tv Senate Judiciary Attorney General Vote CSPAN February 11, 2019 3:26pm-6:45pm EST
but right now, the conversation is very vague and it talks about privacy as a general idea and people mean really different things about communicators" tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. have you seen c-span's newest book? "the senate." hundreds of gorgeous photos. magnificent, says don richie, senate historian emeritus. and senate historian roger baker says, mesmerizing photographs establish this book as the ultimate insider's tour. to order your high-quality paperback copy of "the senate" for $18.95 plus shipping, visit c-span.org/senatebook. the senate judiciary committee voted 12-10 along party lines to recommend william barr to be the next attorney general. prior to voting, the committee
debated his nomination along with several other judicial nominations. mr. barr's nomination now goes to the full senate for a vote which is expected to take place this week. senator lindsey graham chairs the judiciary committee. >> welcome. i think some of our folks are at the prayer breakfast. pray for them to get here on time. so, the business of the committee today is to pass a budget so we can pay our people and have money to spend on the business of the committee. to organize, to set the subcommittees and the rules. senator feinstein and i have reached an agreement on both of those issues and to take up nominations in their large number, but when you look at history, i feel comfortable we can do this. mr. barr will be up today.
i think we need a new attorney general. i appreciate what mr. whitaker's done, but i think the time has come for new leadership at the department. when it comes to judges, of the 44, 19 have previously been voted upon. 13 by party line vote. i think we have seven that we've reached consensus on regarding a voice vote, and all the other nominees have already had hearings in the last congress. i'd like to dispose of this and get on to other things. for the committee, there was a request made by i think senator blumenthal and feinstein to do a hearing about the deaths of the two young children in custody, dhs custody. that's going to be set, i think, for march -- march 5th. i talked to senator blumenthal about some red-flag legislation i'm working on with him. so to my friends on the other
side, there seems to be a lot that we actually agree upon, and i'd like to make this a productive committee bipartisan as possible, and with that, i'll turn it over to senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman, and i know this side of the aisle very much appreciates your comments, so thank you. today, the committee, as you said, is voting on 46 nominees. 4 4 judicial nominees as well a william barr's nomination to be attorney general of the united states. i'd like to first address mr. barr's nomination. as i have said from the outset, the question for the senate is whether he is the right person for the job at this time. special counsel mueller is in the midst of an investigation into russian interference in the 2016 election. whether any u.s. persons were engaged in those efforts, and whether there has been attempts to obstruct justice. that investigation includes both
criminal and counterterrorism allegations. it has already led to 37 indictments and guilty pleas, including six of the president's former advisers. this is also expanded to include investigations and cases in the southern district of new york, the eastern district of virginia, and the district of columbia's u.s. attorney's office. special counsel mueller must be allowed to finish, and other trump-related investigations and cases must also proceed without interference with the underlying facts and evidence shared with the congress and with the american people. this report must be made public. at mr. barr's hearing, i asked several questions about the investigation and the report that mueller is expected to produce and so did a lot of other senators.
i also sent two letters following the hearing asking for mr. barr's commitment to provide the report to congress and not interfere with the investigations. unfortunately, mr. barr would not commit to providing special counsel mueller's findings and the final report to the congress, nor did he answer my letters. this is particularly concerning, as nothing in existing law or regulations prevents the attorney general from sharing the report. in fact, as part of our oversight responsibilities, congress routinely requests and receives confidential information to closed investigations. and in the most recent example, congress asked for and received investigative information including transcripts of fbi interviews of witnesses involved
in the examination of secretary clinton's e-mail. the president routinely tweeted and republicans demanded all information be turned over and it was. the president has said that release on mueller's report will be totally up to the attorney general. this clearly means that this nominee, to me, at least, is reluctant to state a position and that's troubling at the very least. mr. barr wrote an extensive single-spaced 19-page memorandum 5 months before being named to this post. he provided great detail and legal arguments for his view of the president's absolute authority. under his theory, the president is above the law in most
respects. for example, mr. barr argued that conflict of interest laws cannot apply to the president because they, quote, would imper miss bli disempower the president from overseeing parties including those in which he has a personal stake. mr. barr concluded that the constitution, quote, places no limit on the president's authority to act on matters which concern him or his own conduct, end quote. that's page 11. and he argued that certain presidential actions including firing fbi director james comey or telling the fbi to go easy on michael flynn can never be obstruction of justice because the statute does not explicitly name the president. that's the memo at page 10.
this is a stunning legal argument. also, it was given to the white house prior to his appointment. taken to its natural conclusion, none of our laws would apply to the president unless the president is explicitly named. in fact, when combined with the view that the president can interfere with investigations into his own conduct, or that impact his personal interests, the only conclusion is that the president is above the law. that's stunning. to argue that the president has no check on his authority flies in the face of our constitutional principles of checks and balances. but the arguments made in barr's memo go even farther. to assert that presidents have no limits on their power to insert themselves in law
enforcement matters. even those involving their personal interests. and that can't be acceptable to any of us. i believe the memo is disqualifying. i'm also concerned about mr. barr's evasiveness when asked about roe v. wade. to many women in this country is all-important. specifically, when asked whether he still believes that roe should be overturned, mr. barr would not provide an answer, and instead, spoke to past practices of the department. and when mr. barr was asked, would you defend roe if it were challenged? he replied, and i quote, "i mean, usually, the way this would come up would be a state regulation of some sort and whether it's permissible under roe v. wade, and i would hope that the solicitor general would make whatever arguments are
necessary to address that." bottom line, he did not commit to defending roe or to fighting state efforts to restrict a woman's constitutional right to choose. in addition, mr. barr was not willing to distance himself from the president's harsh immigration policies. including the president's threats to nullify the long-accepting constitutional guarantee of citizenship to anyone born on u.s. soil. when asked about this specific proposal, mr. barr refused to agree that the 14th amendment guarantees citizenship to those born in the united states. i personally find this very troublesome, especially given the plain language of the constitution. i also asked mr. barr about legal prohibitions on torture,
and his comment that, and i quote, "under the laws of war, absent a treaty, there is nothing wrong with coercive interrogation. applying pain, discomfort, and other things to make people talk, so long as it doesn't cross the line and involve the gratuitous barbarity involved in torture." this statement was made despite the existence of a geneva conventions and the united nations convention against tortu torture. and when pressed, mr. barr would not affirm the well-established position that waterboarding is torture. thanks to senator mccain, i was his co-sponsor, the law now confines all interrogation to the points laid out in the army field manual. now for comments on our blue
slip tradition. unfortunately, mr. chairman, and i wished i had a chance to talk to you about this earlier, we are now seeing a departure from this tradition. today, this committee is voting on four circuit court nominees who lack support from home state senators. this is really unfortunate and it's brand-new and we're proceeding with these four nominations despite the lack of six blue slips. i would urge this committee to reconsider. we've seen firsthand what happens when blue slips are honored. for instance, president obama worked with georgia's two republican senators, saxby chambliss and johnny isakson to reach an agreement on two nominees to the 11th circuit. . including julie karnes who was recommended by the two senators. and during the trump
administration when the white houses worked with democrats to identify district court nominees, consensus nominees have been identified and confirmed quickly as was done in pennsylvania with senator casey. as senator strom thurmond argued to then-chairman of this committee, ted kennedy, in 1979, this, and this is a quote, "this is my 25th year in the senate. ever since i've been here, i was told by senators who've been here a long time before i had the custom -- before i heard the custom, was that if any senator failed to return a blue slip, a nominee would not be considered by the judiciary committee." senator thurmond went on to say, and i quote, "i do not favor this committee running roughshod or any one senator from any one
state." i hope this does not begin to happen today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator feinstein. if we could, i'd like to move to adopting the budget. senator feinstein and agreed on the resolution. legislative draft marked rom-19111 and circulated to the committee members. we have a majority of the committee present. i'd like to adopt this resolution by voice vote, if we could. all in favor, say aye. >> aye. >> all opposed, nay. the ayes have it. in terms of committee organization, ranking member feinstein and i agreed on the committee's rules and subcommittee assignments and circulated both to the committee members. we have the proper present. voice vote. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. ayes have it. de now to nominations.
we have ahead of us 44 judges. mr. barr, as i previously said. 19 of the judges on the calendar for the day have been previously voted on by the committee. i hope the district court judges hopefully we can do by voice vote. all 44 have had hearings. i'd like to proceed to the nominations and get this done by today. and so we can move forward in the committee with new business and sort of have a fresh start here. so, with that, i want to give my colleagues on the democratic side as much time as possible. the two-hour rule, i've been told, will not be waived. that means we have to do our business at -- we cease to exist at 2:00. so i would propose at 12:45 we start voting. and get through these nominations and that will give
us all a chance to talk. on our side, we'll limit our side to 30 minutes. sorry about that. but i give you about two hours to talk about mr. barr and anything else you want to talk about. >> mr. chairman, just note one thing on the -- i believe i'm going to want a roll call on most of the -- >> yes, sir. >> -- nominees, especially because the blue slip -- >> yes, sir. >> -- which has always been called today was not called. >> okay. so i would like to make a motion that at 12:45, we begin voting on the committee's nominations. all those in favor. clerk will call the roll. >> mr. grassley. >> aye. say aye. >> mr. cornyn. >> let me -- >> by proxy. aye by proxy. >> mr. lee. >> aye by proxy. >> mr. cruz. >> aye by proxy. >> mr. sasse. >> aye.
>> mr. holly. >> aye. >> mr. tillis. >> aye by proxy. >> ms. ernst? >> aye. >> mr. crapo? >> aye. >> mr. kennedy? >> aye. >> mrs. blackburn? >> aye. >> mrs. feinstein? >> no. >> mr. leahy? >> no. >> mr. leahy? >> no, i said. >> mr. durbin. >> no. >> mr. whitehouse. >> no. >> ms. klobuchar. >> no by proxy. sorry. >> mr. coons. >> no by proxy. >> mr. blumenthal. >> no. >> ms. hirono. >> no. >> mr. booker. >> no. >> miss harris. >> no by proxy. >> mr. chairman. >> aye. >> mr. chairman, the votes are 12 ayes, 10 nays. >> with that, we will discuss the nominees and at 12:45 we'll begin to vote.
so a very brief statement then i'll turn it over to my democratic colleagues and let you have your say about mr. barr and everything else. in terms of blue slip process, when it comes to district court judges, nobody is going forward unless we get consent from senators from their state. at the district court level. excuse me, the district court judges, as to the circuit court judges. 17 of the last 19 chairmen, i've been told, have had a policy where you consult, but the blue slip was not a veto. senator leahy during his time as chairman when president bush was president and forced the blue slip policy where you couldn't go forward unless you have both blue slips returned. senator eastland back during the brown board of v. education days was a strict adherent to that policy which some say resulted in a lot of judges being denied. the one thing i can promise my democratic colleagues, all this happened before i got here, is that i will get in a room with you.
when it comes down for circuit court nominations and see if we can find a compromise with the white house. i'm going to do this the golden rule. one day, you'll be in charge. just a matter of time. one of you may be president on this committee. the odds are pretty good. like half the people in the committee are running for president. so all talented, all talented, if you get to be president and i'm still around, i'll try to work with you the best i know how, but sometimes we just can't agree. so that's the blue slip policy. i think i'm consistent with the traditions of the committee and i promise you a good-faith effort to find common ground where we can. with that, i will turn it over -- >> mr. chairman? >> -- to senator feinstein if you'd like to speak anymore or recognize anyone on the democratic side. >> can i make a quick point about the blue slip -- >> yes, sir. >> to the grace of the chair.
