Sen. Feinstein Sets the Record Straight on Blue Slip, Speaks Against Right-Wing Nominees
(Democrat - California)
"I intend to support Mr. Newsom for the Eleventh Circuit, but I need to make a point about blue slips first.
In February 2016, President Obama nominated U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon for this very same vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit.
A few years earlier, Judge Kallon had been unanimously confirmed with the support of Senators Shelby and Sessions when he was nominated to the federal district court bench.
However, Judge Kallon did not receive a hearing in this committee last year because Senators Shelby and Sessions did not support his elevation to the circuit court and thus did not return their blue slips. That’s the prerogative of home state senators for judicial nominees from their states—including circuit court judges and it has existed for 100 years.... President Obama’s nominee Judge Kallon and three other circuit nominees waited nine, 10, up to 11 months for blue slips that never came .... I am not able to support Mr. Bush’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit or Mr. Schiff’s nomination to the Court of Federal Claims.... they expressed strident, provocative and in some cases deeply offensive opinions on a wide range of political and legal issues. If I were a litigant before them, I would not have the confidence that these individuals had the temperament or impartiality to serve as a federal judge.... Bush wrote blog posts where he relied on extreme right-wing sources like World Net Daily .... Schiff referred to Justice Kennedy as a ‘judicial prostitute,’ and accused Justice Kennedy of ‘selling his vote as it were to four other justices in exchange for the high that comes from aggrandizement of power and influence.’ Shocking.
Mr. Schiff also criticized a California school district’s proposed anti-bullying initiative for teaching that ‘homosexual families are the moral equivalent of traditional heterosexual families.’
Lastly, Mr. Schiff has repeatedly made clear his hostility to environmental laws that protect our clean air and clean water."
Sen. Warren Floor Statement [opposing Thapar Sixth Circuit nomination]
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
[S3128-29] "I rise to oppose the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to serve as a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.... His nomination comes on the heels of the nomination of now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, an ultraconservative who could not earn enough support to be confirmed under Senate's normal rules, a judge so radical, so controversial that Senate Republicans had to change the Senate rules and lower the vote threshold to force his nomination through the Senate.
Now the Senate is poised to vote on a judge cut from the same cloth.
Like Justice Gorsuch, Judge Thapar made the list of 21 acceptable
judges that far-right groups drew up and handed to President Trump--
judges who would tilt the scales of justice in favor of the rich and
the powerful.... For years, billionaire-funded, rightwing groups have worked
hand in hand with Republicans to ensure that our courts advance the
interests of the wealthy and powerful over the rights of everyone else.
They abused the filibuster to stop fair, mainstream judges from filling
vacancies on Federal courts, they slowed the judicial nominations
process to a crawl, and they threw the Constitution and Senate
precedent out the window by refusing to consider President Obama's
Supreme Court nominee. ...There are many reasons to oppose Judge Thapar's nomination to the
Sixth Circuit, from his decisions making it harder for working
Americans to get access to the judicial system to his support for
sentencing policies that don't make us safer but that exacerbate the
problem of mass incarceration. There is a lot to object to, but I want
to highlight one area that should concern every person who thinks
government should work for all of us; that is, Judge Thapar's stance on
money in politics.... In his decision, Judge Thapar said: ``There is simply
no difference between `saying' that one supports an organization by
using words and `saying' that one supports an organization by donating
money.'' ... As the Sixth Circuit reminded Judge
Thapar when it reversed his decision on donations, even the Supreme
Court has refused to treat monetary donations as equivalent to direct
Sen. Warren on Money and Garland and Gorsuch Supreme Court nominations
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
"I mean, what did you think when you saw billionaires jump in a little over a year ago when Justice Scalia died? President Obama comes up with the all-American consensus candidate, Merrick Garland, someone who had won praise from not just the left but the right, and the hammer drops, bam! Mitch McConnell announces, "We're not even going to meet with him, we're not going to have any hearings," and money starts rolling in.
