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tv   U.S. Senate 10312017  CSPAN  October 31, 2017 2:15pm-4:41pm EDT

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senate is the investigation being carried out by the intelligence committee and so far entirely bipartisan basis with senator chairman birth and ranking member mark warner working on that. that is our role in it. special counsel has his job to do and we will concentrate on what we are doing here in the senate. >> [inaudible] >> let me correct you. i think i know what i said. >> we leave the lawmakers and we turn to comments later on in the day. the senate reconvening now after their party lunches. in addition, since i have two separate statements, i ask that these two statements appear
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separately in the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to express my deepest gratitude to my friends at the mayo clinic's arizona campus where i was recently treated for cancer. this is not my first obligation to the arizona branch of this landmark medical institution, which is a sin mom for medical excellence for more than 100 years. i received outstanding care for a prior unrelated tumor in the year 2000. but in july of this year, i found myself at mayo once again. it's no exaggeration to say that the team of doctors, nurses, technicians who looked after me were my salvation. they located and removed a brain tumor that threatened my life. i will always be indebted for their timely and skillful
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intervention and for the outstanding support provided to my family by the entire mayo community. their professionalism is unmatched as is their compassion. thanks to my physicians, i was able to return to the senate after only ten days of recuperation. following my surgery, i received radiation and chemotherapy at mayo in one of the most modern facilities in the world. i mention that to draw attention to mayo's renowned as a center of excellence not only in the treatment of cancer but in virtually every field of medicine. a nonprofit institution, mayo has large hospitals in rochester, minnesota, phoenix, and jacksonville, florida, which employ almost 50,000 people. mayo also operates a network of more than 70 affiliated hospitals and clinics to which more than 1.3 million persons
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turn for treatment this year, patients from all 50 states and 137 different countries. moreover, the mayo system operates several premier colleges of medicine and is a world leader in medical research. this breadth of activity, outstanding in each facet, is remarkable. it is no exaggeration to claim that the mayo clinic is central to the astonishing success of american medicine. i've made my own career in public service, but as i reflect on my experience as a cancer patient, i'm humbled by the example of service to campaign provided by the entire mayo family. i am and always remain deeply grateful to everyone involved in my care. mr. president, i now would like to have the second aspect of my
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appearance recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i come to the floor today to recognize a remarkable group of physicians, people to whom i and many others owe a profound debt. i refer to the team that has led my treatment at the national cancer institute of the -- of the national institutes of health in bethesda, maryland. every year cancer claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of americans and millions of others across the globe. it is a relentless and complex disease. it comes in many forms that demand varied and specialized treatment. there are many centers of excellence in the struggle against cancer, but n.c.i. plays a special role. the physicians assembled there are recruited from the
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outstanding medical institutions of the world to lead the fight. yes, n.c.i. corn ducts its own research and treatment -- conducts its own research and treatment programs, and i am among its many patients. but more importantly, it oversees and funds our national effort against cancer awarding grants and supporting a nationwide network of 69n.c.i. designated cancer centers. n.c.i.'s role in the development of anticancer drugs has been especially noteworthy. roughly two-thirds of cancer medications approved by the f.d.a. have emerged from n.c.i.-sponsored trials. despite the special tenacity of this disease, we've made enormous strides to the lives of cancer patients, n.c.i. has added decades where once there were only years and years where
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once there were only months. they're closing in on the enemy in all its forms giving hope to millions of families and offering a real prospect of some day comprehensively eliminating this dreaded illness. n.c.i. is a large and expert team of scientists, doctors, nurses, technician, and administrators and all of them deserve our thanks. i'd like to single out for special mention a few who have won my particular gratitude and that of my family. but n.c.i. has requested that i not do so. instead, i will say this. all too often in american culture, we associate heroism with physical manifestations of courage. the toughness of the athlete, the daring of the soldier or sailor. my friends, we would do well to
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remind ourselves of and teach our children the more patient forms of bravery exemplified by our doctors and nurses and research scientists who wage the war against cancer day after day, year after year through their tireless effort, physicians and researchers of n.c.i. remind us of the heroes of the medical art showing it to be as samuel johnson called it, quote, the greatest benefit to mankind. it has certainly been a great benefit to me, and i am deeply, deeply grateful. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: today the senate will vote on the nomination of notre dame professor -- law professor amy barrett to serve
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on the circuit court of appeals. she's qualified and a bright nominee who's received praise and support across the legal profession. she clerked for judge silverman on the d.c. circuit court of appeals and for judge scalia on the supreme court. she has experience in private practice and many years as a law professor teaching constitutional law, federal courts, and statutory interpretation among others. and she was appointed by chief justice john roberts to sit on the advisory committee on federal rules of appellate procedure where she served for six years. her nomination has also received wide support. for example, in a letter to the judiciary committee, a bipartisan group of law professors encouraged the committee to confirm her nomination saying that professor
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barrett, quote, enjoys wide respect for her careful work, fair minded disposition and personal integrity. end of quote. and her colleagues at notre dame described her with this quote. as a model of the fair, impartial and sympathetic judge. despite this, all the democratic members of the judiciary committee voted against her nomination in committee, and i suspect most of the minority will vote against her confirmation later today. this, of course, is ashame and it does not speak well of our constitution, the united states senate. and i would like to explain why. when the judiciary committee voted on professor barrett's nomination, i listened to the reasons my colleagues gave for voting against her. some said that she didn't have
