U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the Senate’s latest action on judicial confirmations. With the confirmations of Justices Robert Luck and Barbara Lagoa, the Senate has now confirmed 48 appellate court judges during this administration – more appellate court judges than had been confirmed at this point in any of the previous five presidential administrations.
Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, yesterday we confirmed Robert Luck, a Florida Supreme Court justice, to be a U.S. circuit judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“With Justice Luck’s confirmation, the Senate has now confirmed 47 appellate court judges during this administration, and 163 Article III judges overall.
“That’s more appellate court judges than had been confirmed at this point in any of the previous five presidential administrations.
“And it’s a particularly outstanding number when you consider the fact that Democrats have made confirming these judges as difficult as they possibly can.
“From day one of this administration, Democrats were determined to obstruct anything this president did – and his nominations in particular.
“Again and again and again, they’ve attempted to block nominees for no other reason than the fact that they were nominated by this president.
“Democrats have subjected roughly 75 percent of the administration’s judicial nominees to the time-consuming cloture process.
“Compare that to the treatment of President Obama’s nominees.
“At this point in President Obama’s administration, roughly 3 percent of his judicial nominees had been subjected to cloture votes.
“Just 3 percent.
“And the difference in these numbers is not because this president has nominated scores of supposedly extreme nominees whom Democrats felt they couldn’t support.
“In fact, Democrats have repeatedly turned around and voted for the very same judges they’ve obstructed.
“In one particularly egregious example, in January of 2018 Democrats forced the Senate to spend more than a week considering four district court judges even though not one single Democrat voted against their confirmation.
“These judges could have been confirmed in a matter of minutes by voice vote.
“But Democrats forced the Senate to spend more than a week on their consideration – time that could have been spent on genuinely controversial nominees or on some of the many important issues facing our country.
“Mr. President, despite Democrats’ obstruction, we’ve continued to move forward, and as I said, yesterday we confirmed our 163rd judge to the federal bench.
“Today we will confirm our 164th.
“We’re putting judges on the bench with a real respect for the law and the Constitution and a commitment to applying the law as it is written.
“Now those sound like basic requirements for a judge, Mr. President.
“But too often, it seems like my Democrat colleagues are interested not in judges who will uphold the law but in judges who will act like super legislators, rewriting the law and the Constitution when they don’t fit with Democrats’ political opinions.
“And that’s a very dangerous thing.
“When judges rule based not on what the law actually says but on what they think the law should be, they undermine a fundamental principle of our system of government.
“Our system is based on a belief in the rule of law.
“In the American system, the law is supposed to be the final, impartial arbiter.
“Cases are to be decided based on what the law says, not on what a particular judge feels.
“Sure, it might seem nice when an activist judge goes outside the meaning of a law and rules for your preferred outcome.
“But what happens when that same judge reaches beyond the law to your detriment?
“What protection do you have if the law is no longer the highest authority?
“Equal treatment under the law, equal justice under law … these principles can only be maintained as long as judges actually rule based on the law, and not on their personal feelings or political opinions.
“Now, Mr. President, my Democrat colleagues have shown a disturbing tendency to believe that their opinions are the only ones that should prevail.
“They disapproved of the outcome of the last election, and so for three years they have done everything they can to undermine a duly elected president.
“They’re upset by the fact that the president got to replace a perceived swing vote on the Supreme Court, and the solution floated by more than one member of their party was to pack the Supreme Court.
“For anyone who needs a refresher on an idea that most thought had been consigned to the dust bin of history decades ago, the theory of court-packing is as follows – if the Supreme Court is not deciding cases to your liking, add more justices to the court until you start getting the decisions you want.
“Listen to Democrats question judicial nominees, and it soon becomes apparent that their biggest concern is not finding judges who will uphold the law and the Constitution but judges who will uphold Democrats’ political opinions and preferred policy outcomes.
“It’s a disturbing trend, Mr. President.
“It’s natural to want your party to prevail and to believe that your ideas are the best ones for the country.
“It’s another thing entirely to start acting like your opinions are the only ones that should ever prevail, regardless of election outcomes or the wishes of the American people.
“Mr. President, I’m proud that we’re putting judges on the bench who will rule according to the law and the Constitution … not their personal opinions, their political beliefs, or the political party of the individuals before their court.
“I’m proud that we’re putting judges on the bench who will help ensure that the rule of law is maintained and that everyone in their courtroom receives the equal protection of the law.
“And I look forward to confirming more excellent judges in the near future.”