Skip to main content

Charles Schumer
  U.S. Senate Sen. Chuck Schumer D-NY on Kavanaugh Nomination  CSPAN  September 5, 2018 2:42am-2:56am EDT

2:42 am
again, each senator will have 30 minutes for the first round of questions and i intend to go like we have with gorsuch, that people will have a chance to ask the questions they want to ask, but we start out with the 30 minutes and 20 minute second round, so everybody is going to have a chance for 50 minute crack at this strong judge. meeting adjourned.
2:43 am
and at the end of that senator udall be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: first, my friend who did an outstanding job on the judiciary committee, for his graciousness and thoughtfulness and also my friend from new mexico as well. today the senate judiciary committee began hearings on judge brett kavanaugh's nomination to the supreme court. democrats on the committee have pointed out that over 40,000, 40,000 of judge kavanaugh's documents were handed over to the committee last night. it's the latest insult in what
2:44 am
has been an insulting process for reviewing the nominee's record on the issues. not just insulting to democrats in the senate, insulting to the senate as a whole and insulting to the american people, like, you know we can jam this through and it doesn't matter what you think, what you need to know. more than 90% of the nominee's record has been shielded from public scrutiny. the chairman keeps claiming, well, there are several hundred thousand pages made available. that is not the point. if only 7% of the documents are made available, the question is what looms in the other 93%. it's the percentage that matters. because we want to know what's hidden. furthermore, we have no knowledge of why we were given these documents and not given the vast bulk of the documents. what is the rule? is there some objective rule finding? they should make it public. why? they haven't. the reason is simple. the obvious conclusion.
2:45 am
can't prove it because we don't have the documents is the 93% have things that they don't want to be made public. otherwise there would be a set system and they'd say here's why you're getting this and not getting that. again, it's not the number. it's the percentage. almost everything the republicans requested with elena kagan and sotomayor when they were in the minority, our position now, were granted. very little of what we requested has been granted. and the question looms, what are they hiding? i commend my colleagues sincerely and strongly for standing up and raising these issues this morning. the judiciary committee members were lending their voices to a large and growing chorus of people out in america deeply concerned about how this process has been run. every member of the judiciary committee was eloquent and forceful, clarifying just how far republicans have gone to keep judge kavanaugh's record a
2:46 am
secret. here for the highest court in the land with huge power over every one of our lives in many different ways we're hiding what he really thinks. and maybe it's because they don't want the american people to know what he really thinks. nonetheless, the judiciary committee proceedings are going forward, even though the republican majority has taken great pains to shield a great bulk of kavanaugh's record from the american public. since they're in the majority, they can do this against the will of all the democrats and probably much of the american people, but it is so wrong. let's review what we already know about this nominee. for the bulk of his career, brett kavanaugh has been a loyal republican foot soldier who has consistently found himself near the center of the most heated partisan legal fights of the past two decades. from the star report to bush v. gore and through the myriad
2:47 am
controversies of the bush whitehouse, brett kavanaugh was front and center representing the political interests of republicans. his service as a partisan warrior was rewarded with a judgeship where he immediately began to establish a jurisprudence far outside the judicial mainstream. as a judge, he ruled against commonsense gun safety measures. he ruled against commonsense environmental protections. he consistently ruled against rule making powers of independent agencies, going so far as to claibl the cfpb, the consumer financial protection bureau unconstitutional. and he's praised the dissents in both ro west and -- ro west and casey, two landmark cases. remember, we can't forget. brett kavanaugh was selected from a preapproved list of candidates vetted by the federalist society and the heritage foundation, two hard right groups dedicated to the
2:48 am
destruction of our health care law and the repeal of roe v. wade. he was selected by a president who explicitly promised to pick judges who would do those two things exactly. so unlike former nominees, brett kavanaugh has a special burden to explain his views on these crucial issues. the president didn't just say i'm going to choose the best legal mind available. he said i'm going to choose someone who will repeal roe. i will choose someone who will overturn much of the health care protections that we have, as in the a.c.a. so he had this special obligation, and when i interviewed him in my office, he ducked. i asked him if he believed planned v. parenthood which affirmed roe was correctly decided, not whether it's precedent. that doesn't matter. precedence changes. supreme court justices do it. whether it was correctly decided. he refused to say. he refused to say whether any
2:49 am