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enough experience to be a circuit court judge. well, the american bar association rated professor barrett as well qualified. the democrats have said that the a.b.a.'s ratings are very important to them when considering a nominee, once even calling it the gold standard. their votes certainly don't reflect that. i suspect the ratings don't actually matter to them since they voted against most of the well qualified nominees this congress. the minority has even requested that i not hold hearings on nominees when the committee hasn't received the a.b.a. ratings for that nominee as if the a.b.a., an outside group, can and should debate the committee's schedule. but even when we have well qualified or qualified ratings from the a.b.a., the minority
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still votes against these nominees. so the actual significance of the rating to the minority doesn't make a lot of sense. furthermore, lack of appellate experience hasn't meaforted before. -- mattered before. when president clinton nominated justice kagan to the d.c. circuit court of appeals, she had no appellate experience, but i remember my friend from vermont saying that the senate should vote on her nomination because she was, quote, an outstanding woman. her lack of appellate experience didn't appear to be of concern to my friends in the minority at the time of kagan's nomination coming before committee, so i don't understand why the standard is different now. another reason some of my colleagues gave when voting against her is that they say
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she'll disregard judicial precedent. of course, if that's true, that would be a very serious consideration. but looking at all of professor barrett's writings and listening to the testimony she gave, not once did she say that circuit or district court judges could disregard precedent. in fact, during her hearing, she told the committee that she understood, quote, circuit judges to be absolutely bound by the precedent of the supreme court. and then further quoted, circuit courts are bound to follow the precedent of their own circuit. end of quote. that doesn't sound like a nominee who won't respect precedent. in fact, she understands exactly the role of precedent and the
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limitations and restrictions placed on lower court judges. another senator argued that she has written provocative things like, quote, a judge will often entertain an ideological bias that makes him lean one way or the other. in fact, we might safely say that every judge has such an inclination. end of quote. i'm not sure why this statement is provocative. i think that everyone here knows that every person has their own biases and policy preferences, whether they're a judge or not a judge. in writing this, professor barrett shows awareness to recognize that every person comes to their job with personal biases and views. and this is especially important
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for a judge to recognize about themselves. in fact, she's so self-aware that this is a potential problem for judges that she cowrote an article arguing if a judge cannot set aside a personal preference in a particular matter before that judge, she shouldn't hear the case in the first place. now, these comments come from an article about potential issues catholic judges may face that professor barrett wrote in law school. the article was about catholic judges but could have been written about the biases of judges of any religion or of no religion at all. my friends in the minority have looked at a few of her comments
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from this article and seem to have concluded that she'll base her judicial decisions off of what her religion teaches. during her hearing, one senator even implied that professor barrett can't separate her religion from her judicial decision-making. but professor barrett has said and argued quite the opposite, and doing it several times. she believes it's highly inappropriate for a judge to use their own religious beliefs in legal reason. in fact, she concludes the very article the democrats are concerned with this way, and i quote, judges cannot and should not try to align our legal system with the church's moral
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teachings wherever the two diverge, end of quote. i think opposition to her nomination ultimately comes down to the fact that her personal views about abortion don't line up with the minority views about abortion. i knew the minority would ask her about her views on abortion, so during her nomination hearings, i took the advantage of being first to ask her if she will allow her religious views to dictate her legal decisions. she said that she would not. i also asked her if she will follow supreme court precedent involving abortion, and she simply and succinctly answered absolutely i would. at her hearings, the statement was made -- now, can you believe this? you're controversial because
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many of us who have lived our lives as a woman really recognize that the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems. that sentence is a direct quote. this statement alone is stunning to me for two reasons. first, that a nominee is controversial because she might share the views of over half -- that over half the country does, that abortion is wrong, and secretary, because this statement amounts to a religious test. in response, professor barrett said over and over that she has no power to overrule roe or any other abortion-related supreme court case, nor does she have interest in challenging that specific precedent. a further statement was made that, quote, religion has its own dogma the law is totally
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different, and i think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the con -- conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that is, of course, when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country. end of a direct quote. so the democrats are saying women who have personal beliefs consistent with their religion aren't eligible to be federal judges. even when they assure the committee, as she has, over and over again that they strongly believe in following binding supreme court precedent. if that's the case, if the minority is enforcing a
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religious litmus test on our nominees, this is an unfortunate day for the senate and for the country. others have spoken on the issue of a religious test, but i will remind my colleagues the constitution specifically provides that, quote, no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to an office under the united states, end of quote, as one of the most important founding principles. i don't think an evaluation of how religious a person is or how religious they might not be should ever be a part of that evaluation. we receive many letters on this topic, including one from princeton university president who is a former law clerk to justice stevens and happens to be a constitutional scholar.
