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tv   Senate Leaders on Supreme Court Nominee  CSPAN  March 30, 2017 3:18am-3:38am EDT

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build a nest egg for retirement. now, mr. president, on another matter, since judge neil gorsuch was nominated to the supreme court, senate democrats have searched high and they've searched low for a reason to oppose him. they looked at his background, and they found a columbia alum, a harvard law graduate and an oxford scholar. they looked at his reputation and found an impartial and fair judge, and eloquent writer and humble and even tempered man.
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they looked at his record as a judge and found someone who follows the facts where they lead without favoring one party over another, someone respected by democrats, independents, and republicans alike. and someone who understands his role is to interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. now colleagues across the aisle also had the opportunity to spend hours with judge gorsuch at his confirmation hearing. once again they found little to hang their hat on when it comes to a reason to oppose him. instead these hearings made clear a point recently stated by a board member of the liberal american constitution society, the senate should confirm him because there is no principled reason to vote no on gulch. that was david frederick, a self-proclaimed long-term supporter of democratic candidates and progressive causes.
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in a recent "washington post" op-ed, the prominent democrat said he supports judge gorsuch because he embodies a reverence for our country's values and legal system. we should applaud such independence of mind and spirit in supreme court nominees. but unfortunately, instead of coming together behind this nominee, some of our colleagues continue to press forward with convoluted -- convoluted -- excuses as to why they won't support him. just yesterday my friend, the democratic leader, came to the floor to share his reasoning. he talked about the need for the nominee to be independent and impartial. well, judge gorsuch passes that test, and the american bar association, the organization revered as the gold standard for evaluating judges by the democratic leader himself and the former judiciary chairman, certainly agrees. it said based on the writings,
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interviews and analysis, we discern that judge gorsuch believes strongly in the independence of the judicial branch of government, and we predict that he will be a strong and respectful voice in protecting it. in addition to independence, the democratic leader talked about his concern that judge gorsuch has earned the support of conservatives. well, that's true. judge gorsuch has earned the support of republicans just as he received praise from many on the left as well, like president obama's former solicitor general neal katyal and president obama's legal mentor professor laurence tribe and left leaning law professor e. donald elliot, so many others. the democratic leader talked about the need for the nominee to offer assurances about how he'd rule on a certain case and assurances that he'd stand up for certain groups. but as judge gorsuch pointed out, nominees are, to quote justice ruth bader ginsburg, to
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offer no hints, no previews on how they would rule in certain cases. similarly, judges are to decide cases based on the facts, not personal views or political preferences. and finally, the democratic leader talked about the importance of a nominee's record. well, i'd like to take a moment to remind my colleagues of judge gorsuch's record now. as he said at his hearing, i've decided over 2,700 cases. my law clerks tell me that 97% of them have been unanimous. 99% i've been in the majority. they tell me as well, he continued, that according to the congressional research service, my opinions have attracted the fewest number of dissents from my colleagues of anyone i've served with that they've studied over the last ten years. to sum it up, more than 2,700 cases and a majority of them, 99% of them, and part of the
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unanimous ruling on 97% of them. it simply doesn't get much better than that. no wonder the a.b.a. gave him its highest rating, unanimously well equaled. so when we hear our democratic colleagues talk about breaking long standing precedent by mounting the first ever purely partisan filibuster to try to defeat his nomination, we can only assume one thing. this isn't about the nominee at all. it's about a few on the left whose priority is to obstruct this senate and this president whenever and wherever they can. months after the election, they're still in campaign mode calling for senate democrats to obstruct and to resist. so let's be clear, these left-wing groups aren't concerned by the qualifications of this judge. they aren't looking out for what's best for the court or the
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senate or for the country. they simply refuse to accept the outcome of last year's election. we will realize the enormous pressure that our democratic colleagues are under. it's why we're hearing talks of some mythical 60-vote standard that doesn't exist. just ask the fact checkers that have repeatedly debunked that idea. a 60-vote threshold has never been the standard for a supreme court confirmation, not for president clinton's supreme court nominees in his first term, not for the supreme court nominees of the newly elected president obama either. as "the washington post" fact checker reminded us again just this very morning, once again there is no traditional 60-vote standard or rule for supreme court nominations, no matter how much or how often democrats claim otherwise. so i would ask our democratic friends, do they really want to launch the first wholly partisan filibuster of a supreme court