so the judge up for a circuit court position, the white house had represented the people on this committee that they had consulted with us. i gave a very different representation of the facts. but even more specifically to your willingness to sit down with me and the white house, in the open hearing, i asked for a meeting with mr. matey. i spoke about his willing nks to sit down with me because they haven't done that yet. >> you haven't had a meeting? >> no, sir. >> you'll get one. >> can we hold on him until we get that respect? >> he'll be going to the floor, and i'll make sure you get the meeting. >> thank you, sir. >> okay. >> before we go too far into the blue slip thing, where i think we all have a lot to say and where i think there's a lot at stake, i just wanted to note rule 4 of the committee, which says that debates shall be terminated, which we just agreed to do. if the motion to bring the matter to a vote without further debate passes with 11 votes in
the affirmative, one of which must be cast by the minority. now, i don't know whether it's the majority's view here that because we didn't immediately end debate, because we agreed a little bit of time then we'd end debate but not have full and complete debate in the committee, rule 4 doesn't apply. i think rule 4 does apply because i think we just did vote to end debate in the committee. by my count, although i didn't hear the clerk rattle off who had voted -- >> right. >> -- my understanding is, and i'd like to have it confirmed now -- >> you're right. >> -- that there was no vote cast by the minority, therefore, i think we stand in violation of rule 4 right now as to this effort to cut off debate. >> well, i'll be glad to reply to that. apparently, senator hatch and grassley have done this in the past. rule 4 does not prevent us from setting a specific time for a vote. chairman hatch in 2003
interpreted the rule as one designed to prevent a vote at the insistence of a member of the committee, even if the chairman doesn't want the vote, but the text of the rule plainly does not apply when the chairman moves to call a vote. chairman grassley twice set specific times for markup votes by the motion -- by motion. in 2018, the parliamentarian of the senate confirmed chairman hatch's interpretation, 2003, and confirmed the chairman grassley's interpretation in 2018. so i'm following their precedent and hopefully in the future, we won't have to do these things. apparently, we -- the two-hour rule is not going to be waived today, so that was the dilemma. >> can i mention on the -- mr. chairman, on the -- i'm not sure the senate parliamentarian rule senator hatch was correct, i think the parliamentarians said this is a matter for the committee and not for the senate. there was a concern because as
sometimes happened with senator hatch, he'd commit it one way then went a different way when the -- >> i'll look into that. that's what my staff is telling me. >> and if i could make a point on the blue slip, mr. chairman. >> please. >> i believe that there is a rhode island seat on the 1st circuit court of appeals, and when that seat becomes vacant, i expect that rhode island's views about who should occupy that seat will be considered by the president and i think each of us have a similar situation. we have circuit courts which are not state by state, but we believe, and there is a tradition in the senate, that there is a south carolina seat on your circuit. that there's a texas seat on your circuit. >> until bush changed that. >> -- on your circuit. what makes that happen?
it's not in the constitution. there's no statute that says so that i'm aware of. in my view, what makes that happen isconvention and agreement and comity with one another that we will honor each other's assertion of our rights as to that seat. >> i can't find -- >> so the only way we enforce our rights to that seat is with a blue slip. i have no other method. it is that and nothing else. so if this committee wants to trash the blue slip, then in the event of a different president and in the event of a different majority in the senate, where is your remedy when a liberal
lawyer from new york who is not even from your state gets appointed by the president to south carolina, north carolina, montana, nebraska, utah, wherever. we haven't thought this through because we're so eager to move these judges that we're willing to break down the blue slip. but if you've got no blue slip, you've got nothing. that says that there is such a thing as your home state seat on your circuit. now, there may be a few cases in which circuits were expanded and there was a more formal division, but for many of us, that's not the case. it's only our convention, our comity with one another, and this tradition that allows there to be a rhode island seat for
instance on the first circuitt. so i'm going to be really hard pressed to say when there's a south carolina seat that comes up on your circuit, mr. chairman, and there's a democratic president, we have the majority, that we should consider anybody from south carolina for that seat. why should we? you've got nothing to say. because you've got no blue slip left. we are unilaterally disarming the senate judiciary committee in a way that will have collateral damage well beyond the immediate goal of packing the courts with these nominees in a great rush. >> if i could build on that and respond. let me respond, please. i said all that in 2013. when we changed the rules to go to a simple majority for circuit court judges. everything you said is true, and it's going to get worse over time. the day that you dealt yourself out as a minority to have a say about who gets on the court was the day that everything changed.
used to be, you would have a lot of say about who got on the court because you needed 60 votes. the history of the senate was to seldom almost never invoke 60 votes. most supreme court nominees were placed on the court even without a hearing. the politicization of the judiciary blaming one group is real, and after 2013, everything changed. now, what did we do? we had gorsuch, we couldn't get 60 votes. we changed the rule for the supreme court. i think you're on the pbs interview that i was on. what's going to happen? judges will be more idealogical because you don't have to reach across the aisle to get anybody's input, and it's going to have an effect over time on the judiciary that i very much regret. everything i said in 2013 has come true. as to the blue slip, the idea that the blue slip was a veto is not accurate. 17 of the last 19 chairmen did not allow senators to have a
veto of a presidential pick. it was a tradition where you considered the input. it was seldom deviated from. if you couldn't find agreement where you had two democrats senators and a republican president, you tried to get consensus. so what i would say to senator whitehouse about rhode island, and about any other judge, none of us have input. not the majority. unless we create it. as to your district court judge, i fought hard because she had a right to pick. the circuit court has never been the way it's being described. it's never been two people or one person can stop the whole process. it's never been the case. senator leahy invoked the blue slip policy during the bush years. now, the gentleman from mississippi, i think, eastland, used it routinely.
two southern senators didn't like the pick. that was the end of it. there's some nefarious things done. when it comes to the circuit court, when the rhode island pick comes, i will make sure that we sit down and you can find somebody that maybe we can all agree on even though you know it to be a philosophy you wouldn't have chosen yourself, and that's where we find ourself today. >> there's just no enforcement of that, and the south carolina pick on the fourth circuit, there's no reason for it to be a south carolina seat any longer. >> you're dead right. now that you don't need a vote from the other side, the blue slip policy is never what you said it was. it was never a veto. it's always a consulted process. that will go on, but you know, i'm worried about this in 2013. i was in the gang of 14 when we had wholesale filibustering of bush judges. we said unless there's an extraordinary circumstance, we're not going to filibuster judges. that held until 2013. and the rest is history. and i regret it. i don't know what to do about
it. but i'm not going to let the blue slip at the circuit court level be a veto. i won't let it be a process of input, and when it comes to district court judges, a lot of people on my side want to change that rule. no. senators got to have some say around here about something. so district court judges, we will -- if you can't reach agreement, you can't fill it. >> you quoted what i did. and i know you wouldn't want to leave something on the record inaccurate. so let me expand. you said i applied it during the bush years. i applied it during the obama years. i was a chairman longer in the obama years than the bush years. incidentally, during the two years that i was chairman -- >> i stand corrected. >> with president bush, i put through something like 60 or more of his nominees through the committee. in the two years that republicans were in charge under
president obama, they allowed only 20. but the point is i did not move anywhere. i wanted the senators from the states to have a voice. i remember some at the white house with the senators and the president. they were not going to intervene, return a blue slip. the president was concerned with me appointing it. i said the senate has to have the final say on this. as soon as the republicans came in, everybody told me how fair i was and all during the bush/obama to republican judges. but you completely ignored that the second you came in, even during the most unprecedented thing this committee has ever seen, that was the block having
a vote on a supreme court nominee, somebody who wouhad be praised by a number of republicans before as being the ideal person to go on the supreme court. so let's just keep the facts straight. we did uphold it with both democrat and republican presidents. because i believe senators know best from their state and they ought to have a say in it. you're saying that the views of the senator from a particular state is irrelevant, and that bothers me. >> i will recognize senator lehae, but just one. i worked with you on appropriations. you're very fair. here's the truth about the committee. there's two people on this committee who voted for a supreme court nominee of the other party. you and me. and that's it. you're 6 for 6. you voted against 6 republicans and for 6 republicans. i voted for everybody.
that doesn't mean we're better than anybody else. that's just the reality of how people vote around here. and after the 2013 rules change, everything i was concerned about apparently is coming true. to senator whitehouse, when the rhode island seat comes, i'll do my best, a voice, yes, veto, no. senator lee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i agree with your characterization and having studied the history of the blue slip rule, it's important to note this is not an exorable command. it's not something that is codified in the constitution, in statute, or even in a rulef this committee. that's not to say it's not something that members don't rely on and haven't relied on in the past. it is, however, important to note that during the blue slip's history, ever since senator eastland, we seen it change rather significantly. the evolution of the blue slip has been a gradual one, but not just gradual.
it's been nearly constant. as you noted, mr. chairman, only a minority of the chairmen who have served during the existence of the blue slip tradition have recognized it as a veto on the right of an individual member bringing an objection. and as far as i can understand, mr. chairman, your intent, your desire, is to keep it as, keep intact much of what we now know as the blue slip. with the exception of the change that we saw in the last congress under the previous chairman, where we're dealing with circuit court nominees after consultation with the home state senators. in any event, i appreciate your remarks and you raised some excellent points. i would also like to ask to be recognized as having been present and voted in favor of the motion to schedule tom
certain for a vote. >> could i likewise be noted? could i likewise be noted? thank you. >> me? okay. if i understand this correctly, it involved four circuit nominees. ridler from ohio from the sixth, matey from the third, which is new jersey. and then both miller and murphy from ohio. and i wonder if we can't just hold these. we had a little private conversation, and we weren't impressed with that. and sit down. for this side that happens to be in had minority, and maybe it happens maybe when a party's side is in the minority. the blue slip emerges to be a very big and important thing. and you have to remember, mr. chairman, what happened when
an appellate court nominee by the name of garland was held for a year. that things are raw on this side with respect to reducing the authorities, limited as they are, that a minority has. and the history has always been to favor the blue slip. because it's a way of working out problems. now, if you're in the minority, maybe you can work something out with the white house. maybe you can't work something out in the white house. but i think protecting this tradition is really important to the camaraderie and the unity that we have had when it's necessary. and i think if the shoe was on the other foot, the other side would be saying some of these same things. because this is an important
minority authority that has developed over a lot of years. and it's supported by virtually every judiciary committee. and now suddenly, not over a district court nominee but over four circuit court nominees. it's going to be removed. this raises its importance to this side of the aisle. and certainly to those two senators involved. so you know what goes up comes down. and i really hope that the other side can consider this and i would just ask that these four nominees be held and that we have an opportunity to try to see if we can't come together on a way that the blue slip tradition can continue. because if what happens is what i think is going to happen, you're going to get four circuit court judges, and the divide is
going to increase on this committee. and all aspects of trying to find -- when all aspects of trying to find a solution have not been put on the table, we had dinner the other night. i really appreciated it. if i had thought of it, i would have raised it there. i didn't. that's my fault. but i would like to ask that. >> no, i get what you're saying. i got it in 2013. i get it now. as to these four, all of them had hearings, so they have been before the committee. you had a chance to ask questions. i have been told by the white house that there has been a consulting process. uro apparently, it hasn't resulted in a result that any of you like. i appreciate that. i don't know if i get involved it will be any better, but i promise you a good-faith effort. and senator booker, you'll certainly get to meet with this gentleman, but apparently he did have a hearing.
>> i just wanted to give a perspective and an observation on the issue that's been raised by senator whitehouse and senator feinstein and others today on the blue slip. i studied this really hard because senator feinstein and i had a battle over a ninth circuit nominee who we felt was from idaho and who she felt was from california. or that the seat belonged to california. and i really wished that i had a blue slip right in that fight. but i learned in that fight that the blue slip does not apply in circuit court decisions. at least it didn't then. in fact, i wasn't even given a blue slip because president obama nominated a californian to the seat. and so the only people who could have gotten a blue slip in that circumstance would have been the senators from california. i mean, the whole issue was just bypassed because the president
chose not to honor at least our opinion that that seat belonged to idaho. the blue slip discussion we're having with regard to circuit courts relates to whether one senator from a specific state where we do by common agreement agree the seat belongs to that seat, whether one senator can block the president's nomination of a nominee that that senator doesn't like. and what we are saying is that the history of the way this committee has operated with the exception of the chairman, is that one senator has not been able, even if the nominee is from that senator's state, has not been able to block a circuit court nomination because there are other states interested in that nomination, even if the person for that nominee is from a different state. and that's the debate we're having. the notion that we are having a debate over whether states can
lose a seat on a court that they believe they have is an entirely different discussion. it's just not the blue slip issue. that discussion is one as to whether this committee will honor what senator whitehouse directly said is the tradition that we have honored of allowing states to have certain seats come from nominees from their state. and that's going to happen whether only if this committee, republicans and democrats, come together and protect an individual state's right to a seat they think they have. i believe there is a statute, senator whitehouse. i may be wrong. i'm checking. i think the statute says nothing more than that each state in a circuit is entitled to one. >> yeah. >> and it doesn't say who or which one. but there are now more circuit seats than just one for most circuits. and so we do have to have a tradition in here where we protect that. >> yeah. >> but i tell you, i did a lot of research on this and there's
a lot of circumstances in which a lot of different presidents have said, you know what. i'm going to nominate somebody on this circuit for this particular seat from a different state than the last one. and it happens quite regularly. we are the ones who need to enforce that principle, and we've got to come together on it. but why would we after this? >> well, we haven't. my point is, that egg has already been broken. >> why would we after this? >> but senator, my point is, that's a different issue. but that's already been done too. i mean, it's been done multiple times. but it wasn't through a blue slip fight. it was the president saying i'm going to go here rather than there. and this committee backing the president. that's the fight that i think you are really raising, and it's one that's legitimate where we among ourselves have to agree which seats really do belong to which states. and then we've got to stick with that.