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he writes that the questions democrats posed to professor barrett about her faith were, quote, not consistent with the principles set forth in the constitution's no religious test clause, end of quote, and that the views expressed in her law review article on catholic judges are, quote, fully consistent with the judge's obligation to uphold the law and the constitution. finally, this morning, my friend from illinois justified the democrats' questions in committee to professor barrett by noting that i also asked questions about her article in the committee, but there is a difference in simply asking a nominee if her religious views will influence her judicial decision-making and trying to ascertain just how religious a
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nominee is by asking this question -- do you consider yourself an orthodox catholic, end of quote, and saying an additional quote the dogma lives within you. my questions gave professor barrett a chance to explain her law review article, an article i knew democrats would question her over. the other side's questions and comments went to figure out just how strongly she holds her faith, which was the inappropriate line of questioning. i'll make one more related comment. i mentioned this in the judiciary committee, but i think it bears repeating on the floor because the issue will continue to come up. professor barrett and a few other nominees have a relationship or ties to the
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alliance defending freedom. that's a group which as several senators have recently pointed out -- has been labeled a hate group by the southern poverty law center. now, when the nominees are asked about this, they have pointed out that the southern poverty law center's designation is of itself highly controversial. i'd say it's completely unfounded. a.d.f., the organization alliance defending freedom is an advocacy organization that litigates religious liberty cases. they won six cases in front of the supreme court in the past six years, including cases related to free speech and children's playgrounds. they are not outside the mainstream. any difference in viewpoint folks may have with them boils down to simply policy
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differences. but dissent and differences of opinion do not equal hate, and it's wrong to compare an organization like a.d.f. to that of the ku klux klan or the nazi party, and by extension imply that the nominees before us sympathize with such actual hate groups. finally, i'd note that the southern poverty law center designates the american college of pediatricians and the jewish defense league as hate groups, so some of the southern poverty law center's designations appear to be discriminatory in and of themselves. professor barrett is a very accomplished, impressive nominee, and we know her personal support is compelling. she has seven children, several
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of whom are adopted from haiti, and one of whom has special needs. she is an accomplished attorney and well-respected law professor. i will be strongly supporting her nomination today, and i urge every one of my colleagues to do the same. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president, i rise to speak about the disaster supplemental that the trump administration is expected to send to congress as early as tomorrow. while congress has passed two supplemental aid bills since this year's hurricanes, i want to make it very clear that what we have already passed is not even close to what we will need to help puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands recover fully and rebuild. hurricane maria destroyed their power grids, significantly damaged their water infrastructure, and has made clean drinking water dangerously
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scarce. three of puerto rico's biggest industries -- manufacturing, finance, and tourism, which drive their already-struggling economy, remain severely damaged because the hurricane wiped out so many factories, buildings, and hotels. many puerto ricans who had a job the day before maria struck no longer have anyplace to go to work. in other words, in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands, this wasn't just a natural disaster. it's also an economic disaster that these local governments cannot dig out of on their own. our fellow citizens des prootly -- desperately need our help. listen to what one new yorker told me about how dangerous things are right now, especially for the sick and elderly. my constituent was trying to help someone in puerto rico who was autistic and bedridden. he was under the care of his 93-year-old father, and he needed surgery. he was taken to at least three
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separate medical facilities, and he spent countless hours in an ambulance with his elderly father. he was transported from one location to the next, but the medical facilities were finding it extremely difficult to communicate with each other. after all that, his doctor could find -- could not find any facility on the island to accept him into their care. he was finally able to get his treatment, but how many more people are still waiting for help? one other of my constituents is struggling to help his father who is in a rural area of puerto rico. she has only been able to speak to him briefly and exchange limited text messages, but her father suffers from heart issues and glaucoma, and he may need a prescription refilled very soon, if not right now. there are countless more stories just like these throughout my state, and no doubt in many of your states as well.
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mr. president, $36 billion for all of texas, florida, puerto rico, and the u.s. virgin islands just isn't enough. after hurricane katrina and rita, it cost the federal government $120 billion to rebuild the gulf coast. that is the amount of funding we need to be thinking about for puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands right now. it will take at least $5 billion just to rebuild puerto rico's power grid, and that won't even cover improvements to the system to be more resilient or more efficient than it was before the storm. right now, two-thirds of puerto rico still doesn't have power. that means no refrigeration so that people can have food to eat or keep medicine from spoiling, no electricity for oxygen tanks and nursing homes, no lights at night to keep people safe. it will take additional funding to restore roads so that whatever supplies do make it to puerto rico can actually be delivered and people can get to
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their loved ones in need. the small business administration will need billions of dollars to help people rebuild their businesses which are vital for basic economic recovery. the army corps of engineers will need funding and the authority to rebuild the dams and the ports that were damaged so that commerce can actually go on. and fema will likely need $8 billion more just to respond to all the households that have requested assistance to repair and rebuild their homes with the individual assistance program. in other words, the recovery effort must be massive. there's no way around it, because we can never turn our backs on fellow citizens, whether it's new york or texas or florida or the virgin islands or puerto rico. what we need right now is a marshall plan. that is the only way puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands are ever going to really fully recover. a new marshall plan would help puerto rico greatly reduce its
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crushing debt owned by hedge funds and gain access to basic liquidity. a new marshall plan would also completely modernize infrastructure in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands by rebuilding their energy grid, hospitals, roads, and bridges, reservoirs, schools, dams, and the thousands of buildings and homes that were destroyed by these hurricanes. so i urge all of my colleagues to join me in this effort. we must never stop fighting for puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands to get the funding they need to fully recover and fully rebuild. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the president pro tempore, the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to finish this full speech. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, the senate this week will consider four nominees to the u.s. court of appeals. two are well-regarded professors at prestigious law schools.
