tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 28, 2014 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT
number is going to go to a very, very low level over a several year period. >> well, if you can't tell us, and i don't fault you for not being able to tell us, when the grandfathering is going to end, shouldn't we assume in our analysis that it is current and, as far as we can tell, not going to end? >> no. i don't that's right, your honor. and i think let's look at this, if we could, in toto. that with respect to grandfathering, it's to be expected that employers and insurance companies are going to make decisions that trigger the loss of that so-called grandfathered status under the under the governing regulation. >> isn't it true with respect to the grandfathered plans that the regulations required immediate compliance with certain requirements, but not with preventive care requirements; isn't that right? let me read you what hhs said in the regulation -- "with certain particularly significant protections, particularly significant protections, congress required grandfathered
health plans to comply with a subset of the affordable care act's health reform provisions. on the other hand, grandfathered health plans are not required to comply with certain other requirements of the affordable care act; for example, the requirement that preventive health services be covered without any cost sharing." so isn't hhs saying there, quite specifically, these, in our view, are not within this subset of particularly significant requirements as to which there must be immediate compliance? >> well, the question would be whether there's a compelling interest in compliance with these requirements. and i'd like to make two points in response to your honor's question. first, with respect to the issue of delay, which i think, mr. chief justice, your question raised, and my friend on the other side has put a lot of weight on, i'd refer the court to the ada. i don't think anybody would doubt that the americans with doubt that the americans with disabilities act advances interest of the highest order. but when congress enacted that, it put a two-year delay on the applicability of the
discrimination provision. >> well, isn't that because you're talking about building ramps and things like that? >> no. no, your honor. there's an even longer delay with respect to those kinds of provisions, but it's just a basic prohibition of discrimination two-year delay, and no one would doubt there's a compelling interest here. and with title vii. my friends on the other side have said, well, this different because there's so many more people who are going to not have this coverage under the grandfathered plan. but with respect to title vii, of course, it's still the case that that employers with 15 or fewer people are not subject to that law, and that's 80% of the employers in the country. and if you run the math, that's it's at least 80% that's it's going to be somewhere between 10 million and 22 million people who are not within the coverage. no one would say that because the coverage is incomplete in that respect, that title vii enforcing title vii doesn't advance -- >> those were decisions those were decisions that congress made, right? >> yes. >> well, the grandfathering is
not a decision that congress made, is it? >> well, the way in which it's implemented is a decision that the agency has made, that's true. but even with respect to the preventive services, i don't think anyone would say that there's not a compelling interest in advancing colorectal cancer screening and immunizations and the things that the preventive services provisions provide in addition to contraceptive coverage. i just think this a compelling interest under any understanding of the term. >> i just want before you get to this point, and my question reflects no point of view at all on my behalf. i just but i took mr. clement, one of his points, which i thought was an important one. he says there are some people here who strongly object to helping with abortions which include abortifacient contraceptives. everybody says, yes, they do object to that and that's sincere. so he's not saying this, but i might. but there is a compelling interest in women's health and
in the health of the family, and they're not having a religious objection to taking it. and so the government has said provide it. then he says, but there is a less restrictive way, and the less restrictive way is the government pays for it. says it wouldn't cost much. you'd have to have another piece of paper that would go to the insurance company that would say, insofar as your employer has a sincere objection against paying this, the government will pay for it. now, what i want to hear, and this not coming from any point of view, i want to hear your precise answer to that kind of argument. >> yes. they did argue i will point out, for the first time at the podium this morning that a less restrictive means would be to extend the accommodation that currently exists -- >> i'm not interested in whether they made the argument sooner or later. what i want to hear from you is i want to hear and it's not you've thought about this. i want to hear your answer to
that kind of argument. >> well -- >> i want to be sure you have a chance to give it. >> the answer i think there are two answers to it. assuming it's before the court and i'm going to answer your honest question directly, but i do want to make a prefatory point here, which is that under the law, under ashcroft v. aclu, for example, the burden on the government is to show that proposed less restrictive alternatives are not equally effective. if they don't propose it, we don't have a burden to refute it. having said that, we can refute it. now, there are two and there are two ways. the first is, they claim that they don't think that the accommodation is a less restrictive means, i take it, because or they haven't raised it before today, because they believe that rfra would require exemptions to that too, such that if you were if you were to provide the accommodation in which the insurance company comes in and provides the contraception if the employer
signs the form, they would say that that signing the form also makes them complicit in the central activity, and that therefore rfra provides an exemption there, too. and of course the test is whether the proposed alternative advances the government's interests as effectively. and if it is going to be subject to exactly the same rfra objections by exactly the same class of people asking for it, it's not going to serve the government's interest as effectively because the rfra exemption will result in no coverage there. the second point being that -- >> so don't make them sign a piece of paper. >> well, whether they sign the piece of paper or not, if they make the rfra claim there, which they have with respect to that accommodation, it will result in it being less effective in terms of accomplishing the compelling interest. in addition -- >> well, we can ask mr. clement what his position is on this. but you say they have already asserted that it would be inconsistent with rfra as they understand it to provide for a
for-profit corporation, like the ones involved here, the sort of accommodation that hhs has extended to so-called religious nonprofits, perhaps with the modification that was included in our stay order in the little sisters case. have they taken a position on that? >> you'll have to ask them. i don't think they have. but they have studiously avoided arguing this as a less restrictive alternative, and i take it's because their theory, at least, would lead one to the conclusion you would have to provide a rfra objection. but now the -- yes, thank you, mr. chief justice. the second point is that you're talking about a very open-ended increase in the cost to the government. now, we don't know how much that cost would be. the reason is because, since this wasn't litigated in the lower courts, there's not a record on it. so i can't tell you what that what that increased cost is going to be, but it could be quite considerable. >> you're talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. that's not terribly expensive stuff, is it?
>> well, to the contrary. and two points to make about that. first, of course the one of the methods of contraception they object to here is the iud. and that is by far and away the method of contraception that is most effective, but has the highest upfront cost and creates precisely the kind of cost barrier that the preventive services provision is trying to break down. >> i thought that i was taken by your answer. i thought it was the government's position that providing coverage for the full range of contraceptives and other devices and drugs that are covered here is actually financially neutral for an insurance company, that that reduces other costs that they would incur. >> it is for the insurance company, but for the woman who is going to not get the benefit of the statute if the exemption is granted -- >> no. no. if she if she has the coverage through the insurance company but the employer has nothing to do with arranging for that.
>> well, so, in other words, if they haven't raised a rfra objection to the alternative, but that but as i said, you know, the logic of their position is that you would get a rfra objection. it can't be -- >> still, i want to get press this a little further, and i don't want you simply to just agree with what i'm about to say. >> don't worry. >> no, i mean i mean, after all, somebody, a taxpayer, might say, "i don't want to pay for this small war." and it would be a religious ground, and it would be very, very little money, in fact, that you take from him. or the church might say, "i want a sunday morning reduction in the cost of municipal parking." and by the way, that will not only not cost the government anything, they'll make money because nobody parks there on sunday, particularly with this high a fee. now, i'm thinking of i'm trying to figure out where this case fits in that spectrum because i think the answer to the first two questions is no.
