04.05.17

On Senate Floor, Leahy Speaks Out Against Gorsuch Nomination & Trump Agenda

“After disregarding his constitutional obligations for nearly a year, the Republican Leader now tells us we must rubberstamp President Trump’s nominee or he will forever damage the Senate.”

After holding open a Supreme Court vacancy for over a year, Senate Republicans are now rushing to schedule a vote on President Trump’s nominee to the highest court in the land.  Senator Patrick Leahy, a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that the Senate should not simply rubberstamp the Trump agenda and he reiterated his opposition to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

“Judge Gorsuch has a fine resume.  I do not take issue with his qualifications on paper.  My concern is that he has not lived up to his own standard.  I am concerned that his personal views, and his politics, have permeated through his judicial philosophy – and that is in fact the reason why his nomination is before us today,” Leahy said.

During his confirmation hearing, Judge Gorsuch refused to answer basic questions including whether the First Amendment permits the use of a religious litmus test.  In written responses to questions from Senators, he also failed to provide clear answers.  He refused to expressly acknowledge that Congress has war powers, and he provided no answer at all to questions regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County to gut the Voting Rights Act, and about women’s rights to obtain contraception. 

As an editorial in the Rutland Herald stated, “Gorsuch’s affable muteness sent a message: I am above the people and their concerns.”

Now Republicans are threatening to change Senate rules in order to confirm Judge Gorsuch, a nominee selected from a list of candidates compiled by conservative special interest groups, instead of a consensus nominee like Chief Judge Merrick Garland who President Obama nominated last year.  And they are making this threat after a series of partisan votes to rollback regulations guarding Internet privacy, supporting workers, protecting the environment, and ensuring health care access for millions of Americans.

In his floor statement Wednesday, Senator Leahy spoke out against these actions and against the Gorsuch nomination. 

“With the Gorsuch nomination, Republicans are proving that they have no interest in playing by the rules; they prefer to break them.  The unprecedented obstruction of Chief Judge Merrick Garland will be a permanent stain on this body.  Then, days after the 2016 election, Republican leaders threatened to change the rules to get their own nominee through – before we even had a name,” Leahy said.  “After disregarding his constitutional obligations for nearly a year, the Republican Leader now tells us we must rubberstamp President Trump’s nominee or he will forever damage the Senate.”

Senator Leahy’s full remarks are available online.

Written follow up questions from Senator Leahy and other Senators to Judge Gorsuch are also available online

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