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tv   U.S. Senate Confirms Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State  CSPAN  February 1, 2017 3:59pm-6:00pm EST

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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 54. the nays are 44. and the journal stands approved to date. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: move to that the senate move to the executive session to consider the nomination of mrs. devos to be secretary of education. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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s vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 52. the nays are 47. the motion to proceed to executive session to consider elizabeth dielisabeth devos to y
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of education is tbread to. the majority leader. -- the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: department of education, list bet elisabeth df michigan to be secretary ever education. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on nomination of elisabeth devos to be secretary of education. signed by 17 -- mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i am proud to have a chance to speak on behalf of your fellow coloradan, president trump's nominee to be associate just of the supreme court. clearly we all understand this is an important decision and an
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important institution. the supreme court is the only court specified in the constitution and often the final arbiter of how the constitution and the law is to be applied. in the history of the court -- in the history of the country, only 112 individuals have had the honor to serve on the supreme court, and as we debate the qualifications and qualities of the person that's been nominated, i hope to see confirmed as the 113th person to serve as an associate justice or a justice on the court, it's really vital that we understand that we have a nominee that has a deep understanding and appreciation of the role of the court and the role that the court plays in our democracy. judge gorsuch embodies these principles thraw a lifetime of service, and he's really
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prepared himself in many unique ways for this moment. he graduated from columbia university where he was elected phi beta capta and earned his law degree at harvard. he served as a supreme court clerk to two different justices, justice byron white and anthony kennedy. it's been pointed out that if judge gorsuch is confirmed to serve on the court, he'll be the first person to ever serve with someone that he was the clerk for, as he and justice kennedy hopefully have an opportunity to serve toct. together. d. he went on after clerking on court i to a successful career n law practice spending ten years litigate ago broad range of complex trials and appeals. in 2004, just in case his harvard law degree wasn't enough, he received a doctorate
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in philosophy from oxford university. avenues marshal scholar. at every point in his preparation, he's been understood to be at the top of that preparatory activity. he has served his country in the justice department, working as the principal deputy associate attorney general, and then ten years ago in 2006, president george w. bush nominated him to serve on the tenth circuit court of appeals. at the time of his nomination, the american bar association gave him the "unanimous well-qualified" rating, the highest rating much the senate affirmed his nomination by a voice vote unanimously. mr. president, the senate today, i believe, has 11 democrats serving with us who were part of the senate that -- that were part of that unanimous process.
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in a decade on the tenth u.s. circuit court of appeals bench, judge gorsuch has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to upholding the rule of law and interpreting the constitution as its authors intended. i'm confident he will continue to adhere to the constitution, to apply the rule of law, and not legislate from the bench. he understands, as justice scalia did, that the job of a justice of the supreme court is not to decide what the law should be or what the constitution in their opinion should say but decide what the law is and what the constitution does say. his keen intellect and devotion to the law are really well-understood and appreciated throughout the legal profession. he has the integrity, the professional qualifications and the temperament to serve on the nation's highest court.
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mr. president, i'd like to insert in the record an editorial from "the denver post" earlier this week. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: and i'd like to share a little of that editorial now where "the denver post" says, "we are not afraid of a judge who strictly interprets the constitution based solely on the language and intnts of our nation -- intent of our nation's founders. as long as he is willing to be consistent, even when those rulings conflict with his own beliefs. as denver attorney jason dunn, who considers himself a longtime fan of gorsuch's, explains his views stem from" -- this is that denver attorney's quote -- "from a belief and separation of powers and in judicial modesty that is not in the role of the court's to make law. as justice scalia put it, if you like every one of your rulings, you're probably doing something
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wrong." that's similar, mr. president, to what you and i heard judge gorsuch say last night. that a good judge doesn't rule based on what a rule whriek to happen, but what the law and the constitution insist does happen. now, going back and continuing one more paragraph from that "denver post" editorial, "a justice who does his best to interpret the constitution or statute and apply the law of the land without prejudice could go forward to restore the faith in the highest court of the land. that faith is wavered under the manufactured and false rhetoric from critics that the high court has become a corrupt body stacked with liberals. and while democrats will surely be tempted to criticize the nomination of anyone trump appoints, they'd be wise to take the high road and look at qualifications and legal consistency rather than
