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Charles S.
Democrat NY

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  • Reservation of Leader Time

    by Senator Charles E. Schumer

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    SCHUMER. Mr. President, I rise in full support of Caitlin Halligan and must strongly disagree with my friend from Kentucky, the Republican leader. The bottom line is very simple: She is a well- qualified nominee, and we know that.

    The Republican leader acts as if Ms. Halligan were acting on her own. Whether the Senator from Kentucky agrees or disagrees, the Republican leader cannot cite a single instance where Ms. Halligan was not acting as an attorney representing the views of someone else. The same was true with what John Roberts did, and the same was true for what Sam Alito did. When those issues were brought up, our colleagues on the other side justifiably said we cannot attribute those views to them when they are representing somebody as an attorney. We all know that the obligation of an attorney is to represent his or her client, whether we agree or disagree with those views.

    When one works as solicitor general, they represent the State of New York. The State of New York's views on guns were clear, and Ms. Halligan ably represented those views. But nothing she has said about guns that was cited by my good friend the Republican leader was her own view. Similarly on the terrorism cases, she was representing an office that was prosecuting, not her views, so the comparison to Miguel Estrada is like night and day. Miguel Estrada had his own very, very clear views on the law, and he stated them in speeches, in articles, and in other ways. That is not so with Ms. Halligan. In fact, I challenge the other side to give me one instance where they disagree with something Ms. Halligan stated as her own views as opposed to representing someone as a lawyer should.

    What is really going on here? What is going on is that our colleagues want to keep the second most important court in the land, the DC Circuit, vacant because right now there are four vacancies and the majority of those on the court have been appointees of Republican Presidents and, in fact, are very conservative. That is what is going on. Let's call it what it is. This has nothing to do with Ms. Halligan. This has to do with keeping a court they care about from having someone who doesn't have those same very conservative views. Ms. Halligan is a moderate, and that bothers people on the other side. It bothers the hard right who use the DC Circuit in their court cases to try to constrict government.

    I say this to my good colleagues: We have come to an agreement on district court judges and on other nominees. We have come to a general agreement that there ought to be more comity. The Republican leader, my friend from Tennessee, and so many others have said we should do that. The filibustering of Caitlin Halligan is not, I will admit, against the letter of our agreement because it simply applies to district court judges, but it sure is against the spirit.

    All those on our side who said we should change the rules because issues such as the filibuster of Ms. Halligan would occur are being vindicated even though my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would not want that type of option to be on the table.

    I say this to my colleagues because I believe and I think most of us believe that this is nothing about Ms. Halligan, but it is about keeping the DC Circuit vacant and not allowing our President to rightfully fill those vacancies. We are going to bring nominee after nominee after nominee up to fill that DC Circuit. Are they going to continue to filibuster every nominee and find some trivial excuse to filibuster him or her? Because that is what is going to happen.

    The obstructionist views that some on the other side have held and implemented--which served them so poorly in the election of 2012, in the polls, and in what the American people want, which is for us to come together--will be exposed.

    I would urge my colleagues to forgo this charade. Don't vote for Halligan if you don't like her, but don't filibuster her, because we are going to come back time after time after time with nominees to this circuit who are qualified, who are moderate, and who have fine personal ethics. Are they going to ObamaCare each one of them? Because that is the challenge they will face.

    I urge and plead with my colleagues, based on the new comity we are desperately seeking in this Chamber, to avoid this filibuster, allow Caitlin Halligan to have an up-or-down vote. She is extremely worthy of the position for which she was nominated. It is only ideology, only a view that this important circuit should not be filled with nominees whom our Democratic President nominates that is motivating, in my judgment, this action.

    I think my time has expired, and I note the absence of a quorum.

    The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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