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two are highly respected state supreme court justices. each of them received the highest rating from the american bar association, well qualified, which my democratic colleagues have said is the gold standard for evaluating nominees. i applaud the majority leader for committing to do what it takes to confirm these nominees, including, if necessary, working through the weekend to get it done. i want to address the state of the confirmation process by focusing on one of these nominees as well as attempted to change the -- attempts to change the process itself. mr. president, later today we will confirm amy coney barrett to the seventh circuit. she has taught at the notre dame law school for 15 years in fields that are especially relevant to the work of a federal appellate judge. a distinguished and diverse group of more than 70 law
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professors from schools from massachusetts to california and from minnesota to florida wrote that her scholarship is, quote, rigorous, fair-minded, respectful, and constructive, unquote. i ask consent to place this letter in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: thank you, mr. president. the criticisms of professor barrett are laughable and ridiculous. one left-wing group, for example, objects because she has no judicial experience. i don't recall this group being concerned about the nearly 60 appeals court judges appointed by recent democratic presidents who have no prior judicial experience. in fact, president clinton appointed a judge with a profile strikingly similar to professor barrett, a woman who clerked on
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both the u.s. court of appeals and the u.s. supreme court after a few years in private practice, who taught at a well-known midwestern law school for 15 years and then received the a.b.a.'s highest rating to serve on this very same court. left-wing groups supported the democratic president's nominee but oppose the republican president's nominee. it appears that professor barrett has one big strike against her, and that is her religious faith. an important part of her life, by the way. that's all it takes for her critics to say that she has no place on the federal bench, that women or men with such personal religious faith cannot be
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impartial judges who respect the rule of law. that's bunk. it's ridiculous. it's despicable. it's stupid. and it's beneath the dignity of this body. i strongly reject that view. i find it appalling. these critics apparently believe that judges decide cases based on their personal beliefs. they may believe, but professor barrett certainly does not. in her hearings, she pledged to unfridgingly follow all supreme court -- unflinchingly follow all supreme court precedents. she said, quote, it is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions or their drives from faith or personal conviction, unquote. this has been her view for nearly two decades. in a 1998 law journal article,
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she coauthored, she explored the real-world situation of how a judge should approach the death penalty when her religious beliefs counsel against capital punishment. professor barrett wrote that, quote, judges cannot, nor should they, try to align our legal system with the church's moral teaching whenever the two diverge, unquote. in her hearing, i asked professor barrett about this article and about what should happen when a judge faces a conflict between her personal views and the law. i wanted the record to be crystal clear so that her views would not be distorted or misrepresented. here's what she said. on this chart, quote, i believe that the law wins. if a judge ever felt that for any reason she could not apply the law, her obligation is to
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recuse. i totally reject and i have rejected throughout my entire career the proposition that ... a judge should decide cases based on a desire to reach a certain outcome. unquote. her critics appear, to put it most charitably, to have read a different article by a different professor barrett. at a hearing one of my democratic colleagues observed that religious dogma and the lawyer are different. so far so good, as far as i'm concerned. so far so good. but then this -- quote, the dogma lives loudlying within you, and that's of concern, unquote. can you imagine that, in this day and age? one of our colleagues asked a question like that. professor barrett, as i described, has consistently argued for nearly 20 years that judges may not decide cases based on their personal
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religious beliefs. so what is the problem here? it appears that the problem for some critics is not professor barrett's religious faith, in general, but the particular religious faith she has. now, this sounds disturbingly like a religious test for public office. in fact, it is a religious test by some of our colleagues. -- who ought to be ashamed of themselves. mr. president, i thought america's founders put that to rest when they wrote article 6 of the u.s. constitution prohibiting a religious test for public office. i thought that we had grown past periods in our -- passed periods in our history when suspicion was leveled against someone running for public office simply because of the church to which he or she belonged. i thought that the free exercise of religion protected by the
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first amendment included being free from that kind of suspicion and prejudice. earlier today the assistant democratic leader tried to distract attention from this clearly inappropriate examination of professor barrett's religious beliefs. he suggested that my asking professor barrett whether a judge's personal beliefs should take precedence over the law is no different than expressing concern that, quote, the dogma lives loudly within you, unquote. let me be clear. inquiring whether a nominee will have her judicial priorities straight regarding the law and her personal view is one thing. inquiring about her religious beliefs themselves is something very different. and i believe it should be off limits. i enthusiastically support professor barrett's nomination,
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precisely because she knows the difference between her personal beliefs and the law and is completely committed to mainta maintaining that distinction when she becomes a judge. let me now take a step back from this nominee and focus on the confirmation process itself. the constitution gives the power to nominate and appoint judges to the president, and it gives the power of advice and consent to the senate as a check on the president. the latest dispute about the senate's part in this process concerns a practice used in the judiciary committee to highlight the views of senators regarding judicial nominees that would serve in their states. chairman have come to use a blue piece of paper to inquire about a home state senator's views on a particular nominee. we call it the blue slip. today democrats and their grassroots and media allies are
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demanding that the blue-slip process be used as a single-senator veto, even though it involves a court of appeals judge who will represent a wide variety of states, if not the whole country. they demand that a single home state senator be able at any time for any reason be able to stop a nomination dead in its tracks without any judiciary committee consideration at all. that's ridiculous. i can understand why they want to weaponize the blue slip like this. after all, they once used the filibuster to prevent confirmation of republican judges but then abolished nomination filibusters so that no one else could use them. democrats are today trying to turn the blue-slip process into a de facto filibuster.
