July 18, 2018

Warren Delivers Floor Speech on Brett Kavanaugh's Nomination to the Supreme Court

"Every American who believes that our courts should not be another puppet of the rich and powerful should speak out, and every Senator who believes in equal justice under the law should say no to Judge Kavanaugh."

Video (YouTube)   

Washington, DC - In a speech delivered yesterday 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 outlined the issues at stake and urged her colleagues to oppose his nomination. 

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
July 17, 2018

Mister President, since day one the Trump Administration has been plagued with chaos, corruption and broken promises.

  • Candidate Trump promised to drain the swamp in Washington, but this administration is teeming with shady, corrupt political appointees using their government service to line their pockets and do the bidding of their benefactors.
  • Candidate Trump promised to take care of everyone-make sure that every American was, in his words, "beautifully covered." Instead, he's trying to rip up the Affordable Care Act, permit insurance companies to discriminate against tens of millions of people with pre-existing conditions, and knock millions more off health care coverage.
  • Candidate Trump promised to raise taxes on the rich-remember that one? Yeah, instead, he handed out an eye-popping $1.5 trillion dollar tax giveaway to giant corporations and the super-rich.

For hard-working American families, the Trump presidency has turned into a nightmare.

But Trump hasn't broken his promises to everyone. No, not by any stretch. For millionaires, billionaires, and giant corporations, Trump has kept his promises all the way. And nowhere has that been more obvious than with our courts.

"Equal Justice Under Law." Those are the words inscribed over the top of the Supreme Court. And that's what the American judicial system is supposed to be all about. A fair, neutral forum governed by the rule of law. A place where everyone can be heard. A place where individual rights are respected. A place where nobody-nobody-is above the law.

High aspirations, but these ideas never sat well with the wealthy and well-connected. They're used to getting special deals, and a judicial system that protects everyone, no matter their wealth or status in this country, is a challenge to their unchecked power. So for years, they've engaged in a concerted campaign to turn our courts into one more rigged game - a place that carefully protects the rich and powerful and kicks dirt in everyone else's face.

Billionaires and giant corporations have been working on this plan for decades. Today, the rich and powerful do their best to drown our elections in money and tilt our government in their favor. 

  • Every day they use their money to buy favors in D.C. 
  • Every day they deploy armies of lawyers and lobbyists to bend the laws passed by Congress to their will. 
  • Every day they push this government to do just a little more for the rich and powerful and a little less for everyone else.

They are doing the same in our courts, too. Since Donald Trump was elected, we've seen judge after judge come through the Senate. Some barely qualified, some with deeply offensive records. But nearly all of these judges share one key quality - a demonstrated willingness to put a thumb on the scales for those at the top at everyone else's expense.

This week, we will vote on two more Trump-nominated Appeals Court judges. If they are confirmed, they will continue to tilt the courts away from equal justice under law.

But nowhere is this effort more obvious or more damaging than with the President's Supreme Court selections.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump asked one group to draw up a list of acceptable candidates to serve on the Supreme Court. One group.  One very influential group.  One extremist group. The Federalist Society-a radical, right wing group deeply committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. Trump promised publicly that if he was elected president, he would select Supreme Court nominees exclusively from the Federalist Society's list.

The idea of a Republican President outsourcing the selection of judges has never been so nakedly public.

For decades, the Federalist Society has been one of the leading right-wing, billionaire-funded groups working to capture our courts. Their agenda? To impose its extremist agenda on the entire country, undermining critical rights like women's rights, worker's rights, voting rights, and environmental protections.

The courts are at the heart of the Federalist Society's plan, so the group has been laser-focused on filling the federal bench with people who are pre-committed to serve the interests of the rich and powerful instead of dispensing equal justice under law.

By allowing them to handpick the justices who sit on the Supreme Court, Trump gave the Federalist Society an unprecedented opportunity to impose its extremist agenda on the entire country, and so what is it at the top of their list?  Overturn Roe v. Wade.   A top conservative explained that Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society's long-time Executive Vice President, was the man to get the job done.  I quote: "No one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe than the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo."  Criminalize abortion.  Punish women.  That's the Federalist Society's plan.

Donald Trump has been happy to dance to their tune.  During the 2016 campaign, he said yes, women should be punished if they tried to get an abortion, and, if he could appoint two or three justices, Roe would be "automatically" be overturned.

Since taking office, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he plans to fulfill his promise to select candidates exclusively from the Federalist Society's list. 

Just days after his inauguration, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch-one of the candidates on the Federalist Society's list-to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch had a long record of twisting the law in ways that favored the interests of large corporations over women, over workers, over consumers, and over just about everyone who wasn't wealthy and well-connected. Republicans were so dedicated to getting Gorsuch on the Court that they actually changed the Senate rules to get him through the Senate nomination.

