[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 123 (Monday, July 23, 2018)]
[Pages H6639-H6646]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Foxx). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Evans) 
is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. EVANS. Madam Speaker, it is with great honor that I rise today to 
anchor this CBC Special Order hour. I would like to thank the CBC 
chair, Chairman Richmond, for his leadership in this effort.
  For the next 60 minutes, we have an opportunity to speak directly to 
the American people about issues of great importance to the 
Congressional Black Caucus and many of the constituents we represent.

                             General Leave

  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous material on the subject of my Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Ferguson). Is there objection to the 
request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I am going to do something highly unusual 
today, because my colleague who is here from the District of Columbia 
knows an awful lot about this subject. I have watched her; I have 
observed her. She has taught a few classes and a few people on this 
subject matter, and she is an expert.
  So I think the best way to start off is with a person who was a 
former law professor who teaches, who really understands what our 
Supreme Court means as the third element, with the legislative and the 
chief executive. I have heard her in Congressional Black Caucus 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from the District of 
Columbia, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the kind words of my 
friend from Pennsylvania, and I certainly appreciate his leadership of 
this Special Order this evening. It is a subject of immense importance 
to the American people, none more so, Mr. Speaker, than people of color 
in the United States of America.
  So I would like to begin this Special Order by speaking about 
President Trump's district and circuit court nominees and then about 
his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who serves on the Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia. That is the circuit of my own 
home district, the District of Columbia.
  Mr. Speaker, long before I came to the House, I had the distinct 
honor of arguing and winning a case before the United States Supreme 
Court. That case was a free speech case where I represented plaintiffs 
with whom I profoundly disagreed. As we look at the President's 
nominees, especially to the Supreme Court, one wonders today how these 
nominees would rule.
  Let's look first at President Trump's nominees so far to the circuit 
courts and the district court. This is an amazing, unprecedented figure 
for the 21st century. His nominees are 90.1 percent white, 2.3 percent 
African American.
  Now, one way to look at this is to look at another Republican 
President. So I said to my staff: Find the racial makeup of President 
Bush's nominees.
  Remember, African Americans don't expect a Republican President to 
offer anything like the number of nominees of, for example, President 
Barack Obama, not because he was African American, but because he was, 
after all, a Democrat. That is not the standard to which I am holding 
this President. The standard I am holding this President to is, by 
comparison, to Republican Presidents.

[[Page H6640]]

  The lion's share of President Bush's appointees was also White. I had 
no complaint then. I don't recall the Congressional Black Caucus taking 
to the floor and saying: How come the lion's share of President Bush's 
nominees was White, more than 85 percent?
  That reflected his party and his supporters.
  But 8.5 percent of President Bush's nominees were African American, 
compared to 2.3 percent of Trump's nominees. So that means that 
President Bush--and I am looking at the comparable period; I am not 
looking at his overall two terms in office; I am looking at up until 
now--he had appointed three times as many African Americans to the 
bench. Far more Whites, and I have no complaint about that.
  But the Supreme Court and the Federal courts have meant everything to 
African Americans. I do not need to point out that the political 
bodies, the House and the Senate, took many years to recognize equal 
protection for African Americans. It didn't happen, indeed, until the 
courts made it happen in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, showing, 
I think, that the courts are of immense importance to a group that is 
not the majority and must depend upon the fairness of the majority and 
even more so on the courts, which are supposed to play no favorites 
whatsoever, only to equal justice under the law.
  The President and the Republican Senate have made the Federal courts 
a top priority. I believe they have appointed as many as 40 nominees, 
if I am not mistaken. In fact, the Supreme Court means so much to them, 
even though they already have a majority on the Supreme Court with 
their most recent nominee, it means so much to them that our Republican 
friends in the Senate are wiping out their entire August recess to stay 
here to try to get Brett Kavanaugh nominated, and there is a fierce 
fight underway.
  I am speaking about not only Brett Kavanaugh, the judge who sits on 
the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, but I want to give you some sense of 
judges who sit on other circuits in other district courts, to make it 
clear why the Congressional Black Caucus is so alarmed at what is 
happening with federal court nominees.