You know, if money hadn't rolled in to start running those ads against Merrick Garland, to threaten to run ads against Republicans who didn't fall into line, then my guess is a lot of folks across America, Democrats and Republicans, would have said, "You know, he looks like a pretty good choice. He doesn't excite anybody on either end of the spectrum, [but he’s] the sort of guy who ought to be able to get 60 votes. Let's give him a hearing, let's see what he's like." And he would be sitting on the United States Supreme Court. Instead, money made itself felt in that process, and what we ended up with is a justice who, again, money was spent to advance [Neil] Gorsuch."
Sen. Cardin Votes Against Gorsuch Nomination
(Democrat - Maryland)
"After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and thoroughly reviewing his record, I am deeply troubled by his nomination and his potential impact on the Supreme Court.
“Judge Gorsuch’s extensive legal record is peppered with examples of putting corporate interests before working Americans, showing hostility to agency decisions that protect our environment, disregard for women’s health, marginalizing students with disabilities and many more troubling decisions. His ideology could move the country backwards on guaranteeing equal justice under the law for all Americans, putting powerful special interests above individual rights. His activist views and opinions as a judge make it difficult for me to believe he can separate his political views from his legal analysis. He said little of substance at his confirmation hearing that could demonstrate that he would serve as an independent check on this president, who has tested the limits of the Constitution and the separation of powers. And unlike Judge Merrick Garland, who was considered by almost all independent judicial scholars as mainstream, Judge Gorsuch does not enjoy a similar evaluation.
“There is no equivalency between the nomination of Judge Garland, who received the ultimate partisan filibuster from Republicans by not even receiving a hearing or a vote, and Judge Gorsuch, who has been placed onto the Supreme Court only after a Senate rules change, causing lasting damage to the future of the Senate."
Sen. Heinrich Statement On Vote Against Judge Gorsuch’s Confirmation
(Democrat - New Mexico)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s extreme and unprecedented move today to change the Senate rules because there were not enough members prepared to support President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee undermines the deliberative nature and tradition of the United States Senate.
"I share many of the concerns New Mexicans have about Judge Neil Gorsuch. In particular, I’m concerned about his record of siding with large corporations over the rights of individuals and government action over the rights of citizens, and his boundless deference to executive power.... "Our thorough consideration of Judge Gorsuch stands in stark contrast to how Senate Republicans treated President Obama’s nominee for the very same seat. After the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, in a shockingly transparent political maneuver, Majority Leader McConnell refused to allow fair consideration of Judge Merrick Garland .... "It is irresponsible to move forward with President Trump’s lifetime appointment of a Supreme Court nominee before the multiple congressional and criminal investigations that are tainting the White House are resolved.
"Altering the rules of the Senate to force through a nominee to the Supreme Court under these circumstances is indefensible."
Sen. Tom Udall Statement on Vote Against Confirming Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
(Democrat - New Mexico)
"The Senate Majority should have hit pause on Judge Gorsuch's nomination to find a better path forward for the American people. Instead, Republicans jammed through a Supreme Court nominee who failed to win sufficient bipartisan support at a time when our nation is as divided as I've ever seen it.
“I have always believed that the filibuster should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances, and I believe this is one of those times for three reasons. First, Judge Gorsuch's record shows a stunning lack of compassion for the people his decisions will affect. He refused to state his positions on deeply important issues, like the rights of working moms, allowing women to make their own health care decisions, LGBTQ rights, and the flood of dark money into our elections. Second, Judge Gorsuch has failed to demonstrate any independence from the president who nominated him. I find that particularly disturbing at a time when President Trump’s campaign is under FBI investigation for its ties to the Russian government. Given the cloud of suspicion hanging over his presidency, I do not believe President Trump should be making lifetime appointments to the highest court in the land until the investigation has concluded and he has answered all of the distressing questions facing his administration.