>> if i may. if i may just respond to senator crapo. if i remember this correctly and the staff has just refreshed my memory, this was a nominee that had left california and moved to idaho. so it wasn't a california seat. >> mr. chairman, let me just explain. that is correct. the person who was nominated was a resident of california, but he served his entire term as a circuit court judge in idaho. and that's where his headquarters were. but when i researched this seat, this particular seat had been in california for a number of years. it had been in i think oregon. >> he left the seat and moved. >> he had been in idaho for 20 years. we could argue over what state had it. and you and i did have that argument multiple times. >> we did. welcome to the committee. >> but that's kind of the case i'm making here. is that that decision was one that president obama got to
call. and he called it your way. and we backed this committee against my request, backed his decision. that's a different issue than the blue slip. that's the point i'm trying to make. >> thank you. >> well, i hadn't thought about that until now, but all of us have certain amount of seats we expect to have in the circuit where we live state wise. what i'll do is inventory the committee and count me in for the idea that nobody is going to -- you may not get the person you like from rhode island, but at least they'll be from rhode island. maybe a place to start here. seems like we all have that interest. it would be something to talk about. >> i want to defer to senator leahy, but if we're going to discuss the nominees before us today -- >> yes, sir, the floor is yours. >> i would like him to be next
on the list on the democratic side. >> would you like to talk about the nominees now? >> mr. chairman, just if i may make one point. i would like to enter my statement for the record. you have my proxy vote. i'm going to leave now. but record me as a no. >> without objection. >> i am really grateful for your generosity in terms of showing due respect. i saw this last judge from new jersey. i'm sort of still in a state of astonishment that i wasn't shown the respect and senator menendez wasn't shown the respect, not even a meeting but a consultation. if you insist on moving through, i'll take you up on the offer. >> you're get the meeting but we did have a hearing. senator leahy, would you like to speak on the nominations? >> i would. and going in now because we have other matters before the congress. we're working very, very hard. did all last weekend.
and most of today to get final agreement on the funding bills. i know the chairman is a member of the appropriations committee and has interest in that. as vice chairman, as he understands, he has to be the four who can have the final say. and he and i had a private discussion before. but my colleagues on both sides, i hope we're close. senator durbin is also one of the conferees at the table, and we're going to be -- >> let me speak a little bit about william barr. i was here when he was before the committee once before. that was 28 years ago. during the george h.w. bush
administration. i had some things i agreed with him on, some things i disagreed with him on, but i listened to him. and i voted for him to be attorney general in the bush administration. and i did that, i did so despite some of the reservations i shared at the time. and i told him, i met with him, told him what my reservations were. told him he and i did not see eye to eye on many issues. we didn't then. we do not now, but i was impressed by his intellect and experience at the department and his forthrightness with me. he answered questions. he agreed to meet for any further questions. i would say with one exception, those attributes apply today. today, we're considering his nomination under extraordinary
circumstances. there are multiple criminal investigations that loom over the trump presidency. they may ultimately be fine and the president reacts the only way he seems to know, that is to simply not answer but to attack relentlessly. that include an attack of the investigators. the witnesses, even the justice system itself. they include firing both an fbi director and the previous attorney general because they did not handle as law enforcement officials the investigations as the president pleased. well, the only time i have ever heard an attorney general seem to acquiesce in something like
that and the chairman and others were here at this hearing, when a former attorney general said, well, as a member of the president's staff, and he was reminded by senator whitehouse and several others, he's not a member of the president's staff. he's head of the department of justice. and shortly thereafter, the republican president who had appointed that attorney general found that the attorney general really wanted to get back to spend more time with his family and go back to private life, and he did. but we have never seen any president who so viewed the justice department as an extension of his own power. as a result, the integrity of the department has not been so tested since the darkest days of watergate. yet amidst watergate, when this committee considered the
nomination of elliot richardson to be attorney general, the nominee made numerous transparent, detailed commitments to this committee. elliot richardson did so in his words to create the maximum possible degree of public confidence in the integrity of the process. that principle never died. it applies today just as it did during watergate. indeed, that may be the only way the justice department escapes the trump administration with its integrity intact. president, there are millions of americans who are going to see bias no matter how the department resolves the russia investigation. and the only way out in my view is transparency. the american people deserve to know the facts, whatever they may be. that requires the special counsel's report, the evidence that supports it, be made public. but unfortunately, despite
efforts from both republican senators and democratic senators, in their questions, mr. barr was not willing to make that clear commitment. and many of his answers left more doubts. would mr. barr allow mr. trump to make a sweeping claim of executive privilege to hide much of the report? will mr. barr rely on the department policy to avoid damaging the reputation of uncharged parties, not disclose misconduct by the president, simply due to a separate policy to not indict sitting presidents. we don't know the answer, despite the questions asked by both republicans and democrats. we do know that mr. barr's testimony could lay the groundwork for potentially no transparency at all. mr. barr also repeatedly refused to follow jeff sessions' advice of career ethics officials on whether he needs to recuse
himself from the russia investigation. he even declined my request to commit to simply sharing their recommendation with this committee, whether he followed it or not. this is critical because there is reason to question whether an appearance of a conflict exists. prior to his nomination, mr. barr made his unorthodox views on the obstruction of justice investigation very clear. he spoke dismissively about the russia investigation, claiming a conspiracy theory involving hillary clinton and uranium one was far more deserving of a federal investigation than possible collusion. i'm also concerned that if confirmed, mr. barr would continue many of his predecessors' policies that led to great harm to our nation. he would continue immigration policies that have both ineffective and inhumane. he would continue former attorney general sessions'
sentencing policies that strip discretion away from both prosecutors and judges, requiring all u.s. attorneys charge the most severe offense available even for low-level offenders. every one of us, republicans and democrats alike on this committee who have been prosecutors, know that you could not do your job under that kind of a mandatory order. and the fact that mr. barr's extremely broad views of executive power and i worry his long held views of executive power could essentially be weaponized by president trump. a man who derides any limit on his authority. let me be clear. i respect mr. barr. i do not doubt that he as attorney general would stand faithfully by his genuinely held convictions. that's why i voted for him the
first time he was up for attorney general. but i am worry ied when he was first time for attorney general, i did not fear that particular republican administration needed a much tighter leash. i believe this one does. so i had these questions in mind. i had a few questions further i wanted to ask him. they were especially relevant to his plans as attorney general. the administration request -- dismissed by quest to have further conversation with him. they know he's going to be confirmed by this committee. and they simply said, well, maybe we'll find time for you to talk with him after he's confirmed. and that's fine. but my response, and my oath of office is to vote now, here and
now, as i feel in my mind is the right way to vote. and i thought it was the right way to vote when i voted for mr. barr decades ago. but i think with the inability to get answers and concerns i do have on the answers we were given, and with all at stake, i will vote no this time on mr. barr's nomination. >> my long statement that i'm going to put in the record discusses two or three things that i had differences with bill barr over the last 25 years. i think on those two or three things, he satisfied me. the one thing that i have some doubt about but it's not going to keep me from voting for him is the transparency of the mueller opinion or report. i hope that the mueller report is due pretty soon. senator blumenthal and i have a bill in to make that entirely
transparent, and i hope we can move that bill regardless. but i'm going to be watching what he does about this transparency of this bill because except for national security and privacy, i think everything else should be made public and i'm going to make sure that that happens. >> senator durbin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. a couple weeks ago, the senate republicans had a retreat. last week, the democrats did as well. i was talking in the gym to one of the senate republicans and asked him how did your retreat go? he said, oh, it went pretty well but we only talked about one thing. what was that? judges. that's all we talked about. it's all about judges. that's our highest priority. that's what we talk about. so today, we're seeing an historic day. i don't know if this is the largest number of judges at one fell swoop, but 44 judges are going to be considered by this
committee today. that's 1/20th of the federal judiciary seated by this committee. in fairness to you, mr. chairman, and to the republicans on the committee, many of them have been around before. we had hearings and debated them in the past. and i said on this side of the table realizing as a democrat, i probably defer more to democratic presidents and their choices man republicans do. and the same is true on the other side. but in observing here what it takes to bring a senate republican to vote against a trump nominee, it is very rare. one way to get a senate republican to vote against a trump nominee is for them to face the withering questioning of professor kennedy. we all remember senator kennedy, and i won't name the nominee who started asking those seated at the table some fundamental
questions about trial practice since too many of the nominees of the trump administration have no, no trial experience. and with a handful of questions, he dissembled at least one nominee in our presence. i just have to say to professor kennedy, you need to upgrade those questions. they all now are booked on the motion in liminy, they know exactly what to say when you ask them that question. come up with a new list. but that disqualified a couple of them. one of the few things that will, when they just absolutely fall apart under questioning about their lack of trial experience. and once in a while, their views are so far out, usually in the area of race, that even some senate republicans can't vote for them. but that's about it. that is about it. just basically nothing else they could have said or done that disqualifies them once the trump administration nominates them. take a look at some of the people who are on our list of 44
today. chad wheeler. nominated to sixth circuit. it was a clear sign of the trump administration's hostility to affordable care act's coverage of pre-existing conditions. he signed the administration's brief opposing the pre-existing coverage requirement and after that, he was nominated to a federal judgeship. what did senator lamar alexander, republican of tennessee, say about the argument and mr. readler's brief? i quote, as far fetched as any i have heard, end of quote. two department of justice attorneys actually withdrew from a case rather than assign the brief from mr. readler, and a senior doj litigator resigned in protest as well. does that slow down his nomination? not a bit. he also defended the trump administration's zero tolerance policy. 2800 children, toddlers, and
infants forcibly removed from their parents at our border. it took a federal court in san diego to demand accounting of these kids and their whereabouts before that scandal was actually publicized as it should be. mr. readler thinks that's defensible. didn't slow down his nomination. advocates for the death penalty for juveniles. argued against burn jag funds for the city of chicago where we're fighting a gun violence crime wave. another sixth circuit nominee, erik murphy. lengthsy record of defending restrictive voting laws that make it harder for americans to vote. advocated against lgbtq rights including in the landmark case. senator sherrod brown spoke passionately before the committee about how he can't support these two ohio nominees who actively worked to strip ohioans of their rights. i hope some of my colleagues listened. it is shameful that these and other circuit court nominees are being moved forward over their
home state senator's legitimate objections. they're not the only troubling anominees on this agenda. one called president obama, quote, an un-american impostor, end of quote. described the shelby case as a victory. utah district court nominee howard nealson, i may have served with his father, wrote a a memo in 2005 arguing civilians could be subjected to torture abroad without breenching the geneva convention. did that slow down his nomination? not a bit. wendy brown refused to say if brown v. board of education was correctly decided in opposition to other nominees who said it clearly was. patrick warrick, a protege of now disgraced former epa administrator scott pruitt, allowed an energy company to ghost write a letter from pruitt's office when he was
oklahoma's attorney general. texas district court nominee matt kaczmarek repeatedly written in his capacity about his opposition to lgbtq rights. ninth circuit nominee eric miller, the subject of a resolution of opposition by the congress of american indians who wrote, and i quote, his advocacy is focused on undermining the rights of american tribes, often taking extreme positions and using pejorative language to denigrate tribal rights. this committee does the american people no favors when we just plow blindly ahead with nominees who lack qualifications and judgment far outside the judicial main stream, and my republican nominees are unwise to abandon circuit court blue slips, we have discussed this morning, that's given the state citizens of each state a voice through their senators in selecting judges. we're all diminished when we barrel through these nominees for circuit court and don't take into consideration the thoughts of colleagues.
