tv Senate Debate on Supreme Court Nominee Senators Reed Through Wicker CSPAN April 7, 2017 8:51am-9:31am EDT
gorsuch. it's going to happen tomorrow, elvis will be over. and i'm proud give him my vote. and justice will be well served. >> the senate will take a final confirmation vote on supreme court nominee neil gorsuch this morning. this comes after the senate voted yesterday to move forward with the nomination after republicans changed the procedural rules to lower the threshold for high court nominees to a simple majority. the senate meet at 9:30 a.m. eastern with a couple hours of debate before the final vote is taken around 11:30. the sad life here on c-span2. here's more of yesterday's senate debate. >> center, >> thank you mister president. >> mister president, the senate has decided on a fairly partisan basis to resolve the impasse over
judge gorsuch's nomination by invoking the so-called nuclear option. for the first time in our history, nominees or the supreme court may advance from nomination to confirmation with a simple majority in his body. and i've heard many of my colleagues describe equally to both sides and i've heard analysts and experts say the same. one can question that diagnosis as some respectful scholars in american enterprise suit and the brookings institution have demonstrated that our political organization over the last several years and has our current impasse have been driven predominantly by the ever more conservative ideology of the republican party. . >> your yard. >> the gorsuch nomination lacks the traditional level of support required for the supreme court seat and the journalism has chosen a step that democrats clearly and emphatically reject and when
we needed to confirm nominees with broad support but were blocked because they were submitted by president obama. i hope it was not too late for cooler heads to prevail. unfortunately, adherence to principle of 60 votes for consideration as a justice to the supreme court and indeed the existing rule in the senate was ignored. and we are at this impasse. since many have drawn a coincidence between the nuclear option voted several years ago and what occurred today, let me take a moment to explain my part why i reluctantly support a change to set precedent for nominees other than supreme court in 2013. during president obama's tenure, republicans necessitated laws that were taken under every previous president combined. let me repeat that.
during president obama's tenure, republicans necessitated more cloture votes than were taken under every previous president combined from george washington to george w. bush. and in numerical terms, the publicans demanded cloture vote 72 times over five years. in contrast, from the founding fathers all the way through george w. bush, the senate only face that situation 68 times. republicans obstructed obama nominees five years in the united states senate obstructed all nominees combined over the course of more than two centuries. the bitter irony of course is that after a nominee break through, republicans often would vote overwhelmingly to confirm the very nominee they so adamantly delayed. it was clear the soul guiding principle was obstruction and delay.
judges nominated by president obama faced some of the longest median and average wait times under the five most recent presidencies and president obama tied with president clinton for the fewest number of circuit court nominees confirmed during that same period. all that time, judicial stacked up, justice was delayed and denied, critical public service roles went unfilled and the congress is a place where nothing of substance can occur. he was under those dire and unprecedented circumstances that i reluctantly joined my colleagues to change the filibuster rules for executive nominations . and judicial nominations other than the supreme court. very consciously excluding the supreme court which at that time was i think recognized as appropriate by all my republican colleagues. but there really is no close
between that decision and what the majority did today. even in 2013 at the height of republican partisan attacks on president obama, democrats believed the supreme court was too important to subject that nomination to a simple majority vote. the supreme court is a coordinate branch of our government and its lifetime appointees have final authority to interpret the constitution. we understood then as we do now that the traditional 60 vote threshold to conclude debate on the highest court in our nation was too important to the consensus driven character of this body to sacrifice. i think we have also have to acknowledge that a president already has nominated a consensus choice capable of earning 60 votes to a seat on the boat and that nominee was chief judge merrick garland. the unprecedented treatment he received by the majority has already made this one of the most infamous and politicized supreme court nominations in american
history. it is all the more disconcerting that judge gorsuch witnessed judge garland's treatment. he was treated so poorly but now seems to feel entitled to the sea on the court even at the senate must change its president to give it to that him. i've already addressed this and my deep concerns regarding judge gorsuch's judicial record, ideological activism and championing the powerful over the powerless but it is worth going into greater detail on one of his opinions that is emblematic of this and that recently come to the four. in 2008, judge gorsuch heard what is properly referred to as the loop t case and in that case, the parents of an autistic child sought reimbursement from the school district and the court for specialized education because the school had not provided adequate accommodations for the child under the individuals with disabilities act or ide a. the case
