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. McConnell on Judicial Nominations
(Republican - Kentucky)
“The courts — of all the things that we should be able to accomplish with this president and this Senate — the courts have the longest reach into the future,” McConnell said. “We have a significant number of vacancies coming into this administration. The president knows this is a way to have an impact on our country far beyond his tenure in office.”
McConnell recognized the nomination process would be a “tough battle” amid what he called “blind obstruction” by the minority party.
“The left is on war-footing for just about everything these days and that includes the lower courts,” he said. “They are doing everything they can to tie the Senate in knots. They are forcing procedural hurdles on just about everything.”
Trump on Wednesday sent up a slate of federal court nominations and McConnell said they would give each one a “fair hearing and vote.” ... He recalled a conversation he had with Gorsuch following his confirmation, during which the new Supreme Court associate justice said he hoped to serve for 20 to 25 years.
“What we had in mind was a lot longer tenure than 20 or 25 years,” McConnell told Gorsuch and said to “think Strom Thurmond” who left the Senate at the age of 100. Thurmond was in fragile health the last several years of his tenure.
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. MURPHY STATEMENT ON CONFIRMATION OF JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH
(Democrat - Connecticut)
“I am deeply disappointed that Justice Gorsuch has been confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. Our democracy simply cannot afford a Supreme Court Justice who may bring his own political views into the courtroom. Republican Senators forever lowered the bar for Supreme Court nominees just to get him on the Court, and will bear responsibility for his judgments. While I believe this is a setback for people in Connecticut, I’ll keep doing everything I can to protect their rights and help them as they work hard to build better lives for themselves and their families."
Sen. King Statement on Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
(Independent - Maine)
“While I did not support Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation, I do sincerely hope that the concerns that led me to vote no today will be proven wrong. I would be delighted if this were the case in the long-term. However, today I had to vote my convictions and not my hopes.”
Senator Hassan Statement Following Confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
(Democrat - New Hampshire)
“After studying Judge Neil Gorsuch's record, meeting with him in my office, and hearing from people across New Hampshire, I voted against Judge Gorsuch's nomination because he failed to demonstrate that he would put the rights of hard-working Americans ahead of big corporations and ahead of a cold judicial philosophy. Supreme Court nominees should be able to clear a 60-vote threshold, and I'm disappointed that instead of urging President Trump to nominate a more mainstream nominee, Senate Republicans decided to change the rules of the road.
"Now more than ever, we need a Supreme Court justice who will rise above ideology and protect the rights that we hold dear. Unfortunately, nothing in Neil Gorsuch's record has shown that he will be such a justice."
Sen. Franken’s Statement on His Vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice
(Democrat - Minnesota)
"After meeting him, carefully reviewing his record, and questioning him during his confirmation hearing, I voted against confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court because I believe he will put powerful corporate interests over the rights of average Minnesotans. During his time on the Tenth Circuit, Judge Gorsuch went out of his way to consistently rule for corporations over workers, corporations over consumers, and corporations over women's health.
"If my Republican colleagues truly believe that a judge's proper role is to call balls and strikes and to decide cases narrowly, they would have confirmed Chief Judge Merrick Garland last year, a consensus-builder with a proven track record. But instead, Republicans engaged in truly unprecedented obstruction to deny Judge Garland a hearing and block his confirmation.
"I fear that today's vote on Judge Gorsuch guarantees more of the same: a sharply divided, activist Supreme Court that makes decisions at great cost to consumers, workers, small businesses, and middle class Americans."
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. TESTER STATEMENT ON THE CONFIRMATION OF JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH
(Democrat - Montana)
"I am deeply concerned that folks in the Senate chose to play politics with the U.S. Supreme Court and undermined the consensus needed for this lifetime post. Judge Gorsuch does not share our Montana values because he thinks corporations are people, he has stood between women and their doctors, and he has sided with the government over protecting our civil liberties."