let me say a word about the barr nomination. i got to sit down with mr. barr yesterday. i told him something, and i meant it. i looked at mr. barr, his wife, and his family. and thought he's a good person. he really is. you could tell it just by looking at his family. and i think lawyers dedicated to public service, but good people, and i told him as much. he liked my line about his godson becoming a public defender, but at the end of it, i thought he's a good person, and he has a reputation and experience when it comes to the whole question of the rule of law and the future of the department of justice. i likened him in a way to general mattis. i might not have at one point in my life voted for many four-star generals but i sure voted for him as secretary of defense. i wanted a grown-up in the room when questions of national security were raised with this question. and basically, i had the same instinct when it came to bill
barr, but there's just one thing that troubles me. and troubles me greatly. and really colors my decision on my vote. mr. chairman, we're in a pretty depressing period of time here in washington with government shutdowns and all the possibilities. let me give some good news to everybody who is gathered today. two weeks from today, two weeks from today, the first spring training baseball game. so look ahead with some optimism that things are going to get better. at least on that front. one of my favorite books on baseball, i like baseball, lefties legacy. written by jane leavy, a story of sandy koufax, what an amazing pitcher. maybe the best southpaw in the history of baseball. sandy koufax had two pitches. he had a curveball and a fastball, and that was it. they were damn good. and batters were always looking for a signal from him as to which pitch was coming in the hopes that maybe they could
finally hit this man. he rarely showed that signal. he rarely telegraphed him pitch. unfortunately, bill barr has telegraphed his pitch when it comes to this investigation by mr. mueller. i can't understand, and i told him, i can't understand why you volunteered a 19-page memo to the trump administration. what was that all about? you're a private citizen. well, i don't do that very often, he said. and i said i'm sure you don't. most people don't. turns out he had also been asked to be part of the defense team for the president as well. those are not good circumstances when we consider the job he's asking for. to ultimately receive the result of the mueller inquiry and decide whether to share it with the american people. he has telegraphed his pitch in terms of the unitary executive theory. and as i read some of the comments that he made, i mean, they are just jaw-dropping. let me read from the 19-page memo.
constitutionally it's wrong to conceive that the president is simply the highest officer within the executive branch hierarchy. he alone is the executive branch. as such, he is the sole repository of all executive powers conferred by the constitution. takes you breath away. in a moment when we're investigating this president, when we're asking mr. mueller, thumbs up or thumbs down, here comes a man wanting to be attorney general who expresses that point of view. did you listen to the state of the union the other night? i did. sat there and listened to every word of it. there were some chilling statements made by this president. i don't believe there's a president in the history of this country that has stood before a joint session of congress and questioned the right of congress to investigate him and his administration. this president did. and did it blatantly twice during the course of that speech. that should worry everyone. all of us have taken note to this constitution and this form
of democracy. so let me conclude, mr. chairman. i'll be voting against mr. barr. i hope i'm wrong. i hope if he's the next attorney general and he's likely to be, that what i saw in his family, what i saw on his resume, what i have seen in his commitment to the issue of justice, will come through clearly and he'll stand up for this constitution even if it's against the wishes of this president. >> thank you, senator durbin. i ask unanimous consent to waive the committee's discussing business requirement until 12:45 so everybody will have a chance to speak. any objection? without objection, senator lee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i wanted to respond to a couple of the comments made by my friend and distinguished colleague senator durbin who i have a great relationship and i have from the entire eight years
. with regard to nealson, i want to be clear about something that was mentioned. he was not the author of that memo. it's undisputed he was not the author of that memo, and in fact, we have in front of this committee a letter written by professor jack goldsmith. professor jack goldsmith was the lawyer who withdrew that memo when he was at olc, and he writes a glowing letter of recommendation about howard nealson. and talked about what a careful, honest, hard-working, and decent attorney he is. i too have known howard for over 20 years. i have worked with howard. and i know him to be an attorney of unusual character, intellect, and someone who proceeds with great caution. it is a matter of undisputed fact that he was not the author of that memo.
some have supposed that he was because, as an olc attorney, he was from time to time called upon to answer discreet questions, but he didn't write that memo and he was recommended strongly by the olc memo who withdrew that same memo. while we're on the topic, you referred to erik murphy also. erik murphy is also a friend. i have known him for many years. he and i clerked together at the supreme court. he was clerking for justice kennedy while i was clerking for justice alito. he is a lawyer of great character and integrity, and to describe him as someone who has litigated aggressively to restrict voting rights, i just completely disagree with that characterization. and unless you're willing to say that any time there is at issue
a law trying to protect the integrity of a state's voting system that any lawyer who represents the state is somehow voting to restrict the voting rights of minorities or of any group of americans, i don't see how that can possibly be a fair character zashz. i know that not to be a fair characterization in the case of erik murphy. you also mentioned wendy vitter, who i have known for many years. i thought wendy's performance before this committee was candid and was strong. she is someone who believes firmly in the rule of law and is willing to interpret the law on the basis of what it says. not on the basis of what she wished that it said. and i consider her to be a well qualified nominee. there were others you mentioned, but i do think it's important to
point out here, you can't openly publicly question a nominee about that nominee's religious beliefs. about what he or she believes to be sinful conduct without subjecting that nominee to ridicule and simultaneously demeaning some of the fundamental tenants of our constitutional republic. you can't ask a nominee questions like those to which naomi row was subjected just the other day, and those that i have seen asked of some of our other nominees and then later ask the question, how did we get here? anyone who believes in the god of abraham, isaac, and jacob, or of any other god, for that matter, if asked publicly about his or hereligious beliefs, is being subjected potentially to public scorn and ridicule.
if your -- for example, from any sect of christianity or judaism, that means you believe in a god who delivered stone tablets to moses. if you publicly cross-examine someone on the basis of those religious beliefs, in a secular context, what we're talking about secular beliefs, you are inevitably exposing that person to ridicule, especially when you consider that there are a lot of specific beliefs that require a more nuanced answer than a simple yes or no when you're asking about the existence or lack thereof of a sin. i can't fathom a circumstance in which it's ever appropriate for us to ask a nominee about his or her religious beliefs about whether x, y, or z is a sin.
with the possible exception of a circumstance in which you're trying to ascertain whether that nominee may need to recuse him or herself in the case of a judicial nominee, in the event that the nominee's church or synagogue or other faith community were involved in litigation. but that's a fairly narrow, very specific question. beyond that, i think it's wildly inappropriate and it's something i hope and respectfully implore my colleagues of both political parties to avoid in the future. as a religious minority myself, as a descendant of a group of lereligious minorities who were ordered exterminated by the governor of missouri in 1837, i urge you to consider the fact that we should never expose someone to shame, ridicule, or scorn on the basis of their religious beliefs. and i ask that we refrain from doing so in this committee.
we should never again ask someone what they regard as a sin or other particulars of their religious beliefs. it's nobody's darn business. it is certainly not the business of this committee. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator whitehouse. >> before i get to my remarks, let me respond to senator lee. it absolutely is the business of this committee to make sure that nominees who seek judicial office in the united states of america will leave their religious beliefs in the robing room. and not bring them up onto the bench, and not impose them on litigants who may or may not agree with them, when our courts are not temples to any god but temples to law and justice. and there are views that are sufficiently forcefully expressed that they, i think, allow for fair questioning that the judge will in fact, despite
their forceful views about what is sinful, what is right, what is wrong, actually be able to leave those views in the robing room and go up onto the bench and be a judge for all people. i think we agree with each other, but i want to make sure that that line of demarcation is clear, because it is the business of this court, of this committee, to protect american litigants going into a court from having to have their cases decided on the base of some judge's personal religious beliefs rather than on what is right, what is just, and what is the law. >> senator whitehouse, i completely agree with you. >> great. >> i think everything you said is a view that i share. i want to point out that is a separate and distinct question from what i'm describing. it is completely our business to ask a nominee whether he or she would set personal views aside in interpreting the law.
that is fair game, as is the corollary question that i raised about whether someone would need to recuse themselves in the event that their own faith, their own faith community, or something of the like were in question. what i'm talking about here is specifically questions about the particulars of their religious belief, not having anything to do with, and detached from the issue of judicial objectivity and the ability to make a determination based on the law and only based on the law. >> so on the topic of the day, we have constitutional battles ahead. they are clearly foreseeable. we have a foreseeable constitutional battle ahead on the president's power to declare a national emergency, seize funds appropriated by congress for a specific purpose, and redirect them not withstanding article one to whatever purpose the president finds to justify a
claim of national emergency. that is an important core constitutional separation of powers question between the executive and legislative branches that we will face. we will or at least ought to face questions about the scope of executive privilege. we have seen assertions of executive privilege in senate committees that are preposterous. and that have no process check on them as to their legitimacy. we have seen assertions of executive privilege so bogus that they are termed constitutional privilege rather than executive privilege because they would never pass any scrutiny under executive privilege. so i will continue to press this committee, mr. chairman, to set rules for what executive privilege is so we're not having to defer to versions of executive privilege that have no
process check on them and no legitimacy, which is unfortunately been our tradition. we have the question of the non-indictability of a president coming up. which enjoys the bizarre self-fulfilling prophecy situation that the department of justice has said this to itself and therefore will not indict a president, and therefore you never have the chance to review that in a court. well, as justice john marshall said, it's the third branch of government, the courts, that decide what the law is. some court needs to decide whether or not the president can be indicted or not. if i were making a bet, i would put my money down on the president can be indicted when you look at the nixon cases and the clinton investigation and so forth. we all know that the purpose of the office of legal counsel at the department of justice is to take the most executive friendly position possible.
