News Releases

Murray: “I’m concerned by the unprecedented pace of the Judiciary Committee’s process, which would rush through this nominee on the fastest timeline in recent history.”

Urged Leader McConnell to abstain from using nuclear option to permanently change Senate rules and force through nominee 

Will vote no on cloture motion and oppose Judge Gorsuch’s nomination

Murray: “If you can’t get that many votes for a Supreme Court nominee, you don’t need to change the rules. You need to change the nominee.”

*Video here*

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) laid out her concerns with President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee on the Senate floor, and urged her colleagues to join her in voting no on advancing his nomination. Sen. Murray urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to abstain from using the nuclear option to permanently change Senate rules in order to force through a Supreme Court nominee without the traditional 60 votes. She also expressed deep concern with Judge Gorsuch’s record of not protecting women’s constitutionally protected health care rights, siding with corporations over workers, and ruling against children with disabilities.

“If you believe in transparency in our elections, and upholding the integrity of our democracy—or you believe we need a justice that will protect the rights of all Americans and stand with them and not with President Trump and millionaires and billionaires—the choice is clear,” said Senator Murray. “As I’ve urged my colleagues for weeks, with so much chaos in the Administration and so many questions surrounding this President’s commitment to the rule of law— slow down. Stop playing political games.  Respect the families we represent, respect the separation of powers, and stop trying to jam this nominee through—and whatever you do, do not blow up the Senate rules for Supreme Court nominees.

Key excerpts of Senator Patty Murray’s floor speech:

“I come to the floor today to express my deep concern about the Republicans’ rush to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat—and about President Trump’s nominee for this critical position. I want to start by saying that I believe one of the most solemn and consequential decisions we make as senators is whether to support a nominee to the highest court in the country. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. And after careful consideration, I will be voting against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, and I will oppose a cloture motion ending debate.”

“Since taking office about two months ago, he has demonstrated complete disregard for the law, the Constitution, and American families. He has tried to force through un-American bans on Muslim refugees and immigrants—and he fired Sally Yates, an acting Attorney General who dared to stand up to him. It is clear this President doesn’t just think he’s above the law, he has at times shown a true disdain for it, repeatedly insulting the men and women on the bench—even telling a crowd that perhaps the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—a court that didn’t rule in his favor-- should be broken up.”

“I’m concerned by the unprecedented pace of the Judiciary Committee’s process, which would rush through this nominee on the fastest timeline in recent history. That is striking, because this same committee failed to hold a single hearing on the vacancy for 12 months following Justice Scalia’s passing. It refused President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, any opportunity to be heard.”

“Judge Gorsuch would have taken the ruling in Hobby Lobby—to allow women’s bosses to decide whether or not they get birth control—to an even more extreme result. And his deeply conservative record suggests he can’t be trusted to stand up for women’s constitutionally protected health care rights or access to care—in fact, it seems clear that he will work to weaken those rights at every opportunity.”

“I’m troubled that as a federal judge on the tenth circuit, Judge Gorsuch has a clear record of siding against workers-- and with corporations and big businesses. The Associated Press said his opinions were “coldly pragmatic and they’re usually in the employers’ favor.” His history of dismissing workers’ safety concerns and hostility toward upholding disability rights greatly concern me and strongly suggest that he would join conservative justices to undermine workers’ rights. We need a Justice on the Supreme Court who will uphold workers’ protections, safety, and right to organize.”

“I am also deeply concerned about the potential effect on children and students with disabilities. In a number of cases, Judge Gorsuch ruled in ways that made it more difficult for them to receive the support and services they not only deserve, but are entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act-- our nation’s special education law.”

“So if you believe in transparency in our elections, and upholding the integrity of our democracy—or you believe we need a justice that will protect the rights of all Americans and stand with them and not with President Trump and millionaires and billionaires—the choice is clear. As I’ve urged my colleagues for weeks, with so much chaos in the Administration and so many questions surrounding this President’s commitment to the rule of law— slow down. Stop playing political games.  Respect the families we represent, respect the separation of powers, and stop trying to jam this nominee through—and whatever you do, do not blow up the Senate rules for Supreme Court nominees.”

Full text of Senator Patty Murray’s floor speech as prepared:

I come to the floor today to express my deep concern about the Republicans’ rush to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat—and about President Trump’s nominee for this critical position. I want to start by saying that I believe one of the most solemn and consequential decisions we make as senators is whether to support a nominee to the highest court in the country.

It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. And after careful consideration, I will be voting against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, and I will oppose a cloture motion ending debate.

