Lindsey Graham’s opening statement in Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing
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xdavid

October 12, 2020

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On 10/12/2020, in Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Lindsey Graham said “We can talk about history, but here’s the history as I understand it. There’s never been a situation where you had a president of one party and the senate of another, where the nominee, the replacement, was made in election year. It’s been over 140 years ago. I think there have been 19 vacancies filled in an election year, 17 of the 19 were confirmed to the court when the party of the president and the senate were the same. In terms of timing, the hearing is starting 16 days after nomination. More than half of all Supreme Court hearings have been held within 16 days of the announcement of the nominee.”

“There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that’s occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman, and we’re going to fill that vacancy with another great woman. The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally,” he said. “This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no, and that will be the way the breakout of the vote.”
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Full Transcript
Graham: “Why are we here?” Number one, justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September the eighth 18th.

Graham: What can you say about Justice Ginsburg? She was confirmed 96 to three. Now, those were days that have since passed. I regret that. 96 to three. Now, this was a person who worked for the ACLU, someone who was known in progressive circles as an icon. Apparently, just about every Republican voted for her. Her good friend on the court, Justice Scalia, I think got 97 votes. I don’t know what happened between then and now, I guess there’s, we can all take some blame, but I just want to remind everybody, there was a time in this country where someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen by almost everybody as qualified for the position of being on the Supreme Court, understanding that she would have a different philosophy than many of the Republicans who voted for her. 27 years on the court before becoming a member of the court, she was an active litigator pushing for more equal justice and better rights for women throughout the country.

Her close friend until his death, Justice Scalia called her, “The leading and very successful litigator on behalf of women’s rights, the Thurgood Marshall of that cause.” What high praise. I can’t say any more than that statement says. In my view, the person appearing before this committee, is in a category of excellence, something the country should be proud of, and she will have a chance to make her get her case to be a worthy successor and to become the ninth member of the Supreme Court of the United States. On September the 26th, Judge Amy Barrett was nominated by president Trump to the Supreme Court. Who is she?

She is a judge sitting on the Seventh Judicial Circuit. She’s highly respected. She was a professor at Notre Dame. Three years during that tenure, she was chosen by the students to being the best professor, which I’m sure is no easy task at any college. She’s widely admired for her integrity. She grew up in New Orleans, graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in 1994, graduated Summa Cum Laude and first in her class from Notre Dame Law School in 1997.

Academically, she’s very gifted. She clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. And then, for Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. She practiced law in Washington, DC. She joined the faculty at Notre Dame in 2002. She’s published numerous articles in prestigious journals, including the Columbia, University of Virginia and Cornell Law Review. She’s been a Circuit Court Judge at the Seventh Circuit since 2017. She was confirmed to that position with a bipartisan vote. She has heard hundreds of cases in that capacity.

She said, “I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine. A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.” She will give her statement. But I think that is a good summary of who she is. That’s who Amy Barrett is in terms of the law. In terms, Amy Barrett, the individual, she and her husband have seven children. Two adopted. Nine seems to be a good number. The process. This is an election year. We’re a confirming the judge in an election year, after the voting has occurred. What will happen is that my Democratic colleagues will say, “This has never been done.” And they’re right in this regard, nobody’s I think has ever been confirmed in an election year past July.

The bottom line is, Justice Ginsburg, when asked about this several years ago, said that, “A president serves four years, not three.” There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that’s occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman. And we’re going to fill that vacancy with another great woman. The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally.

As to Judge Garland, the opening that occurred with the passing of Justice Scalia was in the early part of an election year. The primary process had just started. And we can talk about history, but here’s the history as I understand it, there’s never been a situation where you had a president of one party, and the Senate of another where the nominee, the replacement, was made in an election year, it’s been over 140 years ago.

I think there’ve been 19 vacancies filled in an election year, 17 of the 19 were confirmed to the court when the party of the president and the Senate were the same. In terms of timing, the hearing is starting 16 days after a nomination, more than half of all Supreme Court hearings have been held within 16 days of the announcement of the nominee. Steven’s, 10, Rehnquist, 13, Powell, 13, Blackmun, 15, Burger, 13.

All I can say is that I feel that we’re doing this constitutionally. There, our Democratic friends object to the process. I respect them all. They’ll have a chance to have their say, but most importantly, I hope we will know more about how the law works, checks and balances, what the Supreme Court is all about, when this hearing is over. Why hold this hearing? A lot of people on our side say just ram it through. I hear that a lot. That’s why I don’t listen to the radio much anymore.

The bottom line is, I think it’s important. This is a lifetime appointment. I would like the world and the country to know more about Judge Barrett. I’m proud of you and we’re proud of what you’ve accomplished. I think you’re a great choice by the president. This is probably not about persuading each other, unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote, yes. And all Democrats will vote, no. And that will be the way the breakout of the vote.

… And that will be the way the breakout of the vote. But the hearing is a chance for Democrats to dig deep into her philosophy, appropriately ask her about the law, how she would be different… What’s on her mind. It gives Republicans a chance to do the same thing.

Most importantly, it gives you a chance, the American people, to find out about Judge Barrett. Judge for yourself, is this person qualified? Is she is qualified as Sotomayor and Kagan? I think so. These were two nominees presented to the committee by President Obama. They had a different legal philosophy than my own, but I never doubted one moment that they were not qualified. I thought Gorsich and Kavanaugh were qualified. The Senate, in the past, has looked at qualifications more than anything else. We’ve taken a different path at times; Bork, Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh.

I hope we don’t take that path with Judge Barrett. She doesn’t deserve that. I don’t think it makes this hearing any better and the American people, I believe, would not deserve a repeat of those episodes in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s history.

To my democratic colleagues, I respect y’all. We’ve done some things together and we’ve had some fights in this committee. I’ve tried to give you the time you need to make your case, and you have every right in the world to make your case. I think I know how the vote’s going to come out, but I think Judge Barrett is required for the good of the nation to submit to your questions and ours. This is going to be a long, contentious week. I would just ask one thing of the committee. To the extent possible, let’s make it respectful. Let’s make it challenging. Let’s remember the world is watching. Senator Feinstein.
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