tv U.S. Senate Sen. Cornyn on Justice Breyer Retirement CSPAN February 1, 2022 9:39am-9:54am EST
america was watching when justice breyer said, you are now considering my appointment to the united states supreme court. that court works within a grand tradition that is made meaningful in practice guarantees of fairness and freedom to the constitution provides. and he said, i promise you and promise the american people if i'm confirmed a member of the court, i will try to be worthy of that great tradition. there's no doubt in my mind or any objective analyst stephen breyer has proved himself worthy of that great tradition. whoever his successor may be, i'm confident she will do the same. i want to personally thank justice breyer as a member of the senate, but also an american citizen first for his thoughtfulness, his spirit of collegiality and concensus building and working to advance
the constitution guarantees of fairness and freedom. >> mr. president, last week when the senate was in recess, justice stephen breyer announced he'll soon retire from the united states supreme court. i want to first thank justice breyer for his service, more than four decades, including nearly three decades on the supreme court itself. though i have disagreed with his rulings from time to time, i maintain deep respect for justice breyer's commitment to the rule of law and the integrity of our judicial system. last year, when some of our democratic colleagues renewed their threats to expand the supreme court and pack it with partisans, justice breyer, to his credit spoke up. he echoed the comments of the late ruth bader ginsburg and warned of the dangerous consequences of the democrats court packing threats.
and i have great respect for justice breyer and the rule of law and protecting the court of an institution especially when sound principled leadership was needed. once again, i want to thank justice breyer for his service and a well-deserved retirement. mr. president, all eyes are now on the white house as we await news of president biden's nominee to succeed justice breyer. so this is the president's first opportunity to nominate a supreme court justice, he is standing at a very familiar fork in the road. outlining two separate and distinct paths. one of those are virtues leadership and could nominate someone who has credentials have deep respect for the rule
of law and constitution. he could nominate someone who agrees that supreme court justices are meant to act as umpires not as players in the game. they're supposed to call balls and strikes, not to help their preferred team score a run. of course, there is another path, one that was cleared and paved by the radical left. the president could listen to the liberal activists who want to select somebody who will deliver partisan wins, regardless of the facts. he could nominate someone who would attempt to use the position on the supreme court to rule based on personal policies or preferences, rather than what the law commands that a justice do. as i've said, president biden has found himself looking down these two diverging paths a number of times. the first when he first took office, he could have worked with republicans to build on
congress' perfect regard of bipartisan pandemic relief with the border crisis, addressed the virtually uninhibited flow of migrants across the border this last year, with a 50-50 senate embraced the opportunity to work across the aisle to make progress on our shared priorities, but at every single decision point, the president basically ignored the opportunity to build concensus, even when he spotted the infrastructure bill, and for he and speaker pelosi the infrastructure of the build back better bill which he knew did not have the support it needed even among members of his own party. the president has repeatedly bowed to the radical left's
demands and the results speak for themselves. last spring, the american people were stuck with a nearly $2 trillion bill for unnecessary partisan spending. illegal border crossings remain at historic highs with more than two million apprehensions since january last year when he took office. many of our democratic colleagues abandoned their longstanding support for the filibuster for the bipartisan concensus building requirement of our cloture rules and tried to blow up the foundation of the senate in order to clear a path for even more partisan legislation. and now we find ourselves one year in a democrat controlled government with a short list of legislative accomplishments. time and time again president biden has abandoned bipartisanship and tradition in order to appease the progressive base in his political party. and the american people are the
ones who have suffered the consequences. once again, i would hope he would remember his inspiring words at his inauguration on jn the 20th just about a year ago, where he called for a healing of the divisions in our country and working together in a shared desire to improve the quality of life for americans and to make their place in the world one of leadership and peace. the left has already begun its campaign to replace justice breyer with after judicial activist. in fact the very fact that justice breyer decided to retire is an indication that the radical left is successful in browbeating a sitting republican-- excuse me, a sitting justice in
his term of office. clearly the folks on the left don't want him to be succeeded by another principled jurist who evaluates cases based on the law and the facts, they want a partisan who will deliver sure political wins. our nation does not need a radical ideolog sitting. and the role of a judge is different than that of a legislator. legislators of elected in order to represent their constituents and make public policy proposeals that hopefully will become law and improve their lot in life and their future. a supreme court for any judge for that matter is not supposed to start with a desired result and work backward from there. the supreme court is not a substitute for working together
to pass legislation in the executive branch with the signoff-- excuse me, the legislative branch with a signoff by the executive branch. the supreme court or any court is not a fail safe that can be utilized to deliver particular results that cannot be secured through the legislative process. judges should not be legislators in black robes. they shouldn't advocate for any particular policy outcome or promote a specific agenda. our democracy and the rule of law depends on justices embracing, not personal politics, not personal beliefs and not preference for a particular result in a case. the deto our -- the key to our constitutional republic is a judge that calls balls and strikes who decides each case based on the facts and the law.