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they want a single senator to be able to do in the judiciary committee what it once took 41 senators to do on the senate floor. shortly after the democrats abolished nomination filibuste filibusters, judiciary committee chairman patrick leahy warned, quote, as long as the blue-slip process is not being abused by home state senators, then i will see no reason to change that tradition, unquote. he was right. the key is to know when that line has been crossed. and senator leahy made that point. i've served on the judiciary committee for more than 40 years. that experience leads me to suggest two things that can help us prevent abuse of this part of the confirmation process. the first thing to keep in mind
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is that -- is the history of the blue-slip process. 19 senators have chaired the judiciary committee, including me. -- since this practice began in 1917. ten democrats and nine republicans. only two of those 19 chairmen have treated the blue slip as a single-senator veto. according to the congressional research service, until the 1950's, no judiciary committee chairmen treated a negative blue slip as a single-senator veto. home state senators could express their objections in confirmation hearings and the judiciary committee might report a nomination to the senate with a negative recommendation, but in each case the process moved forward. senator james eastland who was chairman when i first joined the
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judiciary committee, a democrat, was the first chairman to treat a negative blue slip more like a veto. since then, according to c.r.s., the blue-slip policy has been modified to, quote, prevent a home state senato senator from g such an absolute power over the fate of a nominee from they are state, unquote the -- from their state, unquote. under chairman ted kennedy, for example, a negative blue slip did not stop consideration of a nominee. chairman joe biden actually put his policy in writing in a letter to president george h.w. bush in early 1989. a negative blue slip, wrote chairman biden, would not be a veto if the administration had consulted with home state senators. when i became chairman in 1995 of the judiciary committee and again in 1997, i wrote the white house counsel that i would
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continue the biden policy. the second thing to remember is the purpose of the blue-slip process. as i wrote in both 1995 and 1997, it is, quote, a courtesy the committee has established to ensure that the prerogative of home state senators to advise the committee of their views is protected, unquote. nearly two decades later in a 2014 op-ed i wrote for "the hill," i said the same thing, that highlighting the views of home state senators encourages genuine consultation with the senate when the president chooses individual judicial nominees. the history and purpose of the blue-slip process will help identify where it is being used properly and when it is being abused. and, believe me, confirmation
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abuses have occurred. before 2001, for instance, only 1% of judicial nominees with no opposition were -- only 1% with no opposition were confirmed by a time-consuming roll call vote. under president george w. bush that figured jumped to 56%, right here. before 2001 there had been four filibusters of judicial nominees and no majority-supported judicial nominee had ever been defeated by a filibuster. under president george w. bush, democrats conducted 20
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filibusters and ultimately kept multiple appeals court nominees from being confirmed. in july we held another unnecessary cloture vote on a district court nominee. an unnecessary cloture vote. after voting 97-0 to end the debate that no one apparently wanted in the first place, democrats forced us to delay the confirmation vote by two more days. this is the first time in history that a unanimous cloture vote was not followed immediately by a confirmation vote. what's going on here? what's wrong with our colleagues on the other side? why are they doing this? they could have taken a few hours but instead took two weeks from the filing of the cloture motion to the final unanimous confirmation vote that took
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place here. now this is not the only time that democrats have forced cloture votes to slow consideration of nominees they end up supporting. what was the point of all that? it's simple. democrats want to make confirming president trump's judicial nominees as cumbersome and time-consuming as possible. this point in president obama's first year, when republicans were in the majority, by the way, -- excuse me. in the minority. excuse me. the senate took cloture votes on less than 1% of the executive and judicial branches. 1% of all the nominees that we confirmed. this year, with democrats in
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the minority playing confirmation spoiler, the senate has been forced to take cloture votes on more than 27% of the nominees we confirmed. in fact, including those we will take this week, democrats have forced us to take 51 cloture votes on president trump's nominees so far this year. that is seven times -- seven times -- as many as during the combined first years of automatic nine presidents since the cloture rule has applied to nominations. seven times. these were the nominations under obama.
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here's president trump. what's going on here? that's seven times as many as during the combined first years of all nine presidents since the cloture rule has applied to nominations. in 2013, democrats abolished the ability of 41 senators to prevent confirmation. today they are demanding the ability of one senator, just one senator to prevent confirmation. if that is not an abuse of the confirmation ground rules, i don't know what is. it would be a mistake to do the blue slip process -- to do to the blue slip process what has been done to other elements of the senate's advice and consent role. this can be prevented by following the less partisan
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guidance of history. and purpose to chart our way forward. the blue slip process exists to highlight the views of home state senators, and of course to encourage whoever is executive in this country, whoever is the president to be open to the feelings of the state senators and to consult with them on judicial nominees. if it is serving those purposes, the blue slip process should not become yet another tactic for hijacking the president's power to appoint judges. what we have going on here today with president trump's nominees is hypocritical, it's wrong,
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it's debilitating to the courts courts, and it's unconstitutional. it bothers me that my colleagues on the other side are doing this when they themselves were treated much more fairly by our side. not just much more fairly. absolutely more fairly. this is really pathetic, and i hope that we can somehow or other bring ourselves to treat each other on both sides better. but with regard to judges, whoever is president ought to be given great consideration for the choices. that's what we do when we elect a president. and i know that it's tough on the other side -- and president trump is the president -- but he is the president and he's picking really excellent people for these judicial nominations. so i just hope that we start
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changing this process and get it back to being a reasonable, effective, honest and good process. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that not withstanding rule 22 at 3:30 today there be 30 minutes of postcloture time remaining on the barrett nomination equally divided between the leaders or their designees, and that following the use or yielding back of that time the senate vote on the confirmation of the barrett nomination. and that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none, without objection.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i rise today to discuss a matter of religious liberty. in particular, i urge this body to respect our constitutional values and avoid any hint of applying religious tests to those who heed the call of government service. freedom of religion is as foundational a principle as we have in this country. yet, some in this chamber want to take a cabinet view of it. if you're a judicial nominee, it's time to attend the occasional worship service, but don't let on that you take it too seriously. that seems to be unacceptable. from the inception of our republic, religious believers have chosen to serve the country in countless ways, whether through the armed forces, holding elected office, or sitting on the courts. americans of faith have always answered the call. we should welcome this service,
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and we should not sit idly by while others question the propriety of their service while suggesting a de facto religious test. the framers of the constitution were fearful of this very thinking. they understood the importance of religious participation and foresaw the benefits that religious believers of all backgrounds would contribute to the common good. they also knew from centuries of war and suffering in europe the high cost of religious intolerance. that's why they made it clear in article 6 of the constitution that no public officers could be subject to a religious test. this edict was entirely unambiguous in its language and its intent. this country is to be served by people of all faiths committed to the constitution and the common good. it is up to us to question of qualifications and jurisprudence of nominees, not their religious views.
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unfortunately, that is not what is happening to professor barrett. i was at her confirmation hearing where she faced inappropriate questions and objections based on her religious views. i witnessed a citizen heeding the call to serve her country only to face inquiries into her religious beliefs that bordered on ridicule. my friends on the other side of the aisle defended their questions and their conduct, and i don't do you do their sincere -- and i don't doubt their sincerity. but there is little comfort in the defense that it doesn't matter that professor barrett is a catholic but somehow it matters what sort of catholic she is. these are unconstitutional distinctions without differences. in addition, otherwise respectable news outlets have provided sensational reports of professor barrett's personal charismatic religious practices. as a member of the united states senate, i find this troubling.
