11.07.19

Remarks on Opposing Steven Menashi Nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit

Whether senators on this Committee agree that a nominee is extreme or within the mainstream, whether a nominee is well-qualified or woefully unprepared for a lifetime judgeship, I think we all agree that every nominee should be willing to answer our most basic questions.  If a nominee refuses, and that nominee is nonetheless rewarded with confirmation, our constitutional role to provide advice and consent to is rendered meaningless. 

Steven Menashi failed this test. And he failed it repeatedly. Whether facing questions from Democrats or Republicans, Mr. Menashi declined to answer, over and over again.  It got so bad that more than one Republican on this Committee expressed their frustration.  And one Republican member, Senator Kennedy, even called for a second hearing so we could actually get our questions answered.

After his hearing, Mr. Menashi then failed to answer basic questions about whether he was involved — while working in the White House Counsel’s Office — in attempting to cover up President Trump’s July 25th phone call with the President of Ukraine.  He did not cite a privilege.  He did not even provide the courtesy of responding.  He just refused to answer.

I have my own concerns about Mr. Menashi’s record.  Just last night, it was revealed that he devised an illegal Department of Education plan to deny debt relief to thousands of students scammed by a defunct for-profit university — a plan that a judge found to violate the Privacy Act.  And he still hasn’t provided a sufficient explanation for an offensive argument he made in an article, that [QUOTE] “ethnic diversity weakens social solidarity” [UNQUOTE].

Those are his words.  And I must say I find them in stark contrast to the words emblazoned on our Capitol’s dome: E Pluribus Unum.  Out of Many, One.

At a minimum, I do not think any senator should vote for a nominee who repeatedly refuses to answer our questions.  There is no nominations Fifth Amendment.  No free pass to Senate confirmation.  No nominee should get a seat on one of our nation’s highest courts when they take neither our most fundamental questions, nor our constitutional obligations, seriously.  I will vote no on Steven Menashi.  

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