtful jurist? obviously not. is he a moderate jurist, neither far right nor far left? obviously not. and this is what we are doing on the bench these days. the hard right, the federalist society, which is probably in the 10% furthest to the right in america chooses the judges and nobody objects on the republican side. now, another nominee, mr. andrew oldham for the fifth circuit, he is even more disturbing for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. mr. oldham's career leaves no doubt that if confirmed, he would be the living embodiment of a judicial ideologue. this is a hard-right warrior. he helped defend a texas law that would make it virtually impossible for women in rural areas to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed freedom to make decisions about
their reproductive health. it was a law designed to tell rural women they couldn't have freedom of choice. it was an absurd law, struck down by the supreme court in 2016. this is the kind of man we're putting on the bench. as the texas solicitor general, he defended the state's extremely restrictive photo i.d. laws, which a federal court of appeals ruled created unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, had an i am permissible discriminatory effect against hispanics and african americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. the purpose that this nominee had in this to be prevent poor people and people of color from
voting. there was very little evidence of any fraud. this is the kind of person we're adding to the bench? mr. oldham helped lead the charge on litigation, challenging the constitutionality of our health care law, a law that most americans support. he lost to the supreme court once again. now the republicans want to give him a promotion, putting him in a position to rule on future cases concerning the law. here's what mr. oldham said about the e.p.a. it's illegitimate, and he repeatedly helped texas join oklahoma, then-oklahoma attorney general scott pruitt to sue the e.p.a. let me repeat -- oldham considers the e.p.a. illegitimate. the right-wing media has gone crazy about abolish i.c.e.? and meanwhile the senate republican majority is about to vote to give a lifetime appointment to a man who wants to abolish the e.p.a. abolish the e.p.a. is a position
i think none, none of my republican friends would dare support in public, would dare vote for, get rid of completely. the clean water act, the clean air act. but they are happy to vote for a judge who believes in it, and might help do it -- and that might help do it for them. mr. oldham is so far out of the political mainstream, he doesn't represent the average republican let alone the average american, and i hope his nomination will be objected to. the truth is bounds and oldham are part of a decade-long campaign by the hard right to install conservative ideologues on the federal bench. they started it. bork did not start this. it started when george w. bush became president, and his deal with the hard right is i will put these new nominees on the bench horrido logs. they don't want to interpret law. they want to make law.
and that's who the republicans have been doing -- and that's what the republicans have been doing. when clinton was president, when obama was president, most of the judges they chose were moderate to liberal. they were not extreme. but the hard right has such a grip on the republican party these days, the federalist society, the heritage foundation, way out of the mainstream. most americans don't believe in repealing roe v. wade, the mission of the federalist society. most americans don't believe the government should get out of health care altogether, medicare, medicaid, a.c.a. the goal of the heritage foundation. but they put these judges forward. president trump has gone along with their lists of their nominees, and unfortunately you don't hear a peep out of our republican colleagues as the hard right hijacks the judicial bench in america. the goal of this campaign is to achieve by judicial fiat what republicans have been unable to
accomplish through legislation. this hard-right agenda, extremely pro -- extremely antigun safety must be pursued through the courts, because the hard right, the koch brothers and all of these hard-right groups realize that they never get things through even a body like the senate where they have a majority of the republicans or the house. they want the one nonelected branch to turn the clock back decades if not centuries. it will hurt america. it will fractionalize america. the middle class will be worse off, but the hard right knows that these types of nominations don't get much focus. and at the apoto sis -- apotheosis is the nomination of brett kavanaugh as well. kavanaugh was groomed as a
partisan lawyer in bush years. he was added to a list of 25 judges, vetted and approved by these two groups. the heritage foundation, dedicated to getting rid of medicaid, getting rid of medicare, getting government out of health care altogether and legislate people struggle, legislate those parents who have kids with illnesses never get insurance. and the federalist society, dedicated by its leader, his own admission to repealing roe v. wade. an analysis of the judicial philosophy of kavanaugh by professor lee epstein found that kavanaugh would be the second second-most conservative justice on the court, even to the right of justice gorsuch, second only to justice thomas, one of the most extremely conservative judges who has ever been on the bench. the political -- that political and judicial history is key to understanding how kavanaugh would rule as a member of the supreme court on issues like health care and reproductive
