FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 43
(Senate - March 17, 2016)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages S1559-S1560]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, on another matter, we all know that 
yesterday President Obama exercised his authority under the U.S. 
Constitution to suggest to the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court 
of the United States. During the announcement, President Obama spent 
time talking about the serious task of selecting a Supreme Court 
nominee, particularly one to succeed a legal lion such as Justice 
Scalia, whom the President appropriately called one of the most 
influential jurists of our time. His point was that the Supreme Court 
of the United States--the highest Court in the land--is an institution 
of unparalleled importance. What happens at the Supreme Court affects 
the lives of every American. So lifetime appointments to this most 
powerful Court in the land should not be taken lightly. As the 
President put it, our Supreme Court Justices have been given the role 
as the ``final arbiters of American law'' for more than 200 years. Of 
course, today they consider and answer some of the most pressing and 
challenging controversies and questions of our time. I agree with what 
the President said to that point.
  We all know the Supreme Court is critical to our form of self-
government and our democracy, and the role it serves is an essential 
one. When it plays a role our Founders did not intend, it really 
undermines respect for the rule of law and for the Court as an 
institution. So the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice should 
be handled thoroughly and thoughtfully.
  I understand the President is taking his authority seriously, but 
under the same Constitution--the same Constitution that gives the 
President the authority to nominate a person to fill this vacancy--that 
same Constitution has a separate responsibility for the U.S. Senate 
either to grant or to withhold consent to that nomination.
  With the passing of Justice Scalia, the Senate must exercise its 
constitutional authority as well. Regardless of how we come down on the 
controversy of the day with regard to when this vacancy should be 
filled, we all take this responsibility seriously, and because of that, 
I believe we should follow the examples set by the minority leader, 
Senator Reid; the senior Senator from New York, Mr. Schumer; and Vice 
President Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee--their admonitions made over the years when they were in the 
majority--and not move forward with the President's nominee at this 
time.
  I think it is only a matter of fundamental fairness to apply the same 
rules to the same situation no matter who is in the majority and who is 
in the minority. When they were in the majority, they argued that these 
vacancies should not be filled the last year of the President's term of 
office. Joe Biden did that in 1992 during the Presidency of George 
Herbert Walker Bush. Senator Reid made that same argument when George 
W. Bush was President of the United States. And in 2007, 18 months 
before George W. Bush left office, Senator Schumer, the heir apparent 
to the Democratic leader, said there should be a presumption against 
confirmation. So it is only fair to play by the same set of rules which 
they themselves advocated.
  Based on the conduct, based on the behavior of our Democratic 
colleagues when they were in the majority--well, first when they were 
in the minority, when they filibustered judges for the first time, and 
later when they were in the majority, before they saw the majority flip 
to Republicans, the Democratic leader packed the DC Circuit Court of 
Appeals by invoking the so-called nuclear option, breaking the Senate 
rules in a raw display of political power in order to pack a court that 
many people call the second most important court in the land. So this 
lifetime appointment to the Court is a critical check on the executive 
branch--a check this administration has proved over and over again we 
need desperately.
  As others and I pointed out long before the President announced this 
nominee, this nomination will change the ideological balance of the 
Supreme Court for a generation. Justice Scalia served for 30 years. 
Because of that, because of all of this, I believe the American people 
should have their voices heard in the selection of the next Supreme 
Court nominee. We have already undertaken the process here of the 
Democrats choosing their nominee for President, and Republicans are 
doing the same. There is simply too much at stake to leave this 
decision in the hands of a President who is headed out the door--a 
decision that will have dramatic consequences on the balance of the 
Court and the direction of the country for a generation to come.
  I believe we should listen to the voices of the American people and 
allow them to cast their vote and to raise their voice and determine 
who will make that selection.
  I know there have been some members of the press who have asked: 
Well, if not now, how about in a lameduck session of the Congress; that 
is, after the election and before the new President is confirmed?

[[Page S1560]]

  I think that is a terrible idea. If you believe in the principle that 
the American peoples' voice ought to be heard, it makes no sense to 
have an election and then to do it and not honor their selection.
  So I know some have expressed some concern about that. I, for one, 
believe we ought to be consistent. That consistent position and the 
consistent principle are that the American people deserve to be heard 
and their voice heeded on who makes that selection to something as 
important as filling this vacancy on the Supreme Court.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________