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  Senate Democrats Raise Concerns About Supreme Court Nominee  CSPAN  February 7, 2017 2:22pm-2:31pm EST

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final day of debate on this nomination. i spoke at length on friday making my case for why the senate should oppose betsy devos. and democrats will hold of the floor for the next 24 hours until the final vote to do everything we can to persuade just one more republican to join us. and i strongly encourage people -- >> some of the debate from yesterday that we will take you now to the use of capital live for remarks by senate democrats after the confirmation of education secretary at the devos earlier. >> okay, i'm proud to be joined by three of my colleagues, all of whom are distinguished, intelligent, erudite members of the judiciary committee sender why does, blumenthal, and senator hirono. a couple of hours ago i met with the judge gorsuch to discuss his nomination for the supreme court. he is clearly a very smart, polite and capable man who loves
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being a judge. but his nomination comes at a perilous time in the relationship between the executive and judicial branches. on the campaign trail and from inside the white house, president trump has shown a deep contempt for an independent judiciary that doesn't always bow before him. he has questioned the independence of a judge based on that judges heritage, because the judge dared to rule against his business interests. he has questioned the credibility of a republican appointed judge who dared rule against his legally dubious executive order. and he has tested the bounds of our constitution in the first days of his presidency like no other occupant for this office. time and time again, the president has attacked the rule
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of law, and even constitutional values and freedoms. when they get in the way of his goals. these attacks make it more imperative than ever that the supreme court be prepared to serve as a check on this administration when it overreaches. simply put, the bar for a supreme court nominee to prove they can be independent has never, never been higher. i spent a great deal of time in our meeting asking judge gorsuch straightforward and direct questions that would demonstrate whether he could clear that bar. not about specific cases that could come before him or the court, but about constitutional principles that would inform his decision-making on the bench. i asked him about whether a
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muslim ban could come in concept, be constitutional. i asked him about his opinion of conservative attorneys who say that the president have clearly abused executive power. i asked him whether he thought the presidents comments on voter fraud would undermine our democracy. i asked him about the emoluments clause, and he refused to even say what the framers thought about that clause. i asked him about previous landmark cases like citizens united. if he took the opportunity to answer directly, he would've been no more biased than any other justices currently sitting on the court who have expressed their opinion on these cases already when they ruled. there is a grand tradition that i support that you can't ask a judge who was nominated for, or a potential judge who was nominated for a judgeship about
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a specific case that might come before them. but to ask them general questions, like do you think the muslim ban is constitutional? what you think of the emoluments clause? do not get away of any of those legal principles. but the judge today avoided answers like the plague. this president is testing fundamental underpinnings of our democracy and its institutions. these times deserve answers, and judge gorsuch did not provide them. i have a serious, serious concerns about this nominee. he will have additional meetings. meetings. he will have a hearing and then the full senate will render judgment on his nomination. we must give this nominee the scrutiny that this unusual moment demands. the senate has been hoodwinked
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before. justice roberts promised to call the balls and strikes, but he has used his perch on the bench to rewrite the law and bend the court in the direction of special interests, in many cases most egregiously, citizens united. for us once, shame on the nominee. fool us twice, shame on the senate. judge gorsuch will have to earn the support of 60 senators, as seven of the eight sitting supreme court justices earned it. if he doesn't, many have speculated the republicans will be forced to change the rules. well, that's a false choice. nothing forces them to change the rules. it is supreme court nominee doesn't earn 60 votes, the answer is not to change the rules. it is to change the nominee who can garner the 60 votes.
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because 6 60 votes means that it is almost definitionally a bipartisan mainstream nominee. no matter which party the president nominates that judge is from. our leader mcconnell and senate republicans really going to let president trump dictate the rules of the senate to them? when he demanded that they change the rules? the senate was here long before president trump, and will be here long after and has a tradition to uphold. to senate republicans really want this president to effectively change the rules of this institution forever? i hope, i hope and pray they do not. senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chuck. we come to this nomination with some experience. the experience that we bring to
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this nomination is the experience of what five republican appointees will do on the supreme court went there a given a majority. senator schumer referred to the promises by the chief justice that he would call balls and strikes. we know perfectly well that that has proven not to be true. we have a powerful record that really has no logical explanation, other than, that when you get five republican appointees control over the court, they will run with 5-4 decisions in ways that are quite remarkable. remarkable they may be, but they have three common characteristics. you can put these 5-4 decisions that ar i'm talking about into three buckets. bucket one is help republicans win elections at the polls. bucket number two is help a big corporations, and bucket three
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is advanced a far right social agenda. it onto judge gorsuch job is to provide the fifth vote and reanimate the 5-4 spree that republicans went on when they controlled the court before that this search of the court, it deserves the law, but it serves for a wealth of special interests of the republican party. we must not go back to bat speed we do have delete this. the cynic in me back into session after the party lunches majority and minority leaders, so i ask unanimous consent for that request to be granted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: first of all, i rise to speak in favor of the senate confirming senator sessions to the position of