tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN October 6, 2018 11:29am-1:30pm EDT
insurance companies cover those with preexisting conditions. and, you know, you can talk about trying to band-aid over that every way you want, the fact is unless we have a real health care program, as we have under the affordable care act, insurance companies are not going to cover people with preexisting conditions, and they are going to charge you more if they do cover you. second, i'm very concerned about his opposition to women's reproductive rights. judge kavanaugh has praised justice rehnquist's dissent in the landmark roe v. wade decision that guarantees women the right to make their own reproductive health decisions. i believe that's one of the most basic and fundamental rights that we have, not just as women but that families have.
women should be able to make that decision in consultation with their families, with their physicians, with their religious beliefs, and this should not be something that the government dictates, and, yet, brett kavanaugh suggests that fundamental basic right is up for consideration. now, finally, i have a serious concern about judge kavanaugh's view of executive branch power that could place the president above the law. judge kavanaugh has said that sitting presidents can't be indicted, can't be prosecuted, and should have the authority to fire a special counsel at will. well, with the mueller investigation, with so many concerns that have been raised about this president's
manipulation of laws that have allowed him to enrich himself and his company, that suggests that where he has been suggesting that he may fire the attorney general because he's not willing to do his bidding at the justice department, i just don't see how we can put somebody on the supreme court who thinks that the president is above the law. as i learned american history and our constitution and our values and principles, i believe that nobody is above the law in our democracy. including the president of the united states. and i think we need a supreme court justice who believes the same thing. and yet what we've heard from judge kavanaugh suggests that he
thinks the president is above the law. now, at the time i announced my opposition to the nominee, we had not heard the allegations of sexual assault against judge kavanaugh. in the weeks since those have come out, this senate, this country have been rocked by those allegations. i was one of the many millions of americans throughout the country who tuned in to closely watch that hearing when christine blasey ford shared her story. her testimony in front of the judiciary committee was sincere and credible, and i believe her. the impact of dr. ford's testimony is very telling about the pervasiveness of sexual
violence in our culture. the allegations made by christine ford and others were serious and trustworthy and i believe they should have been thoroughly and partially investigated, and they were not. but on the positive side, dr. ford's bravery has given so many women the courage to tell their stories. she gave others courage and we have seen an outpouring from survivors who now feel like they, too, can come forward. senator markey talked about the number of people he's heard from in his office, and i've heard that same story time and again from so many of my colleagues. we're certainly seeing this in new hampshire. the sexual harassment and rape program which is also called sharp, a program that provides services is and support to sexual assault survivors,
they've reported an increase in people reaching out for help, and i've heard that from crisis centers across the granite state who feel that an influx of calls from survivors who can relate to dr. ford's testimony and who feel compelled to speak out. on tuesday, i spoke with the new hampshire coalition against domestic and sexual violence, which told me they've seen similar interactions with survivors who are now stepping forward, women and men whose trauma of past sexual assaults has been revived by christine ford's testimony. like my colleagues, i've received letters from sexual assault survivors who have been deeply affected by dr. ford's testimony and whose courage has given them the strength to share their own stories. what's been amazing to me as i read them, what i've heard from people who have contacted our
office, is that some of them are in their 70's and 80's and they reveal decades' old sexual assaults for the very first time. these wounds are real. the wounds are raw, and it is incumbent on all of us in this body, regardless of where you stand on brett kavanaugh, it's incumbent on all of us to not deepening those scars by diminishing the pain of these women as political theater. this is not political theater, and it should not be viewed through a partisan lens. in those emotional e-mails and calls and letters from dozens of women and a few men, i think sometimes we forget that sexual assault doesn't just happen to women; it happens to men. they have described their sexual assaults and how they have been affected by the events of
christine ford's testimony and the hearing with judge kavanaugh. so many of those letters and e-mails talk about the details of what they experienced in those sexual assaults, how it affected them, how it's affected their lives, the fact that in most cases they didn't tell anybody because they didn't feel like they would be believed or they thought they would be demeaned or they thought it was their fault. but what's been interesting to me as part of those letters and e-mails has been that so many of the people we've heard from have not just told their personal stories, but they have expressed their concerns about the country as part of writing in, concerns that we're so divided, that
we're so angry, that we're so uncivil to one another. and, sadly, they're right, based on what they've seen over the last couple of weeks. we've seen that at political rallies over the past few years, and we've seen it in this building, and we must do better. the disunity that we model here is hurting the country. the scorched-earth politics that have been practiced here are deepening our divides. now, i will oppose judge kavanaugh's nomination, and i continue to hope that something may happen at the 11th hour. i know that's not likely. but i also will encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to think about this moment, to reflect on our
obligations to the american people, to the united states senate, and to considering future supreme court nominees. as so many people have said, this process has undermined the faith of the american people and the ability of the supreme court to be an objective arbiter of cases that come before them. this process has inflamed existing divides within our country and within congress, and we can't let this become the status quo. as an institution, as a legislative body, we must be better than this. now, i've always been told that when we're standing at the edge of an abyss, the best step is always backwards. so i hope all of us can take a step back. i hope we can take a step back when we're passed this