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political leanings." and that's in the middle of that editorial that's now in the record. the supreme court is one of the most important legacies that this president is likely to leave. i think he made a very well-considered and right choice in selecting judge gorsuch to begin shaping the long-term view of the court. i look forward to hearing more from the judge as this confirmation process moves forward and to seeing him confirmed as an associate justice of the supreme court. and i would yield the floor, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: thank you, mr. president. we began public hearings on supreme court nominees in 1916
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since we began those, the senate has never denied a hearing or a vote to a pending supreme court nominee. never since 1916, until last year. last year the senate republicans waged an unprecedented blockade against the nomination of chief judge merrick garland, a fine judge with impeccable credentials, strong support from both republicans and democrats, a man who should be on the supreme court today. the first time since 1916 that had ever been done. since they have bowed to the extreme right of the party republicans who knew and said publicly before how much they respected him and how he should be a person on the supreme court, they refused to even meet with him, let alone give
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him the respect of a confirmation hearing even though the constitution says that we shall advise and consent, and even though each one of us has raised our hand in a solemn oath saying we'd uphold the constitution. so this is exactly what happened. republicans held hostage a vacancy on the supreme court for a year so that their candidate for president could choose the nominee. it blockaded the merrick garland nomination, shameful but i think it was corrosive to our system of government. candidate donald trump verbally attacked a sitting federal judge in what speaker ryan called a textbook example of a racist comment, encouraged senate republicans to -- and to quote
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him -- "delay, delay, delay." candidate trump then went further. he said he would outforce the vetting of potential nominees to far right organizations, many of them lobbying organizations that want to stack the judiciary with ideological conservatives who are outside the mainstream. he promised a nominee who would overturn 40 years of jurisprudence established in roe v. wade. and with the selection of judge gorsuch, it appears that though he's tried to make good on that promise. now when we confirm judge gorsuch to the tenth circuit court of appeals and i was a member of the senate at the time, i knew he was conservative, but i wasn't going to do anything to block him because i hoped he would not impose his personal beliefs from the bench. in fact, at his confirmation hearing in 2006, judge gorsuch
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stated precedent is to be respected and honored. he said it was unacceptable for a judge to try to impose his own personal views. his politics or his personal preferences. but just last year he tried to do that. he called for important precedents to be overturn because it was not in line with his personal philosophy. from my initial review of the record, my question is whether judge garland meets the high standard set by -- or rather judge gorsuch meets the high standards set by merrick garland whose decisions everybody would agree were squarely within the mainstream, and with the
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ideological litmus test that president trump has applied making this selection, the american people are justified to wonder whether judge gorsuch can truly be an independent justice. so i intend to ask him about these and other important issues in the coming months. republicans rolled the dice last year. they subjected the supreme court, the american people to a purely political gamble, ignored the constitution, did something that had never been done before in this country. now i know president trump likes to boast he won the election in a massive landslide. of course he didn't. secretary clinton received more than 2.8 million votes of the american people than president trump. but more importantly, due to senate republicans' political
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gambit, the u.s. supreme court clearly lost in this election. it's really no way to treat a coequal branchl of government and is certainly not the way to protect the independence of our federal judiciary, something that's a bedrock of our constitution. the president's electoral college victory, which is far narrower than either of president obama's victories, is hardly a mandate for any supreme court nominee who would turn back the clock on the rights of women, lgbt americans or minorities. for a nominee who would use theories last seen in the 1930's to undermine all that we've accomplished in the last 80 years. in critical programs, if he
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follows what these right-wing lobbying groups who helped vet him for the president -- if he follows what they want, then critical programs like social security and medicare and medicaid, and key statutes which include the civil rights act, the voting rights act and the clean air act could all be at risk. so after nearly a year of obstruction, unconstitutional, unprecedented obstruction, i really don't want to hear republicans say we now must rush to confirm judge gorsuch. i know the president thinks they should, but i also wonder how serious even he takes us. the announcement yesterday was like he's announcing the winner of a game show. i brought in at least two people and now here's the winner.
