News Releases

Senator Murray decried Senate Republican leaders for bringing President Trump’s Ninth Circuit Court nominee up for a vote despite lack of returned blue slips from both of Miller’s home state senators

Senator Murray also shined a spotlight on Miller’s legal career, sharing concerns from WA tribal members about Miller’s work opposing tribal sovereignty

Senator Murray: “Confirming this Ninth Circuit Court nominee—without the consent or true input of both home state senators, and after a sham hearing—would be a dangerous first for this Senate”

***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR MURRAY’S FLOOR SPEECH HERE***

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, (D-WA) reiterated her strong opposition to Eric Miller, President Trump’s nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court, and blasted Senate Republican leaders for abandoning the Senate’s longstanding “blue slip” process, which has previously allowed for bipartisan consideration of judicial nominees. In her remarks, Senator Murray—who did not return a blue slip to recommend Miller’s nomination—highlighted concerns from Washington state tribes who have questioned Miller’s commitment to defending tribal sovereignty, underlining the potential threat Miller’s confirmation poses to tribes in Washington state and across the West, and urged her Republican colleagues to vote against Miller and instead return to a bipartisan process in order to advance consensus judicial nominees.   

Key Excerpts from Senator Murray’s floor speech (as prepared for delivery):

“This is not a partisan issue—this is a question of the Senate’s ability and commitment to properly review nominees. Yet here we are, on the Senate floor, barreling toward a vote to confirm a flawed nominee—who came to us following a flawed nomination process, all because a handful of my Republican colleagues will apparently stop at nothing to jam President Trump’s extreme conservatives onto the courts—even if that means trampling all over precedent, process, or any semblance of our institutional norms.”

“I fear the consequences of abandoning the blue slip process and instead, bending to the will of a president who has demonstrated time and time again his ignorance and disdain for the Constitution and the rule of law. At a time when we have a president whose policies keep testing the limits of the law—from a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., to a family separation policy at our southern border—it is more important than ever that we have well-qualified, consensus judges on the bench. And let’s be very clear—Trump cannot steam-roll the Senate by himself. But in the Republican leadership, he has found members willing to throw out every rule, tradition, and safeguard in the book to give him what he wants.”

“M. President, there are more than 400 federally-recognized tribes in the Western United States, including Alaska. Every single one could find themselves before the Ninth Circuit and before a judge who spent years fighting for an extreme position directly opposed to their own sovereignty—and whose advocacy repeatedly attempted to undermine the rights of tribal nations everywhere. Particularly at a time when the Supreme Court may demolish important protections for subsistence rights, a circuit nominee opposed to tribal sovereignty should not be confirmed.”

Watch video of Senator Murray’s floor speech HERE.

Full text of Senator Murray’s floor speech below (as prepared for delivery):

“Thank you.

“M. President, in the very near future my Senate colleagues will be asked to take an unprecedented vote—

“…a vote that never should have been scheduled in the first place.

“Republican leaders are demanding we move ahead and vote on President Trump’s nominee to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court despite the fact that I—and my colleague Senator Cantwell— have not returned our blue slips on behalf of our constituents in Washington state—

“…and despite the fact that the hearing for the nominee was a total sham.

“This is wrong.

“And it is a dangerous road for the Senate to go down.

“Not only did Republicans schedule the nominee’s confirmation hearing during a recess period when just two Senators, both Republicans, were able to attend—the hearing included less than five minutes of questioning.

“Less questioning for a lifetime appointment than most students face for a book report in school.

“M. President, confirming this Ninth Circuit Court nominee—without the consent or true input of both home state senators, and after a sham hearing—would be a dangerous first for this Senate.

“This is not a partisan issue—this is a question of the Senate’s ability and commitment to properly review nominees.

“Yet here we are, on the Senate floor, barreling toward a vote to confirm a flawed nominee—who came to us following a flawed nomination process, all because a handful of my Republican colleagues will apparently stop at nothing to jam President Trump’s extreme conservatives onto the courts—even if that means trampling all over precedent, process, or any semblance of our institutional norms. 

“Maybe Republican leaders are hoping that most Americans aren’t paying attention to what’s happening right now in the Senate—

“…that somehow tossing out Senate norms in order to move our country’s courts far right will go unnoticed.