“Third, this was not President Trump’s seat to fill. We cannot forget the unprecedented steps Senate Republicans took to bring us to this point. The Republican Majority shattered Senate tradition for purely partisan reasons, completely denying President Obama’s nominee for this seat, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing and a vote. I proposed a good faith solution to restore legitimacy to the court and fix this injustice. But Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans have shown no interest in healing the deeply partisan wound they have inflicted on our institutions and our nation.”
SEN. WHITEHOUSE STATEMENT ON REPUBLICANS’ USE OF ‘NUCLEAR OPTION’
(Democrat - Rhode Island)
“The President set the Senate on this unfortunate path when he selected a Supreme Court nominee off a list put together by conservative special-interest front groups, instead of a bipartisan nominee in line with the beliefs of most Americans. There’s no reason why President Trump couldn’t put forth a traditional consensus nominee who could get 60 votes, as President Obama attempted to do in nominating Merrick Garland. But Republicans are so eager to reconstitute the five-vote bloc on the Court that consistently delivered for big business and conservatives, that they changed Senate rules today to force Judge Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court. I hope this will not damage too severely the bipartisan spirit of cooperation that has long been the trademark of the Senate, and that Judge Gorsuch proves to be a truly independent Justice.”
SEN. MERKLEY HOLDS SENATE FLOOR FOR OVER 15 HOURS TO STAND UP AGAINST GORSUCH NOMINATION: Oregon Senator goes to bat for “We the People” values on nation’s highest court, stands against partisan theft of Supreme Court seat
(Democrat - Oregon)
Merkley said of Senate Republicans’ 2016 theft of the Supreme Court seat vacated during President Obama’s term, “For the first time in U.S. history, a seat has been stolen from one president and delivered to another in a court-packing scheme. If that were to succeed, it would set a precedent that will haunt the Court for decades to come.”
Merkley went on to explain Gorsuch’s activist history of twisting the law to find in favor of the privileged and powerful, often at the expense of workers, children, women and the disabled.
“If the seat hadn’t been stolen and we were simply considering President Trump’s nominee under ordinary circumstances, what would we find?” asked Merkley of Gorsuch. “Well, we would find a far right-wing Justice completely outside of the mainstream.
“He [Gorsuch] is a lifelong conservative activist, rewriting the law to make it something that it was never intended to be.”
On Senate Floor, Leahy Speaks Out Against Gorsuch Nomination & Trump Agenda:
(Democrat - Vermont)
I am concerned that his personal views, and his politics, have permeated through his judicial philosophy – and that is in fact the reason why his nomination is before us today, ... With the Gorsuch nomination, Republicans are proving that they have no interest in playing by the rules; they prefer to break them. The unprecedented obstruction of Chief Judge Merrick Garland will be a permanent stain on this body. Then, days after the 2016 election, Republican leaders threatened to change the rules to get their own nominee through – before we even had a name,” Leahy said. “After disregarding his constitutional obligations for nearly a year, the Republican Leader now tells us we must rubberstamp President Trump’s nominee or he will forever damage the Senate.”
Sen. Coons on MSNBC: “This is not a good week for the Senate”
(Democrat - Delaware)
Senator Coons on Judge Gorsuch: "Let's be clear, that effort to change the Senate rules will be taken up by Republicans. When I announced in the Judiciary Committee Monday that I would join my fellow Democrats in voting against cloture, the rest of the sentence was, unless working together, Republicans and Democrats, we can find an agreement to get past this moment.
I felt, as did all of my colleagues, that Merrick Garland was the subject of a seven-month long partisan filibuster. That denying Judge Garland, who was nominated by President Obama, even a hearing on the committee, let alone a vote, was the equivalent of a partisan filibuster. I reached out to many of my Republican and Democratic colleagues. I've had a number of meetings and conversations in recent days, trying to see if there was some agreement we could reach to trust each other to move ahead with cloture on Judge Gorsuch and have the next Supreme Court nominee be more of a consensus candidate, where Democrats could have input on who would be nominated. Ultimately, those efforts have been unsuccessful. This is not a good week for the Senate. I am not optimistic here around the long-term path forward. But I have no regrets about opposing Judge Gorsuch. Having really dug into his judicial record, having met with him several times, and having interviewed him over four days of Judiciary Committee hearings."