                              {time}  2000

  Some Federal court nominees proposed by this President have had to be 
rejected because they were unacceptable on any court, beyond any sense 
of conservatism.
  Most recently--I believe it was just last week--Ryan Bounds was to 
serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A Republican Senate forced 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to withdraw his name because two 
Republican Senators, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and Senator 
Marco Rubio of Florida, had indicated that they could not vote for Ryan 
Bounds because of remarks he had made on multiculturalism and racial 
issues. You don't want anybody on the bench who has already shown 
racial animus.
  Since the Senate is so closely divided--51 Republicans to 49 
Democrats--they were forced to withdraw Ryan Bounds' nomination.
  I point that out to let you know that it is not a done deal that 
Brett Kavanaugh will go on the Supreme Court. That close number is 
going to hold up, we think, not only for Democrats, but when Senate 
hearings are over, we believe it will be very difficult even for some 
of our Republican friends to vote for Judge Kavanaugh.
  Remember, the Senate represents a rather broad swath of people, so 
they will have to watch out for their own elections as well.
  Let me give another example of how extreme President Trump's nominees 
to the Federal courts can be. Three more have had to be withdrawn 
related to race. Again, I am going to give you examples, and you will 
say nobody would ever have nominated such people to any court in the 
United States.
  Last year, the White House was forced to withdraw a district court 
nominee, Brett Talley. What forced his withdrawal were reports that he 
had defended the first Ku Klux Klan in an online post--that is, the 
first, I suppose, emergence of the Ku Klux Klan--as recently as in a 
2011 posting.
  Jeff Mateer had his nomination withdrawn over reports that 
transgender children were--and I am quoting him now--part of ``Satan's 
  Now, look, if I were to call out these remarks, you might think that 
nobody thought of for the Federal bench would be who I was talking 
about, but that is exactly who we were talking about. That is why the 
Congressional Black Caucus cannot possibly support Judge Kavanaugh.
  We understand that whatever nominee comes forward is going to be a 
conservative nominee. We are not asking for the nominee we would 
appoint. We are simply not asking for and will do all we can to oppose 
nominees who are beyond the American pale. I am speaking for the 
Congressional Black Caucus, which represents 17 million African 
  It is interesting to note that we have, in looking at Judge 
Kavanaugh, and here I am going on to the Supreme Court, in looking at 
his decisions, we have grown truly concerned about his lack of respect 
for precedent. I say that even though, increasingly, these precedents 
run against us. But when they have run for us, they have been on 
matters of equal protection under the law. And Judge Kavanaugh has 
shown an uncommon disrespect for precedent.
  I invite my Republican friends, who also respect precedent because 
many of those precedents will reinforce their own views, to be leery of 
any judge who disregards precedent. His views on civil rights and equal 
protection have been out of the mainstream, but there haven't been a 
lot of them, so I have had to look closely to see what his views 
actually are.
  I must say that, even his conservative colleagues and, I must 
emphasize, on the D.C. Circuit, which is now a conservative circuit 
with more Republican judges than Democratic judges, have often had to 
disagree with their colleague Judge Kavanaugh. He has achieved a higher 
number of dissents than any member of the D.C. Circuit Court annually.
  How could that happen? This is a conservative court. Who is he 
dissenting from? He is dissenting from not only the Democratic 
appointees but from his own colleagues appointed by Republicans.
  Now, of course, the notion of equal protection has disproportionately 
protected minorities and women, so we are very mindful of such 
decisions, even when they don't directly entail people of color whom we 
directly represent.
  For example, we are concerned that no Americans be arrested without 
probable cause, and if you are a minority in any country, the 
probability of arrest will be greater than if you are among the 
  We are concerned about the Affordable Care Act, again because of the 
disproportionate number of African Americans who are affected.
  I am going to cite some decisions that show that Judge Kavanaugh 
cannot be trusted to uphold what even his conservative colleagues have 
said on such issues as these.
  Let us look at arrests without probable cause. I bring that up 
because of the churning of relevent issues in our country. A week does 
not go by that there hasn't been a shooting of an African American by a 
police officer. This issue is among the very top in the African 
American community, the concern about overzealous police officers.
  Kavanaugh has both spoken out and written, over and over again, in 
such a way to indicate that he would weaken probable cause standards 
that have stood for the ages--that is how long they have been there--
making them, as he has written, more flexible.
  As you consider this possible change as one about which African 
Americans are concerned, I hope you understand that most of the people 
who need probable cause in this country are White.
  So decisions making it easier to do searches without a warrant or 
``individualized suspicion''--I am quoting him--are decisions he 
believes need to be looked at more closely, even though the existing 
precedents has been clear, and they have not been challenged in other 
  Perhaps the rule that most Americans understand best is the so-called 
Miranda rule. That is a rule that says you don't have to incriminate 
yourself. Judge Kavanaugh appears to want to narrow that rule. I didn't 
think I would ever see the day when, after decades--must be 50 years--
of Miranda juris prudence, there would be any judge sitting on any 
bench who would want to narrow the self-incrimination rule.
  Of special interest to African Americans are Judge Kavanaugh's 