and i know, so you're just going to agree, and that's what i don't want. i want to understand your thinking on that. >> on that point, i think that question plugs into our view of what the substantial burden test requires, that their view of substantial burden is if you have a sincere religious belief and there is any law with a meaningful penalty that imposes on you pressure to do something inconsistent with your belief, then you may pass the substantial burden test. i think the problem with that test as they formulate it, is that under the two hypotheticals that you just gave, justice breyer, you've got a substantial burden in those situations, because if you don't pay the tax you can go to jail, for example. and so we think the substantial burden analysis has got to be more strenuous than that. it's got to incorporate principles of attenuation and proximate cause, and that when you think about this case where the requirement is to purchase insurance which enables actions by others, that you're really closer to the tax situation than to imposing a direct obligation to act. so that's how we would think
about that issue. but now, with respect to -- >> mr. general verrilli, isn't that really a question of theology or moral philosophy, which has been debated for by many scholars and adherents to many religions. a does something that b thinks is immoral. how close a connection does there have to be between what b does that may have some that may provide some assistance to a in order for b to be required to refrain from doing that that action. >> it's true that it's a difficult question. but it isn't -- >> it is a religious question and it's a moral question. and you want us to provide a definitive secular answer to it? >> no, but i do think the problem, justice alito, is that this court has recognized, and certainly the courts of appeals have recognized, that there is a difference. you accept the sincerity of the belief, but the court still has to make a judgment of its own about what constitutes a substantial burden, or otherwise, for example, the tax
thing would be a substantial burden. or we cited a d.c. circuit case in which prisoners objected to giving dna samples and the court said -- we accept the sincerity of that belief, but it's up to us to decide whether that's a actually a substantial burden. in the bowen case in this court, the court accepted the sincerity of the belief that the use of the child's social security number would offend religious belief and commitments, but said they still had to make a judgment about whether that was a substantial burden. so it does have to be, with all due respect, part of the analysis. >> i still don't understand how hhs exercised its judgment to grant the exemption to nonreligious corporations if you say it was not compelled by rfra. >> i don't think -- >> then it must have been because the health care coverage was not that important. >> it didn't grant an exemption to any nonreligious organizations, justice kennedy. it granted an exemption to churches, and that was it. with respect to religious nonprofits, it constructed an accommodation, but the
accommodation delivers the contraceptive coverage to the employees of the nonprofits. it just does it through an indirect means. but there is no diminution of there's no basis for questioning the government's interest with respect to that accommodation because the employees get the coverage, just as they would -- >> well, but that of course is an issue that's being hotly litigated right now, right? whether the employees can get the coverage when you're talking about the religious organizations. >> well, that's exactly why i think you can't look to that as a less restrictive -- that accommodation, extending that accommodation to for-profit corporations, as a less restrictive alternative. precisely because it's being hotly litigated whether rfra will require exemptions to that, as well. >> but you're relying you're relying on it to make your point with respect to the accommodation, and then you're criticizing your friend for relying on the same thing in making his points. >> well, i think i think what justice kennedy i took justice kennedy to be asking me, mr. chief justice, was whether the government's choice to provide that accommodation reflected a
judgment on the part of the government that this was something less than a compelling interest, and i don't think that inference is possible, because the government was trying to use that accommodation to ensure that the contraceptives were delivered. so, with all due respect, i don't think there is an inconsistency there. and i and i do think, if i could, with respect to the issue of whether there are exemptions that defeat a compelling interest, that i submit would be a very dangerous principle for this court to adopt in the form that my friends on the other side have offered it, because not only would you then be in a position where it would be very hard to see how title vii enforcement could be justified by compelling interest in response to a rfra objection, ada enforcement, fmla enforcement, all kinds of things. and i do think -- >> title vii was passed before 1993, so it wouldn't apply rfra wouldn't apply to title vii. >> well, i think with all due respect, justice ginsburg, i think you could claim a rfra exemption from title vii.
and the problem here would be that and i think one of the things that's significant about the position that my friends on the other side are taking here, is that with respect to exemptions, for example, from the title vii requirement against discrimination on the basis of religion and hiring, congress made a quite clear judgment to provide a very narrow exemption -- churches and religious educational institutions and religious associations, and that's it. nobody else can claim an exemption under title vii. >> except that they passed rfra after that. that made a lot of sense. but the question is they passed rfra after that. >> but i think the further question, your honor, is whether you would interpret rfra in a manner where you would essentially obliterate that carefully crafted or what congress meant to do was to obliterate that carefully crafted exemption and instead say that every for-profit corporation could make a request like that. >> well, if congress feels as strongly about this as you suggest, they can always pass an exemption, an exception to rfra, which they have done on other occasions. and they haven't done it here. >> well, with all due respect, your honor, i think you could
make the same argument either way in this case, that the question here is what congress thought it was doing in 1993, and we don't think, given the long history and the fact that not only do you have no case in which a for-profit corporation ever had a successful -- >> well, we've already discussed that there is no case holding that they can't, right? >> in addition, if you look at the history of exemptions and accommodations in our legislation, state and federal legislation may extend to churches and religious nonprofits, and that's and individuals. and that's where the line has been drawn in our legislation historically. there just is nothing in our current -- >> under your view, a profit corporation could be forced in principle, there are some statutes on the books now which would prevent it, but could be forced in principle to pay for abortions. >> no. i think, as you said, the law now the law now is to the contrary. >> but your reasoning would permit that. >> well, i think that you know, i don't think that that's i think it would depend on the law
and it would depend on the entity. it certainly wouldn't be true, i think, for religious nonprofits. it certainly wouldn't be true for a church. >> i'm talking about a profit corporation. you say profit corporations just don't have any standing to vindicate the religious rights of their shareholders and owners. >> well, i think that if it were for a for-profit corporation and if such a law like that were enacted, then you're right, under our theory that the for-profit corporation wouldn't have an ability to sue. but there is no law like that on the books. in fact, the law is the opposite. >> i'm sorry, i lost track of that. there is no law on the books that does what? >> that makes a requirement of the kind that justice kennedy hypothesized. the law is the opposite. >> well, flesh it out a little more. what there is no law on the books that does what? >> that requires for-profit corporations to provide abortions. >> what if a law like that -- >> isn't that what we are talking about in terms of their religious beliefs? one of the religious beliefs is that they have to pay for these four methods of contraception that they believe provide abortions. i thought that's what we had
before us. >> it is their sincere belief and we don't question that. but i will say, and i do think this important and i say it with all respect, that that is how they that is the judgment that they make. it is not the judgment that federal law or state law reflects. federal law and state law which does which do preclude funding for abortions don't consider these particular forms of contraception to be abortion. with all due respect, i would say that i think that, you know, we've got about 2 million women who rely on the iud as a method of birth control in this country. i don't think they think they are engaged in abortion in doing that. it is their belief. it's sincere. we respect it. but it isn't a belief that we think is reflected in federal or state law or our traditions of where that line is drawn. and so and i do think that that is what makes this a difficult case. i agree. and if you disagree with our position at the threshold that
corporations that even though you have a situation, and we acknowledge you can have situations, in which a tightly knit group of a small group of tightly knit individuals own and operate a corporation where there is appeal to that, to the argument that they ought to recognize a claim of exercising religion in those circumstances. the problem, i would submit, is with the implications of doing it, the implications for entanglement and making the judgments when you move past that group, the administrability problems, and the problems of inviting the kinds of claims that are predictably going to impose harms on third parties. >> what about the implications of saying that no for-profit corporation can raise any sort of free exercise claim at all and nobody associated with the for-profit corporation can raise any sort of free exercise claim at all? let me give you this example. according to the media, denmark recently prohibited kosher and
halal slaughter methods because they believe that they are inhumane. now, suppose congress enacted something like that here. what would the what would a corporation that is a kosher or halal slaughterhouse do? they would simply they would have no recourse whatsoever. they couldn't even get a day in court. they couldn't raise a rfra claim. they couldn't raise a first amendment claim. >> well, i'm not sure they couldn't raise a first amendment claim, justice alito. i think if you had a targeted law like that, that targeted a specific religious practice, that i don't think it is our position that they couldn't make a free exercise claim in that circumstance and so -- >> why is that -- >> well, but you're getting away from the hypothetical. say justice alito's hypothetical was that the impetus for this was humane treatment of animals. there was no animus to religion at all, which in the church of lukumi, there was an animus to the religion. so we're taking that out of the hypothetical. >> exactly. >> right. well, i think if it were
targeted only at the practices of the kosher and halal practices, then i think you would have an issue of whether it's a targeted law or not. but even if it is -- >> well, they say no animal may be slaughtered unless it's stunned first, unless the animal is rendered unconscious before it is slaughtered. >> well, i think in that circumstance, you would have, i think, an ability for customers to bring suit. i think you might recognize third party standing on behalf of the corporation on the corporations, on behalf of customers. so a suit like that could be brought. but even if you disagree with me at the threshold, even if you disagree with us with respect to the kinds of risks that we think you will be inviting if you hold that for-profit corporations can bring these claims, when you get to the compelling interest analysis, the rights of the third party employees are at center stage here. and that's i think that's the point of critical importance in thinking about this case. and i think, frankly, the point
that has been just left on the sidelines by my friends on the other side. the consequence of holding here that the rfra exemption applies is not a situation like ones in which this court under the free exercise clause or under rfra have recognized exemptions in the past. those have always been situations where it's a relationship between the individual and the government and granting the exemption might result in the government not being able to enforce the law with respect to the individual, but -- >> i mean, the point that justice alito was making is that take five jewish or muslim butchers and what you're saying to them is if they choose to work under the corporate form, which is viewed universally, you have to give up on that form the freedom of exercise clause that you'd otherwise have. now, looked at that way, i don't think it matters whether they call themselves a corporation or whether they call themselves individuals. i mean, i think that's the question you're being asked, and i need to know what your response is to it. >> well, i think our response is
what the court said in part 3 of the lee opinion, which is that once you make a choice to go into the commercial sphere, which you certainly do when you incorporate as a for-profit corporation, you are making a choice to live by the rules that govern you and your competitors in the commercial sphere. but even if you disagree with me about that, what i'd like to leave the court with, is what i think is the most important point here, is that if this exemption were granted, it will be the first time under the free exercise clause or under rfra in which this court or any court has held that an employer may take -- may be granted an exemption that extinguishes statutorily guaranteed benefits of fundamental importance. lee came to exactly the opposite conclusion with respect to social security benefits, that you -- that it was imperative that the employee's interest be protected. and that is the fundamental problem with the position that
my friends on the other side raise here, that they leave the third-party employees entirely out of the equation. >> that's ok for not-for-profit corporations to do that with respect to all of their employees, and some of them are pretty big operations -- >> no. >> that's ok there? >> no, we don't think that. we don't we're not drawing a line between nonprofits and profits. >> they can make you allow them to make this religious objection, don't you? >> no. no. religious nonprofits get an accommodation in which their employees get the contraception. but we are not drawing a line between for-profit and profit. >> but they don't have to pay for it, right? >> the -- >> and you could set that up this way, that these people don't have to pay for it. >> well, as i've said a couple of times, they haven't asked for that until this morning. but the fundamental point here is that you would be extinguishing statutorily guaranteed health benefits of fundamental importance to these employees, and that is something that this court has never done. and i submit that congress can't have thought it was authorizing it when it enacted rfra in 1993. thank you. >> thank you, general. mr. clement, four minutes. >> thank you, mr. chief justice.