nomination, that we can return to more civil discourse. i hope that we can better try to understand each other's point of view and that we can see each other's humanity. and i hope we can be better stewards of our democracy because this country demands it. thank you, madam president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. brown: madam president, i ask to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: madam president, i announced my decision to vote against judge kavanaugh several weeks ago after meeting with him, after studying his record, because he essentially put his thumb on the scale in support of corporate interests. he has consistently sided with corporate special interests, large corporations which outsource jobs over workers and has sided with wall street over consumers. i made that decision before dr. ford came forward. but i'm grateful for her. i'm grateful she did. even at great personal cost and personal risk. i believe dr. ford. why in the world would someone do what she did -- again, at great personal cost and great
personal risk -- if we weren't telling the truth precisely? i'm grateful to her, i'm grateful for all the brave women inspired by her to speak out and share their own stories. many of them have written to my office. a number of them i've spoken to on the phone. some of them told us for the first time in their lives after one by one woman was in her 70's, and it was the first time she had spoken of her sexual assault. please understand to all the people -- all the women and men -- and i've got enletters from men too -- gotten letters from men too, but mostly women. understand that we see you, we hear you, your story matters and you make a difference. it's wrong that political influence and artificial deadlines put on them these deadlines imposed by the majority leader down the hall and the president of the united states artificial deadlines and
political influence prevented the f.b.i. from performing the complete and thorough investigation the american people deserve. instead senate leaders in the white house straitjacketed the f.b.i. i don't blame the f.b.i. they only did what senate leaders, what republican leaders who wanted to ram this nomination through as quickly as possible, and the white house who would never want to compromise on anything like this, they straight jacted -- straitjacketed the f.b.i. and kept our law enforcement professionals from doing their job. according to dr. ford's lawyer, the f.b.i. didn't even speak to more than a dozen witnesses that tr ford asked them to -- that dr. ford asked them to interview. they are trying to corroborate whether her story was true, but the f.b.i. then didn't interview dr. ford or judge kavanaugh nor did they interview the people dr. ford suggested them to, the
names that dr. ford gave them, the people that could be bt corroborate and then my colleagues say there's no corroborating evidence so she didn't do it so we have to believe judge kavanaugh. that is their logic. it is -- the investigation -- not -- again, not because the f.b.i. didn't want to do it right but because of what political leadership, elected officials did in the white house and bureaucrats in the white house and the senate to prevent the f.b.i. from doing it's job. that's why that was a scam. what really matters here, it really matters that we listen to women. it also really matters because the supreme court has enormous influence over the lives of everyone in my state. every nominee must defend the rights of all americans to have comprehensive health care coverage and make their own health care decisions, must defend the rights of americans
to collectively bargain for safe workplaces and fair play. i don't think my colleagues understand the process of collective process. i am working bipartisanly with a number of my colleagues on a pension bill. i don't know that my colleagues understand when it comes to pension, they sit down at the bargaining table and give up wages today to have secure retirements. i'm concerned about this supreme court's view on bargaining rights and fair pay and fair benefits. i'm concerned about this court in terms of protecting american workers and american consumers from discrimination and, shall we say, wall street greed. i'm troubled already by the supreme court's recent decisions stripping rights from ohioans on many issues. that's why i met with judge kavanaugh before i made my decision earlier this summer and why i asked him about his views on the issues that matter to ohioans. i reviewed his record.
i'm not a lawyer, but i -- i pay a lot of attention to these issues, i look at these decisions, i listen to ohioans who weighed in. it was clear that i could not support judge kavanaugh's nomination to our highest court, again, because he puts his thumb on the scale of justice and always with a bias toward corporate interest over workers, over consumers, on health care. i mean, you have heard senator shaheen, senator markey, senator hassan i listened to late last night, you heard them talk about preexisting conditions, that this court is moving towards saying to the -- to the health insurance industry, you can cancel the insurance of people with preexisting condition. for ten years we've had consumer protections. if you're a cancer survivor, if you have asthma, as my wife has -- had as a young age and has continued to manage her asthma well, and she has said very publicly that we can talk
about this or if you have park innsons -- parkinson's or preexisting condition disease, heart descrees or high blood -- disease or high blood pressure, you can protected from the insurance company caning your insurance. if this body confirms this judge, almost half of the people in my state have a preexisting condition, it means that they should be concerned that this supreme court will take away those consumer protections and will say to the insurance company, yeah, you can cancel somebody if they get expensive, you can cancel somebody's insurance if you find out they had cancer, you can do all those things. his rulings and positions on the rights of ohio workers and women and consumers would take us in exactly the wrong direction. his nomination comes from -- when the stakes for working ohioans could not be higher. he talks about settled law,
again, i'm not a lawyer, but this is obvious. settled law is only settled before the supreme court says it isn't. we know it with voter rights and worker rights. last year they janice s. res.us asfme, the court turned over settled law in limited public sector union's ability to advocate for workers they serve. this is a supreme court that almost always sides with corporations over union, with corporations over workers, with corporations over consumers. the decision epic systems corp. v. lewis limited workers' ability to have their day in court when they are mistreated by the employer. the power rests with the employers on the worker-employer issues, this court wants to make it worse. judge kavanaugh record shows that he will accelerate that direction. this court stands on the side of powerful corporations, not
american workers. we know what happened in this country. we know that profits have gone up. we know that executive compensation has exploded. we know that productivity has gone up. the top 1% or 5%, they are doing great. they get tax cuts, stock dividend buybacks and all kinds of breaks. this court will make it worse. there are several cases next term where the court has the power to fundamentally tip the balance of power even further towards corporations, cases like lamps plus inc where the court can rule on whether a class action suit can be against a -- an individual worker never has the power or the money to hire an attorney to take on these companies, that's why you -- that's why workers need to ban together to take on a powerful company, a powerful employer, a powerful corporation. another case, new primate