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Nomination Of Neil Gorsuch To Be An Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court
(Democrat - Vermont)
"I have evaluated every nominee on the merits – and I have voted to confirm six Supreme Court nominees of Republican presidents. Unlike Committee Republicans’ treatment of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, I take my constitutional duty to independently evaluate a president’s Supreme Court nominees seriously. ... I cannot recall a nominee refusing to answer such basic questions about the principles underlying our Constitution, and about how he interprets those principles.... Judge Gorsuch’s record says a lot about his judgment and his sense of justice. ... I cannot vote solely to protect an institution when the rights of hardworking Americans are at risk. I fear the Senate I would be defending no longer exists. I have often said that the Senate, at its best, can be the conscience of the Nation. I must now vote my conscience, both today and later this week. My conscience will not allow me to ratify the Majority Leader’s actions – not last year and not this year. I will not support advancing this nomination."
Sen. Feinstein on Gorsuch: "I cannot support this nomination"
(Democrat - California)
Video: Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivers her opening remarks at the Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice on April 3, 2017.
SENATOR WHITEHOUSE DELIVERS WEEKLY DEMOCRATIC ADDRESS
(Democrat - Rhode Island)
"I want to give you an update on what I’ve learned about Judge Gorsuch during his confirmation process – and what I haven’t. We began the hearing with a predicament: over the last decade or so, when Republican appointees were a five-justice majority on the Court, a distinct pattern emerged of 5-4 decisions benefiting Republicans at the polls and big corporations pretty much everywhere. ... I wanted to know what he thought about the shadowy dark money group that has spent $17 million to back him and oppose last year’s well-qualified nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Judge Gorsuch couldn’t answer the question."
Sen. Heitkamp to Vote for U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - North Dakota)
"I’ve decided to vote in favor of his confirmation. He has a record as a balanced, meticulous, and well respected jurist who understands the rule of law. He has unique and critical experience with tribal sovereignty, Indian law, and public lands issues in the west, and has received the endorsement of numerous tribes and major Native American organizations. During our meeting and at his hearing, he reinforced the importance of a judiciary that remains independent of the executive and legislative branches of government – and that acts as a proper check and balance on the other two branches of government. I expect him to follow through on that critical tenet. This vote does not diminish how disturbed I am by what Republicans did to Judge Garland. Senate Republicans played politics at its worst with an honorable, deeply qualified jurist – arguably the most well qualified nominee in modern history – who had long been supported by Republican and Democratic senators for his unmatched experience. His reward: Republicans refused to give him the fair consideration he deserved – not even a hearing – and his nomination was held open for almost 300 days – by far the longest for a Supreme Court nomination. But I was taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. There isn’t a perfect judge. Regardless of which party is in the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court should be above politics.”
Sen. Carper Statement on Consideration of Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - Delaware)
“Over one year ago, Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Today that seat – what should be Judge Garland’s seat – remains vacant. The unprecedented obstruction my Republican colleagues in the Senate mounted last year against Judge Garland was a shameful chapter for the United States Senate and our Constitution. Judge Garland, a consensus builder and one of the most qualified and respected judges in the country, waited 293 days for a hearing and a vote that ultimately never came. A good man was treated terribly. Meanwhile, Judge Neil Gorsuch has met with Democrats and Republicans in large numbers. A lengthy hearing covering several days was held 48 days after his nomination. Now, Republicans are prepared to speedily bring his nomination to the floor, something they were not prepared to do when they had almost an entire year to consider Judge Garland’s nomination. Ultimately, I believe that moving forward with Judge Gorsuch’s nomination will send a signal that it’s acceptable to put partisan politics over fidelity to our Constitution. It is not. While I do not believe that two wrongs make a right, I believe this may be our only opportunity to right a historic wrong. Therefore, I am left with no other choice but to oppose Judge Gorsuch’s nomination until we find agreement on moving Judge Garland’s nomination forward at the same time.”