just a few points in rebuttal. let me start with the abortion conscious clause. it's because it tells you something about where congress has drawn the line and it tells you the consequences of the government's position. historically, those conscious provisions have applied to all medical providers, including for-profit medical providers. but we learned today that as far as the government's concerned, that's just congress' judgment. if congress changes its judgment and says that a for-profit medical provider has to provide an abortion, rfra doesn't apply. that, with all due respect, cannot be what congress had in mind when it passed rfra. they also suggested if a kosher market takes the trouble to incorporate itself, then it has no free exercise claims at all. now, you can go back and read the crown kosher case. i took it as common ground, that all nine justices thought that if the massachusetts law there had forced crown kosher to be open on saturday, that that would be a free exercise claim notwithstanding the incorporation. the second point i want to talk about is the least restrictive alternatives. in a colloquy with justice
scalia, the solicitor general points out that yeah, well, it's a little bit different from the pre-smith law because now you have the less restrictive alternatives analysis. that's not a small difference. that's a major difference. and it's really the easiest way to rule against the government in this case. because you have a unique situation here where their policy is about a government a subsidy for a government-preferred health care item, and the question is who pays? the government paying or a third-party insurer paying is a perfectly good least restrictive alternative. >> so we go back to the start of my question, that would be essentially the same for vaccines, blood transfusions, non-pork products, the government has to pay for all of the medical needs that an employer thinks or claims it has a religious exemption to? >> not necessarily, justice sotomayor. it will depend on how you -- >> because those things are more important? >> no, not because they're more -- >> it's really the amount of
money -- >> important. but the easiest way to distinguish them is if the government's already provided this accommodation for religious employers. >> well, but they -- >> and with all due respect -- >> they make exemptions for vaccines, presumably, to some people on some basis, but we have a tax code that applies to everybody, but we have a million exemptions. does the creation of the exemption relieve me from paying taxes when i have a sincere religious belief that taxes are immoral? >> i think lee says that taxes are different and not all exemptions are created equal, because some exemptions undermine the compelling interest. now, the reason -- >> isn't there a federal program that pays for vaccines for any children who are not covered by insurance for those vaccines? >> there is, justice alito. of course, there's also title x, which provides for contraception coverage, which is another least restrictive alternative. but i do want to get on the table that it is not true, that we have not suggested that the accommodation provided to religious employers, like nonprofit hospitals, that's not something i invented at the podium.
if you look at page 58 of our brief, the red brief, we specifically say that one of the least restrictive alternatives would be the most obvious least restrictive alternative is for the government to pay for their favorite contraception methods themselves. later in that paragraph, the only full paragraph on the page, we say, "and indeed, the government has attempted something like that with respect to certain objective employers objective employees employers," and we cite the federal register provision where there is the accommodation provision. >> will your clients claim that filling out the form, if you're saying they would claim an exemption like the churches have already? >> we haven't been offered that accommodation, so we haven't had to decide what kind of objection, if any, we would make to that. but it's important to recognize that as i understand that litigation, the objection is not to the fact that the insurance or the provider pays for the contraception coverage. the whole debate is about how much complicity there has to be from the employer in order to trigger that coverage. and whatever the answer is for little sisters of the poor, presumably you can extend the same thing to my clients and there wouldn't be a problem with
that. if i could have just one second more to say that the agency point that justice kennedy has pointed to is tremendously important, because congress spoke, it spoke in rfra. here the agency has decided that it's going to accommodate a subset of the persons protected by rfra. in a choice between what congress has provided and what the agency has done, the answer is clear. thank you, your honor. >> thank you, counsel. counsel, the case is submitted. >> following the oral argument, some of those involved spoke refer you to the news media. >> our family started hobby lobby. we have kept the tradition for more than 40 years. we want to continue to live out our faith in the way we do business.
we believe that americans don't lose their religious freedom when they open a family business. today'sencouraged by arguments. we are thankful that the supreme court took our case. we prayerfully await the justices decisions. since my family first moved we sought togo, glorify god. not only in the quality and craftsmanship of our products, but by the principles that inspire allies every day. work and the hard dignity of our customers and employees all created in god's image. a never thought we would see day when the government would tell our family we could no longer run our business in a way that affirm the sanctity of human life. that the government would force us to be complicit into the
potential distraction of human life. rather than sacrifice our obedience to god, my family and others have chosen to take a stand to defend life and freedom against government coercion. we didn't choose this fight. our families would have been happy to just continue providing good jobs and health care benefits. ourthe government forced hand. we hope and pray the supreme court will uphold the religious freedoms of all americans who seek to glorify god as they go about making a living. -- were -- >> my name is marcia greenberger. i am copresident of the women's law center. we filed a friend of the court reef on behalf of 70 organizations. speaking for the women whose health and futures are at stake with respect to their access to contraceptive coverage.
the supreme court has said in the past -- i want to read this quote -- being able to decide when or whether to have children boosts women's ability to participate equally in our nation's economic and social life. access to birth control has andoved women's status overall financial security suit -- and i will add as well as their health and the health of their children. its use is nearly universal. its benefits are extraordinary. casewas that issue in this is whether when the government preventivethat health care that is essential for women must the provided to them, can be overridden by any
thatrofit corporation decides to do so, would be objectionable to the corporation. my organization, the national women's law center, heard from --eone who is not from her in the supreme court. a woman who was an employee of hobby lobby. and i can read from her words cynically -- specifically, about the importance of contraception to her and her family. she said, it would allow a woman to lead a responsible life. it is the ability of women to be protect theird to own health that is at stake today. they keep very much.
>> i am the president of pro-choice america. i want to say once a both thing. what the court heard today is the if it was to find for plaintiffs, it would be the first time the court had proactively extinguished at the right of any americans. -- about alll women's health and freedom. we are the 99%. we will not have our rights extinguished. our bodies are not our bosses business. >> i'm the president of planned parenthood. i am proud to be here on behalf of the 3 million patients we see every year for health care. what we saw was the importance of having women on the supreme court. i was proud to be there as a
woman. have a justices talk about what is at stake in this case. whether millions of women and their right to preventive care is trumped by the handful of ceos who have their own personal birthns about personal -- control. it was a wonderful day for women. i believe that this court understood that women have the right to make their own decisions about the health care and birth control. it's not their bosses decision. several senators discussed the case on the senate floor. we will hear from republicans, tom coburn and kelly. as well as patty murray. this is about 40 minutes. something significant happened. i am from oklahoma. david green and his wife started
a group called hobby lobby by making picture frames in their garage. t long ago. i can remember their doing that. they were able to open their first store which was about 300 square feet. with the profits they made in their little garage operation, it is david green's faith, practice and his day-to-day business decisions that led him and his family to build a successful nationwide company. over the years their business has grown to 602 stores. they have 602 stores now, madam president, with plans to expand, hobby lobby has an annual revenue upwards of $2.5 billion, and david has had success despite running his business in a very countercultural way. for instance, all of the retail stores close at 8:00 p.m. each night and all day on sunday so employees can spend their time with thraeur -- their families. this is appreciated by the
company, some 16,000 employees who are paid above the minimum wage. hobby lobby's general employee benefit plan includes an on-site clinic with no co-pay at hobby lobby headquarters and eligibility to enroll in medical, dental and prescription drug plans along with long-term disabilities and life insurance and a 401(k) plan with generous company match. this is something that they have done long before obamacare came along. at one point hobby lobby was challenged by a competitor who said they would bury the company with their money so the firm opened their doors on sunday, ultimately earning the company some $150 million in revenue each week. that was over and above what that competitor previously had been able to raise. eventually david green said that he was challenged by god to trust in him with his business, to go back to his policy of closing on sunday, so he did and his business has prospered.