presented wrenching facts that are too familiar to families affected by disability such as autism. the child experienced severe behavioral issues in public and at home and his parents started advising the best courses available to create the most effective adversary for him to make progress in school. ultimately, they recognize the public school luke had attended could not provide the learning required by the four, by the law for loose. but placed him in a different school setting. luke's parents exercise their rights under ide a and the colorado department of education. colorado authorized administrative courts and federal district courts all agree that the law entitles them to reimburse the school district that was not able to provide an adequate learning environment for loop. it should have been the end of the matter but when the school district fielded the case of the 10th circuit,
judge gorsuch's decision reversed all these areas and uphold in favor of the school district. in order to reach a conclusion, judge gorsuch went to great lengths picking and choosing passages from previous decisions to weave a new standard that eventually eviscerated the protections under idea. his interpretation of this landmark law utterly ignored congressional intent included a new president that schools need only provide merely more than the minimal for in planar terms, just a little bit more than zero educational opportunities for children with disabilities. the result of this decision was the force loop back into an inadequate learning environment and leave his parents with yet another unexpected financial burden. at the same time, judge gorsuch's new legal standard threatened to deploy the quality of education for children with disabilities across the country.
the good news or luke's family and of course so many others is that the supreme court of the united states intervened in a rare unanimous opinion to reverse judge gorsuch's position, ironically during his confirmation hearings. the nation has been spared the potential harm that could have resulted from lowering expectations for school nationwide and leaving families like without a sufficient record. yet as my colleagues and i have pointed out at every turn at this confirmation process, this is far from the only decision by judge gorsuch that is widely outside the mainstream regarding jurisprudence. he has not and was never intended to be a consensus nominee to fill the vacancy on the supreme court. it should not come as a surprise therefore that this body is divided over the nomination to the highest court in the land and judge gorsuch could not earn enough support over the traditional 50 vote rational. the filibuster was intended
to be an institutional safeguard to protect the minority by requiring broad consensus from major decisions by this body. it should be equally apparent that in this circumstance the filibuster did its job. a large minority of this body viewed judge for such as to the supreme court and that minority , but cloture on his nomination. there was no national, no danger and no serious consequence whatsoever that prevented the majority from reversing course and working with democrats and the president to find a consensus nominee. in one day, the majority has lessened the distinction between our chamber and our colleagues across the capital. all the while lowering herself further in the eyes of the nation and opening the door to more polarized judiciary. i regret that this is the case and i hope this body can turn back course that we find
ourselves on today. mister president, we are now well on our way to informing judge gorsuch as the next justice of the supreme court. i have a few things to say about the way that we've gotten here. earlier today, the other side meaning the democrats made a very unprecedented break with senate history and with senate tradition. they launched the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in our nations history. for our part, we republicans insisted that we follow the practice of the senate. we don't engage in partisan filibusters of the supreme court nominee.yesterday, i came to the floor to speak about the past the path that brought us to this point. >> as i discussed, way back
in 2001, referring to the year 2001, the current minority leader and some of his allies on the far left had a plan to in their words, change the ground rules with regard to lower court nominees. i noted a new york times article describing the democrats senatorial caucus retreat was a new approach to nominees with disgust. in other words, where they discussed the strategy for changing the ground rules of how judges are considered by the united states senate. and so mister president, i want to put that in the record, may 1, 2001, new york times article entitled emotion talks, democrats readying for a judicial
fight. thank you. after a brief time in the majority, senate democrats were back in the minority in 2003. so approximately two years after they had this strategy. it was at that time the senate democrats began an unprecedented and systematic filibuster of president george w. bush's circuit court nominees. then, the tables turned. president obama was elected riyadh and republicans held the senate minority. at that time, even though many of us didn't like the idea of using the filibuster, on judicial nominees. we also recognize that we couldn't have two sets of
rules. one for republican presidents and one for democrat presidents. >> our party defeated to nominees for the lower courts by filibuster. denying a soldier to three of president obama's nominees to the dc circuit court of appeals. but the other side didn't appreciate being subjected to the rules that they first established area started using in 2003. to filibuster judges. so at that point. 2013, they decided to change the rules of the united states senate by the way, they changed, they changed the rules by breaking the
rules. and i say that because the rules of the senate say it takes two thirds vote to change the rules of the senate. >> but they changed it by majority vote. now, at that time as we all know , majority leader reid changed the rules for nominations. and lower court nominees. the to say that my colleagues and i were disappointed is a gross understatement. the majority claimed that they left intact the filibuster for supreme court nominees. but my view back in 2013 when they did that was that the distinction majority leader reid grew between lower court nominees and supreme court nominees was not a meaningful one.