Sen. Shaheen to Oppose Judge Gorsuch’s Supreme Court Nomination
(Democrat - New Hampshire)
“After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his record and testimony, I cannot support his nomination to serve on the Supreme Court ... he has a very alarming record of putting the interests of large corporations over those of their employees. I was also disheartened by his evasive answers to questions regarding the Citizens United decision, which has dramatically increased the amount of secret money in politics.... As Judge Gorsuch’s nomination comes to the floor, I will support a 60-vote threshold for approval, an appropriate high bar that has been met by seven of the eight current Supreme Court justices.”
Sen. Cardin Will Vote Against Gorsuch Nomination to Supreme Court
(Democrat - Maryland)
"I am greatly troubled by Judge Gorsuch’s record. His extensive legal record is peppered with examples of putting corporate interests before working Americans, showing hostility to agency decisions that protect our environment, disregard for women’s health, marginalizing students with disabilities and many more troubling decisions. While he said little of substance at his confirmation hearing, Judge Gorsuch’s record shows clearly why he was a choice candidate of the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. Despite his protestations, his record points to a jurist who has not separated his political views from his legal views. I do not believe that he would serve as an independent check on this president, who has tested the limits of the Constitution and the separation of powers in a way that no other modern president has done. Our next Supreme Court Justice can serve for a generation and have a profound impact on the lives of all Americans for decades to come. By recklessly blocking a vote or even a hearing on Merrick Garland, the Republican leadership has inflicted lasting damage on the Supreme Court and the independence of the federal judiciary, while diminishing the powers and duties of the Senate. Unlike Judge Garland, who was considered by almost all independent judicial scholars as mainstream, Judge Gorsuch does not enjoy a similar evaluation. For these reasons, I cannot support Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.”
Sen. Van Hollen to Oppose Gorsuch Nomination
(Democrat - Maryland)
After carefully evaluating Neil Gorsuch’s record and his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, I have concluded that he applies a cramped reading of the law and consistently sides with powerful special interests against the rights of individuals, workers, and consumers. When he had an opportunity during the hearings to clarify that bias, he chose instead to evade questions and answered with platitudes, not substance. While he is undoubtedly a skilled lawyer, his bias in favor of corporate power, coupled with his refusal to answer reasonable questions, lead me to conclude that he falls outside the judicial mainstream. The case that the Supreme Court decided in the middle of his hearing illustrates the point: the current Supreme Court Justices unanimously rejected his reasoning against the right of individuals with disabilities to receive an equal education. For all these reasons, I will oppose his nomination. After the Senate’s unprecedented abdication of constitutional responsibility with respect to the Garland nomination, we must begin to restore faith in the Supreme Court. That requires a nominee who is widely viewed to be an impartial administrator of justice – someone who is truly in the mainstream and who can earn the support of at least 60 senators. I will insist that this nominee be held to that standard."
Sen. Franken: I Will Vote No on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Minnesota)
"Last week, Judge Neil Gorsuch appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to not only explain his record and his judicial philosophy, but to convince the Senate that he would be the right choice for this incredibly important position," said Sen. Franken. "Although I came into the hearings skeptical of Judge Gorsuch, I was willing to listen, ask questions, and to do my job as a member of the Committee. Based on those hearings, I am going to vote no on Judge Gorsuch's nomination. He has an extreme record on everything from corporate accountability and workers' rights to women's health, and I fear that as a Supreme Court justice he will guarantee that the highest court in the land continues to favor powerful interests over the rights of average Americans. I'll say this again: at this moment in our nation's history, we need a Supreme Court justice who has earned a reputation for working to build consensus-someone like Merrick Garland, who, although rightfully nominated by President Obama, was treated disgracefully by Senate Republicans and denied a hearing and a vote. Judge Gorsuch is not a consensus nominee like Merrick Garland and he should not be confirmed. If given a spot on the Court, he will pursue an ideology that I believe has already infected the bench-an ideology that backs big business over individual Americans."