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as a person of faith, i find this objectionable. and above all, as an american, i find this abhorrent. it is religious liberty enshrined in constitutional provisions like article 6 in the first amendment that has allowed my faith and so many others to flourish in the united states. it is also religious liberty that is threatened when we seek to evaluate the fitness of nominees for high office based on religious orthodoxy. i've endeavored to be consistent on this issue during my time in public service. when the president alabama nominee of my -- when the presidential nominee of my party, the party of lincoln, called for a muslim ban, it was wrong, and i said so. that is not what we stand for. when a judge expressed his personal belief that a practicing muslim shouldn't be a member of congress because of his religious faith, it was wrong. that this same judge is now my
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party's nominee from the senate from alabama should concern us all. religious tests have no place in the united states congress. standing up for people of faith, whether muslim or catholic, who are facing unfair prejudice should be an act of basic conscience that should be expected of all of us regardless of party. it is no better for democrats to evaluate the judicial nominee based on how many books are in the bible on which he swears or oath than it is for republicans to judge a congressman who swears his oath on the koran. to suggest that somehow a roman catholic judge would discard the constitution in favor of church doctrine which she has emphatically and repeatedly said she would not, is as wrong as suggesting that a muslim judge would be somehow forced to follow shah rhea law over -- sharia law over the constitution. religious liberty must not
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depend on the religion in question. so i ask, in light of these circumstances, who will stand today against all cases of religious bigotry? are there true liberals who will stand up for the liberal values of religious tolerance? some have. some like professors larry tribe, noah feldman and chris iceburger. they have said enough. who here will join them? this very body is made up from individuals from around 15 different faiths. each of us has sworn an oath to the constitution. each of us here feel that we can competently carry out our duties and do those in the -- as do those in the judicial branch who swear a similar oath to uphold the constitution. mr. president, let us stand together today without equivocation and say no to religious intolerance in all its forms by examining the
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jurisprudential views and professional qualifications of judicial nominees, not their relationship with the almighty. mr. president, i yield back. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. cornyn: last night we held a cloture vote on the nomination of amy coney barrett who has been nominated to the u.s. court of appeals for the seventh circuit. and thanks to a unanimous consent request by the majority leader just moments ago, we'll be voting on that nomination around 4:00.
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that circuit for appeals court covers cases from indiana, illinois and wisconsin. by all accounts professor barrett is a wife and devoted mother of seven children. she is an exemplary scholar whose research focuses on federal courts, constitutional law and statutory interpretation. by all accounts, she's a consummate professional, a beloved teacher, a gifted writer and a generous person. there's no doubt in my mind she'll make an excellent addition to one of our nation's highest courts. we know, based on what we've observed here in the senate since president trump was sworn in on january 20, and some of the comments made by the distinguished former chairman of the senate judiciary committee from utah, senator hatch, we know that our democratic colleagues are deliberately slow-walking judicial and other nominations.
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but it makes absolutely no sense to slow-walk the nomination of professor barrett. they should remember some of their own previous statements. for example, the senior senator from vermont said in 2013, he said we need more women in our federal courts. emphasizing that women are grossly unrepresented there. well, professor barrett would help solve what the senator from vermont claimed he saw as a problem. then there's the junior senator from washington the same year that said that having more females on the court is incredibly important. well, i agree. so all the more reason for this body to expedite professor barrett's confirmation instead of dragging our heels. because, as i said yesterday, thanks to the former democrat majority leader harry reid, the
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democrat -- democrats delay tactics will not change the outcome. in the judiciary committee some attempted to argue her nomination because of a law view article she coauthored almost 20 years ago. i don't have time to discuss the article in depth, but suffice it to say she has been attacked for professing her catholic faith. her article, however, makes clear that any line of criticism that she would somehow sub ji gate the rule of law is baseless. that same law review article said, quote, junction cannot nor should they try to align our legal system with the church's moral teachings whenever the two merge. professor barrett upholds the law whether they are based on
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religious conviction or some other reason. former chief justice rehnquist once said that no judicial nominee is a blank slate. that is true of ms. barrett too. she is a person of faith who doesn't hide it, but she certainly need not apologize for it either nor is it a disequal indication for her serving -- disqualification for her serving on the circuit court of appeals. the article she authored said that judges should not -- and recusing or disqualifying themselves when in very rare cases judicial decision making may constitute cooperation with evil. in other words, if she said if there were a conflict between her religious beliefs and the law, in a way that she could not reconcile, clearly she would
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make that choice in an individual and rare case by recusing herself from deciding that case rather than imposing her religious views or other deeply held personal views in the place of the constitution and the law. that is commendable, mr. president, it's not controversial, or it shouldn't be. to attempt to faithfully honor both the law and one's deeply held moral convictions is something we do every day. it is not an either or situation. some liberal groups have engaged in smear tactics against professor barrett trying to discredit her by making spear -- claims that she has given information to. we all remember questions during the judiciary committee hearing about, quote, orthodox
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catholics. one of my colleagues admitted to having a, quote, uncomfortable feeling about the nominee and stated with mild disdain, the dogma lives loudly within professor barrett. whatever that means. this sort of backhanded way of painting the professor as somehow radical or out of the mainstream, insinuating that because of her moral views may be unfashionable in some of the circles in which some of the senators operate, the idea that they are somehow disqualifying should be completely out of bounds in the united states of america because our constitution prohibits religious tests for public service. so i reject in the strongest of terms this line of questioning or the insinuation that follows from it. if we tolerate this sort of
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commentary and she religious tests, i fear that even worse an even more openly hostile discrimination will result down the road. we should not start down this path. i join my colleague, the senior senator from utah, who questioned, quite legitimately, whether certain of our colleagues were beginning to impose an inappropriate, unconstitutional religious litmus test for public office. of course there should never be such a test, not in the united states of america under this constitution many and in professor barrett's case she passes with flying colors the only tests that are appropriate. let's just talk a moment about her impeccable credentials which show not only she is highly intelligent but also widely respected by a diverse array of students, scholars, and practitioners. she received her undergraduate