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nominee in american history? do they really think history books or the american people will look kindly on them for filibustering this amazingly well qualified and widely respected nominee? judge gorsuch has earned an enormous amount of praise from across the political spectrum and from a wide array of publications all across our country. like "the chicago tribune," which recently called for his confirmation, saying that judge gorsuch has shown himself to be committed to the principle that judges should rule on the law as written and applied equally to all. and the detroit news, the paper said judge gorsuch is proving himself an even tempered, deeply knowledgeable nominee who should be confirmed by the senate. the hearings confirm, it says, that gorsuch is eminently qualified and there is nothing radical in his judicial history. and "the denver post," as we've noted several times in the run up to the gorsuch nomination hearings, it said the tenth circuit judge possesses the fairness, independence and
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open-mindedness necessary to make him a marvelous addition to the supreme court. the post went on to say that senators should not miss the chance to rally behind gorsuch who has been roundly praised here by democrats and republicans alike. so, mr. president, in other words, judge neil gorsuch should be treated fairly, receive an up-or-down vote and be confirmed to the supreme court just like all four first-term supreme court nominees of president clinton and president obama. because again, even as those on the left can't help but admit, there is no principled reason to vote no on judge gorsuch. it's the sentiment that we have heard from many of our colleagues here on the floor as we have been debating judge gorsuch's nomination over the past few weeks. as we wait for the judiciary committee to report out his nomination, i would encourage members from both sides to continue taking advantage of available floor time to discuss this important issue. i'd also remind senators that
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we'll have all next week, all of next week to continue debating judge gorsuch's nomination as well. i look forward to hearing from our colleagues as we work to advance this extremely well-qualified nominee. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, i rise this morning on a few topics, but i first want to mention that last night, many of us spent some time at the white house where we were regaled by the wonderful marine and amendment chorus, where there was talk about renewing the spirit of bipartisanship in washington. i'm all for it. of course we democrats hope that the president and republicans in congress will sit down with us in a true spirit of bipartisanship, because so far this congress, the republican in this congress so far, the republican idea of bipartisanship has meant to both
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the president and the congress, republicans in congress. we come up with our plan, and you democrats should support it. that's not bipartisanship. the president, the republican leader, house speaker have come up with issue after issue, including the supreme court nominee. no democratic consultation and then said the only way you can achieve bipartisanship is just vote with us. you can't improve the health care system with only republican votes on reconciliation without consulting any democrats, without a single sentence of democratic input and call that an attempt at bipartisanship. you can't do an infrastructure package of tax credits and no real spending and then ask for bipartisan support. and you certainly can't outsource, you can't outsource your entire selection of supreme
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court justices to be hand-picked by the hard right special interest dominated heritage foundation and federalist society and then ask for us to vote for that nominee as a show of bipartisan support. bipartisanship means sitting down with the other side, getting our ideas and hashing out a compromise. it does not mean proposing your policy, particularly when these policies and nominees are so far to the right and then making an exhortation to bipartisanship and bemoaning the absence of it when democrats don't go along with your way. i truly hope that the president and republicans want to renew a spirit of bipartisanship, but it has to be real, it has to be meant, and their actions have to follow suit. well, let's talk about the supreme court because that
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exemplifies exactly what i'm talking about. over the last several weeks, my republican friends have tried to paint judge gorsuch as the bold ideal of a neutral and impartial judge. they have insisted that judge gorsuch is a straight, down-the-middle guy, someone who will just call the balls and strikes. the majority leader even likes to cite the letter of a friend of the judge who says there is no printed reason to oppose his nomination. of course, there are several printed reasons to object to judge gorsuch. today i'd like to focus on one in particular. judge gorsuch's long career ties to conservative interests and conservative ideological groups. the idea that judge gorsuch would simply be a neutral mainstream justice is belied by his career, his judicial record and perhaps most of all the manner with which he was selected to serve on the supreme