v.olivara, this shows whether the federal be a by arbitration act applies to federal contract or agreement. this court moved in the direction, as this congress did by one vote, have moved in the direction of stripping of giving corporations more power and saying to employees, you don't get your day in court. employees individually don't have the financial wherewithal to hire an employer, but if they ban together they can. that is what the issue of forced arbitration is about. that's what judge kavanaugh has consistently been wrong about. i have looked at his record. it's clear we can't trust thim to stand with ohio workers in any of these cases. he's opposed basic protections for workers trying to hold employers accountable, like
j.f.e.v. gate. he has consistently ruled against workers who stand up to corporate mistreatment in cases like verizon new england v. the national labor relations board. his nomination poses a serious threat, as i said to the five million americans under age 65 with preexisting condition. again, that's half of my state. if you meet a 40 or 50-year-old -- if you're in almost any group, if you look to your right, look to your left, one of those people, on average, has a preexisting condition. is their insurance going to be jeoparized -- it is -- if this congress and this supreme court and this president want to strip away consumer protections for people with preexisting conditions, if they want to give insurance companies the right to cancel your insurance. oh, you get cancer, you cost us a lot -- i'm an insurance company, you cost us a lot, i'm
going to cancel your insurance because you cost us too much money. you can't do it now you about -- but you will be able to do it -- but it will happen if judge kavanaugh gets into court. the consumer protections are under attack in the court system with the case texas v. united states. it is likely going to make its way to the supreme court and judge kavanaugh's record on health care gives us a pretty darn good clue on how he would rule. he refuses to uphold the law, a law that says if your child has diabetes or your mother has asthma, the insurance companies can't turn away. it's about the cost of health insurance, it's like saying -- all of us want good insurance. all of us want to be able to -- nobody wants to get sick. nobody wants to have high health care costs. the reason we have insurance is so that people who get sick can make sure they get their insurance and can have help, but the insurance companies, if they
get their way now, they may not deny you care if you have cancer, they'll raise your rate so high, you won't be able to afford it. there's really no difference. without these protections insurance companies will once again be able to charge you five times the rate of your neighbor. you are sick, you have neighbors on both sides who aren't, they'll raise your rates because they are sick if you have their way. you're lucky enough to be well, your neighbor is diagnosed with high pressure, your other neighbor's child has epilepsy, their rates get raised, yours don't all because judge kavanaugh in this court -- and in court and congress want it that way. we can't send him to the supreme court -- it is not just on preexisting condition where he poses a threat. dozens of cases pending lower courts can determine the price you pay on health care over the next few years or whether you get care at all. again, if the price is so high, it is the same as denying you care because you can't afford
it. cases like false advertising by insurance companies to whether your employer is required to give you access to health care. of course we know the stakes are particularly high for women. that was true before dr. ford courageously came forward. it remains true. we can't risk ohio women's ability to make private health insurance decisions between themselves and their doctors by giving a lifetime appointment to a judge hoos shown repeated hostility to women's health care and freedom. we know the promises president trump made when he was a candidate saying he would put somebody on the supreme court that would overturn roe v. wade. we know the list of judges he chose from in the federal -- and the federalist society had the same commitment to overturn roe v. wade. anybody in this body that thinks that the judge promising that this is settled law ought to, with the cliche that -- that i have a bridge to sell you. i mean, it's clear what he's going to do if he's on the
court. this fundamentally, madam president, this whole issue -- this whole vote, this whole nomination comes down to who's side you are on? you -- are you on the side of workers or multinational corporations or are you on the side of companies or -- are you on the side of the mother or the insurance company who wants to raise her rates. judge kavanaugh has sided on corporations, not american workers, not american consumers, not american patients who struggle with the cost of health care. the stakes for ohio is too high to give this person a lifetime appointment to the highest court. madam president, unanimous consent that are -- i ask unanimous consent that several documents corroborating dr. ford's statements against judge kavanaugh and from dr. ford's attorneys be entered into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god who rules the raging of the sea, our thoughts are not your thoughts and our ways are not your ways. as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are your thoughts higher than our thoughts and your ways higher than our ways. we thank you for those who know that this is not the time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. today help our lawmakers approach their decisions with confidence by claiming your promise in james 1, 5, and 6. in that promise you said to
people of faith, if you need wisdom, if you want to know what god wants you to do, ask him and he will gladly tell you. he will not resent your asking. but when you ask, be sure that you really expect him to answer. lord, may this great promise illuminate the path of those who realize that you are the only constituent they absolutely must please. we pray in the name of him who is the truth. the presiding officer: the
senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: mr. president, like so many of us here, i've been watching and listening to my colleagues speak on the floor about the judge kavanaugh nomination for several days. and like so many of my colleagues, i want to commend senator collins of maine for her thorough, detailed, and eloquent remarks yesterday. sometimes a member gives a speech that we know will always be remembered because of its thoroughness, its seriousness, statesman-like quality. i think we all are in agreement
that that happened yesterday with senator collins. i also want to highlight my very good friend, senator murkowski's remarks last night. while we voted differently yesterday, and will most likely do so again in a few hours, she made some important points particularly regarding some of the issues surrounding this confirmation process as it relates to our great state of alaska. i very much appreciate her friendship and like so many i know this process has been difficult for her, as she talked about that last night. in fact, mr. president, for millions of americans and no doubt thousands of alaskans, the process to confirm judge brett kavanaugh to the u.s. supreme court has been a searing up with, searing.