david's christian faith runs deeper than his desire to have a profitable, successful company. but he's getting both. when he was faced with a decision to make more money or obey god, he chose to obey god whatever the consequences. more recently he was faced with a new task. listen to this, madam president. it didn't come from a competitor. it came from the united states government. part of obamacare requires employers not only to provide health insurance to their employees, but also to provide free access to the pills that terminate pregnancies. david, as i do and many others believe that life begins at conception. i believe that. david believes that. we're free to believe that. and offering an option to end that life would be a violation of our moral compass as defined by his faith and our faith. here's a guy who feels so strongly in his beliefs saying -- and it is his actions
have shown he would rather pay the $1.3 million a day in fines from the obama administration than comply with the law. in other words, killing the unborn child. today the 3w0*e78d -- the obama administration is claiming this company is waging a war on women. never mind that he has been offering his employees health insurance since long before the government mandated it. so we have the faith of an individual and what he's willing to do for his faith. he's willing to stand up to this abusive government. if you restrict those of faith from applying their conscience to the world around them, then you quench the process of freedom. the obama administration is attempting to write a new moral code if it's going to tell people like david green that he no longer has the freedom to apply his faith, convictions to how he operates his private business. the case before the supreme
court today is about maintaining freedom which starts by preserving the fundamental freedom of religion under the first amendment, whether it's practiced in a temple or public square. hobby lobby is not alone. but it's a leader in this battle. more than 100 institutions have filed similar claims. four universities in my state of oklahoma have also filed a lawsuit along the same lines. here we have a situation, and it's hard to believe that this can happen in america, where there's a man who has built up, is employing actively 16,000 people who otherwise might not be employed. he's been providing all the income, he's selling products, he's a self-made man who started out in his garage. and he built up this giant operation all throughout america and has made that great contribution. and along comes the obama administration and obamacare that says we're going to fine you $1.3 million a day if you
don't offer these abortions. now that's actually being considered right now in the united states supreme court. i think god is on our side and i think we're going to have a good outcome from this. but just imagine one man taking the risk of $1.3 million a day in fines just to show, to stand by his faith and behind the 16,000 people who work for him to make sure that good things happen. with that, i will yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: madam president, i want to talk about the same topic that my good friend from oklahoma has brought up. actually i was at the supreme court this morning listening to the arguments on this case, sebelius vs. hobby lobby. and another case involving a pennsylvania company that i want to talk about as well.
and of course this case is, as the senator from oklahoma has pointed out, starts with the affordable care act and what many people -- and i believe the supreme court will decide -- is really a blatant violation in religious freedom in the way that act would be applied. there's nothing in the act that deals with the rule that sets those big fines up or establishes how those fines would be collected or in fact nothing in the act that specifies specific things that have to be in the so-called model plan. that all is up to the administration, all up to the department of h.h.s. unless the court or the congress do what needs to be done here, which is to say that there are certain boundaries that you can't cross. the affordable care act, the
so-called affordable health care act which seems to be providing neither better health care nor better affordability was signed into law four years ago this week and in that four years we've seen disastrous effects of the health care act. one is more and more people work less and less. why do they work less and less? because for the first time ever the government said people have an obligation to provide insurance for somebody who worked more than 30 hours. prior to that law, many people had insurance who worked less than 30 hours. it may not have been insurance that the president of the united states would have specified they had, but it was insurance that appeared to be working for them. but once the government says here's what you have to do, the government ironically also appears to be saying here's what you don't have to do. and so we know that the workplace effects are bad. we know that this is one of the principal reasons given for people working part time without
benefits instead of working either full time or part time with benefits. we see the cut in medicare and the impact that has on seniors. we see the increasing level of amount of money that you have to spend before your insurance kicks in for so many people. and we know that this law is not working for american families or american individuals. now we see a case where the law doesn't work for the constitution. specifically, the law forces businesses like hobby lobby, that was mentioned by senator inhofe, the senator from oklahoma, to offer health insurance for employees that cover services that violates their religious beliefs. this is a company that's always prided themselves in their ability to offer health care coverage that was better than their employees might be able to get other places. this is a company that starts their nonseasonal employees at a rate at about twice the minimum
wage. this is not a company that is in any way trying to take advantage of their employees. this is a company that has given every indication through the existence of the company that they want to act in a certain way, a way that is comfortable with their faith. the penalties? if you don't do what the government says, the penalties are $36,500 per employee per year. $36,500 per employee per year. in the case of this company that has locations all over the country and has a significant number of employees, that's more than $450 million a year. if you just don't provide insurance at all, one of the points that was made by the government lawyers today, your option would be that you only pay a $2,000 penalty.
a $2,000 penalty. $2,000 a year if you don't offer insurance at all. $36,500 per year per employee if you don't offer exactly the insurance that the all-knowing government has decided you need to answer. what a foolish position for the federal government to be in. your penalty if you're this big company, the privately held, closely held by a family -- this happens to be a big and successful company but not a publicly traded company. it happens to be a company that chose to incorporate but incorporated within the ability of that family to do that in this closely held way to do that. if you don't pay -- if you don't do what the government says, your penalty would be less than the insurance you're providing by quite a bit. if you don't provide insurance at all. if you don't do exactly what the government says, it's probably an amount of money that puts
your company out of business. this company, hobby lobby, with more than 500 arts and crafts stores around the country, is a company -- is a company that's being joined in this -- in the case today, the cases were joined together by konostoga wood specialties, a company that manufactures kitchen cabinets. this company was founded by the haans family, a mennonite family from pennsylvania. a smaller company than hobby lobby but a company that still holds their own religious beliefs and has a tradition of holding those religious beliefs in everything they do. two companies of very different size. these are not companies that object to all of the things the list of things the government says you have to offer. in fact, in the area of contraception, they object to only four of the things that happen after -- after
conception. the -- the things that would create an abortion, in their view, after conception. they both i think traditionally offered other kinds of contraception, but this crosses their religious boundary. and so for these four things only, the government would say you'd have to pay $36,500 per employee a year. there are at least 46 cases filed concerning for-profit companies that have the same kinds of religious objections. more than 10 of those lawsuits in my state, the state of missouri. and it's not just about one set of religious beliefs. it's about protecting all americans' first amendment rights to pursue their faith-based principles and what they believe. these happen to be a mennonite family and an evangelical christian family. there's -- you know, the largest christian group in america, the catholic church, has a -- a broader sense of what they think
would violate their religious beliefs. but the point here is not what the government is specifically trying to force you to do, it's that the government, under the laws that we have passed, should not be able to force you to do things that violate your faith principles. there are many faith-based groups that have different views on how you deliver health services. i've met with many of those groups over the course of the last two years, since this -- since this rule came out. there are 84 different briefs that have been filed with the court on behalf of these two cases suggesting, as friends of the court, here's something you should think about and look at. and of those 84 religious amicus briefs, there are at least -- they're at least 3-1 in favor of the families that own these companies that want to be able to run their companies based on
their faith-based principles. not only are the numbers for people that are concerned about this large, but they include a very diverse set of coalitions of people who care. one brief, bipartisan group of 101 -- 107 members of congress, bipartisanly have filed a case that said you should uphold the law that the congress passed that protects people's freedom of religion, not to mention the constitution itself, where freedom of religion is the first freedom mentioned in the first sentence in the first amendment to the constitution, and it is that important in our history of who we are. 21 states have joined this case on behalf of these -- these companies. doctors and women's organizations have filed briefs advocating that the court respect the religious rights of these companies.
protestant and catholic theologians have filed briefs, the u.s. catholic conference of bishops, the international society of christian consciousness, crescent food, the hollal food company, the church of jesus christ of latter day saints, the coalition of christian colleges and universities, a broad diversity of religious views but they -- they agree on one thing, which is that this is a principal tenant of who we are. just as president jefferson said in a letter he wrote to the new london methodist in 1809, that of all the rights we hold, we should hold the right of conscience most dear. once you allow the government to tell you what to believe and how you should believe, we have given up the most fundamental of all freedoms. congress has a long tradition of protecting religious liberty. the congress enacted the
religious freedom restoration act to ensure broad protection of religious liberty. the h.h.s. regulations do not satisfy the high bar set by that act. that is a position that i hope the court upholds. the mandate is an enormous government overreach and it violates americans' constitutional rights. while this mandate severely fines religious individuals, it exempts plenty of other non-religious institutions. the administration's already exempted 100 million employees from the mandate for commercial or political reasons. people should also not be forced to give up their business to hold on to their faith or to give up their faith to hold on to their business. these family businesses are not publicly traded corporations. there's not one court case -- i'm not a lawyer but i'm told
this on the best authority -- there's not one court case that diminishes the rights of these kinds of corporations. in fact, numerous federal courts have upheld the ability of for-profit corporations to bring racial discrimination cases. so you should have a racial profile as a corporation but you couldn't have a religious profile as a corporation. this is an untenable position for the government to take. the supreme court has heard this case today. i join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to urge the court to preserve the fundamental religious freedoms that americans have enjoyed, that the constitution demands, that laws passed by the congress and signed by the president overwhelmingly in 1993 continue to be the standard that these -- that is applied to our right of conscience, our right to believe what we want to believe and must believe and do believe.
