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In a speech on the Senate floor, Senator Murray called on Senate Republicans to stop rubberstamping President Trump’s biased, unqualified federal court nominees

Senator Murray: “Let me be clear about these nominations: nothing less is at stake than the integrity of our judicial system and the future of our democracy” 

Senator Murray also called on her colleagues to reject the nominations of Lee Rudofsky, Sarah Pitlyk, and Steven Menashi, nominees who have consistent records of opposing women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights 

ICYMI: Senator Patty Murray Questions Judicial Nominee Steven Menashi on Record of Helping DeVos Undermine Protections for Student Borrowers – MORE HERE

New York Times: Appeals Court Nominee Shaped DeVos’s Illegal Loan Forgiveness Effort – MORE HERE

***VIDEO OF SENATOR MURRAY’S SPEECH AVAILABLE HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, called for an end to President Trump’s steady stream of ideologically extreme, hard-right judicial nominees, and called on her Republican colleagues in the Senate to stop approving his unqualified selections for lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary. Over the past three years, Senate Republicans have broken precedent and democratic norms to jam an unprecedented number of President Trump’s extreme judicial nominees on to the federal bench.

In her floor remarks, Senator Murray called for an end to Senate Republicans’ rubberstamping of unqualified nominees that will have lasting and devastating effects on our democracy, starting with the nominations of Lee Rudofsky, Sarah Pitlyk, and Steven Menashi. Specifically, Senator Murray laid out how Rudofsky has a history of fighting against LGBTQIA+ equality, working to deny women access to reproductive health care, and striving to “overturn” Roe v. Wade, while Pitlyk has called birth control “evil” and a “grave moral wrong,” and been deemed “Not Qualified” by the non-partisan American Bar Association. Senator Murray also strongly criticized Menashi’s nomination, citing his deeply disturbing history of remarks against women, communities of color, immigrants and the LGBTQIA+ community, and condemning his efforts while working for Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education to deny students debt relief, a plan he orchestrated that violates privacy laws and was deemed illegal. Senator Murray wrote a letter to Menashi asking for clarification on his role in this illegal plan last month.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Led by the Majority Leader, Senate Republicans have ignored the standards we have held for decades when considering judicial nominations and opened the door to people who lack even the most basic qualifications to sit on the federal bench.”

“Mr. Rudofsky has a long history in Arkansas of working to deny women access to reproductive health care. He defended Arkansas’ law that would ban abortion at 12 weeks as a “ideal vehicle” for the Supreme Court to “reevaluate” and “overturn” Roe v. Wade. On top of that, Mr. Rudofsky has also previously argued in favor of efforts to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. Does that sound like a judge who is going to protect the rights of women and others, and who will put aside his own partisan notions to ensure equal protection under our laws for everyone?”

“Ms. Pitlyk has worked throughout her career to limit access to a wide array of reproductive health care services and not just abortions: she has expressed opposition to surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and even the use of contraception. To be more explicit—she called birth control “evil” and a “grave moral wrong.” Birth control. […] we cannot have judges on the bench who are so ideologically driven as to think women are morally wrong for using it.”

“People deserve to trust that the women and men who serve as our federal judges will ensure equal protection for all and apply the law fairly and without bias. So I ask again: considering Mr. Menashi’s troubling record of undermining critical rights, and questions surrounding his involvement in Secretary DeVos’ shameful efforts to ignore the law, does he sound like someone who deserves a lifetime appointment to our federal bench? Someone who will uphold our rule of law?”

“I know my Republican colleagues know what a farce this process has become, and how supremely unqualified these nominees are. And I know they are aware of the irreparable harm people like these will have on the credibility of our judicial system. That’s why we must stop this parade of unqualified, ideologically rigid nominees to our federal judiciary.”

Watch Senator Murray’s speech HERE:

Read the full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you, M. President.

“M. President, I’m here to once again shine a spotlight on Senate Republicans’ unwavering support for President Trump’s efforts to remake the federal judiciary, and to make clear how this will hurt families, women, and communities in Washington state and across our nation.

“Now, I’ve come here before to call out Senate Republicans for rubberstamping this President’s judicial nominees, many who have no business sitting on the federal bench, and for gutting precedent and norms to allow this President to jam pack our courts with his hard-right, ideological picks—from Neil Gorsuch, to Brett Kavanaugh, down the line.

“In fact, earlier this week the Majority Leader pointed out how Senate Republicans have cleared the way on the floor for the Senate to take up even more Trump judges by poisoning the appropriations process and generally turning the Senate into a legislative graveyard.

“Led by the Majority Leader, Senate Republicans have ignored the standards we have held for decades when considering judicial nominees, and opened the door to people who lack even the most basic qualifications to sit on the federal bench.