severnly for brett kavanaugh and his family, certainly for dr. christine blasey ford and her family. for this family, the u.s. senate family, it's been a difficult period. it has also evoked very traumatic memories of experiences that far too many women in alaska and america have had. far too many. and i'm hopeful that in the aftermath of all this we can go through a much-needed period of healing. now, mr. president, as you know, the advise and consent responsibility of the senate is a solemn one, one of the most important responsibilities we have here. the process i went through in order to cast my vote for judge kavanaugh today has been extensive and thorough, and i believe fair, which is what i believe my constituents back home in alaska demand of me. after the president announced
judge kavanaugh's nomination, i read hundreds of pages of decisions that he authored. i listened to the views of alaskans and have continued to do so up until yesterday. those who are in favor, those who oppose. and if my first meeting several weeks ago with judge kavanaugh, we discussed that in length and great depth. his view on a lot of alaskan legal issues. that wasn't the first time i had met judge kavanaugh. in fact, i had known him back when we served together in the bush administration. i knew him as an honest and dedicated public servant, and i actually followed his career as a judge on the d.c. circuit u.s. court of appeals. the lengthy meeting in my office convinced me that he is someone
who will interpret the law and constitution as written. he understands the importance of separation of powers and federalism, holds a healthy skepticism regarding the expansive power of federal agency in that he is a strong protector of the second amendment. all issues that are very important to my constituents that they care deeply about, which is why i focused on these issues in my discussions with judge kavanaugh in my office several weeks ago. i was convinced then and remain so that he is well qualified to be a justice on the united states supreme court. but, mr. president, as we all know, after a number of these meetings, several weeks in my case after meeting with judge kavanaugh, two issues arose that i took very seriously. the first was a claim that if
confirmed judge kavanaugh would not fully recognize or respect the rights of alaska native people and the u.s. government's trust responsibilities to them. very important constituents of mine. the alaska federation of natives, a very important group back home in alaska that represents the native people of my great state, wrote a memo speculating how judge kavanaugh, if confirmed, would threaten unique laws and programs for the alaska native people. the second issue that arose, of course, that we have been debating here and the country is fully aware of was the allegation that judge kavanaugh sexually assaulted dr. ford when she was 15 and he was 17. like many senators here, i put my heart and soul into investigating such claims, particularly given how important both of these issues were to my constituents.
and i want to address each of these in turn. mr. president, the alaska federation of natives, a.f.n., as we call it back home, was focused on concerns stemming from an amicus brief written by judge kavanaugh 18 years ago when he was a private attorney in a case dealing with indigenous hawaiians before the u.s. supreme court called rice v. cayetano in which the u.s. supreme court in a 7-2 opinion essentially agreed with judge kavanaugh's opinion. now, alaska natives make up roughly 20% of my state. they are incredible americans, patriotic, hardworking, a beautiful culture. and their legal and sovereign rights, which are based on the u.s. constitution have been fought
hard in this body. such rights are fundamental to the health and well-being of alaska natives in my state. after the a.f.n. legal memo and similar op-eds were published back moment in asian i sent them to the white house for judge kavanaugh's review. i then spoke directly to him about these issues. he reiterated to me in a thoughtful and thorough discussion that the legal rights of alaska natives to include tribes and regional and village corporations were very clear and well established in the law, which is actually different from the situation of indigenous hawaiians. therefore, the views expressed by the supreme court in the cayetano opinion that limit the rights of native hawaiians do not extend to alaska natives and are not applicable legally in any way in alaska. this is because congress has
repeatedly and explicitly recognized rights in the tribal status for alaska natives, including the federal government's trust responsibility. while, unfortunately, in my view, congress has not done the same for native hawaiians. senator murkowski was on the floor last night. i am going to talk a little about that. i think the alaska delegation has already tried to be supportive of the hawaiian delegation. and we continue to be. legal lay, they're very different and in response to a question to the record released by the senate judiciary committee, judge kavanaugh unequivocally endorsed this point. he state add -- now this is his language -- the supreme court has recognized that congress has the ability to fulfill its treaty obligations with native alaskan regional and village corporations and american indian tribes through legislation
specifically addressed to their concerns. unlike indigenous people of hawaii, congress has explicitly recognized in statute that indian tribe includes any recognized indian or native tribe or community. native americans are indian tribes and therefore enjoy all the relevant rights and benefits that come with their trust relationship with the united states, unquote. in my conversations with judge kavanaugh about alaska native legal issues, he also emphasize add point raised by chief justice robert in the court case called the sturgeon case that because of federal statutes like the alaska native claims settlement act and the alaska national interest lands conservation act, congress has repeatedly made year that alaska is different in many ways from the lower 48 and he recognized
and told me, as part of this confirmation process, that many legal issues involving my state need to be viewed through that lens. to be perfectly clear, mr. president, if i sought evidence that judge kavanaugh's views were somehow opposed to or hostile too alaska natives, a very important population of my state that happens to include my wife and my three daughters and my mother-in-law, i would not support his confirmation. i told judge kavanaugh this directly but that i was also satisfied with his response after we had this discussion, a deep, detailed discussion. -- about these issues. importantly, senator murkowski came to the same conclusion in her discussions with judge kavanaugh and she said as much in her remarks last night.