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degree from rhodes college and her law degree from notre dame where she finished first in her class. she was selected as professor of the year at notre dame where she has taught since the year 2002. it's clear that her students love her. they seek out her classes and inspired by her informable presence and piercing analysis. all of her faculty members have endorsed her. every member of the law faculty has supported her nomination. as on any law school faculty, that presumably includes scholars that self-identify as liberal. in a separate letter, 70 law professors from across the country representing a large frame called the professor's
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qualifications first rate. they explained that ms. barrett, quote, enjoys wide respect for her careful work, her fair-minded disposition and her personal integrity. that's exactly the type of people we need on the federal bench. finally, professor barrett's legal experience is not just as an academic. she clerked for two highly respected judges, judge laurence silverman of the d.c. circuit and the late justice antonin scalia of the united states supreme court. she practiced appellate law at a prestigious law firm of baker and botts. this shows that professor barrett would serve the cause of justice skillfully and impartially. i'll close by saying to my colleagues, let's ensend amy
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coney barrett -- let's send amy coney barrett to the seventh circuit where she belongs. mr. president, i yield the floor and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. young: i rise to speak in support -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call.
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mr. young: may we dispense with the quorum call, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. young: i rise to speak of a fellow hoosier who has been nominated to serve on the seventh circuit court of appeals. she is the mother of seven children, a distinguished legal scholar at the university of notre dame law school where she graduated with high honors and served as editor of the notre dame law review. she clerked for justice antonin scalia on the supreme court of the united states and judge silverman on the circuit court for the district of columbia and she's an expert on the federal courts. unfortunately some of my colleagues on the left have made an issue of professor barrett's catholic faith. echoing what leader mcconnell has said, we do not have religious tests for office in the united states of america. period. i applaud all of those who spoke
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up as the senate weighs professor barrett's confirmation. that includes reverend john jenkins. he expressed deep concern at the questioning of professor barrett's faith. following professor barrett's hearing in the senate judiciary committee, reverend jeng inns wrote, it -- jenkins wrote that it is chilling to hear from a united states that this might disqualify someone for service as a federal judge. the -- the president of -- in judicial appointments. in a letter to the senate judiciary committee, president isgruber wrote that professor barrett should be evaluated on the basis of her professional ability not religion. he wrote, quote, every senator and every american should
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cherish and safeguard vigorously the freedom guaranteed by the inspiring principle set fourth in article 6 of the united states constitution. now, despite the rote rick surrounding professor barrett's nomination, i have yet to hear any significant doubts about her legal qualifications. professor barrett made clear that her personal views will have no baring on her rulings as a judge. and she brings the skillset and temperament needed for the job. she will rule according to the law and according to controlling precedence. and be faithful to the constitution. there is no question professor barrett will make an outstanding appellate judge. 450 former students signed a letter to the judiciary committee in support of professor barrett's nomination. they wrote, our support is driven not by politics but by a
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belief that professor barrett is supremely qualified. all 49 of her fellow faculty members at notre dame law school did the same. they said, we have a wide range of political views as well as commitments to different approaches to judicial methodology and judicial craft. we are united, however, in our judgment about amy. their endorsement comes as no surprise since professor barrett has served on committees dedicated to bering the lives of student -- bettering the lives of students, faculty and employees at the university of notre dame. in particular she's dedicated her time to the professional development of women. she serves on the university of notre dame's committee on women, faculty, and students. as the faculty advisor for notre dame law school's women's legal forum, she has twice been recognized by her students with
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the distinguished teaching award. she's selected by the graduating class to honor a faculty member. she was selected twice to receive that award. one former student connor dugan shared his story about professor barrett's willingness to help him navigate the next steps of his career right after law school. now, he said that despite not having professor barrett for a big class, she wrote him back right away and took time out of her busy schedule to help someone who is no longer at the school. connor says professor barrett's always been very responsive and a generous mentor over the years. most importantly, he says, she tries to help people keep perspective about the most important things in life. judge silberman who professor barrett clerked for on the circuit court of the district of columbia had the following to say about why she will make an
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outstanding federal judge. she is an honorable and straight as an arrow woman. she looks at the law without preconceived notions, and she's brilliant. she's the only law clerk i've ever had from notre dame, and she's as smart as any law clerk i have ever had. she is compassionate and she has a lively sense of humor. judges, former law student, fellow law professors, and even the american bar association who rates professor barrett as well qualified all seem to agree that she is well suited for the job. now, being nominated to serve in a lifetime appointment for a u.s. circuit court of appeals is a privilege few in the legal profession will ever attain. this is a historic opportunity. as professor barrett would be the first hoosier woman to have
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the seat on the seventh circuit court. i offer my strong support for professor barrett's nomination, and i look forward to the senate confirming her today. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order there are now 30 minutes of post cloture time remaining equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to a vote on confirmation of the barrett nomination. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i'm here today to join my colleague from indiana in supporting the nomination of amy coney barrett to be on the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit. as we all know, that's the highest court you can serve on except for the supreme court. the circuit court, the court that often makes the final determination of what the law
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says if the supreme court chooses not to act or isn't asked to act. these are important jobs to be filled and carry great responsibility. amy coney barrett, two other women, and one man this week will come before this senate to be confirmed to various circuit courts around the country. and as others have come to the floor to point out, she is extremely qualified. she should be confirmed by the senate this week. in letters to the senate judiciary committee, 73 law professors said things like professor barrett's qualifications for a seat on the u.s. court of appeals for the seveseventh circuit are first r. her law school students wrote that they would like to see her, her former students see her on the court.