“Well I am standing right here, right now, to make sure everyone knows!

“Because I, for one, fear the short- and long-term consequences of letting any president steam-roll the Senate on something as critical as our judicial nominees, the very men and women who are tasked with interpreting our nation’s laws and making sure they serve justice for all Americans.

“I fear the consequences of abandoning the blue slip process and instead, bending to the will of a president who has demonstrated time and time again his ignorance and disdain for the Constitution and the rule of law.

“At a time when we have a president whose policies keep testing the limits of the law—from a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., to a family separation policy at our southern border…

“…it is more important than ever that we have well-qualified, consensus judges on the bench.

“And let’s be very clear—Trump cannot steam-roll the Senate by himself.

“But in the Republican leadership, he has found members willing to throw out every rule, tradition, and safeguard in the book to give him what he wants.

“So M. President, this vote happening soon—and this new precedent of turning a blind eye to the blue slip—should stop every one of my colleagues, Republican or Democrat, in their tracks.

“Because today, the two home state senators still left holding their blue slips are myself and my colleague Senator Cantwell.

“But in the future, it could be any member of this body.

“And I’m doing this for a very good reason—reasons very much in line with why the blue slip process exists in the first place.

“I am doing this because I don’t believe that Mr. Miller has received the necessary scrutiny and vetting to serve on the bench—

“…and I believe that the people I represent would not want him there, plain and simple.

“I want to briefly go into one area that causes particular, and very serious, concern.

“And that is what I have heard from my constituents about— Mr. Miller’s misunderstanding of tribal sovereignty and his ability to be impartial and fair-minded when hearing cases involving tribal rights. 

“As one tribal leader from my home state put it, Mr. Miller has built a career out of mounting challenges against tribes—

“…including their sovereignty, their lands, their religious freedom, and even the core attributes of federal recognition.

“I want to be very clear, because I do not believe that it is wise for senators to support or oppose nominees only because of their past clients.

“Our legal system requires talented lawyers on both sides of every case, and sometimes lawyers represent clients who are politically unpopular.

“But making a career decision to be one of the top attorneys in case after case attacking tribal sovereignty—that’s more than a choice of client.

“That’s a choice about values, and it’s something my colleagues should consider.

“M. President, there are more than 400 federally-recognized tribes in the Western United States, including Alaska.

“Every single one could find themselves before the Ninth Circuit and before a judge who spent years fighting for an extreme position directly opposed to their own sovereignty—

“…and whose advocacy repeatedly attempted to undermine the rights of tribal nations everywhere.

“Particularly at a time when the Supreme Court may demolish important protections for subsistence rights, a circuit nominee opposed to tribal sovereignty should not be confirmed.

“This is a serious matter and worthy of true examination—and yet Mr. Miller’s nomination process was inadequate from the start.

“So today, it is Washington state families who are getting cut out from an important process.

“But tomorrow, it could be the concerns of any of your constituents and any of your home states that get tossed aside for a president’s crusade to reshape our courts and satisfy their political base—and Senate leaders unwilling to stand up for our norms, our precedents, and our constitutional duty.

“So I urge my colleagues to truly think about what moving ahead with this nomination means, and to ask themselves:

“Are we still able to work together in a bipartisan way, and find common ground for the good of the country and the people we serve?

“Can we still engage in a bipartisan process to find consensus candidates to serve on the courts?

“Or will our work in the United States Senate be reduced to partisan extremes and political gamesmanship, and will Republicans accept simply being a rubber stamp for their leader in the White House?

“And will my colleagues be complicit in allowing our courts to be taken over by ideology alone, abandoning pragmatism and a commitment to justice for all?

“That is a choice every senator will make with this vote—and I sincerely hope—a choice for which every senator will be held accountable.

“To vote yes will be a vote in favor of further eroding the Senate’s commitment to examining nominees for lifetime appointments and its ability to serve as a check on the executive.

“To vote yes is to toss away each senator’s ability to provide guidance on judicial nominees for the state and the families they represent.

“To vote no will be a vote to stand up for the Senate’s role in our democracy, and to stand up for a process that helps the Senate ensure qualified judges who play such a critically important role in our democracy.

“The choice could not be more clear. 

“Thank you, I yield the floor.”