of course, there's another allegation, a claim that i want to talk about this morning -- or this afternoon, the allegation that has been the focus of much attention here in the senate regarding sexual assault that i likewise took extremely seriously. i respect very much dr. ford's bravery and sincerity in coming forward to testify in front of the judiciary committee. i am convinced that she went through a traumatic experience that has left deep wounds. i also applaud the bravery of the men, many women who have called and written and visited my office to share their so much of this has been very painful to revisit these episodes. as i repeatedly stated, any
allegation -- all allegations of this kind of conduct should be seriously looked at, so i undertook the due diligence that my constituents expect of me and as required of the senate's important advise and consent as required of the senate's i watched the senate judiciary committee on this issue gavel to gavel, i read every piece of information available, including all the interviews conducted under the penalty of perjury by the senate judiciary committee investigators. i read text messages, threads, witness statements, letters between the committee and lawyers who have been involved, and confidential committee documents. i supported and read the professional and thorough supplemental f.b.i. report recently submitted to the senate, which looked deeper into this allegation and suffolk additional -- and spoke to additional witnesses in relation to it. most importantly, mr. president,
i met with and heard from hundreds of alaskans who have suffered from sexual abuse and domestic violence. many flew thousands of miles, most on a moment's notice, to come to my office and meet with me and senator murkowski. i applaud their bravery and their passion. so much of this process has been painful for them. alaska is an amazing state. i come down to the floor all the time to talk about its majesty and beauty and wonderful people, and i believe that in my soul. but one area where we are not so great or wonderful or majestic is this. my state has the highest rates of sexual assault and domestic violence by far. it is a horrible, horrible thing and it impacts so many families in the last frontier horribly. throughout my public career in
alaska, i've worked to combat sexual assault and domestic violence by putting more offenders in jail, bringing more resources to survivors, including much-needed legal services, and raising awareness of this heinous problem by working to change the culture of violence those too pervasive in my state. we have a lot more work to do on this issue in alaska and across america, including on our college campuses, and i applaud senator gillibrand for her leadership in this area and many other senators as well. the allegations by dr. ford have been difficult and wrenching here in the senate to address. one thing is clear to me -- her allegations have been taken seriously, as they should have been. mr. president, i have a summary from the judiciary committee on its investigation into these and other allegations that i would like to submit for the record.
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: it shows a staff of over 20 members of the judiciary committee literally working around the clock for weeks on all leads, any lead that came in on these serious allegations. these investigators, who have the authority of the law, if people speak to them and they lie, they commit perjury -- they spoke to more than 35 individuals pursuing any and all substantive leads. this is anst in addition to the -- this is in addition to the f.b.i. report. i want to commend chairman grassley for his serious and diligent work in this regard in the work of the committee. it wasn't highlighted a lot, but it's very serious work. some of it -- a lot of it is detailed here. two important points stand out from this work, mr. president. first, the committee has not obtained or received any evidence that would corroborate
the claims made by dr. ford. and they've talked to and tried to pursue leads in so many different areas. dr. ford's allegations were investigated respectfully and thoroughly by this senate judiciary staff and the f.b.i. and as i mentioned, she's certainly encouraged in coming forward. nevertheless, these allegations were not corroborated. four people dr. ford claims were present had no knowledge or memory of any such event, and the others the f.b.i. asked about, the alleged incident had no knowledge either. one of them a lifelong friend of dr. ford's leland keyser said she didn't even know judge kavanaugh. again, mr. president, as you know, all of these statements were made under the penalty of perjury.
another important point from the judiciary committee summary -- again, i would suggest people take a look at it given the seriousness of the allegations and the seriousness of the investigation -- that has not been picked up on is that the minority staff of the committee -- those representing my colleagues on the other side of the aisle -- refuse to participate in most of these investigations. sometimes not attending any interviews at all. and when they did, they refused to ask questions. now, mr. president, this is truly a mystery to me. one of the constant refrains and arguments -- and i'm saying it's been in good faith from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle which continues today -- is the need for more investigations into the allegations against judge kavanaugh -- they have been
making that argument very regularly -- and yet when you read what happened in the committee, they have refused to take part in any, almost any part of the intensive ongoing investigations from the judiciary committee staff investigators, which there are 20 and they have been working on this diligently. i'm not a member of the judiciary committee, mr. president. but it's my understanding that this is a very significant break from past bipartisan investigations that have almost always occurred on the judiciary committee for every other previous supreme court nominee. so i'm not sure why this happened. perhaps one of my colleagues can explain it, but it does make one wonder. so, mr. president, where does this leave us? as alaska's former attorney general and now as a u.s. senator, i strongly believe in ensuring perpetrators of sexual assault pay a very serious
penalty. i oversaw prosecutors who put such criminals away for decades and even indicted and alleged raiment according to his d.n.a. sequencing in order to toll the statute of limitations for such a crime when we couldn't physically locate the alleged prerp traitor. but i also believe the presumption of innocence is sacrosanct and a fundamental american principle whether in a criminal trial or a public committee hearing or a court of public opinion. due process should apply as much to the senate's advice and consent responsibility as it should in a court of law. if we lose this basic concept of fairness, then we risk doing irreparable damage to the very foundation of our democracy and core conceptions of american justice and even liberty.