SEN. MERKLEY STATEMENT ON CONFIRMATION OF NEIL GORSUCH
(Democrat - Oregon)
“Today, for the first time in history, the theft of a Supreme Court seat has been completed, profoundly damaging the integrity of the Court. From today forward, every 5-4 decision with Neil Gorsuch in the majority will lack the same legitimacy it would have held before. Now, the Court is just one more political entity to be rigged in political parties’ favor, with dismal consequences for the American people.
“Gorsuch’s extreme views on worker protections, women’s rights, corporate power, campaign cash and more will have very real and damaging repercussions for the American people for decades to come. Today is a very dark day for America.”
SEN. KAINE STATEMENT ON RULES CHANGE IN RESPONSE TO FAILED CLOTURE VOTE ON GORSUCH NOMINATION
(Democrat - Virginia)
“We have given Judge Gorsuch serious consideration. He’s been granted meetings, hearings, a Committee vote, full floor debate, and a vote from the full Senate, and he fell short of the bipartisan support needed to move forward with final confirmation to the Supreme Court. The President should have put forward a nominee who can garner support from both sides of the aisle. A Supreme Court nominee was subject to the 60-vote threshold because it is such a consequential, lifelong appointment. Senate Republicans’ decision to change the rules because Judge Gorsuch cannot obtain sufficient bipartisan support is the wrong approach for the country.”
SEN. MERKLEY: REPUBLICANS HAVE DEEPLY DAMAGED THE INTEGRITY OF THE SENATE AND THE SUPREME COURT
(Democrat - Oregon)
“Today, Senate Republicans completed the judicial coup they launched last February. For the first time in our nation’s history, a Supreme Court seat has been stolen. In doing so, they have deeply damaged the integrity of the Senate and the Supreme Court itself.
“Let’s be clear: the Republicans already detonated the nuclear option when Majority Leader McConnell announced within hours of Justice Scalia’s death that the Senate majority would refuse to consider any nominee put forward by President Obama. What we saw today was the continued fallout from that nuclear option, and it will only lead our nation further down the path of division and partisanship.
“The primary driver of the majority’s decision to steal the Senate seat was to sustain the flow of dark money that is corrupting our elections. The deed is done. McConnell and his team have put a knife into the heart of our ‘We the People’ republic.”
U.S. SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT NOMINEE GORSUCH
(Democrat - Wisconsin)
“The people of Wisconsin want an impartial and independent Supreme Court justice who will make decisions that protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Americans – not stand for corporate special interests. I have deep concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s troubling record of ruling against disabled students, including a ruling that was so far out of the mainstream the Supreme Court unanimously overturned it, as well has his rulings against workers and against women’s reproductive health care. I also believe that we must have a Supreme Court justice who will serve as a check on the Executive Branch. Based on his record and the many questions he has chosen to leave unanswered, I don’t have confidence Judge Gorsuch would be that justice and I oppose his confirmation to our highest court.”
Sen. Duckworth Statement on Senate Republicans’ Elimination of 60-Vote Standard for Supreme Court Nominees
(Democrat - Illinois)
“In their haste to give President Donald Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans have engaged in an unprecedented abuse of power and unraveled a vital check and balance that ensured Supreme Court Justices are in the mainstream. There’s a good reason the Senate has required nominees to be able to overcome a filibuster and earn the support of members from both parties. It protects our Supreme Court from the passions of political partisanship and from Justices with extreme beliefs. Confirming judges by such a small margin will have far-reaching consequences for millions of Americans and our entire union.”
Sen. Shaheen Statement on Republican Leadership’s Decision to Change Long-Standing Senate Rules in Order to Confirm Supreme Court Nominee Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - New Hampshire)
“Judge Gorsuch has an alarming record of putting the interests of large corporations over those of their employees. He also has frequently ruled against women’s reproductive rights and has been extremely evasive on his position on Citizens United, a decision that has dramatically increased the amount of secret money in politics. It’s very disappointing that Republican leadership is changing the rules to approve his nomination and again, resorting to unprecedented tactics to shape the Supreme Court. I’m committed to upholding the Constitution’s instruction to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominations. Rather than changing this long-standing Senate rule, Republican leadership should urge President Trump to put forward a nominee who has a track record of treating women and workers even handedly in our legal system, and who would be approved with a strong bipartisan vote.”
