WASHINGTON, D.C. [07/09/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) took to the Supreme Court steps shortly after President Donald Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to fill the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Sen. Smith joined fellow Senate colleagues, advocacy organizations, and groups to call for a Justice who will protect the rights of all Americans.
“This is a pivotal moment for our country–the person who fills this seat long held by Justice Kennedy will shape the course of American democracy for decades,” said Sen. Smith. “I had hoped that the President would appoint a consensus Justice, a person ready to protect the rights of all Americans over special interests and groups driven by political ideology.”
You can read a full copy of Sen. Smith’s remarks as prepared for delivery below:
This is a pivotal moment for our country—the person who fills this seat long held by Justice Kennedy will shape the course of American democracy for decades. I had hoped that the President would appoint a consensus Justice, a person ready to protect the rights of all Americans over special interests and groups driven by political ideology.
But make no mistake—Judge Kavanaugh will not be that Justice.
How do we know this?
First, because President Trump has been clear about his test for judicial nominations from the beginning; at campaign rallies, over and over again, he has promised to nominate judges who would, as he said, quote, “automatically,” unquote, overturn Roe v. Wade. He’s been very clear.
And the second reason is that Judge Kavanaugh was picked from a list drawn up by two far-right special interest groups, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
I am here tonight because I’m a United States Senator. But I’m also the only senator who has ever worked at Planned Parenthood. And I know that when women do not have the freedom to make their own choices about their reproductive health care, they have lost the freedom to direct their own lives. Their personal lives, their family, their economic security.
I trust women to make these decisions for themselves and their families. And I’m here to tell you that American women do not need the government looking over their shoulder in the examination room, telling them what they can and cannot do.
I believe that choosing a Supreme Court Justice is one of the most weighty responsibilities of the Presidency—it’s not a job you outsource to the far-right ideologues at the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. But that is what President Trump has done with this nomination.
I also believe that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should hold himself and his party to the same standard he set in 2016, when he refused to hold a hearing or a vote on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, during an election year, saying that, quote, “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”
I agree—the American people deserve a chance to weigh in on this critically important decision, because the decisions of the Supreme Court affect us all:
The Supreme Court makes decisions that affect every part of life in America.
• who you can marry,
• what your doctor can say to you in the examination room,
• Your rights to vote, and your rights at work.
It’s clear that President Trump, the Heritage Foundation, and the Federalist Society believe they can count on Judge Kavanaugh to cast that decisive fifth vote to overturn Roe, dismantle basic consumer protections in our healthcare laws, and gut regulations that protect workers and the environment.
So this is a pivotal moment in our democracy. And while it’s true that we have an uphill climb, we should remember our strength.
I want you to remember something. A year ago this month, the Senate voted down Trump’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
We won by a single vote. Republicans had campaigned on repealing the ACA for nearly a decade. And just like now, they had control of the House, the Senate, and the White House.
They were so sure they had that in the bag that they sent Mike Pence to the capitol to cast the tiebreaking vote. He ended up having nothing to do. That’s because people like you here tonight—people like you across the country—made their voices heard, and we won.
So don’t let anyone tell you for a single second that this is over.
It’s going to be tough. The odds are against us. But remember how you felt that night last July.
You voices are strong. But only if you use them. Be strong.