From his powerful perch on the Supreme Court, Justice Gorsuch has continued to make it harder for Americans to find justice. In just one year on the court,

  • he has voted to gut the ability of public sector unions to negotiate for higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions for teachers, for nurses, for firefighters, for police officers, and for other public servants;
  • he has voted to undermine worker's ability to hold their employers accountable for breaking the law;
  • he has voted to uphold President Trump's immoral Muslim ban.

The same powerful people who handpicked Justice Gorsuch know they'll have another ally in Brett Kavanaugh-and frankly, it's not hard to see why. Like Justice Gorsuch, Judge Kavanaugh's record shows that he will continue to tilt the scales of justice in favor of the rich and powerful and against everyone else.  Don't take my word for it.  Look at his record.

  • Judge Kavanaugh voted to limit the ability of women to make their own health care decisions.
  • He opposed a ruling protecting women's access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act.
  • He voted to make it harder for agencies to protect public health, safety, and economic security.
  • He ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-the agency that has returned $12 billion directly to people cheated by corporate lawbreakers-he ruled, is unconstitutional.
  • And he suggested that federal judges might substitute their own personal policy judgments for those of expert federal agencies that have been directed by Congress to enforce the law.

Now, here's the thing.  Judge Kavanaugh had a lot of competition to get selected to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  After all, the Federalist Society had pulled together a whole list of people pre-screened to overturn Roe v. Wade and to help out the powerful corporate interests that are really calling the tune in Washington.  So why pick Judge Kavanaugh?  Why him instead of someone else on that list?

Well, there's something special that makes Judge Kavanaugh a lot more attractive to President Trump: Judge Kavanaugh believes that, while in office, a sitting President should be above the law. He has argued that sitting Presidents should not face personal civil suits or criminal investigations or prosecutions while in office.

And after the spectacle, broadcast live on television around the world, of President Trump attacking American intelligence agencies and American law enforcement officers while sucking up to Vladimir Putin, we should all question Judge Kavanaugh's willingness to protect the president no matter what. After Trump's deeply embarrassing performance, Republicans who actually want to stand up for the United States of America and stand up to Trump - instead of hiding behind carefully worded tweets - could refuse to rubberstamp Trump's Supreme Court nominee.  Republicans who believe that no one is above the law could vote no on Judge Kavanaugh.

And there's more that makes this nominee particularly attractive to President Trump: Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated incredible hostility toward efforts to rein in public corruption and to break the stranglehold of money on our political system.

Substituting your personal views for the will of Congress is not the job of a judge, and it is certainly not conservative. Stripping away rights from women, from voters, from workers, from immigrants, while expanding the rights of corporations and rich people isn't fair, not neutral, and not equal.

Judge Kavanaugh didn't make this stuff up on his own. No, Judge Kavanaugh is part of a movement to twist the Constitution in ways that are deeply hostile to the rights of everyone but those at the top. He's been a part of that movement for the majority of his professional life, both before and after he became a judge. And now, he has a record of twelve years of judicial decisions that demonstrate his loyalty to that radical ideology.

All of this makes Brett Kavanaugh a dream candidate for the right-wing, extremist Federalist Society. 

  • A dream candidate for right-wing, extremist Republicans.
  • A dream candidate for the right-wing groups and billionaires who want to buy off our political system.
  • A dream candidate for a sitting President whose campaign is under an active, ongoing FBI investigation that eventually could land in the United States Supreme Court.

A dream candidate for them-and a nightmare for everyone else.

President Trump has made his choice. But here's the thing-President Trump is not a king. The Constitution demands that the Senate have a say in who gets to serve on the Supreme Court, and that means every single Senator has a vote.  So think about what is at stake:

  • One justice-one vote-could determine whether or not women can make their own health care decisions.
  • One justice-one vote-could determine whether workers can join unions to negotiate for better pay, better working conditions, and better benefits.
  • One justice-one vote-could determine whether millions of people with pre-existing conditions can still get health insurance.
  • One justice-one vote-could make decisions on voting rights, civil rights, immigration, criminal justice, consumer protection, and environmental protection.
  • One justice-one vote-could decide whether everyone-or just those at the top-can find justice in America.

The justices who sit on the highest court in the country should not be pre-screened by extremist groups whose agenda is to tilt the scales of justice against Americans who are most vulnerable. They should not work to hand our courts over to corporate giants and wealthy individuals. The justices who sit on our highest court should be unequivocally committed to one principle: equal justice under law.

Judge Kavanaugh's record shows that he is not the right candidate to spend a lifetime making decisions that will touch the lives of every American. Every American who believes that our courts should not be another puppet of the rich and powerful should speak out, and every Senator who believes in equal justice under law should say no to Judge Kavanaugh.