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we're talking about the u.s. supreme court. treat it with the respect it deserves. for all republican talks of democrats setting the standard with the confirmation of justice sotomayor and kagan they ignore the standard they set with chief judge garland. in fact, i remember when i was chairman at the time bhe we set a schedule for the hearings and the vote on justice sotomayor and i remember republican leaders rushing to the floor saying this is terrible. you're rushing it. you're moving it so fast. and i pointed out the senate scheduled to the day, to the day the same we set for chief
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justice john roberts. and so i asked the obvious question: are you telling me the schedule was okay for him but not okay for her? we followed the schedule. we need time to look at all these nominees. i would note as one who has tried cases in federal courts, as a lawyer, as one who has chaired the judiciary committee committee, i would say the courts are a vital check on any administration, especially one like this that found itself on the losing side of an argument in federal court in only its first week. lost at something that
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first-year law student could have told them they were going to lose. with great political fanfare, the president issued an order. fortunately the order was seen for what it was. no muslims need show up in our country. and judge gorsuch, to be confirmed, he has to show he's willing to uphold the constitution even against president trump, even against the lobbying groups that the president had vetting him. now, his record includes a decade on the federal bench. i think the judiciary committee must now carefully review his decisions, have to conduct a thorough examination of his nomination. that's what i'll do just as i've done for every nominee, everybody currently on the supreme court and many before
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them, whether nominated by a republican or a democrat. i did a thorough and unsparing examination of their nomination. the senate deserves nothing less. more importantly, the american people deserve nothing less. and i yield the floor. mr. kaine: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. cairn kaine mr. president, i rise to speak on a special day. today is my wife's birthday. mr. kaine: today is national freedom day when we recognize president lincoln signing the 13th amendment banning slavery, and this is the reason that we celebrate black history month in february. today, february 1 begins american heart month, acknowledging the great heart of the american people as well as the need for health care. but today, february 1, is also the first day of world interfaith harmony week. in 2010, king abdullah ii of
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jordan spoke before the u.n. general assembly and he asked the u.n. to declare a week to promote understanding and tolerance between the world's religions. in his speech before the u.n., this is what king abdullah said it is also essential to resist forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust, espeally among peoples of different religions. the fact is humanity everywhere is bound together not only by mutual interests but by shared commandments to love god and neighbor, to love the good in neighbor. what we are proposing is a special week during which the world's people in their own places of worship could express the teachings of their own faith about tolerance, respect for others, and peace. the resolution was adopted unanimously at the u.n. general assembly and all nations,
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religions and peoples are asked to observe it. mr. president, by happy coincidence, as you know, king abdullah is in washington right now. he visited with senators here at the capitol yesterday and today. earlier today i met with him, and i told him i would speak in his honor in the hopes that his words might inspire us at a challenging time. as the word of last friday's executive orders regarding immigration and refugees, orders which implemented the president's campaign rhetoric to implement a muslim ban shocked the country this weekend, i traveled to roanoke and blacksburg, virginia, communities in the southwestern portion of my commonwealth. i was there to meet with local health care providers and students pursuing health care careers. i had planned the trip to go talk about the affordable care act. but at my first event, two families came to me with a concern. working together with roanoke catholic charities, they helped
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settle a syrian refugee family in blacksburg one year ago. the syrian family was a mom and dad and four kids. these sponsors told me how well the family was doing and how welcoming this community was in bringing this family to virginia and taking them in. ththe employer of the syrian fathers is the owner of a construction company and hear heard -- i'll tell you what, no one better say a bad word about their syrian co-worker around them. he went on to explain how the employees at the construction firm had done a number of things, including collecting funds to help the children have soccer shoes there in southwest, virginia. -- southwest virginia. mr. president, they didn't tell me this story because it's a
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happy story about a resettlement of a family. here's why they came to see me, they were opposed to welcome another family, a mother, father, and five minor children, to meet them at the roanoke airport tomorrow and help them find a home in the united states. the family that they were supposed to meet tomorrow, these refugees fled syria four years ago, had been living in a refugee camp in jordan undergoing four years of vetting in the hopes that they could come to america. and now their sponsors pressed papers into my hand and asked what would happen to this family? are they shut out of a dream they worked years to achieve? are they shut out of our desire to offer area that christian hospitality in our own community? we've been working to get
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answers to these questions, but as of today we know nothing about this family's fate. there are so many questions i struggle to answer in the aftermath of these orders. the orders target primarily muslim nations and allowing exceptions to be made for christians and other ro*eupblg minorities -- religious minorities. why? while leaving countries that have actually exported terrorists to the united states untouched. why? the order was applied to legal permanent residents of the united states until clarified and also to brave people who had helped american soldiers on the battlefield, thereby earning a special immigrant visas status. why? we can have security procedures that based on the danger of an individual rather than a stereotype about where they were born or how they worship. mr. president, i am called to
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reflect on these events by king abdullah's words, suggesting that the world should work this week to recognize world interfaith are harmony week. he told us today the order is being viewed with deep anxiety in his country, which is one of the strongest allies in the arab world, indeed, in the entire world. i am here on behalf of the folks in blacksburg who want to serve others in a way commanded by their faith and all faiths. mr. president, at your desk there are a couple of books, there's rules of the senate and the bible. in a week where we are to reflect on tolerance and peace, there is wisdom in the book. you shall not wrong or oppress
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aliens. the alien who resides with you shall be as a citizen among you. you shall love the alien as yourself for you are aliens in the land of egypt. give the members of your community a fair hearing and judge rightly between one person and another whether citizen or resident alien. for the lord your god loves the strangers providing them with food and clothing, you shall also love the stranger, for you are strangers in the land of egypt. you shall not deprive a resident alien or orphan of stkwr*ut. a -- justice. a wandering man was an ancestor, he went down to egypt and went there as an alien.