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she's a distinguished scholar in areas of law that matter most to the federal courts. she respects the constitution. she understands the job of a judge is to see what the constitution and the law says rather than what she thinks it should say. she's known for her careful work, for her fair minded disposition, and for her personal integrity. similar things have been noted by people who served with her as supreme court law clerks, her former students, and lots of other groups that have had reason to know her and evaluate her work over the years have been universal in one thing which is that she would be a great addition to a circuit court in the united states and particularly to this court. it's discouraging that during her confirmation hearings
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several of my colleagues felt it appropriate to question professor barrett's faith. and she's not the only one of president trump's nominees who have been subject to this line of questioning. in fact, in june one senator held out the idea that a person who is going to be in the office of management and budget might not be well suited or able to serve in that job not because they didn't have the background, not because he didn't have the preparation, not because he didn't know what the job was all about, but because of his answers to questions about his personal view of faith. even when the united states in its earlier times may have quietly discriminated against people of faith, it was never publicly stated.
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sometimes it took a long time for the first jew to serve on the court, a little time for the first catholic to serve on the supreme court, but there was never a stated question like there has been in this senate about those topics. it's shocking in many ways that that would be something that we'd be talking about in the united states of america today. the idea that a qualification for public office would require a religious test in fact was specifically prohibited not just in the bill of rights in the protection for religion there but in the constitution itself. the people who wrote the constitution at a time when a religious test was often the test for service, when fielded to a specific religion or to the monarch who was the head of the church of that country.
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in many cases many countries had a church where the monarch was clearly understood to be the principle representative of the church in that country, even at a time when that was still the case and fresh in minds and where there may have been religious tests in some of the colonies, even then in the constitution, article 6 says no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the united states. so it's even appropriate to ask a religious question. most questions in america you're free to ask but are you free to ask that under the determination of the constitution as if it matters? in response to this line of questioning, some members of the senate judiciary committee made it clear that it's never
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appropriate for those questions to be asked while others ask them, but professor barrett in her own writing has said if the -- if a person's religious faith, if their faith principles ever become an obstacle to determining what the law says, then they should step back and not be part of that case. they should not, according to her, impose their personal convictions on the law but read what the law says. and if they can't do that, they should make way for a judge who can. i think maybe that's one of the differences, mr. president, in a judicial nominee who believes that their job is to determine what the law says as opposed to determine what the law should say. so we have somebody here who is well prepared, well written, clearly made the case that her job as a judge or any job of a
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judge, any judge's job would not be to determine what the law should say based on their view of faith or their view in the world but to look at the law and say what does the law say, that the constitution guides the congress. the congress passes the law. and as long as that law meets constitutional principles based on what the constitution says, not what it should say but what it says, then the judge looks at what the law says, not what it should say in his or her opinion but what the law does say. so there's really no real room for faith determination there. the only job of the judge is to decide what the law says and the second job, if there is a second job, would be to ensure that it also conforms with what the constitution says the congress and the president are allowed to do. one thing the congress and the constitution are not allowed to
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do is establish a religious test for public office, whether americans have any faith or no faith of all, they should be concerned if we begin to talk about this differently. even though it was already in the constitution, mr. president, the founders listed freedom of religion as the first freedom in the first amendment. no other country has ever set out as its -- as one of its foundational principles freedom of religion. president jefferson said, not known to be the most religious of all our presidents, maybe to be the most questioning of religion generally, president jefferson said in a letter in the last year of his presidency, of all the rights that we have, the one we should hold most dear is what he called the right of conscience. the right to believe what you
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yourconscience -- your conscience leads you to believe is the right thing to believe. jefferson said that's the right we should hold most dear whether you're muslim or jewish or catholic or buddhist, whether you're of any faith or no faith at all, there is no religious test for any individual and for all individuals of any faith or all faith or no faith, religious freedom includes the right of an individual to live, to work, to associate, and if they choose to worship, to worship in accordance with their beliefs. the belief that a person's religion would in some way disqualify that person from public service has to be strongly and fully rejected. now, there's no other legitimate question raised about this nominee today so certainly i'm pleased to see many of my colleagues come to the floor to talk about this topic. professor barrett did receive some bipartisan support on the
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first vote, the cloture vote yesterday. one way to demonstrate that there is clearly no objection to a person of faith who says that faith should never get in the way of the job they do as a judge is simply to vote for the judge. and so, mr. president, i intend to do that today. i urge my colleagues to do that as well. a lifetime appointment to the circuit court of the united states of america is no small obligation. it's no small trust in an individual's capacity to do the job that you ask them to do. all of the nominees, the four circuit nominees that we will have before us this week, are prepared for these jobs. i wish them happy service and a long and healthy life as they set out on the task they have agreed to accept if and when and
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this week the senate will confirm them to these jobs. and, mr. president, with that i see an absence of a quorum and would note it. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call in process -- progress be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr the question occurs on the barrett nomination. mr. inhofe: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on the nomination, the
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ayes are 55, the nays are 43. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the president will immediately be -- be immediately notified of the senate's action. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on -- the presiding officer: order. the clerk may continue. the clerk: of the standing rules he was senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of joan luis larsen of michigan to be a united states circuit judge for the sixth circuit signed by 1 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of joan louise larsen of michigan to be the united states circuit judge for the sixth circuit, shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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