and i am pleased to be joined by my colleagues here i think to talk about this very same topic. mr. coburn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i thank senator blunt. i did not get to hear all of senator inhofe's comments but as an oklahoman, we couldn't have a finer company or a finer corporate citizen than the greene family in terms of their chains of stores around the country and in what they've do done. the reason they're successful is because they actually care, nurture and support every one of their employees. and they work on some principles that they -- they truly believe in, and it's really been the key to their success. they're never open on the sabbath. they believe you pay somebody a
livable wage. they're big in the community. as a matter of fact, some of the largest contributors to organizations that are funded in the charitable realm that go down deep to actually help people. so they come with pure motives. the senator from missouri mentioned thomas jefferson. here's what he said in 1809. "no provision in our constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority." i want you to listen to that for a minute. jefferson, one of our authors, one of the authors of the rules of the senate, one of the key framers of the very constitution that we live under, recognize that -- what he's saying, in essence, is the most important thing is to protect the
conscience of the green family to do what they think, according to their faith, is the right thing to do. my colleague referenced the religious freedom restoration act. why was that necessary? because we saw civil government starting to impede into an arena that thomas jefferson warned about. that's what it was passed. that's why it was signed. that's why it's the law of the land. this is going to be a seminole case and it has nothing to do with birth control. hobby lobby pays for birth control. always have. always will. it has to do with the fact, can we allow the civil government to impede to such a level, as my colleague from missouri said, that the government can now tell you what your values are, what you have to think, and how you have to act? on the basis of what the
government says your values are? as somebody's who's delivered more than 4,000 children as an obstetrician, as somebody who's cared for every complication of pregnancy, as somebody who believes in the value of newly created human life, all the greens are saying is, we really shouldn't have to pay our money to abort a baby when we find it unconscionable to take innocent human life. it doesn't mean people that work for them can't get an abortion. it just that says they don't want to violate their own conscience by supplying that. the other thing that ought to be evident to everybody that's out there is plan b's over the counter. it's not even part of your health care. you can go buy it. as a matter of fact, there's not even an age limit on it now. a 12-year-old can go buy it over the counter.
so it's not about limiting abortion. it's about the conscience of a very successful company, and the reason that they're successful is they've followed the teachings of their faith. and now we have the government in a position that they're going to tell them what their faith is. let me reiterate what jefferson said. "no provision in our constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority." these are deeply felt and held beliefs based on their faith. the other side of this is we see their deeply held beliefs and how they've rescued universities, have they've come to the aid of food pantries, how they've actually been active in the community in everywhere they're involved, they're out following the same deeply held
beliefs of helping the poor, helping the indigent, giving people opportunity through a college education that they never would have had, given people a day of rest. their stores aren't open late. their employees get to go home. they could sell more product if they were open later. they could sell more product if they were open on sunday. they choose not to because they think the principles under which they operate their business, based on their faith, have created an environment which allows everybody to succeed, who works for them. and if you go through their businesses, if you go through their warehouses, if you go to their stores, who you see is a -- what you see is a smile on almost everybody's face. why? because people enjoy working there, because they're treated like human beings, they're lifted up, they're given opportunity. they're given the very thing that we all want for those that are our neighbors and for ourselves. my hope is, is that the
constitution will be looked at as the supreme court considers this case and that the religious freedom restoration act will be looked at as the supreme court considers this case. the affordable care act is not affordable. it's unaffordable for america, it's a $2 trillion cost over the next 10 years. it's a disaster in terms of how it's been implemented. it's going to be a disaster in terms of the quality of the care and delayed care because of the increased deductibles that almost everybody in this country is facing. we shouldn't let it be a disaster in terms of destroying businesses. we ought to embrace this family and their businesses for what they've done. they've taken advantage of the american enterprise system in a way that's built a tremendous success that has benefited not just the green family but hundreds of thousands of people through their generosity, through their capability to
empower people to get ahead. i'm glad to see my colleague here, and i yield the floor to her. mr. blunt: madam president, i would ask for an additional five minutes for the senator from new hampshire. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you, madam president. i come to the floor today to talk about a very important case that our united states supreme court heard arguments on this morning that goes to the very core of our nation's foundation, the future of religious freedom in the united states. as americans, we cherish our religious liberty. it lies at the heart of who we are as a people and we know that we must always guard against threats to our religious freedom that is enshrined in the first amendment of the constitution. that is why i'm here on the floor today to join my colleagues, senator blunt, senator coburn in speaking in
support of the constitutional rights that all americans have under the first amendment, which guarantees the right of freedom, of conscience and religious liberty. and here's what's at stake. americans should not be forced to give up their religious freedom or their rights of conscience simply because they want to open a family business. american families should not be forced into choosing between their family business and complying with unlawful government mandates that infringe on the first amendment to the constitution. and that is why this case that is being heard today by our supreme court is so important to the american people. a provision of president obama's health care law includes a mandate that threatens penalties on private organizations unless
they involuntarily agree to violate their deeply held religious beliefs. this is an anajibulla an anathe. if religious and faith-based organizations are forced to comply with government mandates that violate the core principles of their faith, this is a violation of the first amendment to the constitution, and it's contrary to what we stand for as americans. i've heard from people in my state who are deeply concerned about this mandate and the issue that is being considered by the supreme court today. they're simply asking to have the same conscience rights that they had before the president's health care law was passed, the same conscience rights that are enshrined in our constitution that protect all americans, regardless of what our faith is,
wharls of our background -- regardless of our background. this is a matter of religious freedom and the proper role of our government. it is about who we are as americans, and if the government, through mandates, can take away our conscience rights, what does that say about other rights we have under our constitution? this debate comes down to the legacy left behind by our founding fathers and over 200 years of american history. we have a choice between being responsible stiewrdz o stewardss legacy or allowing government to inter fear with an unprecedented way. protecting religious freedom has been a bipartisan issue. congress has a long history of protecting religious liberty. i've heard my colleague talk about the religious freedom restoration act that was actually signed in to law by president clinton to ensure that the government should be held to the very high level of proof before it interferes with
someone's free exercise of religion. that is what's at stake in the supreme court decision and the mandates that are being rein dirrenderedby the health care l. this is what's at stake under the president's health care law companies like hobby lobby and conestoga -- and we have a hobly lobby in new hampshire -- who do provide health care to their employers could be forced to pay over $46,000 per employee unless they provide drugs and devices that violate their religious beliefs and conscience rights. why should they be forced in this position? if the federal government is able to violate the first amendment in this way, what's to stop other fundamental rights being violated? protecting religious freedom was once an issue that bound americans together and i believe this effort, which is so fundamental to our national characteristic, must bring us
together once more. i look forward to seeing the supreme court's decision on this issue, but this is a case that never should have been filed. the affordable care act or obamacare should never have violated the rights of conscience of these companies or of religious organizations, and it is time to turn this around and i look forward to the supreme court vindicating their rights under the first amendment to the united states constitution, which should have been respected by this administration, but that is why our supreme court is there, and i look forward to the supreme court decision, which i hope will uphold the first amendment rights of the parties to this litigation and to all americans. i thank you, madam presi country from the real washington to this one. with that, madam president, let me change gears a bit and address one of the most significant pieces of legislation for women in my lifetime, the affordable care act. on sunday, madam president, this
law celebrated its fourth anniversary, serving as a very stark reminder of where our nation's health care system was just four years ago. four years ago our health insurance companies could deny women care due to so-called preexisting conditions, like pregnancy or being a victim of domestic violence. four years ago women were permitted to be legally discriminated against when 2 came to insurance premiums and often were paying more for coverage than men. four years ago women did not have access to the full range of recommended preventive care like mammograms or prenatal screenings and much more. four years ago insurance companies had all the leverage and all the power and too often it was women who paid the price. well now, thanks to that affordable care act, for the first time women, not their insurance companies or their