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listening and sues begins his life as a -- jes u.s. begins his life as a rouge fleeing into egypt. i was hungry and you fed me. i was thirsty and you gave me drink. i was a stranger and you invited me into your home. the traditions of this nation and other nations, religions and people point us in the same direction. pope francis reminded us of these very words when he spoke to us in the fall of 2015. he told us as individual leaders and as a nation that the yardstick we use to measure and evaluate others is the yardstick that will be applied to us. mr. president, on this opening day of world interfaith harmony week, i pray that we commit to appreciation of people of diverse faith backgrounds. i pray that the unjust immigration orders that target
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suffering people based on where they were born or how they worship will be rescinded. i pray that congress and the administration will work together to set up appropriate security procedures that do not discriminate on the grounds of religion or national origin. i pray we'll be true to our best principles and not sacrifice them for the sake of politics. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, mr. president. as i stated repeatedly before the elections of this past year we continue to stand at a pivotal time in our nation's history. after eight years of using the judicial and regulatory systems to push through the legislative agenda, the balance of power shifted from what our founders intended. our founders intended the
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congress to write the laws, the executive branch to implement the laws, and the judiciary to be guardians of the constitution, not to make the laws. that is why we said the next president of the united states, whether democrat or republican, would sr-b the opportunity to fill -- would have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the supreme court. following the biden rule beings that there wouldn't be a confirmation until after the election to allow the american people to make their decision. giving the american people a say in the direction -- direction for years to come in return they have given us this nominee. mr. president, it's with great pride that i rise to talk about the nominee today, a fellow coloradan, neil gorsuch, president trump's nominee to the supreme court. judge gorsuch comes to the court with that unique western perspective that the presiding officer and i share, our states
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of utah and colorado obviously like to see the western perspective shared in the tenth circuit court where it is housed, adding to justice kennedy's background. born in denver, judge gorsuch is a fourth generation coloradan, coming from a hropb line of individuals who -- long line of individuals who dedicated their service to the state of colorado and the nation. his mother served in the colorado house house of representatives and was the first female administrator of the environmental agency. his father founded one of denver's largest law firms where he and his father practiced throughout the firm's successful 60-year history. his stepfather was a former speaker of the colorado house of representatives who went on to become the head of the bureau of land management. judge gorsuch is also one of our country's brightest legal minds
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with a sterling representation, significant -- represent ewe nation. he has impeccable academic credentials. he received his bachelor's degree from columbia and was a marshall scholar at oxford university where he has a doctorate in legal philosophy and i cannot forget the summer he spent at the university of colorado as well. he clerked for two supreme court justices, byron white, as well a colorado native. after the announcement of his nomination, judge gorsuch mentioned that he worked for the only coloradan to serve on the supreme court and also the only leading rusher in the nfl to ever serve on the supreme court. he clerked for justice kennedy as well as judge sintel. judge gorsuch went into private practice eventually rising to
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the rank of partner. leaving practice in 2005 to serve as a high-ranking official in the bush administration, a year later president bush nominated to have judge gorsuch serve on the tenth district court of appeals. not only was he confirmed by a unanimous vote, but roughly 11 or 12 members of the democratic conference were here to vote for judge gorsuch. there are people serving today who voted for judge tpwoeufp. in fact, i -- gorsuch. in fact, there was a report that at judge gorsuch, then neil gorsuch when he was nominated to the tenth circuit court, his confirmation hearing only had a few people attended. i think lindsey graham was one of the senators to attend his confirmation hearing. i believe senator leahy, our
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colleague from vermont submitted questions for the record. but very few people attended his confirmation hearing because of the high kal better and -- caliber and high quality of the nomination. he had praise from salazar that he is fair. judge gorsuch is an faithful defender of the constitution. and has the temperament to serve on the highest court. judge tpwoeufp recognizes that the -- gorsuch recognizes that the supreme court is not a place for experimentation and efforts. as i said, this overweaning addiction to the courtroom is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary.
