February 01, 2017

Senator Warren's Remarks on the Supreme Court

"Every day, our new President finds more ways to demonstrate his hostility for independent judiciary, civil society, and the rule of law"

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren today delivered remarks on the floor of the Senate on President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. A video of her remarks is here. Her full remarks as prepared for delivery are as follows:

Mr. President, we're in the second week of the Trump Presidency, and it's pretty clear that something is happening in our country. All across the nation, Americans in quiet towns 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 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 else happened that is a threat to our American values. President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court.

For years now, I've repeated this warning: America's promise of equal justice under law is in danger. Over the last three decades-as the rich have grown richer and middle-class 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 protected giant businesses from accountability. Made it harder for people who've been injured or cheated to get a hearing. Gutted longstanding 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 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. Why block him? 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 the 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: Far-right groups also drew up a list of "acceptable" Supreme Court nominees, people who demonstrated they were sympathetic to the rich and powerful. Judge Neil Gorsuch made the cut. And his nomination is their reward.

Judge Gorsuch is intelligent and accomplished. He is polite, 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 everybody 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 the justice system works for them. What I am 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 remarkable insensitivity to the struggles of working Americans and an eagerness to side with businesses that break the rules over workers 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 securities fraud, whining about how annoying it is for billionaire corporations to have to face their investors when they try to cheat them.

As a judge, for more than a decade, he has twisted himself into a pretzel to make sure the rules favor giant companies over workers and individual Americans. Let me count just some of the ways:

• He has sided with employers who deny wages. Employers who improperly fire workers. Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers for misconduct.

• He has 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 who work for them. So, for example, allowing businesses to assert religious beliefs so they can limit their employees' health care access. Listen to that one again: He thinks that a company can assert a religious belief and decide whether a female employee gets access to birth control. 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 they don't like or regulations to prevent them from polluting our air and water, poisoning our food, undermining public safety, or 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 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's not how America is supposed to work. Our courts are supposed to be neutral arbiters, dispensing justice based on the facts and the law, not people chosen to advance the interests of those at the top.

And 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 finds more ways to demonstrate his hostility for independent judiciary, civil society, and the rule of law.

That's precisely the reason that our Constitution gives us a neutral, independent judiciary. We don't need justices who have been handpicked for their willingness to kowtow 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 write in vague terms about the importance of independent courts. But today, right now, that's simply not good enough. Now more than ever, America 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 - civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, and all other protections guaranteed by our laws.

We cannot stand down when American values and constitutional principles are attacked. We cannot stand down while 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.