restriction on a woman's reproductive freedom constituted an undue burden. there was nothing, nothing that i heard from judge kavanaugh in our interview to dispel the presumption created by president trump's litmus test that a justice kavanaugh would vote to overturn roe and protections for americans with preexisting conditions. judge kavanaugh will no doubt refuse to answer these important questions in the committee hearings as well. we're not going to get clear answers. that's what judge nominees have been taught to do. but given how he was chosen, coming from a preapparented list -- preappointed list, that makes, number one, his obfuscate -- obfuscation even more troubling but two, it makes the need for documents all the more compelling. another examination this week should be judge kavanaugh's views on executive power and accountability. during his time in the white house, it seems that judge
2:50 am
kavanaugh developed anage laition for powers of the presidency. he said that presidents should not be subject to investigations of criminal or civil wrongdoing while in office. he said that a president can refuse to enforce any law that they deem unconstitutional, even if a court ruled otherwise. in our meeting, he refused to say that a president must comply with a duly issued subpoena. judge kavanaugh also wrote that presidents should be able to hire and fire the heads of independent agencies at will. in brett kavanaugh's jurisprudence, the executive of the united states is near a king than a coequal branch of government. at a time when the president of the united states routinely tests the bounds of power of his office, at a time when the president disdains and routinely despair rarnlgs rule of law, at a time when the president has been named a coconspirator in a federal criminal case, brett kavanaugh's views on executive
2:51 am
power are more than dangerous. they're disqualifying. this week the judiciary committee has the task of scrutinizing kavanaugh. i'd remind my colleagues there is no legal standard, rule, or logic prohibiting nominees from answering questions that don't involve immediate and specific cases that are or could come before the court. i remind my colleagues that cases of solemn promises to respect precedent have been hauled before the committee before and generally have little bearing unfortunately as to whether or not the nominee will abide by those principles on the bench. only a few months ago, judge gorsuch reminded of that with his ruling in the janis case. as justice roberts reminded us with his ruling in citizens united. justices will overturn decades of well worn precedent given the
2:52 am
opportunity. the debate about the future of the supreme court this week may get wonky and technical, but what's at stake is not abstract. it's real. it's concrete for americans whose lives, health, happiness and freedoms are on the line at the supreme court. closely divided decisions recently have meant that the difference between the ability to marry the person you love or not, to have your right to vote protected or not, to make personal choices about your health care or not are all at stake. the stakes in this nomination debate could not be higher. the need for openness and lack of secrecy is as high as it's ever been. the responsibility of the judiciary committee this week is to drill down and examine judge kavanaugh's views to the extent that he'll share them and to point out those areas where he fails to be forthcoming. the american people have a right to know who may become the deciding vote on issues ranging from women's reproductive rights
2:53 am
to civil rights to labor rights to voting rights, to lgbtq rights and more. i believe the judiciary committee's proceedings this week will reveal to the american people a nominee unfit for the job of associate justice. and one more issue, mr. president. yes, president trump's unconscionable statement politicizing the justice department. yesterday the president made the following statement. quote, two long running obama era investigations of two very popular republican congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge just ahead of mid terms by the jeff sessions justice department. two easy wins now in doubt because there's not enough time. good job, jeff. unquote. that's the president speaking. or -- yeah, i think he spoke, didn't tweet. for so long, president trump's actions have suggested that he views the justice department not
2:54 am
as an independent law enforcement agency but as a tool to prosecute his enemies and protect himself and his friends. president trump's statements yesterday comes right out and says it. trump is chastising the attorney general of the united states for enforcing the law. for announcing two indictments backed by ample evidence because it may hurt members of his political party from winning elections. how outrageous is that? so i say to president trump, america is not some fiefdom in which the lord of the manor gets to decide who the law applies to and who it doesn't apply to the beauty and the great nses of -- greatness of american democracy is that we're all equal in the eyes of the law. republicans, democrats, and, yes, even presidents. president trump, you do not seem to understand or choose not to understand the basic principles of rule of law which has
2:55 am
governed our great nation since its founding. president trump seems to think he's above the law so it's no wonder he selected judge kavanaugh who believes sitting presidents should not be investigated to sit on a potential jury in the mueller probe. i yield the floor and again thank my colleagues for their courtesy and i might note, very proud of the job the senator from rhode island and all his colleagues on judici. cassidy: . the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: mr. president, i rise to speak about i'll miss his maverick spirit. judge kavanaugh's nomination to be justice kavanaugh on the supreme court. let me begin, mr. president, by saying the senate has been hard at work vetting and confirming good judges to the bench. so far the senate has confirmed 60 of president trump's judicial nominees, an historic pace that includes 36 circuit judges, 33 district court judges and kneel