McConnell Remarks on Beginning of Supreme Court Hearings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Supreme Court:
“This week, the Senate will turn to a crucial constitutional duty: Deciding whether to provide or withhold consent to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.
“President Biden’s nominee for this incredibly consequential position is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson is currently a D.C. Circuit judge of less than a year. In nine months as an appellate judge, she has authored only two opinions, both after this Supreme Court vacancy opened up.
“So this time, unlike the Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett nominations, there is no meaningful sample size of appellate opinions for Senators to consult. We know a lot about the time Judge Jackson spent applying precedent as a trial judge on the District Court, but very little about her independent views of larger constitutional and legal questions.
“This makes the Judiciary Committee’s work this week all the more important. The country needs a respectful, dignified, but vigorous and exhaustive hearing.
“This is especially true in light of the curious disconnect between the thinness of Judge Jackson’s appellate record and the white-hot intensity with which our country’s farthest-left activists wanted her and nobody else for this vacancy.
“Fringe groups that attack the Court’s legitimacy and want partisan court-packing spent a great deal of time and money promoting Judge Jackson for this nomination. And once nominated, prominent soft-on-crime activists and open-borders pressure groups quickly rallied to her side.
“The Senate needs to understand why.
“I enjoyed meeting with Judge Jackson recently. She’s a likeable person, and more to the point, she’s obviously reached impressive heights in the legal profession.
“But I voted against confirming Judge Jackson to her current post last year, and our meeting the other week did not resolve my questions and concerns. So here is what I will be especially watching and listening for as our Committee colleagues question the nominee this week.
“First, at the most basic level, I want to hear whether Judge Jackson agrees that the job of a judge is to follow the law as it is written. This is a simple, straightforward proposition. But the same liberals who have spent decades imploring Justices to approach their jobs like activist super-legislators are now eager to see this nominee confirmed.
“Judge Jackson suggested to me in our meeting that she does not really view herself as having any judicial philosophy at all. But, meanwhile, in the press, boosters of her nomination say she does have a philosophy and assure us that it’s mainstream.
“So which is it? I hope the Committee can clear up any confusion.
“It’s also the case that President Biden has repeatedly declared that any judge he appoints will pass certain litmus tests. He said they would have, ‘an expansive view of the Constitution’ that includes the ‘penumbras’ and non-textually-based rights that activist judges favor. The President has even made explicit promises about specific cases. ‘They will in fact support Roe v. Wade.’
“We need to know whether Judge Jackson passed President Biden’s policy litmus tests explicitly or just implicitly.
“We also need to understand more about Judge Jackson’s so-called ‘empathy’ for particular parties in cases over others. This is not an accusation that Republicans invented; it is a trait that Judge Jackson’s supporters happily ascribe to her. One law professor has explained that Judge Jackson would, ‘bring a measure of empathy to the criminal defense cases, the Fourth and Fifth Amendment cases.’
“I guess a judge entering a case with special preexisting empathy would be a great deal for the party with whom she empathizes. But it would certainly be a raw deal for the opposite party. A judge’s job is to bring neutrality, not an agenda.
“And yet, even as America grapples with an historic crime wave, the President has chosen a nominee whose own supporters say her work as a criminal defense lawyer and on the U.S. Sentencing Commission will tilt her judgment in favor of convicts.
“Even as illegal border crossings are setting all-time records, political groups that support amnesty and functionally open borders are cheering that if confirmed, Judge Jackson will, ‘shape the realities of millions of people who have come into this country. These confident policy assertions are not selling points. They’re red flags.
“Madam President, the Supreme Court sits atop one of the three core pillars of American government. It is the ultimate backstop for the endurance of our Constitution and the rule of law. And we rightly entrust the justices who lead it with life tenure.
“So any nominee to this highest bench ought to welcome close scrutiny, tough questions, and a rigorous review of their record.
“The country deserves nothing less.
“And that is what Senate Republicans will provide this week.”