Oct 05 2018
Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court:
“This has been my ninth Supreme Court nomination hearing, and I must say I’ve never experienced anything like this.
Never before have we had a Supreme Court nominee where over 90 percent of his record has been hidden from the public and the Senate.
Never before have we had a nominee display such flagrant partisanship and open hostility at a hearing. And never before have we had a nominee facing allegations of sexual assault.
The nominee before us, is being considered for a pivotal swing seat. If confirmed, [he] would be the deciding vote on some of the most important and divisive issues of our day. I’d like to start by speaking about some of the issues in relationship to Judge Kavanaugh.
President Trump promised to only nominate individuals to the Supreme Court who would be “pro-life” and “pro-gun”, nominees who would automatically overturn Roe v. Wade. In my judgement, Judge Kavanaugh clearly meets the test.
In a speech in 2017, Judge Kavanaugh focused on praising Justice Rehnquist and his dissent in Roe v. Wade where he challenged the right to women’s privacy as protected in the Constitution.
Also last year, Judge Kavanaugh argued in a dissent in a Texas case that a Jane Doe should not be able to exercise her right to choose because she did not have family and friends help her make the decision.
If adopted, this argument could rewrite Supreme Court precedent, and require courts to determine whether a young woman had a sufficient support network when making her decision, even in cases, as is in this one, where she has gone before a court.
His reasoning demonstrates that Judge Kavanaugh not only is willing to disregard precedent, but his opinions fail to appreciate the challenging realities women face when making these most difficult decisions.
When I asked him about whether Roe and Casey were settled law and whether they were correctly decided, he refused to answer. He would only say these cases are “entitled to respect”.
Roe v. Wade, as we all know, is one case in a series of cases that upheld an individual’s right to decide who to marry, where to send your children to school, what kind of medical care you can receive at the end of life, as well as whether and when to have a family. The government cannot interfere with these decisions, according to these cases.
Another issue that gives me great pause is Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme view on guns. In reviewing his record and judicial opinions, it’s clear his views go well beyond simply being “pro-gun.”
During a lecture at Notre Dame Law School, Judge Kavanaugh himself said he’d be “the first to acknowledge that most other lower-court judges have disagreed” with his views on the Second Amendment.
Specifically, in District of Columbia v. Heller, Judge Kavanaugh wrote in a dissenting opinion that unless guns were regulated, either at the time the Constitution was written or traditionally throughout history, they cannot be regulated now.
In his own words, gun laws are unconstitutional unless they are “traditional or common in the United States.”
Judge Kavanaugh would have struck down D.C.’s assault weapons ban because they have not historically been banned. This logic means that as weapons become more advanced and more dangerous, they cannot be regulated at all.
When I asked Judge Kavanaugh about his views that if a gun is in “common use” it cannot be regulated, he replied, “There are millions and millions and millions of semi-automatic rifles that are possessed. So that seemed to fit common use and not being a dangerous and unusual weapon.” Think about that.
Judge Kavanaugh made up a new standard that had nothing to do with “common use” but instead relied on whether a gun is widely possessed and owned as determinative as to whether it is subject to any regulation.
The United States makes up 4 percent of the worldwide population – but we own 42 percent of the world’s guns. By Judge Kavanaugh’s standard, no state or locality will be able to place any limitation on guns because of widespread ownership in this country.
I am also concerned about Judge Kavanaugh’s views on presidential power. Specifically, Judge Kavanaugh has said that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, cannot be prosecuted, should not be investigated and should have the authority to fire a special counsel at will.
In other words, the president of the United States is above and outside the law. These views raise serious questions that should concern us all – especially at a time when the President continually threatens to fire the leadership at the Department of Justice for failing to be loyal and reigning in the Mueller investigation.
These views alone are sufficient for me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh. But what we have seen and experienced in the past several weeks have raised serious new concerns—concerns that I believe should worry all of us. Judges are expected to be “evenhanded, unbiased, impartial, [and] courteous.”
However, at the hearing last week, we saw a man filled with anger and aggression. Judge Kavanaugh raised his voice and interrupted senators. He accused Democrats of “lying in wait” and replacing “advice and consent with search and destroy.”
He even went so far as to say that Dr. Ford’s allegations were nothing more than “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election…” and “Revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” How could he?
This behavior revealed a hostility and belligerence that was unbecoming of someone seeking to be elevated to the United States Supreme Court.
His display was so shocking, that more than 2,400 law professors from around the country expressed their opposition. They wrote: “Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.”
The Professors concluded, “We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh. But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.”
Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to enter a full copy of the letter into the record. Thank you.
Finally, I want to mention the serious and credible allegations raised by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the two women who came forward to tell their experiences facing sexual assault.
When Dr. Ford decided to make her story public, she faced all her worst fears. She was harassed. She received death threats. She had to relocate her home, her husband and her two children.
And yet, in less than a week, she came before the Senate and told 21 Senators she had never met, along with millions of Americans, about the most traumatic and difficult experience of her life. She did so with poise, grace and bravery.
Unfortunately, she was met with partisanship and hostility. My Republican colleagues have chosen to ignore her powerful testimony. Senators weren’t allowed to hear from any witnesses who could corroborate or refute her account. They refused to gather evidence or do an impartial investigation into her allegations.
Deborah Ramirez also reluctantly came forward to tell her story. Like Dr. Ford, Ms. Ramirez offered to speak to the FBI. Both Ford and Ramirez also submitted evidence to support their allegations, including naming over two dozen witnesses each.
Unfortunately, the limited investigation that was conducted by the FBI failed to interview any one of the individuals these two women identified who could support her accounts. Let me say that again: They refused to investigate—to talk with—any of the 24 witnesses that could have supported their accounts.
Madam President, I think it is important to remember why we are here today. We’re here to determine whether Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated the impartiality, the temperament, the even-handedness that’s needed to serve on this great high court in our land.
If confirmed, he will join eight other individuals who are charged with deciding how the laws of our land are interpreted and applied. He would be a deciding vote on the most important issues affecting our country, and every American for generations to come.
Madam President, based on all the factors we have before us, I do not believe Judge Kavanaugh has earned this seat.”