my view in 2013 was that majority leader reid had effectively eliminated the filibuster for both lower court nominees and the supreme court. and here's the reason. there are two circumstances where this issue might conceivably arise. either you have a democrat in the white house, the democrats control the senate or where you would have a republican in the white house and a republican senate. in the first, there is a democrat in the white house. and the party led by leader read and leader in waiting schumer was in the majority. differ some extraordinary reason senate republicans chose to filibuster the nominee, there's no question
that a majority leader reid or a majority leader schumer would change the rules. >> i don't believe that this particular circumstance would ever arise. >> because our side doesn't believe in filibustering supreme court nominees. i've never voted to filibuster a supreme court nominee , not once. i think i have a pretty good sense of the rest of our caucus. our side just doesn't believe in it. it's not much more complicated than that simple common sense statement i just made. and of course, even if for some extraordinary reason our side did choose to filibuster a supreme court nominee, we don't have to speculate as to whether the other side would have changed the precedent with respect to the supreme court.
last year, when everyone thought that secretary terry hillary clinton was going to win the election, their own vice presidential candidate said that they would change the rules if they needed to if we had a republican filibuster. then, of course, another circumstance where this issue would arise is what we have, what you seen this very day. the republican in the white house and a republican controlled senate. and we saw this very day the minority was willing to take that last step and engage in the first partisan filibuster in us history. and as i've repeatedly discussed, because they were
willing to do it with a nominee as well qualified as judge gorsuch, it proves without a shadow of a doubt that they would filibuster anyone committed by this republican president.that's why on the day that majority leader reid took that unprecedented action in 2013, to break the senate rules, to change the senate rules, i spoke on the floor. i concluded my remarks this way. so i want to quote myself. so the majority has chosen to take us down this path. the silver lining is that there will come a day the roles are reversed. when that happens, our side will likely nominate and confirm lower court and supreme court nominees with 51 votes, regardless of
whether the democrats actually buy into this fanciful notion. that they can demolish the filibuster on the lower court nominees and still preserve it for the supreme court nominees. and and of my quote from november 2013 when leader read took that extraordinary step.so though i am extremely pleased that we will confirm such an exceptional nominee to the supreme court in the next day or so, i'm course disappointed with what we were forced to do to get it done. and sadly, i can't say i'm surprised and i think my surprise or the fact that i can't be surprised, you can tell from what i said back there, but i just quoted from 2013, the speech that i gave. i knew when majority leader
reid did it in 2013, that this is where we were headed. and that's where we ended earlier this afternoon. >> but the bottom line is that you can't have two sets of rules. you can't clothe yourself in the tradition of a filibuster while simultaneously conducting the first, very first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in history. you can't demand a rules change only when it suits the democrat members of this body. you just can't have it both ways. you can't use a senate rule as both a shield and a sword. but i must say, the one thing that doesn't disappoint me as this . the nominee to take justice
scalia's seat is eminently qualified. he will apply the law faithfully without respect to persons. he is a judges judge. he comes sometime tomorrow we will all start calling him justice gorsuch. >> mister president, i rise to express my strong support for judge neil gorsuch. to say that i will probably vote in favor of his confirmation tomorrow. and to express my confidence that history will judge this nominee to be an outstanding associate justice of the united states supreme court. i hope he serves a long and distinguished career and believe he will. i think justice neil gorsuch will turn out to be a credit to the supreme court.