that is why they are there. to defer to that as this attorney general nominee has said he will, and to provide for no review in the judiciary of that concern, and he's provided no assurance that he would do that, is to simply disable the constitution in favor of an unelected group of folks within the department of justice with a significant conflict of interest in the fight between executive and legislative power because they represent the executive. we also have the problem of interference and independence with the mueller investigation, and i have to say, i thought that former attorney general barr's top lines on this issue were terrific. i was ready to applaud at some of the stuff that he said. but once you got down below the top line, once you got into the weeds, once you got into the
question, for instance, of let's just say that unindictability doctrine is viewed as making the president an uncharged person within the meaning of the rule that we do not disclose derogatory information against uncharged persons, now you have another self-fulfilling prophecy, and we in congress would be prevented from having access to that investigative information, and the public would because of that circularity. i specifically asked that question before, senator graham encouraged me to follow it up. i did. we got a letter back that is completely nonresponsive. so i have to draw the adverse conclusion from that. equally, because we have done nothing to provide a meaningful process or definition of what executive privilege is, what stands out there is the prospect that once the mueller report is concluded, the white house counsel will say, that's a nice report, but we view it as all
protected by executive privilege. and so congress can't see it. well, what i view of mr. barr's record is he would support that assertion. i have almost -- i can't think of an assertion of executive privilege or executive power where he's found any real limits. so i don't see him as somebody who would be helpful in these four looming constitutional battles, and therefore, i will not be able to vote for him. with respect to this vast array of judges coming forward, let me make a point i have made before. the talking point is that these are conservative judges. my view is that that is mistaken terminology. if you look at the decisions that many of these judges make once they get into office, there is nothing conservative about them. the doctrine of judicial modesty is dishonored frequently. the doctrine of stare decisis is
dishonored frequently and even made fun of by justice alito. the doctrine of originalism is dishonored frequently. i don't even concede the legitimacy of a doctrine of originalism, but for those who believe in it, at least adhere to your own principles. they don't. and they engage in fact finding. frequently, they engage in fact finding. appellate judges aren't supposed to agree to engage in fact finding. and particularly when the facts that they find are false facts. but essential to the outcome of the decision. and we see this over and over and over again. at the same time that we see this pattern of conservative judicial doctrines being dishonored over and over again, we also see special interest funding and manipulation of the process. we see judges whose selection
has been controlled and manipulated through the federalist society, which does not disclose its donors and how that was all paid for and what internal vetting was done. we see the confirmation process for these judges driven by the judicial crisis network, which had a single $17.9 million donor, and we have no idea who that $17.9 million donor was. that's something we ought to know. we see arguments made before our cour courts who don't disclose their donors either. but you can draw some pretty sensible conclusions about who the likely big donors are and then what do you see? you see those interests being big winners in those courts. because i have said before and i said in the cavcavkavanaugh hearings and i will say, the roberts court before he became chief justice, has launched
innumerable 5-4 decisions. actually not innumerable. 79 5-4 decisions, that are partisan, as i define it. five republicans hang together and go one way. no democrat will follow them. of them. of those 79, six or more or less random. it's going to happen on its own sometimes. in the other 73, there is a clearly identified, identifiable and articulatable republican big donor interest. and in those 73 partisan 5-4 decisions that chief justice roberts has led on the united states supreme court, the win record of those big republican donor interests is 73-0. please don't tell me you're calling balls and strikes. so i see a pattern in circuit judges, and in supreme court judges who come through this
process, that they are expected to reliably rule in favor of polluters, and against the regulators who constrain pollution, in favor of the gun industry, even where the argument was described by a previous supreme court chief justice as a fraud, to support and enhance the scourge of dark money in our politics, because that is how these big special interests exert their power, to suppress voters who would turn out for democrats, gerrymandering or limiting of the voting rights act, and a personal favorite to make sure that they protect corporations from liability and discovery in courts and before juries. that's a pretty distinct group of interests. it's a pretty distinct group of wins, and it's time that we cleaned this mess up, and to
call these judges conservatives i think is a misnomer. we are looking at essentially a special interest capture of the court, and i, for one, am tired of it. >> thank you. just one comment about mr. barr. you raised a point that i thought was a good point about the scope of executive privilege in terms of the mueller report. here's what mr. barr told me he would not allow executive privilege to be useds as a reason to cover wrongdoing. i'll hold him to that. mr. kennedy, senator kennedy? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to say a word first about general barr. i listened carefully to senator lee and all my democratic frien friends. i think we all have seen preside presidents both democratic and
republican appoint people who, in our judgment are political hacks. it doesn't happen often, but it happens. from one point of view, that's okay, because presidents, elected by the people, are entitled to surround themselves with advisers of his or her choice. i do not think that any fair-minded person could call bill barr a political hack. i just don't. i have, like all of you, i take this job seriously. i read fbi reports. i read the articles, i read their resumes. and i'm impressed with bill barr. i think he's extremely
intelligent. i think he reveres the law. i think he enjoys the law. we all know lawyers that some of whom make a lot of money. they don't really love the law. it's a job. i don't think bill barr is like that. i'm not saying he hasn't made a lot of money. he has, because he's good at what he does, but i think he reveers the law and the rule of law and i think that's important for attorney general because we all know that an attorney general is different. it's not like appointing somebody homeland security secretary. it's not a criticism of homeland security, very important job, but attorney general is different. the second reason i think bill barr wants to be attorney general, he doesn't have to do it at this point in his career. i think he's worried about the
justice department and he's worried about the fbi. >> with good reason. sooner or later, i don't know when, but it will happen, what happens at the justice department and at the fbi in 2016 will come out. i wish president trump would declassify properly redacted all the documents, so that all of us can see what happened. all of us can make our own judgment about whether those two agencies were politicized in 2016. i'm not saying they were or they weren't. but the american people are entitled to know, because i've always believed, and i want to continue to believe that the fbi, for example, is the premier law enforcement agency in all of
human history. and i think bill barr wants to go not from a political approach or angle but he wants to go and try to help justice and the fbi to the extent that you think it needs to happen be rehabilitated. the disclosure of mr. mueller's repo report, to some extent, it's an academic issue. to some extent, it's a very important issue. i say it's just an academic issue because we all know it's going to leak. the only question is, whether it leaks in toto or just leaks in part, but it's going to leak. having said that, i think that the justice department would be better off just disclosing it once it's written. i know that senator grassley and senator blumenthal have a bill
to make sure that happens. i'm going to vote for it. i'm reading the bill. i may even cosponsor it. the american people are entitled to see the facts and judge for themselves. i know that there's some people in washington, d.c., present company excluded, that think they're smarter and more virtuous than the american people and that the american people somehow aren't smart enough or experienced enough to handle the truth. nothing could be further from the truth. i have said this before and i'll keep saying it. the american people, most of them, it's true, don't read aristotle every day. they don't have time. they're earning a living but they're plenty smart and if you give them the facts, they'll draw their own conclusions.
let me say a word about the questions we ask our nominees, because senator lee made a very good point. as did senator whitehouse. i'm not going to judge what either of them said. i'll just tell you my perspective. i think it's appropriate that this committee be able to ask nominees about their beliefs including religious beliefs. if a nominee doesn't want to answer, the nominee wants to say that's too private, i think that's the nominee's prerogative. i'm not sure i'd want to come before this committee and talk about my religious beliefs, but i think you ought to be able to ask. i think within reason you ought to be able to ask a nominee anything you want to ask him. and i think this is what mike was saying. what i don't think you should be
able to do is to vote against a nominee because of his or her political beliefs. and i don't believe anybody in this committee would do that. >> religious. >> but we've already been in a de facto way precluded from asking some nominees what they think about the law, in the sense that we can't ask them because they're not going to answer. well, tell me about this case. did you think it was properly decided? you don't tell if you agree or not but what did you think about the reasoning? what did you think about the precedent. now they won't tell you. i think that's a mistake, but i get it. in terms of the list of judges, i bet every one of you agrees with me on this. there are people that, if i were president of the united states, i would not nominate on this
list. not necessarily because they're bad people, but because i think there might be better people, and i think i'm the only republican that's actually voted against one of the president's nominees, not because i thought he wasn't qualified. i thought he had a conflict. some of the others have been pulled down that i would have voted against, but i'm not president of the united states, and i don't want to be. i wouldn't have the job. and presidents are entitled to nominate whomever they want to, and it's our job to advise and consent and i don't think the standard is, well, with this woman or this man would this be my first choice? i think the standard is, and i don't think the standard is what do you belie do you believe or who or what have you advocated in the past?
when i practiced law, one minute, lindsay, when i practiced law, when clients came to me, i didn't get to say well the position you're taking is wrong. i don't agree with it. we're going to do it my way. i could do that, pay me. >> senator, if you could do it in the next minute so we could keep on schedule here. >> okay, i will. last point i want to make, i really worry about what's happening with our judiciary. congress is political, we know that, the presidency is political, we know that. we expect it to be political but i'm worried about the judiciary being politicized not by these nominees, but by all of us, because it's almost we're debating how a judge is going to vote in a particular situation, and that's not, they're not super legislators, and i don't know what to about it, but it concerns me and i think it's having an impact on the way the american people view the
independence of the judiciary. i'm sorry i went on so long, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator kennedy. senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i have concerns about several of the judicial nominees that are up today, but i'm going to take my time to discuss what i consider the most important nominati nomination, and that is the nomination for attorney general, mr. barr. i share senator durbin and senator whitehouse's views about mr. barr's family, about his clear respect for the justice department as an institution, most of his family members went on to work in the justice department and agree with sheldon whitehouse that some of the things that he said about respecting mr. mueller and the continuation of that investigation were positive
moments in the hearing, but we cannot simply view this nomination in a vacuum. we have to look at the context in which he is nominated and we also have to look at the context of the time that we are in. the nomination comes at a time when there are investigations by a special counsel and multiple u.s. attorneys offices over which mr. barr would oversee in to the president of the united states and his associates that involve campaign finance violations and an attempt by a foreign adversary to interfere in our elections, for starters, and when i referred to the president of the united states, i mean the campaign which he was part of, and also some of the individual matters that were being investigated out of new york. to date, this investigation has led to indictments or guilty pleas from over 30 people and
three companies, including seven former advisers to the president. this investigation goes to the heart of the integrity of our justice system, and to the heart of the integrity of our elections. that's why it's essential that special counsel mueller and so many of us on both sides of the aisle on this committee have stated that we believe that that investigation should be allowed to be continued, and that he should be allowed to finish his work free of any political interference. now the president has made it clear in his past statements and tweets particularly about former attorney general sessions, a former member of this committee, about what kind of an attorney general he wants. he wants someone who will be his lawyer. he, and i believe that should worry us, when in fact we know what the jurs dictiisdiction an
focus of the attorney general of the united states should be, and that is to be the people's lawyer, the person who upholds the rule of law and makes sure it is applied equally, no matter who you are. mr. barr has made clear that, if he is confirmed, he's going to take over the supervision of the special counsel's investigation. that means he will oversee the special counsel's budget, the scope of the investigation will ultimately receive the results of the special counsel's investigation, and that is in addition to the attorney general overseeing the related investigations by the u.s. attorney's office that don't have those special counsel regulations in place. but even though many of my colleagues ask him to pledge, to make the special counsel's report public, and he had some language in which he pledged that he would consider doing that, he didn't fully commit to do that, at a time when this
nation needs transparency and at a time when our country needs the information, not just in this committee, not just in the halls of congress, but for secretaries of states in local states across the country, so that they know exactly what happened. so that law enforcement knows what happened when a foreign country tried to influence our election. no one is going to want to keep this information secret and they shouldn't if they believe in the constitution and this country. the attorney general can make the justice department's rules and regulations and issue the guidance that would make the difference between transparency and facts never seeing the light of day. so the office of the legal counsel guidance that a sitting president can't be indicted, the department's practice of not releasing information when it decides not to prosecute someone and even the special counsel regulations are all within the attorney general's power to keep
or to change, and that is the heart of the matter. in our system of government, the attorney general doesn't just have great powers, but has great responsibilities. and that is why we must look not only to this nominee's kf qualifications and his family and his work in the past, which is impressive, but we must look at his judgment, to see if he can be the kind of attorney general that we need right now in this nation's history. his 19-page memo to me tells it all. in his memo he expresses not for the first time his alarming views of the president's powers. here is one of them, and i quote, "the president's law enforcement powers extend to all matters including those in which he has a personal stake." mr. barr doesn't cite statutes or cases or history or even the federalist papers. he just says it as if it's obvious, and as this committee
heard from experts on executive power, that's far from obvious. it is out of the mainstream. let's be clear about this and what it means. mr. barr believes that a president gets to supervise an investigation into his or her own conduct, and mr. barr's views on executive power are also well-known, not just from this 19-page memo but also from his past actions, and they give me grave doubts about his respect for congress' power and responsibilities when it comes to overseeing the executive branch. this is not a time in our history, and i say this to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, where congress should be abdicating our responsibilities or shirking our duty, not when it comes to national security, not when it comes to foreign relations, not when it comes to the nation's budget, and not when it comes to the oversight of law and order
for this country. this is not the time to install an attorney general who has repeated ly espoused a view of unfettered executive power. a few years ago, i got to visit the carter presidential library in atlanta, and there, i went there, honestly, because walter mondale was his vice president and i was the only person in that library that kept looking for walter mondale memorabilia, but there was a very clear moment where walter mondale, friend of senator feinstein, where his presence was known, and that was a quote that was etched on the wall of the carter presidential library, and it was mondale's words, when he looked back at their administration, after they had lost the election, and he said this. " he said, "we told the truth.