rights on which the president has been crystal clear about picking judges who are anti-roe and hovel to health care, judge kavanaugh will have an enormous and unfortunate impact if confirmed. and after what the president has said, after knowing what the federalist society and hijacker foundations stand for, does anyone think judge kavanaugh would have been nominated by those parties if they weren't sure he would repeal or dramatically limit a.c.a. or roe v. wade? judge kavanaugh, like mr. oldham, like mr. bounds, is outside of the political mainstream, dramatically outside, even outside of the republican mainstream. part and parcel, the hard right campaign which republicans bow down and go along with to install conservative ideologues on the bench. so i'd say to my fellow americans, no matter what your political persuasion, democrat, republican, independent,
everyone should want a more representative process for choosing judges and supreme court judges in the senate. instead, humming in the background of the senate's more news worthy business, the republican majority has confirmed a conveyor belt of nakedly partisan ideological judges to the bench, senators of both parties in an america that wants moderation, should lock arms and shut a stop to it. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i so appreciate my colleagues from minnesota and from new york coming to the floor to -- to share their insights on this challenge that we're in where 101-year-old convention is about to be
smashed to smithereens by a majority and there is a determination to pack the court and corrupt the constitutional application of law. determination to have judges that are not at all interested in the way that people envision of our nation, not at all interested in the rights of workers, but rather twist each provision to enable the powerful in our country to repress the workers of our country, to enable the interests of our country to simply want to roll on on a commercial plane, to take away the ability of consumers to get a fair shake, take away the ability of
individuals to have fair access to health care, take away one right after another after another on behalf of the wealthy and the well connected. this corruption, this legislating from the bench that's occurring from the far right absolutely flies in the face of the fundamental nature of our constitution. but here it is. not only in their quest to the powerful and the catbird seat to rule over everyone else in this country, to undermine the fundamental strategy of the distribution and equal voice principle that jefferson so forcefully articulated or even willing to run roughshod over their own rights in the future. because each and every person who votes for a judge who has no blue slip, not one, not a single
blue slip, is saying that in the future they are giving up the ability to be consulted when it is an individual who has been assigned to their state for the circuit court. that's how intense they are at this moment of dancing to the tune played by the koch brothers and the federalist society. it's really one of the saddest things we have seen in this series of abuses of the process here in the u.s.a. this nomination ends a tradition that has served our country well for over a century. it ends a tradition that just a brief span of time ago my
colleagues across the aisle were pleading with the democratic majority to respect their rights. but not now, not now. this is one of those cases where in the transition from minority to majority, views have been flipped 180 degrees. traditions since 1917 when senator thomas hardwick objected to president wilson's district court nominee, writing his objection on a blue slip of paper. that's where the phrase comes from. not since then has any judge for the circuit court or district court ever been confirmed without a blue slip. in 2009 my republican colleagues wrote a letter.
all signed onto it. they wrote, we expect the blue-slip tradition to be observed evenhandedly and regardless of party affiliation. i ask you, which member across the aisle has the consistency to stand up and honor the very principle they asked to be honored when they were in the minority? who? we're waiting, we're waiting for just one to come to the floor and be consistent in honoring the principle they begged the democrats to honor when we were in charge. and they'd be sure when the tide turns. they'd again say, well, suddenly they love this tradition. won't the democrats won't again honor the tradition that they begged us to honor in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and
2014. they begged us to honor. they're going to be back asking again, but you cannot expect that after smashing this tradition you can ask to have it back. so when it will come your turn, if you don't have the integrity today to honor the principle you begged for yesterday, don't let us hear you begging for it in the future. what did people have to say in the past? well, we had the former chair, former chair of the judiciary committee, but he was chair at the time, 2014. he said, weakening or limiting the blue-slip process would sweep aside the last remaining check on the president's judicial appointment power.
