01.31.17

Senator Lankford: The American people have spoken on the future of the Supreme Court

Lankford Challenges Senate Democrats to Give Trump The Same Courtesy as Previous Presidents

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) tonight issued the following statement on President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Oklahoma.

“Many Americans went to the polls last November to not only vote for the President, but to make their voice heard on the direction of the highest court in the land. The American people have spoken on the future of the Supreme Court. We now have a nominee in Judge Gorsuch who has an impressive record of interpreting the law without trying to legislate from the bench. Judge Gorsuch was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to the 10th Circuit. Based on his past legal opinions, Judge Gorsuch understands that the Supreme Court must act within its constitutional role as a third and independent branch of the federal government. I am particularly impressed by Gorsuch’s legal opinions on federal regulations and the 1984 Chevron deference case, which wrongly tilted regulatory interpretation towards executive agencies and paved the way for the growth in consolidated power of the executive branch.

“The 2016 election was loud and contentious, but our path forward as a country has been settled. Americans chose President Trump and they also chose his nominees for his cabinet and the Supreme Court. It's time to move beyond the obstruction, stall tactics, and delays so that the government of the people and by the people can operate for the people. Republicans and Democrats worked together to confirm most of President Obama’s cabinet nominees in the first week of his presidency–for Trump, only three cabinet members have been confirmed to date. The entire Senate should lead America towards civility and unity—we can start by giving this president the same courtesy that previous presidents have received on his cabinet and his Supreme Court nominee.”

When President Obama was elected, Republicans and Democrats worked together to carefully and expeditiously consider his cabinet nominees, confirming seven on Inauguration Day and nearly all of them within two weeks. Only two of President Trump’s nominees were confirmed on Inauguration Day, and only three total have been confirmed, to date.

President Obama's and Bush's Supreme Court nominees were confirmed on a bipartisan basis in non-election years. Republicans worked with Democrats to confirm Obama nominees Sonia Sotomayor by a vote of 68-31 and Elena Kagan by a vote of 63-37. Democrats worked with Republicans to confirm Bush nominees John Roberts by a vote of 78-22 and Samuel Alito by a vote of 58-42.

In a 2009 floor speech, senior Senate Judiciary Committee member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “There are only 101 Americans who get a direct say in who is going to be on the Supreme Court. First and foremost, the President of the United States, when he makes the nomination to the Supreme Court, and then the 100 Senators who either vote yes or vote no…. It should unite the American people and unite the 100 of us in the Senate who will act on their behalf.''

In March of 2016, Senate Republicans continued Senate precedence by delaying confirmation of a Justice until after an election year, therefore giving the American people a say in Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement at the ballot box. This decision, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, continued a long Senate tradition to not confirm justices in election years. This tradition has been honored by former Vice President Joe Biden, former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and current Senator Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) under previous presidents. 

On March 9, Lankford delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate about the Supreme Court vacancy. Lankford also launched a ‘Supreme Court: Fact v. Fiction’ social media campaign to correct some of the misinformation currently being communicated about the Scalia Court vacancy.  

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