[[Page H6641]]

views on Roe v. Wade, or the right of a woman to choice. We don't know 
precisely where he stands on choice, but there is a very troubling 
precedent from this circuit involving an undocumented woman who had 
been found to be entitled to an abortion.
  Now, that hadn't happened here. The case was in the D.C. Circuit, but 
the ruling was from a Texas court, perhaps the most conservative on 
matters of abortion, which made this woman go through many steps before 
deciding that she, indeed, qualified under Roe v. Wade for an abortion.
  Judge Kavanaugh tried to do something that is unfathomable. The time 
was running. The House wants abortions done within 20 weeks. Roe v. 
Wade allows more time. The time was running, but Judge Kavanaugh ruled 
that she should have to get a sponsor before she could, in fact, 
enforce her constitutional rights to choice. His own court overruled 
Judge Kavanaugh.
  I bring that up in no small part because African American women, for 
example, use abortion at a rate that is beyond the average American 
woman, so this issue matters to the Congressional Black Caucus.
  On the Affordable Care Act, we have perhaps the most astonishing of 
Judge Kavanaugh's decisions. He hasn't said the ACA is 
unconstitutional. That is pretty hard to say at the circuit court 
level. But he has said something that has never been said before in 
American juris prudence: that a President may decline to enforce a law 
even after the Supreme Court has said that the law or statute is 
  Understand what this means. The Affordable Care Act has been found to 
be constitutional. Yes, there are still attempts in this House to 
overturn it, but it stands. It is so popular that, while Brett 
Kavanaugh is being discussed in the Senate during the month of August, 
Senate Democrats are going to be talking about the Affordable Care Act 
because it has become one of the most popular laws in the United States 
today, even though the Republicans have done all they could to cripple 
  Judge Kavanaugh has said that the President may decline to enforce a 
law like the Affordable Care Act even after it is found to be 
constitutional. What happens to the rule of law if that becomes the 
standing law of the United States?
  This is not just a wrong view but a dangerous view. It would allow 
Presidents to pick and choose which laws to enforce, notwithstanding 
the courts, that a President could stand as the sole decider of what 
laws to enforce, notwithstanding the jurisdiction of the United States 
Supreme Court.