we obeyed the law. we kept the peace." i believe that's the minimum standard that we should hold any administration to. there are always horrors from the world that comes at a president or at an administration. there are always decisions that have to be made that are difficult, that are doubted, that aren't right, but at the minimum, they should be upholding the law. they should be obeying the law. they should be telling the truth, and they should be trying to keep the peace. so that is what concerns me about putting this particular nominee in place. when i look at that memo, when i look at history, and i hope that i'm wrong. i hope that if he is confirmed, despite my opposition, that he will go in there and uphold the law, but i ask my colleagues, if you decide to vote for him, which it sounds like you are, that you hold him to that standard. we will be trying over here, but
this is not a time to mess around with the constitution. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator hirono? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, we are not in the business of censoring each other's questions to nominees or falsely inciting. there is no religious test for nominees on this committee and to suggest otherwise is to quote my friend from utah, wildly inappropriate. i'm glad that we agree that it is a perfectly legitimate inquiry by members of this committee to ask whether a nominee's religious views can be set aside for judicial obje objectivity so there's agreement on that. getting to the nominees before us today, i spoke last week to explain my reasons for opposing the nomination of william barr to be donald trump's attorney general and this week i'd like to focus on some of the 44 nominees on this mark of agenda
part of this administration's effort to pack our federal courts with ideologically driven nominees, who gets on the federal courts for life is high stakes. just ask the federalist society and the heritage foundation, who have spent decades and lots of money placing people who are on their ideological page on our federal courts, that the vast majority, over 80% of trump's nominees are members of the federalist society is no accident. more than 80% of the nominees that this committee has dealt with are members of the federalist society, and yet, and yet less than 4% of all american lawyers are federalist society members. court packing is proceeding a pace. too many of these nominees have spent their careers opposing the rights of women, minorities, the
lgbtq community and americans who need affordable health care. many of the nominees have not provided the kind of aassurances necessary to reassure the country that they can separate their personal views and ideology from their responsibility to be fair and impartiabl and saying to us, we will follow the law, we will follow supreme court precedent, that is what they all say. that is not the kind of reassurance that suffices in my view to ensure that they can set aside their very strongly held views as they decide cases before them, and some of the most controversial judicial nominees from the last congress are back on the agenda, i'd like to mention my objections to some of them to illustrate my opposition to so many of these nominees. wendy vitter, nominated to the eastern district of louisiana. she promoted outrageous
conspiracy theorys that abortion causes breast cancer and birth control pills make into quote choose partners to share a similar yes genetic propile to become less interested in sex and become the victims of violent assault and murder, end quote. that is one of the most outrageous kinds of beliefs to try and perpetrate, but she did so. kenneth bell for the western district of north carolina has taken extreme views on a topic that may come before him where he will have to decide without prejudgment in a letter to the editor in a local paper he criticized an article defending abortion, which is protected by the united states constitution, stating "either the unborn is a mass of cells worthy of no more consideration than a hang nail or it is a child, which may not be killed. there is no middle ground." carl nichols for the district of columbia, mr. nichols defended pharmacies seeking to use
religious objections to avoid dispensing emergency contraception, not a position showing any understanding of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution under supreme court precedent. michael trincali of texas is an id joelogical activist against voting rights a borgs and immigration. he gave public speeches using the debunked myth of in-person voter fraud to justice texas' draconian voter i.d. laws. he accused the former democratic candidate for governor of texas of wanting him to kill babies five months into term, end quote, and asserted that her quote claim to fame that she quote kills little girls. mr. truncali splad a simplistic view of poverty and disturbing lack of compassion for the poor. he suggested that poverty is a
mind-set, poverty is a mind-set, as though poor people is all in their minds, they want to be in that position and he wrote that american society has changed from self-reliant to a society of leaches, dependents who are looking for handouts. as a person who grew up in what i would deem poverty, i certainly am not a leach looking for handouts. chad reeler for the sixth circuit court of appeals, as a political appointee in donald trump's justice department, he has defended many of his president's, this president's most disturbing policies, including the inhumane separation of families at the border, and use of the courts to dismantle the affordable care act's protections of those with preexisting conditions. patrick weirich, a 37-year-old nominee for the western district of oklahoma. he was spent his short legal career trying to undermine
environmental protection, women's reproductive rights, workers' rights and native american sovereignty. when he defended oklahoma's controversial death penalty by lethal injection and the supreme court, justice sotomayor called him out for his misstatements of fact and during oral argument, she told him "i am substantially disturbed that in your brief, you made factorrial statements that were not supported by the cited of those sources and in fact directly contradicted." so nothing you say or read to me am i going to believe, frankly, until i see it with my own eyes the context." we should not have a judge who doesn't state facts accurately before the united states supreme court no less, nor should we have judges who come with firm personal views about issues they may have to rule fairly on. matthew kazmeirek for the northern district of texas as deputy attorney counsel for the first liberty institute, he has
devoted his working life to making sure that his clients are free to discriminate while hiding under the guise of advocating for religious freedom. ruled there is no nationwide right to same-sex marriage. he argued for employers who objected on religious grounds to provide contraceptive coverage as part of the health care required under the aca. he complained in an interview about the "imposition of a secular judgment on an essentially sacred question" in the conscious of the mandate case forgetting entirely to mention that the use of contraception is constitutionally protected as i noted by previous supreme court decisions. m he allowed a virginia school board to require students to use the restroom corresponding to their biological genders. in a state labor and industry board to let a bakery refuse to
make same-sex wedding cakes. it seems there is no right sought by women or lgbtq people that he won't trample in the name of religious freedom. all of these nominees are before us today, represent different parts of the proprofile of a trump nominee, those who get the stamp of approval from the federalist society and the heritage foundation. month after month, we have seen a parade of these so-called conservative activists nominated to the federal courts, and i'm very glad that senator whitehouse talked about why these nominees are in fact not conservative. so we are confronted with a mostly hoe know gemost ly homogenius group. not much diversity, grouped by conservative political ideologicals, want to see roe v. wade narrowed or into oblivion, lgbtq consigned to the margins of life, constitutional and civil rights encroached on by
the religious preference of a vocal few. these are not the judges that will protect and promote independence and integrity of the courts, and today, i will be voting no on them and others, and mr. chairman, before my remarks i ask unanimous concert to enter a letter into consent matthew kazmierek, 300 parents opposing his nomination and they point to his prior statements that "gender identity doesn't exist and being transgender is a delusion" these parents write his words are deeply offensive and harmful. our children are not a delusion and neither is our love and support for them. we believe our children are miracles, like every child. >> thanks, senator hirono. two and a half minutes to senator leahy. >> the problem with asking a nominee about the particulars of his or her religious beliefs is
that those questions inevitably expose those beliefs, as somehow a qualifier or a disqualifier for public office. that is flatly inconsistent with at least the letter, at least the spirit if not also the letter of at least two provisions of the constitution. i cannot fathom why this would ever make sense to do. there was a time in this country people might have been asked in a job interview context or context of a hearing like those we hold here whether someone believed in god, whether they were christian, it was not for a good reason, because there's never a good reason in a public setting to ask that question, save perhaps if you just want to make sure that that person's religious beliefs do not require that person to betray the judicial oath. beyond that, i can't fathom a circumstance in which that would be appropriate. i would ask senator hirono, in
what circumstance, in what way, shape or form is asking naomi rao whether she believes particular conduct to be sinful an appropriate question to be asked on in committee, ever? >> may i respond? >> yes, please. >> these probing questions, if you were to list all of the questions that we ask, they have to do with whether or not these nominees very strongly held religious views as well as any other views that may not enable them to be objective as judges in life time positions. i think that's a legitimate area of inquiry, and it is not that we all ask do you think such and such is a sin, et cetera, et cetera, although -- >> that was asked this week. this week it was asked. i'm not making this up. >> i know that. >> let's not --
>> i don't think we're here to censor the motives of each other's questions. >> this is an important topic -- >> i ask all of us to be very cognizant of a fact that we are here to try and do our jobs to the best of our ability and that is what we're doing. i do not sit here to be questioned about my motives as to the kind of questions that i seek answers to because what i want to make sure is these nominees who, 80% of them are pretty much federalist society and heritage foundation nominees with a -- set aside i don't care what religious views they have, good. i just want to make sure those views and the other views they hold about lgbtq rights and all of these other issues that come before us that they can set aside their ideological views so that they can objectively decide cases. that is where i, and i know that's where my colleagues are coming from. >> thank you. >> you certainly can come to your own conclusions. >> thank you very much. senator blumenthal.
>> thanks, mr. chairman. first, i want to thank the chairman for conducting this hearing, this meeting and our hearing as courteously as he has and thoughtfully and i want to thank him in particular for the kind words and support that he's indicated on behalf of the red flag proposal that, for the committee's information, i will be scheduling a hearing on the red flag legislation as soon as we can. i met with parkland parents and we'll see if we can find a way for it on that issue. thank you, senator blumenthal. >> thank you. and i think that hearing and our moving forward on that proposal could be really a historic break-through for the safety of our nation and i know that the parents and young people who have championed gun violence prevention in parkland deeply appreciate your stepping forward in that way.
i also want to thank my colleague, senator grassley, for his participation, his strong work, and bipartisan leadership on our special counsel transparency act and i will be talking to a number of my colleagues about this measure, which i think is consistent with the stands that many of us have taken, and i understand this morning, senator kennedy indicated his support for this idea, and i am more than happy to work with the specifics, with any of my colleagues so as to assure that the american people see the results of the special counsel investigation. they paid for it. they have a right to see everything in that report. on the issue of judges, i've spent most of my career in the
courtroom, and nothing that we do here in this committee, and maybe nothing that we do in the senate is more important to me than the quality of judges that we approve. it isn't, agreeing or disagreeing with them in the views that they state, it's their ability that matters most to me, and having worked for two of them as a law clerk, and then having argued and tried cases before many of them in state and federal courts and the united states supreme court, what is most important i think to me and the american people is their basic intellect and integrity, and their fairness, and i deeply regret that this president has nominated judges that fail to meet the standard, the high standard that we have a right to demand of men and women who will
serve for their life times, for their lifetimes in position of power unparalleled, in the world, in a democracy where we elect almost all of the officials who have any power at all, our federal judiciary is truly an anachronism. lifetime appointments, unelected, immense power, as we all know, a federal judge is king in his courtroom, and has power over people's lives that is unparalleled, so i think we need to look for people who have the spine and backbone, the conviction and conscience to really serve fairly, and adhere to the rule of law. we can argue about the questions that are appropriate as two of
my colleagues just did, but in my view, one question that is absolutely appropriate is whether these nominees believe that certain pillars of our jurisprudence were correctly decided, like brown versus board of education. when asked that question, justice roberts, then judge roberts, said i do. unequivocally. he believes brown versus board of education correctly decided. these nominees refuse to answer that question. they answered all with the same language essentially, evading, and avoiding a commitment that brown versus board of education was correctly decided. they did the same on roe v. wade, on a series of decisions that i think test their conscience and conviction, on
other issues relating to their qualifications, not just their policy views, but their capability to fairly administer justice in their courtroom, i have found them wanting and so i will be voting against almost all of them. on the nomination of william barr, beyond all the other questions, i think the central issue for us on the attorney general of the united states is, will he be the people's lawyer or the president's lawyer. will he put first the public interest over the president? at no time in our history has that issue been more important. we are already seeing dangerous threats to the rule of law, and i believe that, when the history of this era is written, the real
heroes will be our judiciary, and the free press, but the attorney general of the united states must be unquestionably and unquenchably loyal to the rule of law, and must put the people's interests first. i agree with my colleague senator durbin. william barr is a good person. he has distinguished credentials. he served this country ably in other positions, but i am deeply disappointed that he has refused to commit to transparency when it comes to the special counsel, and that's the reason why i think the special counsel transparency, though, is all the more important, and essential. i asked him in this room and i asked him in my office, whether he would commit to make public the findings and evidence of the
special counsel, and he cited rules and regulations. those rules and regulations give him near complete discretion. we all know it. if there is no indictment and there is no public disclosure, there will be, in effect, a coverup of the special counsel's findings and evidence. the american people deserve to see that report. they paid for it. they deserve to see everything that's in it, and i am even more disappointed in the response that william barr gave me when i asked him whether he would permit robert mueller to testify before congress. he refused to answer that question, in effect. robert mueller must be willing
to testify before the united states congress on the findings and evidence of his report. now, i know many of my colleagues will say the ordinary rule of prosecutors, and i was one, and i adhered to it is no indictment, no charges, then there should be no comment, but the special counsel is different. special counsel is appointed in the rare and profoundly significant circumstance of allegations of violation of public trust, and the public has a right to know what special counsel finds and the evidence that is produced, and the failure of william barr to commit to that principle of the public's right to know is, for me, a transcendant issue at this moment in our history.