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as a society we lose the benefit of the give and take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide. here you can see certain debates are to take place where the debate is held by those who are elected directly by the people in the congress. judge gorsuch believes in the separation of hours as established by our founding fathers in the constitution as he rightly stated, a firm and independent judiciary is critical to a well-functioning democracy understanding the value of three branches of government, understanding there are certain things dedicated exclusively to the judiciary, to the skpwebgttive branch -- to the executive branch. he is a mainstream jurist who will follow the laws as written and doesn't try to supplant it. as he said personal policy preferences have no useful role
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in judging. humility about one's own ability an conclusions always do. he understands the advantage of democratic institutions and the special authority that come from the consent of the governed. he said judges must allow the elected branches of government to flourish and citizens, through their elected representatives, to make laws appropriate to the facts and circumstances of the day. judge gorsuch appreciates the rule of law. as he said precedent is to be respected and honored. it is not something to be diminished or demeaned. this morning i had the opportunity to meet with judge gorsuch once again, of coursing knowing him from colorado, his town of boulder he lives in today also where i went and received my law degree. i spent a lot of time talking about our favorite passions in colorado whether it's fly
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fishing or paddle boarding. he spends a lot of time outside just as every person in colorado does. we talked about the rule of law. we talked about the separation of powers, his concern over originalism, following in the footsteps of other great justices on the supreme court. we talked about something he said last night when his name was put into nomination by president trump. we talked about a statement that he made. he said something to the effect of -- if a judge likes every opinion that they have written -- every decision they have reached, they are probably a bad judge. i think this goes, again, to his insistence that you must put, as a judge, your personal beliefs, your personal policies aside to rule as the rule of law requires. -- to rule as the constitution,
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the statutes required. we discussed on some decisions he didn't like the outcome but believed the rule of law required a certain outcome, whether it was a felon who possessed a handgun or the federal federal government had misspoken to the accused and believed the government had done the accused wrong. while judge gorsuch believed he would have liked to have found a guilty decision or agreed with a guilty decision, that he couldn't do it because of the standards that were applied in the case, the gravitational -- the grammatical gravity that had to be ignored in order to reach the conclusion that the lower court had reached. his ability to put personal opinions aside i think is what makes him an ideal candidate for the united states supreme court.
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over the coming days and months, we're going to have many opportunities to talk about the qualities of judge gorsuch, but we've already heard many people complain that perhaps they didn't pay enough attention to judge gorsuch ten years ago. they talked about their concern this new found concern that was not available, apparently wasn't there ten years ago when this senate unanimously supported judge gorsuch. i've even heard complaints that they didn't like the way that his nomination was announced, a complaint about how the president announced the nomination. that's the kind of concerns we're hearing about judge gorsuch today because they didn't like the way he was announced. we're going to have a lot of opportunity to talk about his temperament, those things that he believes are important as a judge, those things that he believes are important to make
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decisions, and i look forward to having conversation about what i believe is a brilliant legal mind, someone of a brilliant legal mind, someone with a sterling reputation, someone who is known as a feeder judge to clerks to the highest court in the land, somebody who rules on the law, not on his personal beliefs, somebody who believes in the constitution, not the role as legislator from the bench. so, mr. president, i am grateful to have this opportunity to support a coloradan, a man of the west, to the nation's highest court. i look forward to working to place judge gorsuch as associate justice of the united states supreme court. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. a senator: thank you, mr. president. we're in the second week of the trump presidency and it's pretty clear that something is happening in our country. ms. warren: all across the nation, americans in quiet towns
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and boisterous cities are taking to the streets to fight for american values. they are protesting in the streets and calling their representatives. they are getting involved in local organizations and they are organizing around the causes they support. we know that american values are threatened when the president issues an order banning immigrants from the country based on their religion. we know that american values are threatened when politicians try to break apart a health care system that has extended medical benefits to millions of americans. and we know that american values are threatened when a president tries to stack his government with billionaires and insiders who have a history of grinding working people into the dirt. yesterday something happened that is a threat to our american values. the president nominated judge
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neil gorsuch to serve on the supreme court. for years now i repeated this warning. america's promise of equal justice under the law is in danger. over the last three decades as the rich have grown richer and the middle class have families have struggled, the scales of justice have also tilted, tilted in favor of the wealthy and the powerful. this is not an accident. it's part of a deliberate strategy to turn our courts into one more rigged game for folks at the top and its effects have been devastating. recent court decisions have producted giant business -- protected giant businesses from accountability, made it harder for people who have been injured or cheated to get a hearing, gutted long-standing laws protecting consumers who have been swindled, and unleashed a flood of secret money into our politics that's rapidly tilting the entire government in favor
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of the wealthy. billionaires and corporate giants have launched a full-scale attack on fair minded, mainstream judges. it's happened at every level of our judiciary, but the best example was the unprecedented blockade of judge merrick garland's nomination to the supreme court. judge garland was an obvious consensus nominee and a straight shooter who followed the law. so why block it? the problem was that judge garland's career didn't reflect a sufficient willingness to bend the law to suit the needs of the rich and powerful, and for that sin far right groups financed by big business interests spent millions of dollars attacking him to torpedo his nomination and keep that seat open. but they did something else that is even more damaging.