                              {time}  2015

  Mr. Speaker, Brett Kavanaugh isn't fit to go to the Supreme Court of 
the United States based on the record he has shown. Yet Judge Kavanaugh 
seems to have gone out of his way to try to write his way onto the 
Supreme Court.
  Why would he write so often in dissent? Why would he so often in 
write the law, views that are uncommon among Republicans?
  I think he was trying to draw the attention of President Trump. And 
one of the reasons I think so is the last issue I will discuss, and 
that is this nominee's view, Judge Kavanaugh's view, of the independent 
counsel. You really had to dig this one up.
  As recently as 2017, he dug back into a decision of long ago. This is 
a 1988 decision, Morrison v. Olson. He said he had not agreed with the 
author of the decision. It was Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the 
Republican Chief Justice. But he went out of his way to wonder about 
Judge Rehnquist's holding in that case, Morrison v. Olson, that the 
independent counsel was constitutional.
  Why has Judge Kavanaugh gone out of his way to talk about the 
independent counsel when, in fact, there was no such case before him?
  I think he was sending a signal to this President: Don't worry about 
the independent counsel as far as I am concerned. I quarrel with 
whether or not the independent counsel law is constitutional.
  If there wasn't an independent counsel law, really, what would be the 
deterrent to a lawless President?
  The deterrent, of course, would have to be impeachment. Impeachment 
is understood to be a political but difficult process. That is why it 
is very hard to get.
  So right now, we have matters before the independent counsel that, 
indeed, are ordinary criminal and civil matters. The notion that 
somebody sitting on any Federal court of the United States believes 
that the independent counsel statute is unconstitutional or could be--
he hasn't said that it is unconstitutional. He has come so close to it 
that it is noteworthy, for anyone judging whether he should go on the 
Supreme Court of the United States.
  Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated such a departure from established 
American law that one wonders why he wants to be on the Supreme Court 
of the United States. He has made a lifetime record of numerous 
dissents, I think, in order to show that he means to bring an even 
sharper departure from precedent than we have seen.
  One of the most important and most conservative ways in which the 
courts operate is by precedent. So it is very hard to overturn 
precedent. But a determined member of the Court can chip away at 
precedent, and, we are sure, can chip away at the rights of the 
minority who is disproportionately dependent on a fair Supreme Court.
  So I say to my good friend from Pennsylvania that we have our work 
cut out for us. But the President's district and circuit nominees have 
not all been upheld, and that should encourage us to know that, while 
we are not in the Senate, we do have two members of the Congressional 
Black Caucus who are in the Senate, and we must all be doing all we can 
here in the House to help them make the American people understand what 
is at stake and to make sure that the Court of Appeals for the District 
of Columbia Judge Brett Kavanaugh, does not become a member of the 
Supreme Court of the United States.
  I thank my good friend for his leadership this evening.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would ask my good colleague from the 
District one or two questions, if I could.
  I listened very intently. One of my favorite decisions that came down 
was May 17, 1954, Brown v. Board of Education.
  Mr. Speaker, the President asked Black Americans, after he came to 
the city of Philadelphia, he said: What do we have to lose? I think, 
``what the hell do we have to lose?''
  So I ask the gentlewoman that question in the context of Brown v. 
Board of Education, and that is over 64 years ago now. And for where we 
are, I just heard her very succinctly say about his ability to chip 
away and not, you know, be able to fully overturn.
  So I would ask her to talk a little bit about how would she see 
anything relating to Brown v. Board of Education and his ability in any 
of his writings relating to that particular decision that came down.
  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, my good friend who raises the question about 
Brown v. Board of Education may seem to be raising the question about 
such settled law, both with the American people and the courts, that it 
couldn't possibly come up.
  If I may first respond to the gentleman by saying that one of 
President Trump's nominees was asked where she stood on Brown v. Board 
of Education, and she declined to give an answer. More than 50 years 
after the Supreme Court, for the first time, recognized that African 
Americans must be treated the same as everyone else in the United 
States, we now have a nominee who questions even that precedent.
  You may not be able to overturn it, but consider the notion of 
chipping away any part of it, remembering what it meant is spread now 
not across schools, but across the juris prudence of equality.
  I appreciate the question. I say to my good friend from Pennsylvania, 
I appreciate the question so that Americans will understand that our 
opposition to Judge Kavanaugh is not far-fetched, that we are talking 
about a Supreme Court nominee, who leads us to believe that the most 
settled of decisions could be rocked by this nominee to the Supreme 
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would ask one other question.
  The gentlewoman also laid out the percentages of numbers. Does the 
gentlewoman think there is some sort of philosophical packing taking 
place here when she describes the 8 percent versus the 2 percent. But 
just the 8 percent, is there some type of strategy

