Senate Democrats

Reid: Will Republicans Who Vowed ‘Never’ To Deny A Judicial Nominee An Up-Or-Down Vote Deny Judicial Nominee An Up-Or-Down Vote?

Washington, D.C.–Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor prior to a vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Two days ago I came to the floor to talk about the nomination of Goodwin Liu – an extremely well-qualified, fair-minded and widely respected legal scholar.  The President has nominated him to serve his country on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“All week, this body has heard speeches about Mr. Liu’s merits, so I will repeat them only briefly.  He was a Rhodes Scholar and clerked on the Supreme Court.  He served as an associate dean at the California Berkley School of Law, and is still a professor there.  He has done a lot of pro bono work, and even helped launch AmeriCorps.  On top of all that, he’s lived the American Dream: he is the highly successful son of immigrants.

“His integrity has been praised by Democrats, and praised by Republicans – not just one or two, but by many.  Former Congressman Bob Barr commended Liu’s commitment to the Constitution.  One of President Bush’s former lawyers said Liu falls well within the mainstream.  Even Ken Starr – the Whitewater special prosecutor – endorsed this man who served in the Clinton Administration.

“The record is clear.  Any claim that Goodwin Liu is anything but deserving of our confirmation are simply inaccurate.  But I recognize that every Senator has the right to vote how he or she chooses.

“It is worth noting, however, that the vote before us now is not a vote to confirm him – it is a vote on whether he deserves an up-or-down vote.  And there is no question that he does.

“A simple up-or-down vote is hardly a controversial request.  This is not only my view, or the view of my fellow Democrats.  It is the view of my Republican friends, as well.

“In a 2004 law review article, one of our Republican colleagues – the junior Senator from Texas, a longtime justice on the Texas Supreme Court – wrote the following:

“‘Wasteful and unnecessary delay in the process of selecting judges hurts our justice system and harms all Americans.  It is intolerable no matter who occupies the White House and no matter which party is the majority party in the Senate. … Filibusters are by far the most virulent form of delay imaginable.’

“The junior Senator from Texas is in the chamber today.  We will see if he still feels this way, or, if he will – in his own words – hurt our justice system and harm all Americans with intolerable, virulent delays.  We will carefully be watching how he votes.

“We will also carefully be watching another Republican Senator – the senior Senator from Tennessee – who said this in 2005:

“‘I pledged, then and there, I would never filibuster any President’s judicial nominee, period.  I might vote against them, but I will always see they came to a vote.’

“The senior Senator from Tennessee is here today, too.  ‘Never’ is as unambiguous as it gets.  We will be watching to see if he upholds his public pledge.

“A third Republican Senator – the junior Senator from Georgia – said this, also in 2005:

“‘I will vote to support a vote, up or down, on every nominee.  Understanding that, were I in the minority party and the issues reversed, I would take exactly the same position because this document, our Constitution, does not equivocate.’

“The junior Senator from Georgia will be voting this afternoon.  Now, as he predicted, he is in the minority party, and the issue is reversed.  We will see if, as he promised, he will take the same position, or if he will equivocate.

“And here’s a fourth.  Four years ago, another Republican Senator – the senior Senator from Utah and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – said this, on this very floor:

“‘We may not use our role of advise and consent to undermine the President’s authority to appoint judges. … It is wrong to use the filibuster to defeat judicial nominees who have majority support, who would be confirmed if only we could vote up or down.  That is why I have never voted against cloture on a judicial nomination.’

“Yet another pledge never to vote against cloture on a judicial nomination.  That is precisely the vote before us now.  We will be watching to see if the senior Senator from Utah follows his own counsel, or if he, in his own judgment, undermines the authority of the President of the United States.

“These pledges were made publicly and plainly.  In a court of law, they would be considered pretty clear evidence.  It doesn’t take the great legal mind of a Goodwin Liu to recognize that.

“We’ve heard the promises.  Now we’ll hear the votes.  I ask for the yeas and nays.”