U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the upcoming Senate vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to occur later today. Thune also discussed COVID relief and urged his Democrat colleagues to work with Senate Republicans in good faith to deliver much-needed resources to the American people.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, later today we will confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
“By now, I don’t need to tell anybody that she is one of the most highly qualified Supreme Court candidates in living memory.
“Her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee was a master-class in what a Supreme Court justice should look like – which is probably why a majority of voters want the Senate to confirm this outstanding nominee to the nation’s highest court.
“Mr. President, a CNN anchor recently pointed out that, and I quote, “in another age … Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be getting 70 votes or more in the United States Senate … because of her qualifications.”
“That’s unquestionably true.
“But unfortunately it’s extremely unlikely that Judge Barrett will be collecting 70 or more votes later today.
“Because for my Democrat colleagues, this has never been about Judge Barrett’s qualifications.
“Democrats were never going to support this nomination, no matter how supremely qualified the individual in question.
“The president could have nominated the wisest, most outstanding jurist in the history of the world, and Democrats would still be opposing this nomination – in large part simply because it was made by this president.
“Democrats had their talking points ready from the beginning – the same talking points they trot out for every Republican Supreme Court nominee.
“The sky will fall if this nominee makes it onto the court, they cry.
“Minorities will suffer.
“Women will suffer.
“Americans will lose their health care.
“They’ve used that one a lot this time.
“Democrats would like to convince Americans that Republicans are trying to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court for the sole purpose of eliminating the Affordable Care Act and protections for preexisting conditions.
“It’s a ludicrous charge – every Republican in the Senate supports protections for preexisting conditions – but apparently that doesn’t matter to Democrats.
“The truth is, Mr. President, Republicans have no idea how Judge Barrett would rule on any particular Obamacare case.
“The facts of each case are unique, with unique legal and constitutional issues.
“What we do know is that Judge Barrett will approach each case without prejudices or preconceived notions.
“We know that she will examine the facts of the case, the law, and the Constitution, and make her decision based solely on those criteria.
“Not her political beliefs.
“Not her personal opinions.
“Just the law and the Constitution.
“No matter which party drafted any legislation in question.
“That should reassure Democrats.
“But it doesn’t.
“Because for many Democrats, their primary concern in confirming judges is not whether they will uphold the law, but whether they will deliver the policy outcomes Democrats want.
“That’s why some Democrats are threatening to resurrect the long-discredited idea of court-packing, should they return to the majority.
“They’re not sure that they can rely on a Supreme Court with Judge Barrett to deliver the policy outcomes they want.
“So they want to add justices to the Supreme Court until they can be sure that they’ll get the results they desire.
“One has to wonder where this will end.
“Let’s say Democrats add three more justices to the court.
“Then when Republicans take the majority back, we add three more justices, to counteract Democrats’ power grab.
“Then Democrats get back in power and add still more justices.
“It won’t be long before the members of the Supreme Court are more numerous than the members of the Senate.
“Mr. President, in addition to trying to scare Americans by suggesting that Republicans are trying to take away Americans’ health care, Democrats have also tried to delegitimize the process.
“They’ve tried to suggest that it’s wrong for Republicans to take up this nomination in an election year, because Republicans didn’t confirm Merrick Garland when President Obama nominated him in an election year.
“Mr. President, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because the Republican leader, myself, and others have spent ample time demonstrating that confirming Judge Barrett is well within historical precedent.
“But I will say this.
“The Constitution gives the Senate the power to advise and consent to nominations made by the president.
“The Senate has full authority to accept or reject the president’s nominations – at any point in time during a Congress or a president’s term.
“There is no constitutional carve-out for election years.
“The minority party may not always like it when the majority confirms a nominee – which I completely understand, having been in the minority myself.
“But that doesn’t mean that the majority party is doing anything wrong by proceeding with a nomination.
“I also have to ask: Are Democrats seriously suggesting that if they were in the same position – if they were in the majority in the Senate and the president were a Democrat – that they would decline to approve a qualified jurist to the Supreme Court simply because the vacancy had occurred in an election year?
“I think everyone knows that if Democrats were in the same position they would absolutely confirm a Democrat nominee to the court – as they repeatedly urged us to do in 2016 – and they would be well within their constitutional rights to do so.
“Just as Republicans are well within our constitutional rights to confirm Judge Barrett.
“Mr. President, before I close, I’d like to touch on another claim the Democrat leader keeps making – that Judge Barrett’s nomination is somehow distracting Republicans from the COVID crisis, or that her nomination is preventing us from taking up COVID legislation.
“That is flat-out false, Mr. President.
“The Senate is capable of focusing on more than one important issue at a time.
“In fact, it’s pretty much a requirement of our job that we be able to do so.
“Has the Democrat leader forgotten that Republicans tried to bring up additional COVID relief legislation just days ago … and that Democrats filibustered it?
“And that they did the same thing when we tried to bring up COVID relief legislation in September?
“Republicans have been ready to pass additional COVID legislation for months.
“The only reason we haven’t passed it already is because Democrats have refused to agree to any compromise legislation that could actually make it through the Senate and to the president’s desk.
“I’m hoping that sooner rather than later, my friends on the other side will see the value in working together to deliver real relief to our fellow Americans.
“This disease doesn’t recognize party differences, and I’m hopeful that my colleagues will realize that passing COVID relief shouldn’t be a time for insisting on partisan priorities.
“Mr. President, it’s unfortunate that Judge Barrett’s nomination has been overshadowed by so much partisanship from Democrats.
“But ultimately, Mr. President, what matters is that we are confirming this outstanding nominee.
“As I said yesterday, I came to the Senate with the hope of putting judges like Amy Coney Barrett on the bench – thoughtful, intelligent men and women with a consummate command of the law and, most of all, with a clear understanding that the job of a judge is to interpret the law, not make the law.
“To call balls and strikes, not rewrite the rules of the game.
“Mr. President, I am very proud to cast my vote to confirm Judge Barrett.
“And I look forward to calling her Justice Barrett in the very near future.”