it goes to the rule of law, the credibility of the department of justice, and of our entire system of justice. therei issues where i differ with william barr with his previously stated views on women's health care and reproductive rights, his views on civil rights, and maybe, most importantly, on his views of a unitary executive. i'm not going to repeat what my colleagues have said on that point, but i agree with them that he has telegraphed his views to the white house, and maybe it is the reason that they have chosen him, his overwaning view and excessive discretion that he would give the president of the united states, in effect, to give the president the power, to disregard certain statutes and refuse to enforce them, and
possibly supreme court rulings is, for me, absolutely unacceptable. so i will enter into the record a more complete statement about my views on all of these issues, but just to say that i cannot vote for william barr. i hope that i can work with him and support what he does, when i agree. i would recollect that i was the only member of this committee to vote against rod rosenstein as deputy attorney general. i voted against him because he refused to commit on an equally important issue, whether he would appoint a special counsel. he was nominated before special counsel was appointed, before
then director comey was discharged and eventually he did appoint a special counsel. i was the only member of this committee to vote against him at all but especially on that principle, and i think theser r issues are as important as those. i voted against rod rosenstein on the floor with a long with 16 of my colleagues. we were in a distinct minority. we may be in a distinct minority to vote against william barr as attorney general of the united states but i hope he will heed the message we send him by these votes that there must be transparency, and i urge my colleagues to join me in that vote, but as important or more so, the special counsel transparency act. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator harris. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i'd like to register my support of the special counsel transparency act. mr. chairman, i believe strongly and i think we've heard that
here from our colleagues that the public's perception of the fairness of our system of justice will have a direct impact on whether we actually do justice. if the american people believe that, when they walk into a courtroom, they are not going to receive a fair hearing, that they are going to receive an unbiased perspective from an office holder of the court, and particular a judge or justice, then we cannot possibly do justice in our country. for that reason, i am deeply concerned that today what we're seeing is this administration's continued commitment to reshaping our courts for generations to come, with nominees that are extreme and outside the mainstream. in the first two years of this administration the senate confirmed 85 federal judges, including two supreme court
justices. today we are considering 44 more nominees to the federal courts and if confirmed they'll represent one out of 20 life time appointed federal judges in the united states. and it's not the number of the judges confirmed that concerns me as much as the number of extreme judges being confirmed, because let's be clear, my colleagues mentioned, there are many that are deeply problematic. we are being asked, for example, to consider someone who has promoted discredited science and has claimed that planned parenthood kills over 150,000 women a year, and who, when asked by this committee of brown v. board of education was binding precedent, answered "i would respectfully not comment." we are being asked to consider a nominee to the sixth circuit and a nominee to the district of utah who have consistently opposed lgbtq rights. we have a nominee who fought to
defend an ohio law defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman. he argued that gays and lesbians are not a discreet andiness l i minority and the ohio law did not demonstrate award to the lgbtq community. when i was attorney general of california he represented supporters of proposition 8 a ballot measure to amend california's constitution to deny same-sex cuppings the fundamental right to marry. when the court struck down proposition eight, this nominee moved to vacate the court's decision on the grounds that the presiding judge was in a committed same-sex relationship and therefore, his impartiality was in question. and let's recall years ago, when the courts of our land were considering civil rights cases, there had been similar types of arguments made against black justices serving on the court
and questioning their ability to be unbiased in considering civil rights issues before them. we are being asked to consider a nominee who has repiecedly advocated against native american tribal sovereignty, a nominee to the ninth circuit seat in washington who we are preceding with despite the fact that both home state senators, senators murray and cantwell have not given the traditional blue slip approval for his nomination. we are being asked to consider a nominee to the sixth circuit, who was intimately involved in the department of justice's challenge to the affordable care act, wherein the argument made was so outside the mainstream that senator lamar alexander called it "as far-fetched as any i've heard." we are being asked to consider a nominee to the eastern district of texas, who called for abolishing the department of education and declared the environmental protection agency
a "job killer." marched also in anti-abortion rallies. these nominees have expressed views that are contrary to many of our foundational values of justice and equality. they have in many cases made very weak commitments to longstanding supreme court precedent or refused to make commitments at all and many have made arguments well outside of the mainstream. for example, let's look at in the affordable care act case a nominee who was involved in texas v. united states, and that lawsuit from 20 republican attorneys generals and governors, a judge on the u.s. district court for the northern district of texas struck down the affordable care act as unconstitutional. if upheld, this decision will result in an estimated 17 million americans losing their health insurance, protections for preexisting conditions could be eliminated, seniors would pay more for prescription drugs. the decision has been appealed and of course there is some hope that it will be reversed, but it has been widely criticized,
including by conservative legal scholars. one conservative newspaper editor described the decision as "an assault on the rule of law. just imagine how many more poorly reasoned and destructive rulings we will see if many of the ideologies that we are considering today end up influencing decisions from the bench. the decisions of our federal judges have a variable impact on the lives of americans every day. this committee should be sure that, when we are sending the names of nominees out of this committee, that we are doing it in a way that ensures that the american public will have confidence in our system of justice, and i would just argue that let's always be influenced and as our guiding light look at those words that are inscribed on the united states supreme court, equal justice under law, and it is my hope, my prayer and
my wish that, when we nominate and then when we confirm justices and judges out of this committee, that they are truly committed and that their experience and their backgrounds evidence a commitment to equal justice under law. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, senator harris. senator booker put his statement in the record by unanimous consent. i'll speak a second and turn it over to senator tillis, at 12:45 we'll vote. about mr. barr, i think we need a steady hand at the department of justice, and i believe he provides that steady hand. it's not based on what i believe. it's based on his experience. if you wanted to pick an attorney general, it would be a good thing to look at those who have done the job before, and see if one of them would be willing to do it again. they got a voice vote for attorney general. he was a deputy attorney general, he was the head lawyer for the cia, all the voice votes, i think he had a
reputation throughout his life of being a squared away person in terms of the memo. i actually agree with his nuanced position on the statute, and he doesn't say that the president can't be charged with obstruction of justice, quite the contrary, a president can be, but there's a portion of the statute that he thought would not be wise to use as an obstruction cause based on firing somebody, which you have a lot of latitude for that, but the president, under mr. barr's beliefs, can be charged with obstruction of justice, whether or not you indict a sitting president, i think that debate's been going on for like 40 years. as to the mueller report, my main goal right now is to make sure mueller finishes it without interference. i tried to make sure he has the space to do that. as to mr. barr and how he
handled the report, i just trust that he will make sure that classified information is protected, if there's a privacy concern, he'll protect that but he will share as much as he reasonably can, and if i come out in a different space with him about his judgment, i'll sign on with senator blumenthal. i just want to give him a chance to exercise the discretion, given to him under the regulation, and i trust him. i don't think he's auditioning for the job. as a matter of fact, if you knew the history of trying to get this guy to take the job, it was not much of an -- i begged him, so the president's been, can be a handful, that's just the way it is with president trump, but he does ask people what they think and he's asked me about the attorney general. i said you got a lot of good choices here, and he asked about bill barr. i said that would be a great choice, i think, because you know what you're getting and he's got the judgment. he's at a time in his life he's
got nobody to please and not going to ruin his reputation late in life here, i'm confident of that. but i think he will be fair to you, mr. president, and look at the abuses at the department of justice that should be looked at but also expect for him to be fair to the public and true to the law, so the history of this nomination, i talked to him several times, reluctant to get back into public service but i'm glad he made that choice and i respect all my colleagues who are going to go in a different direction, but to the public, i believe of all the people president trump could have chosen, mr. barr is at the top of the list. he's just really the kind of person i think, quite frankly, we needed athe department of justice right now. as to the other judges, they've all had hearings, 19 of them voted upon. i think senator kennedy said it well, if i were president, there's some people i probably wouldn't pick, i'd pick somebody maybe you didn't like, but i
tried to say that elections have consequences. members of this committee are running for president very talented and i can tell you, once you get that job, if you get it, one of the big responsibilities is nominate qualified people to the court, and if one of you win, i'm sure you'll pick people differently than i would, and i'll try my best to make sure they get a fair shake and the qualifications test seems to have died, and scalia got 96 votes, and i think 98 votes, and ginsburg got 96. now, they're about as polar opposite as you can be in terms of judicial philosophy but they turned out to be fast friends and i don't know what's happened. i mean, i'm not blaming anybody, but there was a day that a very strong conservative and someone who is very much attached in terms of the liberal judicial philosophy through this body,
how can you say ruth bader ginsburg is not qualified? same for scalia, but we are where we are. senator leahy, i looked at his record, he's voted on 12 republicans, voted for six, against six, you know, things are changing, and i don't know where to put the blame or particular point in time. strom thurmond voted for ginsburg. people mentioned strom's name. there's no way he agreed with her philosophy but found her qualified. i voted for everybody, because i thought sotomayor and kagan were qualified. that's who i'd expect a democratic president to look at. some people like sotomayor and kagan, who have a pretty well-defined philosophy that's more in the less conservative camp. the federalist society, they're imported on our side, a bunch of conservative lawyers. they do have influence. they do have input, and i
expect, i don't know how democratic nominee comes up through the system, but i would imagine different groups on your side have input, too. and we are where we are. so i'm think being doing a resolution, going back to the 60-vote rule for the next president, because i think the biggest mistake the body made was abandoning that, because right now, we don't need any of you all and there will come a day you don't need any of us, and if i have to pick up a few of you all, we're going to pick somebody a little bit differently, and vice versa, but i don't know what's going to happen if you get a republican president, say a democratic president, and you got a republican senate. i don't know how the hell you get anybody through. that's the collateral damage that's going to flow over time from abandoning the 60-vote requirement, and the thing about the 60-vote requirement, it was actually never used.
no one, senator leahy under clarence thomas case, which was very hot, he said he deserves to get out of committee. that's just the way it was, and we're not bad people. times have changed, not just because of us, but because of sort of the way people view the judge debate. it is a hot contest. those running for president are going to say somewhere during the campaign, i'm going to make sure that i nominate somebody that will uphold roe v. wade. you're going to say that, and trump is going to say what he said before, but at the end of the day, we'll take your nominations, and nominees, and we'll try to sort them out and i will promise to vote for as many qualified people i wouldn't pick as possible just to keep the system afloat, but the other point about circuit courts, assigned to states, maybe we can find some agreement there, senator whitehouse. i don't know how many rhode
island gets, but i'd like us all to work together to say you're not going to steal south carolina's seats. if there's a job appointed for that circuit, at least it will come from rhode island. and maybe that's progress.progr but the bottom line is, the blue slip, i will try to make sure your consulted and we find common ground if we can, if we can't i am sorry. we will do the best we can with this committee. i know there are a lot of nominees on the schedule today, but all of them had hearings, this will soon pass. sort of get a chance to start over. judges are important, for what it matters, i didn't go to the conference. i went to turkey i think. the bottom line is judges are important. that's not the only thing. there are things we can do, i hope we can do on social media, i have a flip phone. i am not the one guy you want to come to to fix this problem.
but it seems to me that someone needs to do something about these big behemoths organizations that can affect everyone's life for good and bad. it's the wild wild west out there we haven't been attacked yet but were eventually going to be attacked in a major pearl harbor type fashion on cyber and when that day comes no one could accuse sheldon for not doing his part. still have really no system in america to ensure critical infrastructure and power and financial services that there is an organized system to get the best product possible to protect the public. so this cyber idea, there has to be a due process component. i have a hard time telling folks that we can't come up with a preventive system when we know someone is about to low. family members and law enforcement need a chance to
say, this person need some help, not a gun. and in parkland, he did everything he can to take out an ad he's going to kill someone. we will have our fights and it will be fun, we will talk about what questions to ask but time is precious and i want to make sure to pick up topics in this committee, not just the republican party. >> mr. chairman can i respond very quickly to one point you have raised up. first of all let me say i deeply welcome your commitment to begin this conversation in consideration. about privacy, big tax, the commerce committee and members of that committee are considering. >> we are going to do a task
force between the two committees and see if they can come up with some recommendations for us. consistent with due process, you and i are absolutely on the same page when it comes to the need for due process. a red flag statute, and emergency risk protection, i hope will pass this committee. >> i hope so. finally, on the issue, and let me use your word, trust, i just wanted to make clear to the chairman that my opposition to william barth is not about whether i trust him, it is about in fact the lack of his commitment on certain questions >> if he committed to me, if he committed to full transparency i would take his word. it's his failure to give that commitment -- >> i understand. >> i think that the chairman
makes a good point about his own personal trust about william barr wanting to make as much as he can public , but i think all of it should be made public. >> we all tried to strike bargains with the nominees like senator grassley, you know the first question is going to ask, everyone tries to strike a bargain, that's the way it should be. there is a limit i guess to what bargains people can make, but i don't blame anyone for trying to get as much commitment out of you can for menominee. and sometimes they can go as far as you would like. >> really quickly, you cover the landscape. when i was speaker i would tell might members in caucus, if it's been said don't say it again. i will associate with my -- myself with your comments about william barr and the nominees. but i do want to thank you because you and i are in neighbor states. you are probably one of the few
people on this committee who could actually sees the moral high ground on deferring to the president and voting down the line when you know well, i see media coverage done in south carolina, you're going to get hammered by your base. i don't know if you're courageous or crazy or both. what i will tell you is i admire the fact that you actually walk the talk. we can learn a lot by checking out your record. thank you for your leadership. >> everyone votes around here based on what they think is best and joe biden gave me a lot of good advice, most of it unsolicited. he is the world's nicest man. but he said, never question senators motive, you can question their judgment, their reasoning, in terms of the outcome, and that is probably pretty good advice. i will try to adhere to that advice. >> mr. chairman? >> yes ma'am. >> senator lee and i have a
spirited exchange. it's kind of you to acknowledge senator lee is a public solver. it would be nice if you would acknowledge that i as well am a problem solver. >> i hereby acknowledge that and him willing to move this committee to hawaii for any hearing you would like. >> it would be lovely. >> i do believe that. i question no one's motives. >> i don't know, i understand where senator lee is coming from, no one is going to be denied because of their religion, i guess sometimes questions about your faith are appropriate if you believe it will keep you from doing your job, that is a slippery slope and we do the best we can. with that we will go on recess to 12:45 pm.