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far right groups also drew up a list of acceptable supreme court nominees, people who demonstrated that they were sympathetic to the rich and the powerful. judge neil gorsuch made the cut, and his nomination is their reward. judge gorsuch is intelligent and accomplished. he is polite and respectful and articulate, but make no mistake. his professional record which i have reviewed in detail clearly and consistently favors the interests of big corporations over workers, big corporations over consumers, and big corporations over pretty much anybody else. let's not mince words. the nomination of judge gorsuch is a huge gift to the giant corporations and wealthy individuals who have stolen a supreme court seat in order to make sure that the justice system works for them.
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what i'm saying shouldn't be controversial. they haven't made a secret of what they were doing. this is exactly why judge gorsuch has been on their list for four months. he is the payoff for their multimillion dollar investment. throughout his professional career, judge gorsuch has shown a truly remarkabl remarkable iny to the struggles of working americans and an eagerness to side with businesses that break the rules over workers who are seeking justice. even before he became a judge, judge gorsuch famously argued in favor of limiting the ability of investors and shareholders to bring lawsuits when companies commit fraud, whining about how annoying it is for billionaire corporations to have to face their investors when they cheat them. as a judge for more than a decade, he has twisted himself
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into a pretzel to make sure that the rules favor giant companies over workers and individual americans. let me just count some of the ways. he has sided with employers who deny wages, employers who improperly fireworkers, employers who retaliate against whistle-blowers for misconduct. he's sided with employers who denied retirement benefits to their workers. he sided with big insurance companies against disabled workers who were denied benefits. he has ruled against workers in all kinds of discrimination cases. he's even argued that the rights of corporations outweigh the rights of the people working for them. so, for example, allowing businesses to assert religious beliefs so they can limit their employees' access to health care. listen to that one again. he thinks that a company can assert a religious belief and
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decide whether female employees get access to birth control. and let's be clear. that means a lot of employees will be living at the whim of their employers. judge gorsuch has written dismissively about lawsuits to vindicate the rights of vulnerable people. equal marriage, assisted suicide, keep those issues out of his courtroom. but he's willing to open the doors wide when big corporations show up in his court to challenge health and safety rules that they don't like or regulations to prevent them from polluting our air and water, poisoning our food, undermining our public safety, or just plain cheating people. when that happens, judge gorsuch is ready to go, to override the rules with his own views. on that score he is even more extreme than justice scalia. this is exactly the type of
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supreme court justice that giant corporations want, but they have never been quite so brazen about it. spending millions to slime a consensus straight shooter nominee like merrick garland and steal a supreme court seat, then drawing up a public list of acceptable alternatives and handing it over to a billionaire president so he can do his buddies a favor, that's bold. that's bold and that is not how america is supposed to work. our courts are supposed to be neutral arbiters dispensing justice based on the facts and the law shes not people -- and the law, not people chosen to advance the interests of those at the top. let's be clear. this fundamental principle might be more important today than it has ever been in modern history. every day our new president
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finds more ways to demonstrate his hostility for an independent judiciary, for a civil society, and for the rule of law. that is precisely the reason that our constitution gives us a neutral, independent judiciary. we don't need judges who have been hand picked for their willingness to cowtow with those -- to those with money, power and influence. we need justices who will stand up to those with money, power and influence. judge gorsuch may occasionally right in vague terms about the importance of independent courts, but today, right now, that's simply not good enough. now more than ever the united states needs a supreme court that puts the law first every single time. that means justices with a proven record of standing up for the rights of all americans,
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civil rights, women's rights, lgbtq rights and all the protections guaranteed by our laws. we cannot stand down when american values and constitutional principles are attacked. we cannot stand down when the president of the united states hands our highest court over to the highest bidder, and that is why i will oppose judge gorsuch's nomination. thank you, mr. president. i yield and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, the senate is in a quorum call. mr. hatch: i ask that it be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: i rise in support of the nomination of judge neil m. gorsuch to serve as the next associate justice of the supreme court of the united states. judge gorsuch has been nominated to fill the seat left vacant by the late justice antonin scalia. justice scalia was a dear friend of mine and his death was a great loss to me and to our country, not just for me personally but for the whole nation. justice scalia joined the supreme court after years of unbridled activism by the court during which time justices imposed their own left wing
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views completely unmoored from the law as written on the american people. in response, he led a much needed revolution based on the enduring principle that the role of a judge is to say what the law is, not what a judge wishes it were. as the intellectual architect of the effort to restore the judiciary to its proper role under the constitution, justice scalia was a singularly influential jurist. to say that he leaves big shoes to fill is an understatement. any successor to his legacy would not only be committed to continuing his life's work but also capable of delivering the sort of intellectual firepower and leadership that justice scalia provided for decades. of all the potential candidates for this position, this vacancy, neil gorsuch stands out as the jurist best positioned to fill this role.