I came to this conclusion weighing several things. First, a Supreme Court justice has an enormous responsibility to uphold our Constitution and defend our democracy. The Court’s decisions affect every citizen in every corner of this country. And at times, one Justice-- perhaps this nominee-- may be the only thing standing between someone’s rights and an executive branch that operates as though it is above the law. And that is a real concern—one I have heard over and over from the people in my home state of Washington who are frightened about the direction President Trump is trying to take our country in.

Since taking office about two months ago, he has demonstrated complete disregard for the law, the Constitution, and American families. He has tried to force through un-American bans on Muslim refugees and immigrants—and he fired Sally Yates, an acting Attorney General who dared to stand up to him.

It is clear this President doesn’t just think he’s above the law, he has at times shown a true disdain for it, repeatedly insulting the men and women on the bench—even telling a crowd that perhaps the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—a court that didn’t rule in his favor-- should be broken up. Now, we need an independent judiciary that can safeguard the rights of citizens against this executive branch. But with so much chaos created by this President— coupled with the cloud of an FBI investigation into him and his associates, I have no reason to trust he or his Administration are acting in the best interests of our country or our democracy, and I cannot support moving forward with his choice for the Court.

On top of that, I’m concerned by the unprecedented pace of the Judiciary Committee’s process, which would rush through this nominee on the fastest timeline in recent history. That is striking, because this same committee failed to hold a single hearing on the vacancy for 12 months following Justice Scalia’s passing. It refused President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, any opportunity to be heard.

Which brings me to my serious concerns about this particular nominee. I’ll start with women’s access to health care. President Trump campaigned on promises to overturn women’s constitutionally protected rights to make their own health care decisions, secured by the historic ruling in Roe v. Wade. This President has broken almost every promise he’s made—but one he appears to be keeping, especially in selecting Judge Gorsuch, is his promise to undermine women’s health and rights.

Judge Gorsuch would have taken the ruling in Hobby Lobby—to allow women’s bosses to decide whether or not they get birth control—to an even more extreme result. And his deeply conservative record suggests he can’t be trusted to stand up for women’s constitutionally protected health care rights or access to care—in fact, it seems clear that he will work to weaken those rights at every opportunity. Since day one of this Presidency, women nationwide have made it absolutely clear that they do not want to go backwards—and that is something I am going to continue to fight for.  

I’m also going to keep fighting for workers. And I’m troubled that as a federal judge on the tenth circuit, Judge Gorsuch has a clear record of siding against workers-- and with corporations and big businesses. The Associated Press said his opinions were “coldly pragmatic and they’re usually in the employers’ favor.” His history of dismissing workers’ safety concerns and hostility toward upholding disability rights greatly concern me and strongly suggest that he would join conservative justices to undermine workers’ rights. We need a Justice on the Supreme Court who will uphold workers’ protections, safety, and right to organize.

I am also deeply concerned about the potential effect on children and students with disabilities. In a number of cases, Judge Gorsuch ruled in ways that made it more difficult for them to receive the support and services they not only deserve, but are entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act-- our nation’s special education law. I strongly believe in this law—and I believe we should be doing everything we can to ensure individuals with disabilities can attain their full potential by accessing meaningful, quality public education. And certainly not the bare minimum.

And, it is notable that while Judge Gorsuch was testifying before the Judiciary Committee two weeks ago-- the Supreme Court unanimously rejected his prior ruling in a case involving the rights of a student with disabilities to receive a meaningful education. And it’s highly troubling that when it came to policies concerning torture, Gorsuch-- as a member of President George W. Bush’s Justice Department-- advocated that the president has broad powers to basically ignore parts of the legal ban on torture.

This deference to executive power is concerning to say the least – but it also makes a whole lot more sense as to why Judge Gorsuch would be Donald Trump’s number one choice. And his testimony before the Judiciary Committee regarding Citizens United, in which he incorrectly stated that the Court left Congress the ability to enact commonsense campaign spending limits, strengthens my decision. 

So if you believe in transparency in our elections, and upholding the integrity of our democracy—or you believe we need a justice that will protect the rights of all Americans and stand with them and not with President Trump and millionaires and billionaires—the choice is clear.

As I’ve urged my colleagues for weeks, with so much chaos in the Administration and so many questions surrounding this President’s commitment to the rule of law— slow down. Stop playing political games.  Respect the families we represent, respect the separation of powers, and stop trying to jam this nominee through—and whatever you do, do not blow up the Senate rules for Supreme Court nominees.

Invoking the nuclear option is a dangerous path to go down. I’ve been in the majority, I’ve been in the minority– and either way—I believe when it comes to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, the Senate must adhere to a higher standard and the 60-vote threshold.

If you can’t get that many votes for a Supreme Court nominee, you don’t need to change the rules. You need to change the nominee.

Thank you, I yield the floor.

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