Politics

Elizabeth Warren: Trump ‘has shown contempt for our Constitution’

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, delivered the following speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday about Judge Neil Gorsuch, who has been nominated to the Supreme Court:

Mr. President, it is clear that President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, does not have enough support in the Senate to be confirmed under our rules. When a Supreme Court nominee does not have enough support to be confirmed, the solution is to pick a new nominee. But Republicans in the Senate are threatening to pursue a different path - they are considering breaking the Senate rules to force this nominee onto the Supreme Court anyway.

I’ll be honest - I think it’s crazy that we are considering confirming a lifetime Trump nominee to the Supreme Court at a moment when the President’s campaign is under the cloud of an active, ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation that could result in indictments and appeals that will go all the way to the Supreme Court-so that Trump’s nominee could be the deciding vote on whether Trump or his supporters broke the law and will be held accountable. That is nuts, and I believe we should tap the brakes on any nominee until this investigation is concluded.

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But even if none of that were happening, I would still oppose the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch. My objection is based on Judge Gorsuch’s record, which I have reviewed in detail.

Judge Gorsuch’s nomination is the latest step in a long political campaign by right-wing groups and their billionaire backers to capture our courts. Over the last thirty years, as the rich have gotten richer and working families have struggled to make ends meet - the scales of justice have been weighted further and further in favor of the wealthy and the powerful. Those powerful interests have invested vast sums of money into reshaping the judiciary, and their investment has paid off in spades.

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Recent Supreme Court decisions have made it easier for corporate giants who cheat their consumers to avoid responsibility. Recent Supreme Court decisions have let those same corporations and their billionaire investors spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections and manipulate the political process. And recent Supreme Court decisions have made it easier for businesses to abuse and discriminate against their workers.

Giant corporations and right wing groups have notched a lot of big wins in the Supreme Court lately, but they know that their luck depends on two things: first, stacking the courts with their allies and second, stopping the confirmation of judges that don’t sufficiently cater to their interests.

That’s part of the reason that they launched an all-out attack on fair-minded, mainstream judges-judges like Merrick Garland, a thoughtful, intelligent, and fair judge, to fill the open vacancy on the Supreme Court.

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These very same corporate and right wing groups handed Donald Trump a list of “acceptable” people to fill the Supreme Court vacancy-and, as a Presidential candidate, he promised to pick a justice from their list. And who made it on to the right-wing list? People who, unlike Chief Judge Garland, displayed a sufficient allegiance to their corporate and right wing interests. Judge Gorsuch was on that list. His nomination is their reward.

Even before he became a federal judge, Judge Gorsuch fully embraced right-wing, pro-corporate views. He argued that it should be harder - not easier - for shareholders who got cheated to bring fraud cases to court.

On the bench, Judge Gorsuch’s extreme views meant giant corporations could run over their workers. In Hobby Lobby, when he had to choose between the “rights” of corporations and the rights of women, Judge Gorsuch chose corporations. In consumer protection cases, when he had to choose between the “rights” of corporations and the rights of the consumers they cheated, Judge Gorsuch chose corporations. In discrimination cases, when he had to choose between the “rights” of corporations and the rights of employees who had been discriminated against, Judge Gorsuch chose corporations.

Time after time, in case after case, Judge Gorsuch showed a remarkable talent for creatively interpreting the law in ways that benefited large corporations and that harmed working Americans, women, children, and consumers.

And when it comes to the rules that prevent giant corporations from polluting our air and water, poisoning our food, or cheating hard-working families, Judge Gorsuch believes that it should be easier, not harder, for judges to overturn those rules - a view that is even more extreme that the late Justice Scalia.

Republicans assert that Judge Gorsuch is a fair, mainstream judge. But right-wing groups and their wealthy, anonymous funders picked him for one reason: because they know that he will be their ally. And that’s not how our court system is supposed to work. Judges should be neutral arbiters dispensing equal justice under law, not people handpicked by wealthy insiders and giant companies.

For the working families struggling to make ends meet, for people desperately in need of healthcare, for everyone fighting for their right to vote, for disabled students fighting for access to a quality education - for anyone who cares about our justice system - there is only one question that should guide us in evaluating a nominee to sit on any court: whether that person will defend equal justice for every single one of us. Judge Gorsuch’s record answers that question with a loud no.

Republicans have a choice. They can tell President Trump to send a new nominee - a mainstream nominee who can earn broad support. Or they can jam through this nominee. If they do jam through Judge Gorsuch, the Republicans will own the Gorsuch Court, and every extreme 5-4 decision that comes out of it. Republicans will own every attack on a woman’s right to choose, on voting rights, on LGBTQ rights, on secret spending in our political system, and on freedom of speech and religion.

Republicans will be responsible for every 5-4 decision that throws millions of Americans under the bus in order to favor the powerful, moneyed few who helped put Judge Gorsuch on the court.

Right now, the Presidency is in the hands of someone who has shown contempt for our Constitution, contempt for our independent judiciary, contempt for our free press, and contempt for our moral, democratic principles. If ever we needed a strong, independent Supreme Court with broad public support, a Supreme Court that will to stand up for the Constitution, it is now.

If ever there were a time to say that our courts should not be handed to over to the highest bidder, it is now. And that is why Judge Gorsuch should not be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court.

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