[[Page H6642]]

going on here relating to packing the Court, the Highest Court in the 
land, at least in some way influencing for years, 25, 50 years down the 
line? Is there something going on here that the public should know and 
be aware of?
  The gentlewoman has obviously studied the court system, the judicial 
system herself over many, many years. Has the gentlewoman ever seen--
and I heard her make the comparison of President Bush, and I understood 
the comparison she made.
  It seems like there is something else going on here besides just 
putting individuals on the Court, but there is something like some type 
of philosophical strategy going on here.
  Am I missing some point in what the gentlewoman just laid out to us?
  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, that is a most interesting question. And as 
the gentleman indicated, I pointed out that I didn't expect a 
Republican President to come anywhere near Democratic Presidents in 
proposing nominees. However, I don't expect complete disdain for the 
importance of the courts to African Americans. I would not expect the 
lowest number of African Americans appointed to the courts of the 
United States in memory, certainly not since the 20th century in Brown 
v. Board of Education.
  There had been some sense among Republican Presidents that one way to 
indicate that a Republican President believed in equal justice was to 
propose some African Americans on the court. Now, when you get to 90 
percent--more than 90 percent nominees White, you are sending a very 
strong message on equal protection to African Americans.
  This President has been accused of racism because of some of the 
things he has said. For example, Charlottesville, when he seemed to be 
for those killing people and not against them. I am not sure what his 
personal views are, but I am sure that when he shows disdain for equal 
protection and has given us no evidence that he understands equal 
protection, that we have every reason to wonder what it is that he 
intends to do to show people of every background that he is for equal 
  It does seem to me that the President needs to make some gesture to 
indicate that he believes that all people are created equal. The best 
gesture would be to bite into this 90 percent--this 2 percent figure, a 
little over 2 percent figure of African Americans appointed to the 
bench, raise that number, as the Congressional Black Caucus calls on 
him to do this evening.
  He may have, for example, been reacting to those staff who have been 
giving him judges to appoint, but I say to you, I say to my good friend 
from Pennsylvania, that there are many Senators who, I am sure, have 
suggested some qualified African American nominees or could do so.
  I would urge the President to wipe away this notion that he thinks 
the United States of America should have as close to an all White 
judiciary as he can get by talking to, listening to some Senators who I 
am almost certain will have already put forward some African Americans, 
or surely will be doing so in the future
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, the one last question I would ask the 
gentlewoman: The Congressional Black Caucus gave a document, as a 
matter of fact, to the President that said we have a lot to lose.
  In asking that question--and the gentlewoman has again done an 
excellent job in laying out historical perspective for where we are--
obviously, as African Americans, it seems like, to me, there has to be 
a huge fear factor because, if the only check and balance, obviously, 
is the Congressional Black Caucus being the conscience of the Congress, 
and the United States Senate, you know, is that check and balance, what 
would you say to African Americans, Latinos, others relating to where 
we are, because this is a very crucial time.
  What would the gentlewoman say when he says, ``What the hell do you 
have to lose?'' and we say, ``We have a lot to lose''? What would you 
say? What would you say to the people?
  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, the most important thing I would say to the 
people is look at that 49-51 figure of how close the Senate is, and 
within a couple of months, there will be an election. We could turn a 
lot of this around.
  If, as the polls tend to show, Democrats capture the House, and they 
are increasingly showing that they will keep the Senate, it seems to me 
all the American people can do now is take it to the ultimate remedy, 
and that is to change the Congress. And that way, it seems to me, would 
slow these nominees or get nominees where there will be some 
consultation with Democrats, as there has been in the past, often, in 
the Senate because you want to get your nominee through.
  So I don't think, by any means, that there is anything to fear 
because there is an election coming and I believe that what this 
nominee for the Supreme Court and others for the district courts--and 
here we have African Americans mindful of the district courts and the 
courts of appeals throughout the United States. Surely all of that is, 
forgive the word, ammunition to go to the polls to make sure we halt 
this stripping of equal protection from the Federal courts of the 
United States.