that's what the republican chair said when president obama was in office. he said, anyone serious about the senate's constitutional advice and consent role knows how disastrous such a move would be. where's one of my colleagues today coming down to say how disastrous it would be? we had our majority leader saying just recently that republicans will now treat a blue slip as simply notification of how you're going to vote. so is that the way each and every one of you wants it to be from this forward, that when you have had the privilege in the past of weighing in on an individual who was assigned to
your state, no more will you be treated differently from any other senator because you are just being -- given a chance to indicate how you're going to vote. that's what the majority leader says; going to reduce your senate prerogative to. which means it's gone. it's no different than any other member here. there was a whole logic behind this blue-slip process. a logic that each circuit should have input from senators whose states were represented on those circuit courts and that when the individual came from those respective states, it made sense to get the insight of the senators from that state. not have the decisions made by your particular circuit court, made by somebody from across the
nation. but that's what we're headed to now. now, this nomination, it was tainted from the start because the president didn't consult not with our senior senator from oregon, senator wyden, not with the junior senator, didn't call us up, didn't sit down, didn't invite us to a meeting, didn't hold a conversation, didn't have a dialogue, didn't consult. so don't expect any consultation in the future if you vote for this nominee. and then at the end of the year when the nomination was returned, we told the white house, you have another chance, another chance to wait until you get some consultation done, until you talk to us. nope, they just forwarded it
back again, no consultation. know there it is. -- so there it is. now, when this individual, bryan bounds, was interviewed by our committee out in oregon, evidence asked to -- he was asked to provide anything that was potentially controversial from his past, and he didn't. he was asked about his views on diversity and what information he had put out in the past, and he didn't supply anything. so not only are there the controversial viewpoints of the past, there's a lack of integrity in the present. so it isn't as if senator wyden and i took it lightly. but how can you expect people to get a fair hearing or believe that they have any chance of getting a fair hearing with these types of opinions being
expressed? what did he say on diversity? he said, students working to promote diversity contribute more to restricting consciousness and aggravating intolerance than many a nazi book burning. so, you are compared if you advocate for diversity to being an individual who burns books and not just any individual, a nazi burning books. that wasn't his only comment on diversity. he wrote quite extensively, and another phrase he used, he said diversity training is a pestilence that stalks. some kind of grim reaper that
tries to embrace people that come from a different point of view or a different color or they come from a different state. that's what he thought any training you might have in how to understand your own internal prejudices is a pestilence that stalks us. and he didn't like the fact that the university was trying to address the issue of men abusing women, and he said, there is nothing really inherently wrong with the university failing to punish an alleged rapist. that's what you want to vote for? and he said more. he really disliked minority groups on campus taking a position on anything. in his essay "labor unions and
the politics of azland," he said, i would hardly suggest that no political group should be able to take up a political matter if it is of direct relevance to its purported mission. so he's not objecting to most groups weighing in on something related to their vision, but he would contend, he said -- and i would -- i would contend that no student group affiliated with an ethnic center of this university has any business holding political issues central to its mission. so if you are he a member of a student group that san ethnic group, wide -- that isn't an ethnic group, wide open. demonstrate, argue, involve yourself, engage. but if you happen to be a member
of an ethnic club or group on campus, then no way, you have no business taking a position f how can anyone expect to get a fair hearing with someone with this extensive hostility towards ethnic diversity or ethnic groups? that's a pretty serious question to ask yourself. and your responsibility -- in your responsibility of advice and consent, in your responsibility to ensure that there is not just integrity on the court but a perception of integrity, not just fairness on a court but a perception of fairness. how does anyone get a perception of fairness with these writings?