employers, are now fully in charge of their own health care. in fact, women make up over half of the 5 million people that have already signed up for coverage in the new marketplace. and over 47 million women have already gained guaranteed access to preventive health services thanks to that affordable care act. that is why i feel so strongly we cannot go back to the way things were, and while we can never stop working to make improvements, we owe it to the women of america to make progress and to move forward and not allow the clock to be rolled back on their health care needs. unfortunately, there are efforts under way all across the country, including here today in our nation's capital, to severely undermine a woman's access to some of those most critical and lifesaving services this were provided under the affordable care act. and no provision of this law has
faced quite as many attacks as the idea of providing affordable, quality reproductive health services to the women of america. for this reason i was very proud to lead members of my caucus in filing an amicus brief with the supreme court in the two cases that are being considered their today. those cases were brought by c.e.o.'s who want to take away their employees' right to insurance coverage for birth control, which is guaranteed under the affordable care act. and just like the many attempts before this case, there are those out there who would like the american public to believe that this conversation is anything but an attack on women's health care. to them, it's a debate about freedom. well, except of course when the freedom comes for women to access care. it's no different than, we are told, attacks on abortion rights
aren't somehow a right an infringement 0en a women's woman's right -- on a woman's right to choose. or when we're told that restricting emergency contraception isn't about limiting women's ability to make our own family planning decisions; it's somehow about protecting pharmacists. or, just like last week when an alaska state senator proposed placing state-funded pregnancy tests in bars but rolled out providing -- ruled out providing contraception because "birth control is for people who don't necessarily want to act responsibly." well, madam president, the truth is, this is about contraception. this is an attempt to limit a woman's ability to access care. and this is about women. allowing a woman's boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all americans in this day and age, and it take
us back to place in history when women had no voice and no choice. in fact, contraception was included as a required preventive service in the affordable care act on the recommendation of the independent nonprofit institute of medicine and other medical experts because it is essential to the health of women and families. and after many years of research, we know ensuring access to effective birth control has a direct impact on approving -- improving the lives of women and families in america. we have been able to directly thing to declines in maternal and infant mortality, reduced risk of ovarian cancer, better overall health care outcomes for women, and far fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions, which is a goal we all share. what's at stake in this case before the supreme court is whether a c.e.o.'s personal
beliefs can trump a woman's right to access free or low-cost contraception under the affordable care act. madam president, i strongly believe every american deserves to have access to high-quality health care coverage regardless of where they work or where they live. and each of us should have the right to make our own medical and religious decisions, without being dictated to or limited by our employers. contraceptive coverage is supported by the vast majority of americans who understand how important it is to -- for women and families. in weighing this case, my hope is the court realizes that women working for private companies should be forwarded th affordede access to cofnlg regardless of who signs their paycheck. we can't allow secular
cooperations or their shareholders to deny female employers access to comprehensive health care under the guise of a religious exemption. it is as if we're saying that because you are a c.e.o. or a shareholder in a corporation, your rights are more important than your employees who happen to be women. as i sat inside that supreme court chamber this morning listening to the arguments being made on both sides, i couldn't help but think, if these c.e.o.'s are allowed to evade this law, what would happen to the other legal protections for employees? could your boss decide not to cover h.i.v. treatment? could an employer opt out of having to comply with antidiscrimination laws? corporations should not be able to use religion as a license to discriminate. madam president, i'm proud to be joined in filing the brief by 18
other senators who are in office when congress enacted the religious protections through the religious freedom restoration act way back in 1993, when we -- and again when we made access to women's health care available through the affordable care act in 2010. we are senators who know that congress did not intend for a corporation or its shareholders to restrict a woman's access to preventive health care because we all know that improving access to birth control is good health policy and good economic policy. we know it will mean healthier women, healthier children, healthier families, and a healthier america. we all know it will save money for businesses and consumers. but, madam president, i know many of our colleagues believe that repealing the affordable care act and access to reproductive health services is somehow a political winner for them. but the truth is, this law and
these provisions are a winner for women, for men, for children, and for our health care system overall. so i'm very proud to stand with my colleagues who are committed to making sure the benefits of this law do not get taken away from the women of america because politics and ideology should not matter when it comes to making sure women get the care they need at a cost that they can a it's chris christie holding a news can't see discussed the closing of the george washington bridge. then the supreme court oral the contraceptive prevention of the health care law. followed by reaction from u.s. senators. tomorrow, michaela. the heritage foundation.
breaches of our that consumer data at companies, including target, and at the university of maryland. veteransn talks about claim backlog, and the impact of budget reductions on the military. we will take your calls and you can join the conversation at facebook and twitter. washington journal, live on c-span. today outaker, i rise us,oncern for you, all of and the concern for the house of representatives. as one who has been involved in the reform movement for the year that i have been here in congress, those of us that are interested in frugal reform are interested in just that. reform. we do not want to bash this
institution. at home, you have talk to your constituents. their outrage. ingres stands in the lowest esteem in the history of polling. the american people look at us as ineffective and unaccountable. if we are going to do something about reform in this congress, those of the issues we have to address. accountability, and effectiveness. on the effect of this issue, we know the proliferation of subcommittees in the rules under which we operate. it is broke. one only has to look at what happened last year during the consideration of banking reform legislation. we never could get our arms around it. look at the problem with health care. we can't get our arms around that issue. we need real reform. that is why many of us are supporting the resolution to set up the committee. accountability,
we really fall down. congress isn't willing to live under the same laws we expect all americans to live under. congress will be the first body to call for an investigation in executive branch of government. the first to want to hold everybody in the private sector accountable for every action come every word, and every dollar we give them. we say to the american people, don't hold us to the same standards. we have the october surprise. another issue that is going to diminish our accountability and credibility. -- y, >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> we have an opportunity to take an independent step to set up an independent body, to put this house on the right step. to take the first step toward real reform, which is going to increase credibility with the american people.
which is going to want to again start the process of building safe incompetence in our constituents of that one day after constituents can have respect for this institution, the greatest institution in the democracy. 35find more highlights from years of house floor covers. c-span, created 35 years ago and brought to today as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. now, chris christie holds a news conference with reporters regarding the george washington bridge closure controversy. on thursday, an internal review team hired by the administration to investigate the matter released a report findings to the public. randy mastro said the review shows that governor chris christie had no knowledge beforehand and played no role in the implementation of the lane closure decision.
this is one hour. >> good afternoon. i received a report from the review team. [inaudible] one thing was clear. .e were told to find the truth to turn over every rock they were able to get to to the bottom of what happened, and let me know what the truth was. they convicted over 70 interviews and had access to both the personal and business does isis, e-mails, and text of my current and former senior staffers.
the team of former federal prosecutors and other members at gibson dunn for the extraordinary amount of work they did in a relatively short time. amfor the recommendations, i embracing the reforms that pertains to my office. it is been my resolve from the beginning to learn from this. to do whatever we can to do better. to be a better staff. to be a better administration. we'll that the people of new jersey. that is what i will attempt to deliver. there will be further announcements as the word to effectively implement these recommendations and to find the best possible people to fill these roles. authority, it agree with the main thrust of the report and the need for fundamental structural change the port authority.
ofticularly the idea dismantling the port authority operations. to two.er one roof, i intend to work with governor cuomo to further explore recommendations and other ideas to bring a new day to the port authority. lastly, i received a call from david samson, who informed that after reviewing the master report, he supports the recommendation laid out for the port authority. it's the best way to start the new year the port authority is with new leadership. believe, davidat tendered his resignation to me this afternoon. i want to thank him for his service.