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court. he was culled from a list of -- from a list hand-picked by the federalist society and the heritage foundation. conservative organizations that have spent the last few decades systematically trying to shift the balance of the courts way to the right. most of my colleagues on the other side know how far right even the heritage foundation is. and they often grumble at how they are pulling the party too far over. but judge gorsuch was hand-picked by that group along with the federalist society. instead of consulting the senate, president trump outsourced his supreme court pick to the federalist society and the heritage foundation long before an election even took place. the constitution does not say the president shall appoint supreme court justices with the
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advise and consent of right-wing special interest groups. it says he should appoint them with the advice and consent of the senate. president trump didn't consult the senate. he never even considered it. he just consulted this list. surely my dear friend from utah, senator hatch, must remember when president clinton consulted him about his supreme court picks. senator hatch told the president not to select bruce babbitt and offered instead the names ginsburg and breyer. president clinton listened to senator hatch and nominated them instead. surely my good friend from utah also remembers when he suggested to president obama that merrick garland be nominated to the supreme court, calling him a fine man. president obama listened and made him his pick. president trump, different than
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all of the past presidents in so many ways, so many of them unfortunate, here's one. before even being elected to office, president trump swore off the entire process and outsourced the advise and consent to a list selected by two ultraconservative organizations. take the heritage foundation, for example. are they down the middle? are they unbiased? let's listen to some of the things they believe, way different than most americans. it's a group that believes freedom mean businesses have the right to discriminate against lgbt people. this is a group that believes limited government means eliminating resources for the violence against women act. this is a group that believes a strong national defense means discriminatory executive orders that bar immigrants and refugees
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from muslim majority countries. mr. president, this is a group that holds extreme right positions, a group that is far, far out of the american mainstream and is even out of the republican mainstream so many times, and they have hand-picked neil gorsuch to have a seat on the highest court in the land. does anyone think the heritage organization, the federalist society, does anyone think they put a judicial moderate on their list who would only call balls and strikes? does anyone think there would be all this outside dark undisclosed money being spent to support judge gorsuch's nomination if he was just someone who called balls and strikes? no. there's a reason all this dark money is being spent to support
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him. there is a reason the federalist society and the heritage foundation liked judge gorsuch enough to put him on the president's short list. and there's a reason the president pledged only to select from this list. he wanted to curry favor with skeptical, hard-right, special interests-dominated conservatives during his campaign. so the idea that judge gorsuch would simply be some neutral justice, that does not hold water. so when republicans say that if democrats won't support judge gorsuch, we won't support any republican-nominated judge, that's simply not true. we have several reasons to be concerned with judge gorsuch specifically, and specifically one of those things we're concerned about is that he was supported and pushed forward by the heritage foundation and the federalist society, groomed by billionaire conservatives like mr. anschutz, another hard-right
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special interest person. judge gorsuch, of course, had a chance. most of us waited until after the hearings because at the hearings, he had a chance to distance himself from these views, but he refused to substantively answer question after question. so if judge neil gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes -- which, by the way, the american people believe is the appropriate standard for a supreme court nominee -- it's not because democrats are being obstructionists. it's because he failed to convince 60 senators that he belongs on the supreme court. in that event, the answer is not to permanently change the rules and traditions of the senate. the answer is to change the nominee and do what president clinton and president obama did before they nominated people,
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consult the other party so there would be some semblance of bipartisanship. the majority's trying to make this a binary choice, confirm gorsuch or change the rules. not so. just not so. the idea that if judge gorsuch can't get 60, we must immediately move to change the rules is a false narrative. if the majority chooses to go that route, they do so at their own volition. no one is forcing them to do so, except maybe the heritage foundation and groups, the leadp time is reserved. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i have been very interested in the minority leader's comments here this morning. i have high regard for him. we have worked together on a wide variety of issues, but i have to say that he's leading a party right now that is doing completely the opposite o

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