now, mr. bounds had the opportunity to inform the committee of these writings, but he chose not to. he kept them hidden away. we have the head of the oregon selection advisory committee who wrote the following -- mr. bounds failed to disclose these writings when specifically asked by the committee about his views on equity and diversity. now, he did get asked about them later when they were discovered and there was a hearing in the judiciary. and he had a chance to respond in questions for the record. he wrote in response that he regretted the rhetoric in the articles, but he didn't
repudiate the viewpoint. he regretted apparently the particular words he used to express it, but he didn't say that he repudiated the viewpoint on his commentaries attacking diversity, attacking diverse clubs, saying that every other club has a right to participate and engage itself in issues relevant to its mission except the ethnic clubs. he didn't repudiate that. how do you expect to get a fair hearing before this judge? at his hearing before the judiciary committee in the questions for the record, senator blumenthal asked if he regretted not turning over the writings to the oregon screening
committee. he replied, it seemed reasonable to him that there wouldn't be a lot of interest in writings that have no bearing to someone's professional practice. these writings have everything to do with his professional practice, his consideration as a judge, a circuit court judge, not a district judge. he is not being nominated for the bottom rung he's being nominated for the rung that's next to the supreme court. you don't think it has a bearing that you have written these things? you don't think it has a bearing that you have hid them from the committee? well, that in itself tells you a great deal. it's why this nomination is opposed by so many groups, the
afl-cio, the leadership conference on civil and human rights, national women's law center, the oregon women's lawyers association, the asian pacific bar association of oregon, the oregon hispanic bar association, the lgbt bar association of oregon. why wouldn't they oppose when you have an individual who failed the integrity test by hiding the writings, doesn't repudiate the writings and has it in for diversity and minority groups? records are being broken. two nominees up this week would mean 23 appeals judges confirmed. a lot are being confirmed. there's a lot in waiting. why not bring someone to the
floor who doesn't have these deep flaws? why not vote down this individual and put the next one up? we've already broken the record for confirmations in the president's first year last year. obama's 14 circuit court nominees waited an average of 251 days. trump's, half that, 125 days. so less than half. we're marching through this, why not bring someone else to the floor? why not set this one aside because he fails the test of being fair-minded and fails the test of integrity and putting this judge forward does something else. it's not just a judge who fails the test on integrity and fairness. it's also the destruction of
your rights, each and every senator here, to have a say on circuit court nominees in your circuit. is that really the place you want to go? we've seen judges come before us who have held hearings held without a.b.a. evaluations. we've had two considered who were unanimously rated not qualified. we certainly, therefore, have a lot that's changed dramatically. we have last year the first time that a seat has been stolen from one administration and set a year into the future. that is a precedent everyone
here should regret, to have failed to exercise advice and consent responsibilities, a failure that no other set of senators ever failed before. 15 times before open seat during an election year, 15 times before the senate debated the nominee, 15 times before they voted on the nominee, but not last year. this leadership of this body failed the test of leadership by failing to consider a nominee from the president for the supreme court. is that the precedent you want to live with for the future? and of course now we have a nominee, new nominee for the supreme court. not only does this nominee come
from a list secretly compiled by the federalist society to make sure that they met the test the president had put forward opposing roe v. wade, opposing the affordable care act that has provided health care to another 30 million people across this land, 400,000 in my home state. but also the president chose off that list the one person best suited to write him a get out of jail free card because of the massive, expansive view of presidential power, a view of presidential power you can find nowhere in the constitution, a view that's completely at odds with checks and balances that our forefathers so carefully crafted into that document, a view that says a president should never be indicted.
and even more extraordinary, never be investigated. that is a president above the law. that is a president beyond the law. that is something that is not a president. that is a king. that is a tyrant. that is a dictator who answers to no one because he or she is above the law. that is not a president in a constitutional democratic republic where there are checks and balances. indeed, this nominee has said that if a president deems a law to be unconstitutional because it's his or her opinion, the president needs to follow the law. can anyone remind this nominee to the supreme court that our system was designed to let the supreme court weigh in on what
is and isn't constitutional? not to have the president dictate that. well, that is a scary proposition, unworthy proposition to have that individual considered on the floor of this senate. james madison in federalist paper 76 said it's the duty of the senate to prevent the appointment of unfit characters. so each and every member of the senate on both sides of the aisle has that responsibility. and this is a question you have to ask yourself. is the person fit when they say the things that ryan bounds has said? is a person fit to serve on the
bench when they say that no student group affiliated with an ethnic center has any business holding political issues central to its mission, right after he writes that other groups should have that power. itis the individual fit when the individual says that promoting diversity contributes more to restricting consciousness and aggravating intolerance than a nazi book burning? is the person fit who says that training -- in diversity training that each and every one of us has to take and our staff members have to take in this body is a pestilence that stalks us, as if embracing the notion of understanding one's own biases is an evil thing.
is the person fit who said there's nothing wrong with the university failing to punish an alleged rapist? is the person fit who hid these writings from the selection committee? is the person fit when the selection committee said based on these writings they would vote overwhelmingly not to recommend this individual? is the person fit when they fail the test of integrity and are asked to produce their views on diversity and hide them? i contend that that standard that james madison laid out for the responsibility of advice and consent, that standard of voting down individuals who aren't fit has rarely had a clear opportunity to be executed and should be executed 100-0 in