and look forward to discussing with governor cuomo a new era at the port authority and might of , past history,ts and recommendations laid out in the master report. >> you talked about how this will not impact your decision. [inaudible] it is this possible that will not impact a choice to run for president? >> two different questions. running as a choice, it won't. is, i hadhe matter nothing to do with this. supportedt has exactly what i said. in the sweep of things come any
voters, if they considered this issue at all, in considering my candidacy, i have a feeling it will be a small element of it, if any at all. decision-making, simply not the way i would make a decision. the way i will make a decision about whether to seek any future office would be directing it is what is best for me and my family? do i believe i have something unique and particular to offer that office at that time? the answer to those questions is yes, i will seek that office. if the answer to either of those questions is no, i won't. there will not be anything else that will enter into it. anyone tries to game the politics of this kind of stuff, years in advance, the last 11 weeks have shown. [inaudible] yeah, sure. there is nothing that is
permanent about that. there is nothing permanent about my standings being a story very high. there's nothing permanent about this stuff. anybody who thinks that, i said that all along. but my polls were good and you work here, i said that all along when my polls were high. get ready, they will come down. when you make decisions, you do things. if it's occur. the impact you. it is of no moment to me though. if i were running for reelection tomorrow, maybe it would be a moment to me. will -- i already ran for reelection. i got 61% of the vote. they don't mean anything. in the end, i forgot to tell you, they are not what i most concerned about. i'm the governor of new jersey. i have a job to do. i'm going to do my job the best way i can. as i have said dozens of times,
i do the best i can, my future will take care of itself. brian? [inaudible] >> laws, state and local were broken. you are made aware of this in early october. you admitted to that. your staff was made aware of that. are former federal prosecutors. foris it that this went on roughly eight weeks, where these former federal prosecutors's snake oilting salesman. >> colorful. question.get to the
>> prosecutors to understand that the executive director, your top [inaudible] >> can you get to it already? they didn't, first off. the first time this came into my conscious was the "wall street story, whenrnal -- he laid his memo to the newspapers. said to former president former prosecutors, find out what is happening here. the way you do that in a normal circumstance, to go to our people at the port authority, and ask them what is going on. they came back and said this is a legitimate traffic study. we blew the notification. that is our fault. it was a legitimate traffic
study. he is upset because he didn't know about it. contextually, that made perfect sense to me. otherwise, as you can see from the report, a history of conflict between these folks the port authority. i heard about conflict between chris ward, the former executive director. a regular basis. it is by believe that the best this, takingith the hatfields and the boys in move them into separate homes. they haven't been able to get along with each other despite my best efforts and many of our that assessors. nobody dropped the ball here. you are looking at this through your editorializing in the question, and everything else from the perspective of what you know today. if i knew then what i did today, i would have done a lot of
things differently. we went, we asked the question. the government believed to be satisfactory answers. we believed was an operational issue at the port authority they needed to deal with. we told them to deal with it. that is where it ended. part of the problem with this is all of us, you, me, provided is looking through the retrospect oscope. we didn't have that then. say our folkso didn't do anything for three weeks. the when pursued a number of avenues from that time through to my december 13 press conference to challenge people and question people about what went on here, and what each individual's role was. it wasn't effective because people didn't tell us the truth read it is not fair in my view
to say that people didn't do their assays --re close some of your closest aides thought it was [indiscernible] what you changed but how you govern? >> i would say that one of my closest aides participated in this and for that she was fired. that is the first thing i did. to set a different tone here. people need to understand that if you participate in this type of conduct, you will not be permitted to hold the public trust. and the authority that goes along with a senior position in the government. secondly, i have done a lot of soul searching on this over the last 10 or 11 weeks. it is going to be about making even clearer to people what is acceptable conduct and what is not.
as i said yesterday, i think that everyone who works for me that believed the something like this would be something that would be pleasing or acceptable to me did not know me in the first place and from that perspective thomas i am not only disappointed -- perspective, i am not only disappointed in them but it is obvious to me that i have to make even clearer, as we move forward in the future, about what is acceptable conduct and what is not. it is a constant challenge for you are running a large organization and it is one that i did not do as well as i needed to do, obviously, with this happening. intend to focus on as we move forward. we were informed that samson declined to participate in the investigation buyer outside counsel. does that concern you?
did attorney general sansone -- ever talk you about this? >> as i said in the statement, effective immediately. he called me this afternoon. on the first part of the question, i spoke to general 8 and askednuary him what he knew about this, if he had any involvement in it, if he authorized it or had any idea of the planning of it or any of the rest. he said absolutely not. timerang true to me the not only because of david's reputation for honesty over the course of his career, but also because the role of the chairman of the port authority is not a operational role. it is a supportive role. expect him to be involved in a traffic study of
the port authority. firm's lack of articipation in the investigation by the master group, he thought there would be was anomise if there interview. that was the information he gave me at the time and i have no reason not to believe that. again, i think that his role was not central in any of these things or has it been alleged that his role was central in any of these things. those were decisions he had to make based on his ethical obligation to his client. and the decisions he made is a different matter. in the end, everyone has their to individual obligations their client and what they can or cannot say publicly because of that. [indiscernible]
dds used to stay on -- did he ask you to stay on? >> yes. no. he said he would stay on as long as i think i am able. >> [indiscernible] >> this proceeded his discussion -- his discussion with the port authority about leaving goes back a year. he is 74 years old and he was tired. that is what he told me. in the middle of a reelection campaign and will be going through a transition if i'm reelected. why don't we do with these things at that time and not while i am in the middle of all this. i would prefer you to stay.
in deference to me, he did. david has been talking to me about the better parker but your -- that are part of the year -- about part of a year moving on. he is 74 years old. he said, chris, i would like to do other things. i asked him as governor to please stay and give me a time to what i hope would be a transition to a second term. in deference to me and our long-term relationship, he was willing to stay on. john? >> [indiscernible] >> not really. my view is those of the type of operational things that the port authority works on all the time. governor cuomo and i came to an
agreement about what we thought an appropriate toll hike would be. heather. speak up a little, i am sorry. >> [indiscernible] could you comment on that? >> sure. >> [indiscernible] >> sure. a few things. one, when an administration needs to respond appropriately and, in my direction, swiftly to inquiries from both legislative committees and a prosecuting office, you need to bring offer meant to do that. we don't have the capacity in-house to do that nor would people think it appropriate for us to do that. there was never any question in my mind that we would have to bring in a law firm from the outside to be able to shepherd all of the responses that were servedto the subpoenas
both by the legislative committee and the united states attorney's office. we wanted to do that as quickly and cooperatively as we could. we wanted to have a significant law firm with the type of resources available to them to be able to do this job as quickly as possible. mealso made perfect sense to and it is press practices in the department of justice that when you have a problem like this, you conduct an internal review. to find out what happened and to make recommendations to try to prevent this type of conflict in the future. having the same group do all that made absolute sense to me for both an efficiency perspective and effectiveness perspective. thistter who i chose to do , questions would be raised by some quarters as to those people's objectivity. my answer is, look at the report. we give them unfettered, complete access to everyone in this government. we allow them to interview
people multiple times if they so inired on multiple occasions order to try to get to the bottom of thing. we gave them complete access, not only to people's professional e-mails, but their personal e-mails and their personal devices, to be able to review text messages as well. the objectivity in this report is based on two things. adth of it rent -- bre and the information access to anything or wanted, and the reputation of the six people that are running these things. these are six formal federal prosecutors who have worked hard to develop the reputations they have earned over their career and would not give away those reputations to do some type of slipshod job for me. lastly, as relations with the firm, after seven years, heather, as u.s. attorney in the state in nearly five years as governor, there is probably not a major law firm in this country, if not -- and certainly
not in this region -- that i do not have some relationship with over that time and some personal connect to. i decided to pick the people who are best to do the job. i did and i think the report will stand the test of time. it will be tested by the other investigations that are ongoing and it is limited, as randy mastro pointed out, in small part by some of the access that they had and did not have to certain people. end, all that is fronted in the report. it does not claim to be anything but what it is. it is exhaustive and thorough and i do not have any second thoughts about who we selected for the process. no matter what, you're going to incriticized in years -- this instance. when you are coming up to answer directly in that is what we have done in the report. matt? [indiscernible]
given there has been other salty language coming out of the staff, do you think that was -- and keio imagine a time --? >> let us be clear. it was not the salty language. --you know, i have been used i have been known to use a word or two myself and so have a number of you, as well. it is not that. what it is is the content of those e-mails showed me a lack of judgment that caused me to lose my confidence in bill's judgment. that is the basis upon which i made the decision, a decision that i stand by today, because it was made. on that basis and not on the basis of anything else. don't have a change of heart on that at the moment. as far as the future goes, i am get into hypothetical
questions about the future. it does not make sense. kevin? [indiscernible] oni would've liked it january 8 if i could have had it. i've said many times before. i would have hoped that everyone would speak to this group. i also have a healthy respect for people's constitutional rights. bem, again, not going to critical of people for exercising, with the advice of their lawyers, their constitutional rights. in the and, i don't know what the motive is. on january 9, it mystifies me on every level why this was done. i hope someday to have an answer to why it was done, but i
certainly don't have a crystal ball and i cannot tell you if or when i will ever know. do i hope to after all this? you bet i hope to. charlie? the issue -- which has been connected to david samson -- did you raise that issue with him before he tendered his pregnant -- resignation? did he raise that you with you? [indiscernible] thef you look at many of commissioners, both currently on the port authority and over there have always been those type of connections and potential conflicts. when youhat happens ask people to come from the private sector and serve in a
non-compensated, part-time position in the role at the port authority. the way to do with that is appropriate reaped usuals -- appropriate refusals when the port authority comes into contact with a business interest you might have. my understanding is not only others wouldn but engage inappropriate -- in appropriate recusals in those instances. that is an issue for him to deal with brightly. i'm sure that he will. andve every faith and trust confidence in david's integrity, as do people on both sides of the aisle in the state over the course of last 40 years he has been involved in public life. i've complete confidence that he acquitted himself in a way that was appropriate and ethical. if it turns out that there were
some instances that were not handled in a way, then that is something that we will all deal with. to get to the core of your that you i think, is can expect that when you ask people from the private sector to come in and do these jobs in a part-time, non-compensated way, that you can ask them to give up their private sector life which they used to support themselves and their families. the way to deal with that is to try to have an effective, robust see system were folks recu when it's appropriate. it should be attended to with great care. you have a follow-up? that -- hisknow relationship with the port authority -- >> that is your assumption. i don't believe that is a fact. it is your assumption, as you often do. that is your right.