                              {time}  2030

  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the great District 
of Columbia, where we need to make sure that she has a right to vote in 
this body is also something that needs to take place in terms of the 
District of Columbia and representation, and I thank her for that 
knowledge and information that she has provided to us.
  I have someone else, Mr. Speaker, who I have grown deeply in 
understanding her thoughts and her comments. I had the chance of 
visiting the Seventh Congressional District in the great State of 
Alabama. She is moving and making a lot of things happen there in 
Alabama. She definitely said: ``I have to speak on this.'' I heard her 
give some comments before on this, and she has some real thoughts about 
what is taking place in the courts.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Alabama (Ms. Sewell).
  Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I commend the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania for his leadership on tonight's topic. I also associate 
myself with his comments, as well as the comments of Delegate Eleanor 
Holmes Norton. Congresswoman Norton has been a steward on the issue of 
judicial appointments in the United States Congress for many decades, 
and it is an honor to follow her tonight in her leadership against the 
Trump administration's attempt to stack the courts with extreme 
rightwing political allies.
  Just as President Trump has attacked our Nation's free press, just as 
he has attacked our intelligence agency, this President is now 
targeting our Nation's third branch of government, our treasured court 
system. We cannot let President Trump destroy yet another institution 
of American democracy.
  The importance of a fair and nonpartisan court system cannot be 
overestimated. It is our Supreme Court, overall, that decided Brown v. 
Board of Education, the case that ended segregation in America's 
schools. It was our courts which struck down voter suppression laws, 
like poll taxes that freed and allowed lots and lots of African 
Americans in my home State of Alabama to vote. It was the Supreme Court 
that protected the work of the free press and our Nation's newspapers 
when President Nixon attempted to silence them. And it was our Supreme 
Court which struck down discriminatory State laws prohibiting 
interracial and gay marriage.
  Those court decisions were the product of judges and justices in our 
judicial system, who put our Constitution and the law first, 
irrespective of the pressure they faced from politicians and from 
  Mr. Speaker, the opposite can be true as well. When our courts are 
stacked with political allies, who put politics first and justice last, 
our Nation suffers. We need think of no other than the infamous Supreme 
Court decision which paved the way for Japanese American internment 
camps as an example. It is a reminder of all that can go wrong when our 
courts are stacked with political allies.
  Today, our court system continues to decide questions that will have 
consequences for generations to come. When it comes to gerrymandering 
and discriminatory voter ID laws, our courts are still considering 
cases that will impact our right to vote.
  As this administration continues its assault on our free press, we 
should have no doubt that the courts will be

[[Page H6643]]

faced with First Amendment questions in the years to come.
  That is why President Trump's attempt to stack the court is so 
concerning. Last year, this administration appointed nine appellate 
judges, more than any President since President Nixon during their 
first term in office. And where do those open appellate seats come 
from? These are judgeships which Republicans systematically held open 
during President Barack Obama's final 2 years. I can speak with 
authority on that fact because, in the State of Alabama, we had not 
one, not two, but three open Federal judgeships that were held open for 
2-plus years, and one 11th Circuit appellate judgeship that was held 
open for 2 years.
  Yes, the people of Alabama were not well served by the fact that my 
Republican colleagues withheld appointing any person to that, in hopes 
that they would win the Presidential election in 2016. Now it was a 
good bet for them, but it was a bad bet for the American people and for 
the people of Alabama. For you see, the judges that were sitting, took 
on an inordinate amount of caseload that was unacceptable.
  I know that for one, in the Middle District of Alabama, there was a 
senior judge by the name of Myron Thompson, who had 120 percent 
caseload. Yes, that is right. As a senior judge, he not only had a 
caseload that surpassed his caseload when he was an active judge, but, 
as a senior judge, took on an extraordinary number of cases. Why? 
Because in the Middle District of Alabama, there was only one judge 
sitting, as well as one senior judge, Judge Thompson.
  This is unacceptable. This is an unacceptable play towards politics 
that, in the end, disserved the people of Alabama and disserved the 
American public.
  The same was true on the Supreme Court level. Yes, Judge Merrick 
Garland was supremely qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and was 
President Obama's choice to sit on the Supreme Court. But a year prior 
to the 2016 election, the GOP decided that it was not the time for a 
judge to be appointed when a Federal election was going to take place 
within a year.
  Now, one can say the same thing about the fact that we have a midterm 
election that is coming up in 2018. But, oh, no, we don't get the same 
courtesy. This is politics before people, it is unacceptable, and we 
should not take it sitting down. That is why I am very happy that the 
Congressional Black Caucus tonight, under the leadership of the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania, is talking about stacking of the Supreme 
Court and its importance to all Americans.
  I can speak firsthand how important the court system was to the civil 
rights and voting rights movement of America. As a daughter of Selma, 
Alabama, and as the first Black congresswoman from the State of 
Alabama, I can tell you, unequivocally, that it was because of 
th protections of the equal protection amendment, it was because of the 
Constitution and those brave judges, judges like Frank Johnson of the 
Middle District of Alabama, who stood against pressure to do what was 
right for all Americans, interpreting the Constitution as it was meant 
to be: that all men and women are created equal, and that the equal 
protection of the law extends to all Americans, irrespective of race 
and gender.