Sen. Patty Murray will oppose Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court and filibuster him if necessary.
(Democrat - Washington)
“Senate Republicans refused to do their job and refused to hold a single hearing. Second, since taking office two months ago, President Trump has demonstrated complete disregard for law, the U.S. Constitution, and the best interests of American families. He continues to try and force through an un-American, unconstitutional ban on Muslim refugees and immigrants, and he fired an acting attorney general when she refused to compromise her legal judgment in order to conform to his demands. That chaos, coupled with the cloud of an FBI investigation into the president and his associates, has led me to the conclusion that I cannot trust that President Trump is acting in the best interest of our country or our democracy and that I cannot support moving forward with his choice for the Court. I would certainly hope that Republicans don’t change the rules to break the long and important precedent of demanding a 60-vote threshold for lifetime appointments to the highest court in the land. If a nominee can’t get 60 votes, you shouldn’t change the rules, you should change the nominee,”
Sen. Tom Udall to Oppose Gorsuch's Nomination to Serve on the Supreme Court
(Democrat - New Mexico)
"I have met with Judge Gorsuch, followed the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and studied his record, and I have decided that I can't support his confirmation. ... e not only failed to answer questions that are critical for me -- his position on the rights of working mothers, whether women can choose their own health care decisions, LGBTQ rights, and dark money in our elections, to name a few - but he failed to convince me that he would be an independent voice on the Court.... Every recent Supreme Court nominee has received at least 60 votes either for cloture or confirmation. Judge Gorsuch will be subject to the same test, and therefore, I will vote no on his confirmation, including cloture. Republican leadership obstructed President Obama's nominee for this seat in an unprecedented fashion. Then President Trump won the election while losing the popular vote. In light of these factors, the president and Republican leadership should negotiate with Democrats on a fair path forward rather than rushing the confirmation process for Judge Gorsuch. I believe Judge Garland could have won 60 votes had he been allowed to make his case before the Senate. And I still hope that there's a way to ensure he is seated."
Sen. Bennet introduces Neil Gorsuch at Supreme Court nomination hearing
(Democrat - Colorado)
"The Senate’s failure to do its duty with respect to Judge Garland was an embarrassment to this body that will be recorded in history and in the lives of millions of Americans .... I consider Judge Gorsuch as a candidate to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court. And out of respect for both Judge Garland and Judge Gorsuch’s service, integrity and commitment to the rule of law, I suggest we fulfill our responsibility to this nominee and to the country by considering his nomination in the manner his predecessor deserved, but was denied.... there’s a second cloud that hangs over this confirmation hearing. It is President Trump’s reckless attacks on the judiciary.... I believe Judge Gorsuch is unquestionably committed the rule of law.
Mr. Chairman, it is customary for senators to introduce nominees from their home state, and I’m not here today to take a position or persuade any of our colleagues how to vote.... I am keeping an open mind about this nomination and expect this week’s hearings will shed light on Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach and views of the law."
Sen. Franken’s Statement on Start of Judiciary Committee Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Minnesota)
"Over the next few days, Judge Neil Gorsuch will explain his record and his judicial philosophy before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I look forward to learning about the approach he would take as a Supreme Court justice to really important issues, including women's health and workers' rights. But I will say that I'm skeptical of Judge Gorsuch. I fear that if he's confirmed, he would guarantee that the highest court in the land continues to favor powerful interests over the rights of average Americans. This pivotal moment in our nation's history calls for a nominee who has earned a reputation for working to build consensus-someone like Merrick Garland, who, although rightfully nominated by President Obama, was treated disgracefully by Senate Republicans. Judge Gorsuch's record suggests that he's no Merrick Garland. If confirmed, I'm concerned that he will put forth an ideology that I believe has already infected the bench-an ideology that backs big business over individual Americans and refuses to see our country as the dynamic and diverse nation that my constituents in Minnesota wake up in every morning."