you are a columnist. you get to assume and suppose certain things, but you need to base them on facts. i have not seen those facts draw a direct line between. david? believe therel was a traffic study, and you still believe that those lanes and closings are dedicated to before the residence -- to the fort lee residents? the record seems to show a traffic study of some kind. of --cord of the track traffic study is disputed in a completely blown away on the parts of mr. wild steen and ms. kelly. some sort of nefarious or ill -- inappropriate motivation for.
as for the fort lee lanes dedicated to residence, i said they were desiccated -- dedicated to fort lee. i understand that there are people who get off the highway and drive to the neighborhoods to get the easier route to the george washington bridge. maybe once or twice i have done that in a previous life. i understand that. if i did, i misspoke that there were dedicated to fort lee residence. they are dedicated to the town of fort lee. my understanding for development was to relieve traffic congestion going to the bridge. that was my understanding at the time. it is an understanding i've only come in to knowledge of in the last number of months. even when i went that way couple of times years ago, i did not know that they were committed to fort lee or any of that history.
to follow-up on a two-part question? i did answer that. i said it appears that there was a traffic study that may have had behind it and ill or inappropriate motive. >> [indiscernible] >> i believe with the report told me. >> do you think is stepping down was essential -- >> no. no, i don't think he was essential. but he did. he called me this afternoon and told me that if you're going to have a chance to institute these type of reforms, i think you have to have someone in there who will take a brand-new look at it and not have to worry about the things of the past and so i'm going to go. in response to an earlier
question over here, this comes as no big shock to me because david started talking to me about wanting to leave a year ago. the only reason you state is because i asked him to. it did not come to a shock to me this morning that he called and said it. i did not expect the call this morning, but his action is not a shock to me. i did not think it was essential because if i did, he would have asked to resign by me. i accepted his resignation this afternoon. thearlier, you talk about [indiscernible] as i have said all along, we will respond and cooperate appropriately with all investigations and requests. which we have done. as far as i have told, we have been sent over 50,000 pages of
documents to the legislature in response to their subpoenas. let them work their way through that we can see if there's anything else they might need. yes, in the back. >> [indiscernible] on december 9, 2005 -- >> no, i joked -- christine, stop. you have to get the facts right if you asked me a question. i made the joke on december 2. not after -- excuse me. excuse me. not after pat foye's testimony. what is your question? of what wasware going on yes? you just got it and -- >> again, christine, i'm not going to answer question whose premise is absolutely -- i understand.
it is nice to get to the question. the premise of the question is sewn from that i am not answering. they're been remarked that not only did you describe her actions, but you described personal details about her life and they're very unflattering to her. [indiscernible] >> i think the report laid out the facts as the investigators found them. however anyone wants to interpret date -- interpret them is up to your own particular interpretation. mostu said it was the difficult express of your professional life. you can see it is not over yet. you have a feeling of when this will be the ideal? and how has all of this affected your confidence, being such a confident man? >> i have no estimate on when this will be the high knee
because i do not get to decide exclusively when it is behind me. , as you haveu that seen over the course of the last six or seven weeks, i am back to work. i'm out there, meeting with the public, doing my job, working with the legislature on important pieces of legislation that they are dealing with just as late as yesterday doing that. i can only do what i can do. i cannot control everything. the judgment of when this will be behind me is not left purely to me. what i can do is do my job, which is what i'm going to do and live my life, which is what i'm going to do. in terms my confidence, listen. there's no question that the shakes your confidence. if it doesn't, you're arrogant. some people that i trusted and , and aspon let me down a result we let down the people of the state of new jersey. of course that shakes your confidence. what it has resolved
me to do is to get better. i have said any number of times, for those of you who do not cover the town hall meetings on a regular basis, that i never promised i would have a perfect administration. they're going to be mistakes that are made by human beings, myself included. what matters is how you respond to those mistakes and how you act. i hope that as we go forward we can avoid this type of stuff. this is not been pleasant for anybody, starting with the people who were caught in the traffic in fort lee from the ninth to the 13th of september since then. it has been unpleasant and continues to be. i will continue to do the best i can and cooperate in places where it is appropriate for me to do so, but most importantly, i will continue to do my job and hopefully, over the course of time, some of the confidence loss will be restored and will be based upon the work that you do and the results that you produce.
that is what is most important. >> [indiscernible] >> i don't know the answer to that question. not something that i deal with. that is with the attorney general's office deals with. that is what you should direct your question. -- that is where you should direct your question. >> [indiscernible] >> listen -- the facts are the facts, melissa. read the report. they can't make up facts. i have read the report.
every one of the factual assertions the report is uptnoted, endnoted, backed by document or testimonial evidence they got from interviews. that cannot be manufactured. relationships, personal relationships, with most of the major law firms in this region who could handle this type of task. in the end, i decided not to worry about it for two reasons -- you will be criticized for who you picked him out a lot, and i wanted the best possible people i could find to did to the bottom of this and get answers. as a result, this is what we have got in the report that was issued. i think it is a report that is the row and exhaustive -- that is the row and exhaustive and -- thorough and exhaustive and will stand the test of time. >> [indiscernible]
>> no. my intention was to not turn the whole place over at one time. what i wanted to do was have some measure of stability to get , acquainted, accustomed to the place, and then try to come to an agreement with david as to when he would move on. it was not that i was trying to get him to stay for four years. i knew for the last year that he wanted to go. he had made it clear to me. what i said was, give me a chance to do things in an orderly way. you're too important a presence to do all of this will at once -- to all of this at once. that may get rid of the underlying staffers and we will do what we need to do when you move for. events that intervene cost the plan to go differently. >> have you choose to new chairman?
>> i think it has to be in elevation from someone inside. i will work as i normally would to try and find a replacement and we will go from there. i just got the call about two hours ago. initially, from what i anerstand from counsel, initial elevation would have to be done from within the port authority. to get a new person on, have to nominate them and get advice from the state senate. that will take some time, as it always does. in the interim, we will have to have someone who will take over. don't ask me to. i haven't thought about yet. there is a number of folks, a , the reigning folks of the new jersey commission. we will go from there. -- remaining folks of the new jersey commission. we will go from there. >> [indiscernible] s> because this is my pres
conference, not hers. here is a woman that does not like you. you have an opportunity to talk to her instead. [indiscernible] >> no. have, and put him in the same situation that i did not want to be in myself? the accused later on of coaching or intimidating someone who had been involved in wrongdoing? no. what you get with me is what you get. i cannot shed ym. am. -- shed who i i am a former federal prosecutor. what i thought about that choice what ianced it with
would get from a conversation with someone i already know that light up my face versus a look at this later on when you could say that we try to do something to manipulate, do whatever, i decided that the more prudent was to let her go, fire her him and move on. i think the risk of that -- i can only imagine the speculation that some of the more you're responsible members of your profession would be engaged in about what went on in that meeting between me and bridget kelly. i have been in this business a long time and i made that decision. it was my decision and i have absolutely no second thoughts about it because i have note great degree of confidence that i would have gotten anything different from her then than i did in december when these questions were asked of her. >> you said you would been doing a lot of soul-searching for less couple of weeks.
about some of the things that david wildstein has done the port authority and they have resonated through the halls -- i'm wondering if you did that soul-searching, what did you find out about yourself? nothing that relates to the premise of your question. the premise of your question is so riddled with inaccuracies that it is hard to reroute -- hard for me to respond to it. said,wildstein, as i have never was and never has been a close personal friend of mine. david wildstein is a close personal friend of bill brody -- bill baroni. it was him who brought him into the port authority with my permission, but not at my suggestion. i know you continue to try to report the single back to every high school friend that i had to
try to get them to save, were they friends? every one of them tells you that we were not. you continue to do a question where the premise of it is that he was my close personal friend, therefore the soul-searching. what led to soul-searching was thisact our ministries in point the people of new jersey through the conduct of some of its members. that is the entire premise of what i have tried to do as governor, store faith and trust in the government. peoplemotivation of the who do work on their behalf. when you fall short of that, as we did, that causes soul-searching. as i have said a number of times, it is a question that i need to the much clearer to people about what my expectations are. that i need to be even more direct about what i will permit and what i won't permit. that is the extent that i did not do that ande