we dmot want a -- do not want a system of guilty until proven innocent in america. such a principle can lead to incentivizing false accusations that do lasting damage especially when coupled with breathless media reports that repeat verbatim such charges. unfortunately we have seen this phenomenon during this confirmation process. now i am not referring to the allegations of dr. ford which were taken seriously, but in the aftermath of her allegations , some horrendous and what appear to be patently false claims were made against judge kavanaugh. such false allegations do tremendous damage to the accused and his or her family. but just as bad, mr. president, they also risk
undermining the credibility of true victims and true survivors of sexual assault. this is something that's been overlooked, i believe, in these discussions. one of the most disheartening aspects of this confirmation process has been how some of my senate colleagues and members of the media were so quick to publicly embrace some of the most outrageous and incredible claims made against judge kavanaugh. that, for example, he participated in the drugging and raping of women as a teenage boy. a senior member of the judiciary committee referenced this sickening, uncorroborated allegation in her opening statement at one of the hearings. the immediate damage to the accused and to his family by such a charge which reverberated across the nation was obvious, but less obvious but perhaps more damaging as so many in the
long run is how such false claims undermine the ability of true victims and real survivors with real claims of sexual assault to get justice to be believed. i certainly hope that this is not one of the outcomes of this dysfunctional confirmation hearing process, but it underscores how and why the entire system of american justice and fairness can be undermined if we abandon the presumption of innocence. finally, mr. president, i again want to thank and applaud so many of the women, in particular, including so many alaskans who flew to d.c., who have spoken out about this nomination and have shared stories about their very difficult experiences with
assault. i know from being in meetings with them and hearing from them and listening and reading that this process has brought fresh and painful and difficult memories for so many. i want them to know that from the bottom of my heart, i'm committed more than ever to work on combatting these horrible crimes and domestic violence and trying to change the culture in our nation to one of respect. and indeed, mr. president, if there is a silver lining to come out of this contentious confirmation process, it is that the awareness and commitment to do more to combat these horrible crimes has been heightened. i've heard this from many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the past few days, including senators murkowski and senators collins, senators
harris and klobuchar, and i'm certainly committed to working with all of them to make this happen. at the same time i do not agree with some of the comments made on the floor that a vote in favor of judge kavanaugh is somehow condoning sexual assault or somehow not believing all survivors. as senator collins stated yesterday, nothing could be further from the truth. a bipartisan majority of u.s. senators, men and women, are likely to vote for judge kavanaugh in a few hours. to mark all of them as somehow not caring about the broader issue of sexual assault in america is not only untrue and an affront to them, but undermines the larger cause of working together to combat this issue. mr. president, i do not believe that this is a binary choice. this is not and should not be a republican versus democratic
issue. this is actually an american epidemic. and, frankly, it should be viewed more as an american male issue. the men are the ones who are committing the vast majority of the abuse, and we need to work together in this body and across the country to be united to stop it. mr. president, i will be voting to confirm judge kavanaugh as the next associate justice on the supreme court, but on this broader topic that i've been discussing this afternoon, our country has a lot of healing and a lot of work to do, and i'm certainly ready to do my part in that regard with all of my senate colleagues, republican and democrat. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. van hollen: i thank you, mr. president. article 2, section two gives this body, the senate to advise and consent on judicial appointments. it's an important check on executive power. we are invested with this special responsibility to ensure that individuals nominated by the president to be supreme
court justices will be people who make decisions fairly and impartially without favor and without bias. that is why lady justice wears a blind followed and holds a balanced -- blindfold and holds a balanced scale on which to way the claims that come before her. the integrity of the supreme court requires that every person -- every person who comes before that court can have confidence that each justice will fairly weigh the evidence and the arguments. mr. president, judge kavanaugh does not meet that standard. i had concerns at the very beginning of this process and i fear it more than ever today at the end of the process. any remaining hope that judge
kavanaugh could be trusted to be an impartial justice or perceived to be an impartial justice was shottered by -- shattered by his opening statement at his last hearing. in that statement, which he emphasized he wrote in his own words, judge kavanaugh launched into an ultra partisan dia tribe and wild conspiracy theories. he suggested that dr. ford's compelling testimony from her sexual assault was somehow manufactured by democrats as payback for his investigation into the starr investigation. as if dr. ford was an actor in a bitter partisan battle rather than a brave citizen who had come forward to tell her story. while judge kavanaugh attempted the other day to walk back his words in his "wall street
journal" op-ed, the damage he did is irreversible. if he is confirmed, hundreds of people who come before the supreme court and the millions of americans whose lives will be affected by his decisions will believe that judge kavanaugh has already put his hands on the scale of justice before they have their say in court. that is why, mr. president, hundreds of law professorsern personal friends with -- professors an personal friends withdrew their support for his nomination after his statement at that hearing. that is why the american bar association has called a meeting to reconsider their endorsement, and that is why former justice john paul stevens took the extraordinary step of saying that judge kavanaugh is not fit to serve on the supreme court of the united states.
mr. president, it didn't have to be it this way. the process was flawed from the start and it got worse as time went on. it started when president trump contracted out the process of picking a supreme court nominee to right wing groups like the federalist society, like the heritage foundation. during his campaign candidate trump said he was going to pick supreme court nominees based not on who would be impartial, based not on who would be independent, but based on who would do his bidding on certain issues. he had a number of litmus tests. for example, during the campaign when talking about the affordable care act, candidate trump promised that unlike chief justice roberts, his nominee would, quote, do the right thing, unquote, and get rid of
the affordable care act. the federalist society, the heritage foundation, they didn't need much coaxing, but they dutifully compiled lists of names of people to fit the bill, and judge kavanaugh fit the bill. he fit the ball according to his own former law clerks. one of his former law clerks wrote an article entitled, quote, brett kavanaugh said obamacare was unprecedented and unlawful. unquote. in order to assure people that judge kavanaugh would be the justice kavanaugh to undo the protections of the affordable care act. another one of judge kavanaugh's own law clerks said, and i quote, no other contender on president trump's list is on record so vigorously criticizing the affordable care act.