“For starters, today the Senate is slated to take up the nomination of Lee Rudofsky for Arkansas’ Eastern District.

“Now, Mr. Rudofsky has a long history in Arkansas of working to deny women access to reproductive health care.

“He defended Arkansas’ law that would ban abortion at 12 weeks as a “ideal vehicle” for the Supreme Court to “reevaluate” and “overturn” Roe v. Wade.

“On top of that, Mr. Rudofsky has also previously argued in favor of efforts to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

“He defended a state law that could have resulted in the closure of every reproductive healthcare clinic that provides abortions in the state, and has worked against hard-fought progress for equality for LGBTQIA+ people. 

“Now does that sound like a judge who is going to protect the rights of women and others, and who will put aside his own partisan notions to ensure equal protection under our laws for everyone?

“It does not.

“Or take Sarah Pitlyk, who President Trump has nominated to a district court in Missouri.

“Missouri is reeling from this Administration’s repeated attacks on women’s health care and reproductive health, where there is currently only one clinic in the entire state that can perform abortions.

“Ms. Pitlyk has worked throughout her career to limit access to a wide array of reproductive health care services and not just abortions: she has expressed opposition to surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and even the use of contraception.

“To be more explicit—she called birth control “evil” and a “grave moral wrong.”

“Birth control.

“M. President, it is the 21st century, and no matter what the extreme, anti-abortion men in the White House may want us to believe birth control is health care—full stop.

“And we cannot have judges on the bench who are so ideologically driven as to think women are morally wrong for using it.

“But even beyond her rigid ideology, Ms. Pitlyk is also woefully unfit on the merits to become a federal judge.

“In fact, the American Bar Association unanimously determined that Ms. Pitlyk is “Not Qualified,” writing that Ms. Pitlyk “has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel,” and “has never examined a witness.”

“Does that sound like someone who will uphold the rule of law justly and apply the laws of our land fairly?

“Someone rated as objectively unqualified and who has demonstrated no commitment to protecting individuals’ fundamental rights?

“M. President, again unfortunately, the answer is no.

“And then there’s Steven Menashi, who President Trump has nominated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We know Mr. Menashi has a deeply disturbing history of disparaging comments against women, communities of color, against immigrants, and the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“And as if his extreme views aren’t bad enough—we know that in his role in the Office of General Counsel at the Department of Education, Mr. Menashi also worked on Secretary DeVos’ cruel rollback of Title IX protections for survivors of sexual assault and protections for all students regardless of sex.

“Under his tenure, Secretary DeVos has moved us towards a dangerous system of unaccountability and secrecy, where LGBTQIA+ students could be subjected to cruel discrimination at school.  

“Additionally, I’m incredibly concerned about Mr. Menashi’s confirmed role in being one of the architects of Secretary DeVos’s efforts to violate the law by undermining protections for student borrowers who were cheated by predatory for-profit colleges.

“Students whose rights are at this moment being undercut by people in our federal government like Mr. Menashi, who should be doing just the opposite.

“People deserve to trust that the women and men who serve as our federal judges will ensure equal protection for all and apply the law fairly and without bias.

“So I ask again: considering Mr. Menashi’s troubling record of undermining critical rights, and questions surrounding his involvement in Secretary DeVos’ shameful efforts to ignore the law, does he sound like someone who deserves a lifetime appointment to our federal bench?

“Someone who will uphold our rule of law?

“Confirming judges to our federal courts is one of our most important duties as senators—it’s one I take very seriously.

“I am deeply disturbed by the harm these individuals, if confirmed, may inflict upon women, on families, and some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“So let me be clear about these nominations: nothing less is at stake than the integrity of our judicial system and the future of our democracy.

“We have to maintain the high bar we set for our federal judges, and these judges are just three examples of how far we’ve fallen…

“It’s not too late, I know my Republican colleagues know what a farce this process has become, and how supremely unqualified these nominees are.

“And I know they are aware of the irreparable harm people like these will have on the credibility of our judicial system.

“That’s why we must stop this parade of unqualified, ideologically rigid nominees to our federal judiciary, because when it comes to our courts, nothing is more important than ensuring we are sustaining a system that people can trust.

“One that upholds our laws, one that seeks justice without bias, favor, or agenda.

“So I urge my colleagues to join me in rejecting Mr. Rudofsky’s nomination, as well as the nominations of Ms. Pitlyk and Mr. Menashi, and any nominee offered by President Trump who does not meet our high standards, and returning to a thoughtful, rigorous, bipartisan process of selecting only the most qualified judges to a lifetime appointment in our federal courts.

“Thank you, M. President.” 

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