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Murray Encourages American Public to Get Involved in Supreme Court Confirmation Process

Sep 12 2005

Washington state’s senior Senator urges Roberts to be forthcoming in process – for the good of the country

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on the floor of the U.S. Senate to discuss the importance of the Supreme Court confirmation process for Americans across the country. Murray highlighted the range of issues over which the Supreme Court has jurisdiction and the responsibility of Judge Roberts to be forthcoming about his views with the American public.



“This is a process that the American public deserves to be involved in. Judge Roberts is being considered for a lifetime appointment and the American people deserve to know where he stands on a number of issues that affect our nation’s future,” Senator Murray said.



“If we are going to fulfill our Constitutional duty to provide meaningful advice and consent on this nomination that consent must be informed and this process must be open – not only to the U.S. Senate, but to the American people.”



In late August, Murray joined six of her Democratic women colleagues to deliver more than 40,000 questions to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The questions were submitted by people from all regions and all walks of life through the “Ask Roberts” Web site, which Murray helped to launch to give Americans an opportunity to submit questions they would like to be asked of Judge John Roberts during his confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.



The project's website address is: http://democrats.senate.gov/askroberts or can be reached via https://www.murray.senate.gov or http://cantwell.senate.gov.



A full transcript of Senator Murray’s remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate follow:



“M. President, today, our country faces many challenges – we look at the suffering along the Gulf Coast, we face ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we face the solemn and significant task of not only filling two Court vacancies, but confirming a new Chief Justice.



“While the confirmation of a new Justice may not be the topic of dinner table conversations across the country tonight, the actions of the next Supreme Court Justice will impact the lives of every American family for generations to come.



“Last week, this Chamber mourned the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist who served on our nation's highest court for over three decades.



“The great range of issues on which the Supreme Court ruled during Justice Rehnquist's tenure –from Roe v. Wade, to capital punishment, to Miranda rights, to the conclusion of a presidential election shows the American public just how closely the Court touches our daily lives.



“My home state of Washington is 3,000 miles away from the nation’s capital, but the issues that the Supreme Court takes on, whether it be Title IX, Imminent Domain, or a woman’s right to choose – hits home for them as well.



“In 1991, as a state senator, former school board member, and mother, I watched the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.



“For days and days, I sat in frustration. I simply couldn't believe that this nominee was not asked about issues that I cared about. I didn't feel like the Senators in that room were representing me or asking the questions that I wanted answered.



“So I did something about it. I ran for the Senate. And now, thankfully, I can get my questions answered.



“But I remain concerned for women and men alike in my state and around the country. Certainly they have issues important to them that will come before the Supreme Court. Certainly they have questions they want answered. Not everyone will run for the Senate, but everyone should be able to have their voice heard.



“This is a process that the American public deserves to be involved in. Judge Roberts is being considered for a lifetime appointment and the American people deserve to know where he stands on a number of issues that affect our nation’s future.



“That desire – to give Americans around the country a voice in this process - is what has inspired me and my colleagues to set up a website – AskRoberts.com .



“Through our website, we have collected tens of thousands of questions over the past several months, that have been delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee in hopes that they will be asked of Judge Roberts during his confirmation hearings.



“This is not an inside the beltway debate. Judge Roberts has been nominated to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land and will influence our path on issues ranging the spectrum.



“Many Americans must be wondering what this all means to them and how it could affect them. Well, let me make it clear.



“This debate is about whether we want to protect essential rights and liberties, including the right to privacy.



“This debate is about whether we want free and open government.



“This debate is about whether we want a clean, healthy environment and the ability to enforce laws to protect it fairly.



“And this debate is about preserving equal protection under the law.



“Judge Roberts has an obligation – not to the United States Senate, but rather to the American people – to make his views on these basic values known. Only then can we make a reasoned judgment on his nomination.



“That is why I have also joined my colleagues in calling on the Attorney General to fulfill the request made by our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for documents related to 16 key cases on which Judge Roberts played a leadership role during his service as Solicitor General.



“Not only is there precedent for the disclosure of these documents – similar information was provided to the Senate when it considered the nominations of Justice Rehnquist, but there is also clear imperative.



“If we are going to fulfill our Constitutional duty to provide meaningful advice and consent on this nomination that consent must be informed and this process must be open – not only to the members of this body, but to the American people.



“With the questions and concerns of Americans from coast to coast in mind, I will work to ensure that the President's nominee to fill this position will be fair and impartial, even-handed in administering justice, and will protect the rights and liberties of all Americans.”