these are judge kavanaugh's law clerks. mr. president, we all know that the case of texas v. united states, which threatens to take away protections from millions of people with preexisting conditions is currently making its way through our federal courts as we gather here today. it was filed by a group of 20 republican attorneys general, and the trump administration decided not to defend the current law, decided not to defend the affordable care act, and said to these republican attorneys general, have at it, get rid of the affordable care act. we know that case, the texas case is very likely to end up in the supreme court of the united states. and in judge kavanaugh president trump has, according to judge kavanaugh's own law clerks, his man to rule against the affordable care act, and in
doing so stripping millions of americans from their protections from preexisting health conditions. on the issue of a woman's right to reproductive freedom and choice, candidate trump promised he would appoint a justice to take those rights away. specifically he said overturning roe, quote, will happen automatically, in my opinion, because i am appointing pro-life justices on the court, end quote. again, he found his man in judge kavanaugh, and, again, we have judge kavanaugh's own law clerks saying as much. in a july 3, 2018, national
review article, one of his former clerks wrote, quote, no court of appeals judge in the nation has a stronger, more consistent record of enforcing restrictions on abortion. end quote. now, at the confirmation hearing, we all heard judge kavanaugh say that roe v. wade was an important precedent and said to some senators it was settled law. but we know from many republican judicial nominees who testified before the senate about settled law that as soon as they got on the supreme court, it's no longer settled. in fact, judge kavanaugh, before he was judge, said himself in a 2003 memo, which came to light, quote, i am not sure that all legal scholars refer to roe as
settled law of the land at the supreme court -- supreme court level since the court can always overrule its precedent, a clear indication of where judge kavanaugh's reasoning lies, especially in light of the testimony from his own law clerks. if you look at other parts of his record, you will find that judge kavanaugh consistently rules in favor of powerful special interests and against the public interest. he has sided with those who want to lift all the restrictions on political campaign expenditures. in one opinion, judge kavanaugh wrote that pacs are able to raise unlimited money for candidates for elected office because it was implausible that contributions from independent groups could corrupt candidates. those million dollar expenditures on behalf of candidates, they have no impact
on the this thinking that -- thinking of that candidate once they elected according to judge kavanaugh and, of course, to the citizens united decision. in fact, judge kavanaugh has been credit card by one campaign finance expert, as, quote, the man who created the super pac. judge kavanaugh has gone farther. he even suggested that limits on direct contributions to candidates are unconstitutional. back in march 2002, in an e-mail, he said, quote, i heard very few people say that the limits on contributions to candidates are unconstitutional, although i, for one, tend to think these limits have some constitutional problems. so we can see that if it's justice kavanaugh, not only will he double down on citizens
united which says that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money, claim unlimited amounts of secret money, but he also claims responsibility of putting limits not only on independent expenditures but on direct contributions to candidates. we know judge kavanaugh was also the pick for those who want corporate power to trump workers rights, consumer rights, and environmental protections. the day kavanaugh was nominated for the supreme court, -- the white house proudly noted that he has overruled federal regulators 75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues. when it comes to workers rights, judge kavanaugh has routinely sided with corporations who want to prevent -- prevent workers
from unionizing, even at president trump's own hotel in atlantic city which at the time had admitted its refusal to bargain with workers in a 2012 case. when the car dealers across several hotels voted to unionize, judge kavanaugh and a panel of judges invalidated the will of the worker, overturned an administrative law judges ruling that the union be certified and allowed the trump hotel to continue voilting workers' rights. -- violating workers' rights. on environmental i, judge kavanaugh's record shows time and again he favors polluters over clean water and clean air. with his confirmation it will be much harder for americans to seek redress in the courts and it will be easier for polluters to continue to pollute the environment. as a circuit court judge, he has
written ten dissenting opinions in environmental cases, and in each one he argued -- he argued against the side that sought to protect the public health and the environment. mr. president, judge kavanaugh's sweeping view of executive power should cause alarm among every member of this senate, republican and democrat alike. we've all heard the testimony. we've seen the writings. and it appears to be no surprise that president trump, who is watching that mueller investigation get closer and closer to his doorstep, that he would want a judge that gives excessive deference to the executive branch, somebody who may be on the supreme court when that court has to decide whether or not president trump can be
subpoenaed in that -- in that case or otherwise brought to justice in that case if that's what the conclusions demand. so, mr. president, it's clear on all of these issues that president trump and republicans had their man in judge kavanaugh. they have someone who they believe will overturn the affordable care act once again giving the insurance companies a green light to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. they think they've got someone who will overturn roe v. wade or dramatically limit a woman's right to reproductive freedom and choice, someone who will gut environmental regulations, undermine workers' rights and consumer protections, and someone who will give corporations the ability to continue to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections and who might even argue that the contribution limits to candidates are unconstitutional
and can be limited. and finally who the president believes will get him off the hook if the mueller investigation gets too close to him. so, mr. president, here we have republicans in this senate and a president on the verge of getting someone who they thought could do all those things. and then something unexpected happened. the country learned about what happened to dr. ford. a republican colleague seemed to have forgotten that dr. ford did not want to come forward publicly to report her sexual assault. it was only when she found out that judge kavanaugh was on the second short list that was released that she became concerned. even they she didn't want to come forward publicly, but she thought it was her civic duty to let people know what had happened to her.
and so she reached out to her representative in congress on a confidential basis. the story did become public, and when it did she felt duty-bound to testify about the senate judiciary committee and tell senators what happened to her on that awful day. we all know she had nothing to gain. she has been subjected to all sorts of awful death threats and other kinds of verbal abuse. nothing to gain, everything to lose. and the republican senators who listened to her testimony, for the most part said that her testimony was both powerful and credible. we know she answered questions directly. by contrast, judge kavanaugh's testimony was partisan. it was evasive and on many points even under oath
untruthful. when female prosecutor that republicans hired to ask questions for them could not discredit dr. ford's testimony, we saw many of our republican colleagues launch into full partisan attack mode. no longer did the facts matter. they picked up on judge kavanaugh's opening statement about partisanship rather than seeking to get to the truth about what happened to dr. ford and others who have alleged sexual assault. what mattered was ramming through their nominee. the majority leader, senator mcconnell, said, quote, they'll plow right through, unquote, and by god, nothing was going to stop them. they even scheduled the vote on judge kavanaugh before they had heard the testimony about sexual abuse and sexual assault from dr. ford and judge kavanaugh. it was only when senator flake
recognized what a sham the process was that he at least forced the republican leadership to do what they did not want to do and to dprea -- agree to a short f.b.i. investigation into the allegations of dr. ford and deborah ramirez. but the goal never changed. the goal of ramming through the nomination never changed. and that's why senate republicans in the white house dramatically limited the scope of the f.b.i. investigation. they tied the hands of the f.b.i. they told the f.b.i. who they could interview. an investigation that was already going to be short in about a week was cut even shorter and was finished up in a matter of days. and what's the result, mr. president? the result is completely predictable. the result is we have lots of
key witnesses that say they have corroborating evidence to support the allegations of dr. ford and deborah ramirez who were not interviewed. and the country will continue to hear from these witnesses after today's vote because the investigation was orchestrated by the white house and senate republican leadership. the f.b.i. was not allowed to do its full job. mr. president, it would have been better for all parties involved -- and i mean all parties, including judge kavanaugh -- to have had a thorough investigation where at the end of the day the public could have confidence that all the available evidence had been tracked down and viewed. that would have been best for the integrity of the court and the integrity of the senate. and we all know there's no requirement that we rush this confirmation.