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his resume can only be described as stellar. columbia university, marshal scholarship to study at oxford, harvard law school, clerks -- clerkships on the d.c. circuit and supreme court, a distinguished career in private practice and at the department of justice, and more than a decade of service on the u.s. court of appeals for the tenth circuit. even among his many talented colleagues on the federal bench, his opinions consistently stand out for their clarity, thoughtfulness, and air tight reasoning. in the words of one of his colleagues supporting him, appointed by president carter, judge gorsuch -- quote -- writes opinions in a unique style that has more verb and vitality than any other judge i study on a regular basis
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he continued. quote, judge gorsuch listens well and decides tkaoes sighsively. this view of judge gorsuch's capabilities is widely shared across a wide swath of legal observers. consider out let's that could hardly be considered conservative. "the new york times" reported on his credentials. the "los angeles times" called him a highly regarded jurist. the abc news described how "in legal circles he's considered a gifted writer." mr. president, i think there can be no doubt that judge gorsuch has the credentials to make him a capable and effective member of the united states supreme
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court. nevertheless, i have long held that a nominee's resume alone, no matter how sterling, should not be considered sufficient evidence to merit confirmation to the supreme court. rather we should also consider a nominee's judicial philosophy. in this analysis judge gorsuch has developed a record that should command ironclad confidence in his understanding in the proper role of a judge under the constitution. judge gorsuch's opinions and writings show a clear tpaoeu dealty -- fidelity to a judge's proper role. while his body of work is replete with examples of this fidelity, i want to point to one in particular, a lecture he gave in the wake of justice scalia's death that is one of the most thoughtful cases for the proper role for a judge. he affirmed his allegiance to
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the traditional account of the judicial rule championed by justice scalia where he described as such, the great project of justice scalia's career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators, to remind us that legislators may appeal to their own moral convictions and to claims about social utility to reshape the law as they think it should be in the future. but the judges should do none of these in a democratic society. the judges should, instead, strive, if humanly and so imperfectly to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be, not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society
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best. as justice scalia put it, quote, "if you're going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you're not always going to like the conclusions you reach. if you like them all the time, you're probably doing something wrong." unquote. mr. president, this is exactly the kind of judicial philosophy we need our judges to espouse and neil gorsuch is exactly the man to embody it on the supreme court. if there's one line in that lecture to which i could draw attention, it is the quotation of justice scalia's formulation for the basic negotiation that -- notion that a good judge will off the times reach outcomes that he does not personally agree with as a matter of policy. such a notion should be uncontroversials. many of justice scalia's opinions came in cases in which i suspect he would have voted
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differently as a legislator than as a judge, although this may seem foreign to a casual observer of media coverage of a supreme court where it is viewed through a political lens. decisions are often described as liberal or conservative. the matters properly at the core of a judge's work, this phenomenon reflects a regrettable dynamic observed by justice scalia himself. as the late justice observed, when judges substitute their personal policy preferences for the fixed and discernible meaning of the law, the selection of judges in particular, the selection of supreme court justices becomes what he called -- a meaning on the loss of this country. put another way, if judges are empowered to rewrite the law as
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they please, the judicial process becomes a matter of selection or selecting life tenured legislators practically immune from any accountability whatsoever. if we buy into such a system of judicial review, a system deeply at odds with the constitution's concept of the judiciary, then one can easily see why judicial selection becomes a matter of producing particular policy outcomes. thus, it is easy to see why many on the left who believe in such a system demand litmus tests on hot button policy issues. to them a judge is not to serve unless they rule in a way on a particular policy. simply put, this is a terrible way to approach judicial selection. it under minds the constitution and all of the crucial principles it enshrines from the rule of law to the notion that our government's lengthcy
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depends -- legitimacy depends on the governed. a good judge is not one we can depend on to produce particular policy outcomes. a good judge will produce the outcomes commanded by the law and the constitution. neil gorsuch has firmly established himself as that kind of a judge. in neil gorsuch's america, the laws that bind us are made by the people's elected representatives, not unelected, unaccountable judges. in neil gorsuch's america, the powers and limits of each branch of government are decided by the constitution no matter whether their enforcement produces a liberal or conservative skwrut come. in neil gorsuch's america, the basic freedoms of the american people enumurated in the bill of rights are carefully protect whether they are with the left, right, both, or neither. excuse me a second.
