Not what the Founders had in mind
Today I spoke out against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court, outlined the issues at stake, and urged my colleagues to oppose his nomination. I hope you can take a moment to watch and share my speech on the Senate Floor.
VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich delivers remarks on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on the Senate floor, August 22, 2018.
Three years ago, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans completely dismantled the rules that made "advice and consent" real in the United States Senate. They rigged the system to make it possible for the most extreme nominees--like President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court Judge Kavanaugh--to make it to the bench.
The United States Senate was intended by the Founders to be the methodical answer to the fiery passions of the day, not an amplifier of them. And I fear a broken system will create potentially disastrous consequences for the health of our democracy. It has already resulted in a crisis of confidence where the public no longer views our Supreme Court as independent. And frankly, the public is correct. Not just because of the precedent it set and hostility that is created, but also because of the nominee before us.
Because President Trump knew going in that he would not need a single Democratic vote, he went straight to a pre-determined list of names given to him by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. That meant the President only considered nominees that fulfilled all of the ultra-conservative special interest litmus tests. This ensures each of the judges he considered opposed women's health care, environmental protections, and workers' rights.
Given all of President Trump's ongoing legal troubles with his unbalanced and impulsive style of governing, there are many plausible--and even likely--questions about the scope of the executive branch's authority that could come before the Supreme Court. While we don't know enough about how Judge Kavanaugh might rule on these questions, what we do know is deeply concerning. His writings and record suggest a view of an executive branch untethered from the checks and balances that form the very norms of our political system.
Senate Republicans have also so far obstructed requests to review all of the records that would show what role Judge Kavanaugh played as a high ranking official in the George W. Bush White House in determining the legality of President Bush's policies such as warrantless mass surveillance and the CIA's use of illegal torture techniques. We should never proceed on a confirmation vote for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court until we have done our due diligence in reviewing every relevant document on a nominee's record.
I refuse to legitimize this broken system. Until we restore a fair, bipartisan confirmation process, I will fight alongside the American people who are demanding that we do the jobs they elected us to do with the seriousness required to get this right.
United States Senator