we all know that. after all, it was the republican leader who kept a seat open on the supreme court for months and months and months after president obama had nominated judge merrick garland. so this notion that there's some kind of artificial deadline is simply untrue. this is all being done to do as the majority leader said: plow right through. because taking time to do the investigation right would have put the entire enterprise at risk, the entire plan to put on the supreme court the person who president trump and republicans believe will deliver the legal outcomes they want, even if all the testimony shows he can no longer be impartial, his record
and testimony indicate that they will deliver the legal outcomes they want in this case. now, mr. president, dr. ford's courage in coming forward to tell us what happened to her has empowered many of my maryland constituents and many others around the country to come forward with their own stories of abuse. i have received written statements from over 50 marylanders. over 50 marylanders telling me about the sexual abuse they had encountered. some of them told me they had shared with me what they have not shared with their own family members. they felt it was important that i know why they did not report their abuse at the time, why they did not tell their parents, why their memories were not perfect decades later.
they told me what they do remember. they told me they remember the qloa -- clothing they wore the dare they were assaulted. they told me they remember the scent, the cologne, the feeling of unwanted hands. those memories haunt them. these stories are reminders of how our society has let down survivors of sexual assault for decades. the way that these survivors have been treated has been shameful. i'm humbled by the trust they have shown to share these experiences with me, and i will let the stories of a few of them speak for themselves here on the floor of the senate. here's what one woman wrote, quote, once when i was 16, i was at a party. there was alcohol. he was popular. i wasn't. he was big and strong.
i had never been. he threatened me afterwards. he need not have bothered. he told me no one would have believed me. he told me i wanted it. i showed a friend the bruises. he said everyone would say i was a slut. i told another friend i was frightened. she said i i should just avoid m in school. i told an adult i trusted at my job. she told me about how when she reported when she was young, how the police treated her, how her parents reacted, how she regretted saying anything. i never told my parents. i went to a free clinic and the therapist asked how could i know it was rape if i had been drinking? those are the powerful words from one marylander. another wrote, quote, i remember the assault vividly.
i was on my way home from church. i don't remember the sermon before. details are fuzzy, but i remember the assault. i remember looking at a nearby home where i knew elderly people lived. i could see that their tv was on and i wondered would they even hear me scream. i didn't tell people. i didn't think people wobble -- people would believe me. end of quote. another constituent wrote me this quickly, without editing, she told me she cried when she read it to her husband. here's what she wrote, quote, having experienced in working with victims in a prosecutorial manner or as a judge, or even defending the executive -- the d does not make you an expert.
the expert is the victim. i am that victim. i am that expert. and as such, i can tell you absolutely, without hesitation that what haunts you most, what affects how you relate in the future with your loving spouse, what affects how you feel about yourself and what affects even your sense of smell is the memory of the person who abused you. not the address where it took place, not the time on the clock, not the day of the week, but the smell of the person assaulting you, the feel of their hands, the confusion in your head because you don't know what's happening because it's all happening so fast. and, yes, their name. you never forget their name. she went on to say, quote, then comes the shame. what did i do to cause this?
what will people think of me now because i've been touched, i've been tarnished? will i be believed? at this point my life has already been altered beyond repair, but it's an internal alter. if i talk, it alters my external world as well. maybe it's better to just not talk because then at least i can pretend things are as they have always been. i can just pretend that i'm exactly the same person, but i'm not. end of that passage. another wrote that she understood that a man could move on from assaulting a woman particularly if they were drunk at the time. she said, and i quote, the man who assaulted me later acted as if he was catching up with an old friend and had no memory of the event. i have several friends who have
experienced the same thing. end quote. another echoed a similar experience. , writing, quote, he had been drinking heavily with friends at a restaurant or bar. i had not. later that night he raped me. he was very inebriated and displayed a complete personality change. he was violent and angry and did not even seem to see me. i was paralyzed and probably saved my own life by not fighting back as he had essentially become a rabid animal. the next day i confronted him about what happened and he had no memory about the crime he committed. end quote. mr. president, these are not isolated incidents for survivors. as i said, i've gotten over 50, over 50 personal testimonials from survivors since dr. ford had the courage to come forward. people who have not shared what
happened to them with some of their closest friends or family members. these are stains etched in their memories. many of them, as i said, never told a soul. others were ignored or dismissed when they brought these awful experiences up, they were told to stay quiet. mr. president, it's insult to these survivors when some have called them partisan, and in many cases they went out of their way in their messages to me to say that their concern had nothing to do with ideology or partisanship. nothing. some told me they are republicans. others are independents. others grew up where at the time, when families had no care about politics. others told me they were democrats but