>> no. >> mr. booker. >> know by proxy. >> esther chairman. >> aye. >> those are 10 nays and 12 yeas. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. >> i wanted to be reported as a no. >> without objection. >> same for me without objection. >> next the nomination of eric miller the ninth circuit. the clerk will call the role. >> mr. grassley. >> aye. >> mr. lee. >> aye. >> i by proxy. aye by proxy. >> mr. kennedy. >> blackburn. >> feinstein.
mr. cruz, mr. holly ,ms ernst , mr crapo ,mr. kennedy mrs. blackburn, mrs. feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr. whitehouse, mr. mr. blumenthal, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. next andrew brasher for the middle district of alabama. the court will call the role. mr. grassley.
mr. lee. mr. cruz, mr. holly ms ernst mr crapo mr. tillis. mr. kennedy mrs. blackburn, mrs. feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr. whitehouse, mr. mr. blumenthal, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman? >> 12 yeas and 10 nays. it will be favorably reported to the floor. holly brady the northern district of indiana. mr. grassley
tillis. ms. ernst, mr crapo, mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs. feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr. whitehouse, mr. mr. blumenthal, ms. hirono, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> aye. >> 14 yeas and eight nays. >> favorably reported to the floor. carl nichols the district of columbia. >>mr. grassley mr. lee. ,mr. cruz, mr. holly mr. tillis.
ms. ernst, mr crapo, mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs. feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr. whitehouse, mr. mr. blumenthal, ms. hirono, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> the nomination will be reported to the floor. next brian holt for the court claims. mr. grassley, mr. lee. mr. cruz, mr. holly mr. tillis. ms. ernst, mr crapo, mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs. feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr.
whitehouse, ms. klobuchar mr. mr. blumenthal, ms. hirono, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> the votes are 15 yeas and seven nays. >> the next nomination , eastern district of virginia. mr. grassley, mr. lee. mr. cruz, mr. holly mr. tillis. ms. ernst, mr crapo, mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs.
feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr. whitehouse, ms. klobuchar mr. mr. blumenthal, ms. hirono, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. the next, corey mays with the northern district of alabama. mr. grassley, >>mr. lee. mr. cruz, mr. holly mr. tillis. ms. ernst, mr. crapo, mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs.
feinstein. mr. leahy, mr. durbin, mr. whitehouse, ms. klobuchar mr. mr. blumenthal, ms. hirono, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. rodney smith of the southern district of florida. mr. grassley, mr. lee. mr. cruz, mr. holly mr. tillis. ms. ernst, mr. crapo, mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs.
mr. whitehouse, ms. klobuchar mr. mr. blumenthal, ms. hirono, mr. booker, ms. harris, mr. chairman. >> 12 yeas and 10 nays. next is thomas with the middle district of florida. mr. grassley, >>mr. lee. >> aye mr. cruz, >> aye mr. holly >> aye >> aye mr. tillis. ms. ernst, >> aye mr. crapo, >> aye >> aye mr. kennedy, mrs. blackburn, mrs. feinstein.
>> mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> aye >> mr. holly >> aye >> mr. tillis. >> ms. ernst, >> aye >> aye >> mr. crapo, >> aye >> mr. kennedy, >> mrs. blackburn, >> aye >> mrs. feinstein. >> aye >> mr. leahy, >> aye >> mr. durbin, >> aye >> mr. whitehouse, by proxy >> ms. klobuchar >> mr. >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> aye by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> no the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. next john paul with the northern district of georgia. >>
>> mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> mr. holly >> mr. tillis. >> ms. ernst, >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> aye >> mrs. blackburn, >> aye >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy, >> aye >> mr. durbin, >> mr. whitehouse, >> ms. klobuchar >> mr. >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> mr. booker, >> aye >> ms. harris, >> aye by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> aye >> aye 22 yeas. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. james kane junior for the western district of louisiana. >> mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> aye >> >> mr. cruz, aye >> mr. holly >> aye >> mr. tillis. >> aye >> ms. ernst, >> aye
>> aye >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> aye >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> aye >> >> mr. leahy, aye >> mr. durbin, >> mr. whitehouse, >> ms. klobuchar >> mr. >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> no by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> no >> aye >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. j nicholas for the western district of pennsylvania. >> mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> mr. holly >> mr. tillis. >> ms. ernst, >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy,
>> aye >> mr. durbin, by proxy >> mr. whitehouse, >> ms. klobuchar >> aye by proxy >> >> mr. no >> >> mr. blumenthal, aye by proxy >> ms. hirono, >> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> aye by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> no >> aye >> 18 yeas and four nays. next brian fisher with the district of nebraska. >> >> mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> mr. holly >> mr. tillis. >> ms. ernst, >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy, >> no >> mr. durbin, >> no by proxy >> mr. whitehouse, >> no >> ms. klobuchar >> no by proxy
>> mr. >> no >> mr. blumenthal, >> no by proxy >> ms. hirono, >> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> no by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> no >> aye. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. next clifton corker for the eastern district of tennessee. >> mr. grassley, >> >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> mr. holly >> mr. tillis. >> ms. ernst, >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy, >> no >> mr. durbin, >> >> mr. whitehouse, no by proxy >> ms. klobuchar >> no by proxy >> mr. >> no >> no by proxy >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> mr. chairman.
>> aye >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. next richard for the court of federal claims. > mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> mr. holly >> mr. tillis. >> ms. ernst, >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy, >> mr. durbin, >> mr. whitehouse, >> ms. klobuchar >> mr. >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> no >> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> no by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> no >> aye >> 19 yeas and three nays.
>> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. m miller baker the court of international trade >> mr. grassley, >> mr. lee. >> mr. cruz, >> mr. holly >> mr. tillis. >> aye >> ms. ernst, >> aye >> mr. crapo, >> aye >> mr. kennedy, >> aye >> mrs. blackburn, >> aye >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy, >> no >> mr. durbin, >> aye by proxy >> mr. whitehouse, >> no >> ms. klobuchar >> no by proxy >> mr. >> no >> mr. blumenthal, >> no by proxy >> ms. hirono, >> no >> mr. booker, >> no >> ms. harris, >> no by proxy >> mr. chairman. >> no >> aye 13 yeas and nine nays. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. the next nomination of donald washington to be the director
of the united states>> mr. grassley, marshals service. >> mr. lee. >> aye >> mr. cruz, >> aye >> mr. holly >> aye >> mr. tillis. >> aye >> ms. ernst, >> aye >> aye >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> aye >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> mr. leahy, >> aye >> mr. durbin, >> aye >> mr. whitehouse, by proxy >> aye >> ms. klobuchar by proxy >> mr. >> no >> aye by proxy >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> aye >> mr. booker, >> aye >> ms. harris, >> aye by proxy >> >> mr. chairman. aye >> aye 22 yeas. >> >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor.
senator crews i think once a roll call vote on the nomination of john young eastern district of pennsylvania. >> mr. grassley, >> >> mr. lee. aye >> no >> mr. cruz, >> no >> mr. holly >> no >> mr. tillis. >> aye >> ms. ernst, >> no >> mr. crapo, >> mr. kennedy, >> no >> aye >> mrs. blackburn, >> mrs. feinstein. >> >> mr. leahy, aye >> aye >> mr. durbin, by proxy >> >> mr. whitehouse, aye >> aye >> ms. klobuchar by proxy >> mr. >> aye >> aye by proxy >> mr. blumenthal, >> ms. hirono, >> aye
>> mr. booker, >> ms. harris, >> >> mr. chairman. aye by proxy >> 15 yeas and seven nays. >> the nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. now we have an agreement i think on six district court judges. by voice vote, is that correct? yes ma'am. rudolph of the southern district of florida. raul, i'm sorry to the family, district of puerto rico. pamela barker for the northern district of ohio. damon for the northern district of indiana. sarah morrison southern district of ohio. timothy for the court of
>> president trump will be in el paso to talk about border security and government funding later this evening. live coverage 9 pm on c-span 2. and ada o'rourke will hold a march and rally this evening less than one mile away from president trump's event. he has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. we will have the rally live at 9 pm eastern on c-span. tonight on the communicators, from the state of the net conference in washington, d.c., we will discuss internet regulations and monitoring with rebecca slaughter and neil, senior research fellow at the charles coke institute. >> the fcc has rulemaking authority that is much more expansive than the -- here the
rules of the road, here's how you have to treat traffic over the internet. they had a privacy rule. we just don't have the ability to do that across the board when it comes to consumer protection issues. we have much more limited rulemaking authority. now we have specific laws that will protect some data at some of the time but data isn't housed in sector specific silos anymore. >> people need somebody different things when they talk about privacy. it is hard to see how congress does anything that is specific. 's people haven't yet agreed on what the problem is. i think there is a lot of area that people could agree on, that these are the types of injuries we are trying to stop consumers from suffering. and i think we could get there, but right now the conversation is very vague and talks about privacy as a general idea and
people mean different things about privacy. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8 pm eastern on c- span dig two. >> there are nearly 100 new members of the house of representatives this year. ohio, west virginia, maryland, mississippi and washington are five of the states that added one new member. representative anthony gonzalez was a football start ohio state before the indianapolis colts drafted him in 2007. after injuries cut short his professional football career, he earned his mba at stanford business school. he is the first latino elected to ohio's congressional delegation. representative carol miller served over a decade in the state house before voters in west virginia's third district elected heard congress. politics runs in her family. she is the daughter of former congressman samuel divine who seek would later be filled by future ohio governor in 2016 presidential candidate john
kasich. congressman eichel guest was a local prosecutor in mississippi for nearly 25 years. the last decade as district attorney before his election to the house. he is also a sunday school teacher at his local baptist church. repetitive david trone and his brother opened a small liquor store in delaware in the early 1990s. the company eventually moved its headquarters to maryland and has expanded to become the largest independent fine wine retailer in the country. and washington's eighth district elected is and if kim schrier. a pediatrician and the only female doctor in congress. new congress, new leaders. watch it all on c-span. >> the c-span bus recently traveled to louisiana asking folks, what does it mean to be american? >> to be an american means your part of the community, that innately able to overcome any obstacles, that includes everyone the community as a
whole and the country. >> to be an american really means you can do anything you put your mind to. no matter what background you come from, no matter where you are from, when you come here you can live and do anything. you can do it. you will achieve everything. that's what it's like to be an american. >> to me being american means you love this country. i mean truly love this country. just like the people, we are all broken. the country can be broken sometimes. maybe it was broken but to love it all the same. i think being american to stand for the constitution, the bill of rights, you wish to uphold them and if you don't know them, if you don't uphold them you think we don't need them, those of the formations of our country, that is what we are built upon. i would say you would be an american to not be devoted to those. >> and i think to be american means we get to stand up and
express ourselves, that we have the right to express our voice, our actions, and to quote a 1914 poem by wilcox, to send my silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men. >> i think what it means to be an american is having the right to choose your own future. choosing where you live, picking whatever job you want, living the way you want, spending the money how you want that's what it means to be american. having the right to choose your destiny. >> voices from the road. on c-span. >> of next look at national security with the national defense strategy commission. a bipartisan group mandated by congress. they share recommendations on indic on funding, russian and chinese influence, and the implio