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in neil gorsuch aamerica, the views that -- neil gorsuch's america, the opinions that matter are yours and mind. for these reasons i applaud the president for his stellar choice. judge gorsuch will do us proud as the next supreme court justice, and i will do everything in my power to ensure his confirmation. i thank the presiding officer. i yield the floor. i will have more to say on this in the future. but i will yield the floor at this time. the presiding officer: the senator from -- will the senator withhold request for a roll call? mr. hatch: i withhold.
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children childrems. --ms. hiros his own version of reality, which is why his administration resorts to alternative facts. when the media reported how small the crowd was at the inauguration, he presented us with alternative facts. when the media pointed out that he lost the popular vote by the largest margin of any president, he boldly proclaimed that three to five million people voted illegally. many consider this as a cynical way to encourage more ways for states to pass voter suppression laws justified by the bogus claim of voter fraud. two days ago the president again showed the american people how intolerant he is of principled dissent when he fired acting
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attorney general sally yates after she refused to enforce or defend his totally unjustifiab unjustifiable, knee jerk and probably unconstitutional executive order on muslim immigration. he demonstrated once again he values loyalty to himself rather than adherence to the constitution. this is particularly disturbing as we begin to consider the president's nomination of judge neil gorsuch to sit on the supreme court. i am only beginning to scrutinize judge gorsuch's record, but i am very concerned that he will be represent president trump's radical agenda. you don't have to take my word. you only have to listen to what the president said over the past two years. in june 2015, then dan date trump said -- candidate trump
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said he would apply a pro-life litmus test to the nominees of the supreme court. he did it again at a press conference last march during the third presidential debate and shortly after his election. this isn't the only litmus test president trump promised to apply. in 2016, president trump committed to appointing a justice that would allow businesses an sreuz to deny -- businesses to deny access to health care based on religious freedom. in january of 205, he said -- 2015, he said he will uphold -- like tens of millions of americans, i am deeply concerned that president trump applied each of these tests before he nominated judge gorsuch to the supreme court. in the weeks and months ahead, i
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will carefully and extensively scrutinize judge gorsuch's record. i will question him on his judicial philosophy and how he interprets the constitution. i will insist he clarify his position on a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose, on voting rights, and the appropriate balance between corporate interests and individual rights. i will do my job as a u.s. senator. the american people deserve nothing less from each of us. i yield the floor. ms. hirono: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. children wrote: i -- ms. hirono: i suggest the
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absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: objection. mr. mcconnell: for the last eight years the obama administration has pushed through a number of harmful regulations that circumvent congress' slow growth, shift power away from state and local governments toward washington, and kill a lot of jobs. even on the way out the door, the former administration's regulatory onslaught continued as they pushed through more midnight regulations. these nearly 40 major regulations which were pushed through by the obama administration since election day would cost americans a projected $157 billion according to one report. fortunately with a new president, we now have the
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opportunity to give the american people relief and our economy a boost. one of the most important tools we have is the congressional review act which allows congress to provide relief from heavy handed regulations that hold our country back. the house just took an important step by sending us two pieces of legislation that will reassert congressional authority and make a real impact for the american people. one of those resolutions will address a regulation that puts u.s. companies at a competitive disadvantage to private and foreign companies. passing this resolution will allow the s.e.c. to go back to the drawing board so that we can promote transparency which is something we all want but to do so without giving giant foreign conglomerates a leg up over american workers. we'll take it up soon. the other resolution which we'll take up first will address an 11th hour parting salvo in the
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obama administration's war on coal families that could threaten one-third of america's coal mining jobs. it's identical to the legislation i introduced this week and is a continuation of my efforts to push back against the former administration's attacks on coal communities. appalachian coal miners like those in my home state of kentucky need relief right now. that's why groups like the kentucky coal association, the united mine workers association, and 14 state attorneys general among others have all joined together in a call to overturn this regulation. the senate should approve this resolution without delay and send it to the president's desk. the sooner we do, the sooner we can begin undoing the job killing policies associated with the stream buffer rule. this is not a partisan issue. this is about bringing relief to those who need it and protecting jobs across our country. i hope our friends across the
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aisle will support our nation's coal miners and join me in advancing this resolution. now, after we address these regulations, both the house and senate will continue working to advance several other c.r.a. resolutions that can bring the american people relief. now, i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: all those in favor say aye. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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