Sen. Manchin Statement on Using the Nuclear Option
(Democrat - West Virginia)
“I am deeply disappointed that, later today, many Senators plan to vote for the nuclear option, taking another step toward destroying the Senate. As I said when I voted against the Democrats’ nuclear option in 2013, I firmly believe that the filibuster is vital to protecting the minority’s views and exactly why the Framers of our Constitution made the Senate the ‘cooling saucer.’ ... “Every Republican Senator joined me in opposing the rules change then, but now, they stand united to do exactly what they opposed just 3 years ago."
Sen. Sanders Statement on Republicans' Use of 'Nuclear Option'
(Independent - Vermont)
"I am deeply disappointed that Republicans changed the rules so that they could push through their nominee with fewer than 60 votes. A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be done in a bipartisan way, but unfortunately Mitch McConnell chose to do it in an extremely partisan manner. Further, I am deeply concerned about the role that Judge Gorsuch will play on the Supreme Court. I fear very much that he will be part of an extreme right-wing majority that will attack workers’ rights, women’s rights and environmental protection as well as make our political system less democratic."
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. Hirono Denounces Republican Use of Nuclear Option to Advance Supreme Court Nominee
(Democrat - Hawaii)
“Today, Senate Republicans destroyed a process that has been in place for years to accomplish their goal of confirming a far-right Supreme Court Justice,” said Senator Hirono. “Last year, they wouldn’t even give President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a hearing. And today, they changed the rules in order to ram through a nominee who cannot garner even 60 votes to sit on the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch would preserve the 5-4 conservative majority on the Roberts Court that favors corporate interests over individual rights.”
Sen. Van Hollen: Today is a Sad Day in the United States Senate
(Democrat - Maryland)
“Today is a sad day in the United States Senate. I regret that my Republican colleagues did not have the courage of their convictions and failed to stand up to President Trump’s demand to undermine the Senate in order to confirm a Supreme Court nominee who is outside the mainstream. Instead of rising to the challenge and upholding the rules designed to forge bipartisan compromise, Republicans have engaged in a crass power play. I can only hope that they don’t further dismantle Senate procedure to end the protections that force consensus around legislative issues.”
Sen. Bennet Statement on Judge Gorsuch’s Confirmation Vote
(Democrat - Colorado)
"Today's changes to the Senate's rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees," Bennet said. "With these changes, justices may now be confirmed with the narrowest partisan majority. Allowing the judiciary to become a pure extension of our partisan politics is precisely the outcome our Founders feared. Moving forward, lifetime appointments to our highest court could become just another political exercise.
"We cannot ignore this new reality, and I am forced to consider President Trump's current nominee - and all future nominees - in that context.
"I am proud Judge Gorsuch is from Colorado. He is a qualified judge who deserves an up-or-down vote. That is the tradition of the Senate, and it is why I opposed a filibuster before the rule change.
"Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen. For the reasons I have said, I had concerns about his approach to the law. Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority.
"For all these reasons, I will vote no on the nomination."
SEN. Schatz Statement on Republican Actions to Change Longstanding Senate Rules
(Democrat - Hawaii)
“Today will go down in history as the day Republicans deepened the divides in the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the country. Instead of changing the nominee to reach bipartisan consensus, Republicans chose to change the rules. In doing so, they weakened one of the last bastions of bipartisanship at a time when polarization is at an all-time high. I’m deeply disappointed and concerned by the Republicans’ actions, which were pushed through in a brazen effort to further politicize the Supreme Court.
“The Senate rules exist to encourage bipartisanship, deliberation, and compromise. Now that Republicans have successfully put one of those rules on the chopping block, we will have more difficulty achieving those purposes.”