to the president that nominated him, and to the senate that will confirm him tomorrow. it's unfortunate that we've had quite a bit of discussion about procedure. and the process that has gotten us to this vote which will take place tomorrow afternoon. indeed, i had a conversation with one of my democratic colleagues yesterday afternoon as we were leaving the capital building. and this is the person whom i've worked on issues and for whom i have great regard. and i asked him how he was doing and he said okay, i'm just getting ready for the united states senate to be forever changed. and i paused for a moment and i said how can it be that to reasonably intelligent
senators of goodwill can look at the same factual situation and see it so differently. >> and i think my colleague did agree that indeed, that's the situation that we have with what led us to our proceedings today. and indeed, i do believe that my colleagues on the other side of the issues today , the procedural issues today, are people of goodwill or were trying to do the right thing for their country, just as i have been in this issue. but let's look first of all the candidates itself and then i might take a moment or
two to talk about what we have already done, that decision has been made. but let's talk about neil gorsuch. just an outstanding future supreme court justice who i believe will be sworn in either tomorrow or the next day. is neil gorsuch qualified? really, can anyone contest that he is highly qualified? perhaps one of the most out of five people ever to have been nominated by a president or the high court. he has degrees from columbia, harvard law. from oxford university. he has received the american bar association's highest rating, the gold standard that we look at when it comes to judging nominees for the federal bench up to and including the high court. and he served for 10 years with distinction on the 10th circuit court of appeals. and so clearly he's got the qualifications. clearly, he is among that
group of qualified individuals that the president promised to look at . back during the campaign and promised to send that type of individual forward to the supreme court.so i really don't think there's much that can be said. to contradict the fact that neil gorsuch is qualified and highly qualified. >> so now let's ask is gorsuch somehow out of the broad judicial mainstream? and again, i think it is clear that based on his history, based on his testimony and based on his rulings, up until now, he is part of the broad judicial mainstream, that will put him in good company on the
supreme court and makes him a worthy successor to justice scalia. he's first of all, he's earned the praise of both conservatives and liberals. he's even won the endorsements of president obama, his former acting solicitor general who wrote in the new york times, quote, if the senate is to confirm anyone, judge gorsuch who sits on the united states court in the 10th circuit in denver should be at the top of the list. >> so thank you to the former acting solicitor general for going beyond ideology and political philosophy and saying a true statement that
judge gorsuch is outstanding and should be at the top of the list. editorial boards across the country have touted judge gorsuch'scredentials and temperament .the denver post, his hometown newspaper wrote an editorial praising his ability to apprise the law fairly and consistently. and of course there has been newspaper after newspaper from the right and left across this country who've come down on this side of the issue, saying that judge gorsuch should be confirmed but let's look also, and this has been pointed out so often that you wonder if you should say again mister president but this judge, judge gorsuch on the 10th circuit has participated in 2700 cases.
