August 01, 2018

Warren Delivers Floor Speech on Kavanaugh Nomination as the Latest Example of Corporate Capture of Courts

"Powerful interests have been working for years to capture every single branch of government to tilt the scales in their favor and against everyone else."

 Video (YouTube)

Washington, DC - In a speech delivered today on the Senate floor, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke out against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. In her remarks, Senator Warren discussed Judge Kavanaugh's long history of ruling in favor of big business and corporate interests and urged her colleagues to block his nomination.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
August 1, 2018

Mr. President, every day, I meet all sorts of people - small business owners, working moms, students, seniors, service members. And they're concerned about all sorts of things: the growing cost of health care, the cost of child care, the cost of college, the cost of student loan debt, stagnant wages, fixing our broken criminal justice system, school violence in schools-you name it.

But in the thousands of conversations I've had, I haven't met a single person who has said they're concerned that Washington doesn't work well enough for big businesses.

Because if you ask any of them, they'll tell you that when it comes to the wealthy and the powerful, Washington works just like a dream, but for everyone else, Washington just isn't working. That's not a coincidence. Powerful interests have been working for years to capture every single branch of government to tilt the scales in their favor and against everyone else.

Our courts are no exception in this.  Powerful interests have worked for years, pouring incredible amounts of money into capturing our courts. It's been a real one-two punch.  First punch? Working with Republicans to stop fair-minded, impartial judges from sitting on the federal bench, slowing down or stopping those nominations, holding a Supreme Court seat, keeping fair people off the bench whenever possible. And then came the second punch: whenever they get the chance, it's stacking our courts with judges dedicated to a vision of the law where the wealthy and the well-connected get to call the shots; where people who are willing to leave behind women, workers, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, students, families, and everyone else who doesn't have money or power.

Donald Trump's decision to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is just the latest example of this. Minutes after Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh's nomination, the White House blasted out a document to whom? To business lobbyists around Washington touting Judge Kavanaugh's rulings in favor of corporate interests and against the interests of everyone else. They are not even hiding it anymore.

Think about that.  First move by the White House is not a memo to the American people talking about the nominee's independence or talking about his commitment to justice for everyone, but a memo to the business lobbyists highlighting Judge Kavanaugh's loyalty to big business.  That's a key part of Donald Trump's public case for Judge Kavanaugh: the promise that Judge Kavanaugh will tilt the playing field even further in favor of corporations and against working people.

Take a look at cases the White House included in its sales pitch to corporate lobbyists. In one recent case, Judge Kavanaugh ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was unconstitutional, calling independent agencies like the consumer bureau "a significant threat to individual liberty."  Really?  That's the consumer agency that a bipartisan group of 60 Senators and 237 Representatives created after the most devastating financial crisis in generations.  The agency that is a tough watchdog for American families.  The agency that in just seven years has returned $12 billion directly to people who were cheated by big banks, credit card companies, and student loan servicers.  But I guess all Judge Kavanaugh saw was the threat to individual liberty of companies that were looking to cheat people.

Judge Kavanaugh's ruling was so out of the mainstream that the rest of his colleagues on the court promptly reversed his decision by an overwhelming vote. But if Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh, he could provide the decisive vote on the Supreme Court to strike down the CFPB and leave consumers at the mercy of predatory lenders again.

And that wasn't the only time that Judge Kavanaugh ruled against consumers and in favor of the giant corporations that squash them. Last year, he issued an opinion that would have set aside a lower court ruling and allowed a merger of two giant health insurance companies to move forward - despite evidence that the merger could hurt consumers in 14 states.  Now luckily, once again, Judge Kavanaugh's colleagues disagreed - and they criticized him for, "applying the law as he wished it were, not as it currently is."  Again, Judge Kavanaugh found a way to rule in favor of corporate interests - no matter what the law said.

Judge Kavanaugh has also ruled time and again to reverse rules designed to address climate change, to protect the air we breathe.  In three separate cases the Trump Administration highlighted for corporate lobbyists, Judge Kavanuagh argued that the Environmental Protection Agency had acted illegally in taking action to protect the environment and to protect public health.  In each case, the EPA had spent years carefully considering the input of scientists, experts, and the industry.  But in each case, Judge Kavanuagh found that wasn't enough - and he put maximizing polluter profits ahead of protecting working families and the well-being of our planet.    

The Trump White House and the Republican Congress have gone to bat for corporate interests time and time again: they've showered them with $1.5 trillion in tax giveaways, rolling back the rules on some of the country's biggest banks, and reversing rules to protect workers and consumers from corporate abuse.

But there may not be a single body in Washington that has delivered more victories for giant companies in the last two years - and more losses for everyone else - than the Supreme Court of the United States.  In case after case, by 5-4 decisions, this Court has limited the rights of working people and expanded the ability of giant corporations to do pretty much whatever they please.  It is no wonder that working families are working longer and harder - only to get squeezed between flat wages and rising costs.

Judge Kavanaugh would tip the balance of the Court even further in favor of those corporations and special interests.  For the next thirty or forty years, he would be a reliable vote in favor of whatever giant companies and their armies of lobbyists decide that they want - whatever special favors they can't secure in Congress and can get only through the courts.  The world's largest companies already throw their money around this place with reckless abandon and try to buy the outcomes that they want. They don't need any more help on the Supreme Court. It is time for Washington to start working for the people again, and that starts with defeating Judge Kavanaugh's nomination.