it's important because every time a judge acts as an activist and takes away an issue that should be decided by the political branches, he shrinks the capacity of the american people to make their own choices at the ballot box when they elect members of the legislature and executive branch. in fact, that's the reason why our constitution gives judges lifetime tenure, so they will be insulated from politics, not so they can use that tenure in order to impose their political preferences without retribution by the voters. conversely, those of us in congress are precisely elected by in political elections for policy purposes. and the fact is, we either listen to our constituents and are guided by their desires or they hold the power to replace us and retire us at the ballot
box and that's why they give to imply and interpret the law not to make it up as we go along. we need dedicated service to follow the statutes signed by congress and signed by the president into law and follow the law of the land and we need judges to make decisions on what the law says not again, on what their preferred jut come may be. as the president approaches these two paths i hope he'll ignore the clamor on the left and make a choice that serves in the best interests of the american people and send us a nominee who respects the law and the limited role of a judge in our political system. because a judge is not supposed to substitute his or her opinion for that of the elected representatives of the people. and surely, the constitution
itself is the fundamental law of the land, and as chief justice marshall said in marbury versus madison, the decisions of the court interpreting that constitution are the last words. but what we need is what chief justice roberts called humility. that judges understand they're important, but limited role under our form of government, not to supercede the policy judgments of elected officials because they can because they are the last word. we need judges who will demonstrate that sort of humility that understands, yes, they have a tough and important job to do, but it is within certain guardrails and limitations about what that role should be. as the president looks down the two divergent paths i hope he'll ignore the clamor on the left and make a choice that serves the best interest of the
american people and he would do that by choosing a mainstream nominee. the president promised to choose african-american woman to the supreme court and that would be a historic first. and as the president makes his decision, and our colleagues, that diversity extends far beyond just gender and skin color. we need a diversity of education, background, experience. for example, all of the current justices on the court, but one were educated at ivy league colleges and universities. in fact, when justice barrett was confirmed, she became the first sitting justice to attend the law school other than harvard or yale. it's true that the current justices largely hale from coastal metropolitan areas and one third of the sitting justices previously served on the d.c. circuit court of
appeals. so i agree that diversity on the highest court in the land is a valuable asset. and i encourage the president consider nominees that can bring unique experiences, education, viewpoints, for all types to the supreme court-- of all types to the supreme court. whoever the president chooses will be evaluated based on their qualifications, experience and ability to separate politics from the rule of law. that's the job of the senate judiciary committee on which i'm proud to serve. i presume we would treat any nominee regardless of ethnicity, race, or gender, exactly the same in extending to them a respectful and dignified process. certainly no nominee is going to get points, so to speak, toward their confirmation vote because they are of a particular race, ethnicity or gender. each nominee will be thoroughly
vetted and questioned, just as prior nominees have been. unlike some of the mud slinging that we saw during the confirmation of justice kavanaugh, i expect this process to be fair and dignified. we must be careful, thorough and comprehensive because, madam president, the american people and the institution of the supreme court deserve nothing less. >> west virginia senator joe manchin said he agreed with president biden that the next u.s. supreme court justice should be a black woman. and he says the women being discussed as potential nominees are all extremely qualified. >>