he's written over 800 opinions and it's been overruled by the supreme court one time. >> is this a judicial radical? >> i think not. this is someone that is demonstrated to be in the judicial mainstream. >> one reversal. by the supreme court. out of 800 written decisions and 2700 votes cast, on panels with the 10th circuit. >> he's almost always been in the majority, some 99 percent of the panels he served on, he was in the majority of those opinions and 97 percent of those decisions were unanimous. so this is hardly some radical pick as some might have suggested.now, as the
process that unfair? >> we heard a lot about this. a lot of my dear friends on the other side of the aisle will agree for sure, they feel that judge garland, the nominee of president obama in 2016 was treated unfairly. and i would simply based this observation and the american public can decide if this was unfair. this is a vacancy that came up during a heated hobby contested presidential year. >> and there is really no doubt that under similar circumstances, had the roles been reversed, and had a republican tried to nominate a nominee in the last year of his eight-year term, that a democrat majority in the senate would have done exactly as we did. and i'm not guessing when i
say this. because, the democratic leaders of previous years have said as much. no less then joe biden, who was a former chairman of the judiciary committee later on became vice president, for eight years. no less than joe biden said exactly the same, it almost became the biden rule. republicans presidential nominees taking up during the final year and the term will not be considered by a democratic senator. and so, the shoe was on the other foot and we acted the same we will leave it up to the american people to decide whether judge garland was treated unfairly, i do not believe he was. as a matter of fact, i felt very comfortable, mister president during the 2016 and said who fills a supreme court seat is so important,
such a significant and long-lasting decision that the american people deserve to be heard on this issue. and i felt comfortable making the presidential election largely about the supreme court. >> would look like. >> in coming years. and there's no question about it, the american people got to decide in november 2016 whether they would like a judge in the mold of justice scalia. whose seat we were trying to fill. what with a like a judge in the mold of judge garland who president obama was seeking to put in place? so i make no apology. you get to decide in this presidential year what sort of supreme court you want and the american people made that decision and i'm comfortable with that.
>> i was asked today by several members of the press about the change in the rules. >> that i voted for today. it's not a situation that makes me overly joint. it's not a situation, it's not my idea of a good time to overrule a president and to substitute another one in his place. >> i'd rather not do that. if you are a united states senator. but the fact is, that it puts us back into a place that we were for 200 years. in this republic. >> from the beginning of this congress, of this senate, 1789. through 1889, through 1989,
up to and including 2003, there was no filibuster at all. on supreme court justices. there was no partisan filibuster at all on supreme court justices and no judge had ever been denied his position because of a partisan filibuster. at any level. federal judge circuit level or supreme court. that changed in 2003 and with the mcgill estrada nomination, our democrat friends stopped a qualified judge from going on the federal appeals court. that was the beginning of an unfortunate 14 year experiment in judicial filibusters. >> it's not a filibuster that i think, it's not
precedented, it's not an experiment that i think this can be very proud of. it took place over a relatively short period of time, over 14 years and it ended today. as of today, the united states senate is back where it was for over 200 years in the history of the senate and the history of our republic, without the ability to stop a judge on a partisan filibuster. >> and in fact, this fact cannot be contradicted. there has never been in the history of our country, even in this past decade and a half of having the possibility of a supreme court filibuster, there's never been a supreme court nominee.>> the history of
our republic, stopped by a partisan filibuster. >> and today, that 225 year or so precedent would have ended had we not acted to change the rules back to where we are back on the fundamental principle.>> and i was not willing to see judge neil gorsuch be that first nominee stopped by a partisan filibuster, in the history of our country, i was simply not willing to do that. so we now must proceed to the rest of our business, we will confirm judge gorsuch. tomorrow, i feel certain and then we got work to do, we got other nominees who to consider and then we've got an agenda that we need to
tend to for our people. i'm encouraged, i think by the exchange of first early steps of goodwill after this divisive process. indeed, there was an article in one of our publications today. that talk about healthy feeling now in both caucuses. that we've got to put this procedural episode behind us. this crisis behind us in legislature. i'm glad to hear that sort of bipartisan talk coming from the other side of the aisle. another of my friends across the aisle said we are not looking for dilatory procedures. >> when there are things we
can work together, we are looking for that. so i'm encouraged, i'm encouraged that even my friend who i was talking to yesterday afternoon will conclude that we have not forever changed the senate in a negative way. but we are in fact back to where we were before the 2003 and getting things done . >> c-span: where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span2 was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> . >> the senate about to gavilan to start with a finish work on the nomination of neil gorsuch to become the next us supreme court
justice. the senate expected to hold a final confirmation vote onthe nominee between 11:30 and 11:45 eastern. if confirmed, judge gorsuch would be the 113th supreme court justice , replacing the late antonia and scalia. this follows yesterday's action that resulted in a change in senate filibuster rules, a procedure known as the so-called nuclear option today which you can also hear reactions us missile strikes in syria. live to the floor of the us senate here on c-span2. >> the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord god of hosts be with us yet.