  So I think it is really important that we remember from whence we all 
come. This is a proud tradition that is important that we uphold.
  What is even more concerning is the temperament displayed by the 
court picks under this administration and their lack of qualification 
for the job. Last year, President Trump nominated four judicial 
nominees who didn't pass the American Bar Association's standard for 
being rated qualified by the ABA. Now, that is a simple standard.
  The ABA standard of requiring that one be qualified is simple: a 
nominee must show integrity, professional competence, and judicial 
temperament. During his 8 years in office, President Obama never--I 
repeat--never selected a judicial nominee who received an unqualified 
rating from the ABA. Yet, this President nominated four unqualified 
judicial candidates in a single year, which is the worst record in 
American history.
  One was to a Federal bench in Alabama. The nominee was Brett Talley, 
who withdrew his name in 2017 for his lack of judicial experience. He 
had never tried a case, and yet this person was nominated by this 
administration to a life appointment on the bench in the Middle 
District of Alabama. Unacceptable. Thank God, calmer and cooler heads 
prevailed and he withdrew his name. But the reality is, having 
unqualified candidates should not go under this administration. We 
should stand up and speak out against it.
  That is why I am glad to join with my colleagues from the 
Congressional Black Caucus as we talk about what is at stake. A heck of 
a lot is at stake. We have a lot to lose under this administration, and 
it starts with the Federal courts.
  The reason President Trump has elected so many unqualified judges to 
fill our courts is that they are political allies of the extreme right. 
Every single one of President Trump's judicial nominees are allies of 
the rightwing, attacking women's rights, attacking human rights, 
attacking healthcare and workers' rights, and, of course, attacking 
voting rights.
  President Trump's recent nominee of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme 
Court is no different. A review of Judge Kavanaugh's record shows that 
he will drive the Supreme Court further to the right, threatening and 
further attacking healthcare, our right to vote, affirmative action, 
and all of the important progress that we have made as a Nation when it 
comes to civil rights and civil liberties.
  It was Judge Kavanaugh who upheld a discriminatory voter ID law as a 
judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Faced with a South Carolina voter 
ID law, which the Obama administration reported would disenfranchise 
tens of thousands of minority voters, Judge Kavanaugh ruled that the 
measure was not discriminatory.
  The Obama administration said this same voter ID law violated the 
Voting Rights Act of 1965, a similar piece of legislation, and Judge 
Kavanaugh approved it. That is bad news for voting rights. And where I 
come from, representing Alabama's Seventh Congressional District, the 
voting rights, and the civil rights district of America, that is bad 
news for Americans. We should stand up for the equal rights of all 
Americans to vote. There should be no modern-day barriers to voting. 
And to have a Supreme Court nominee who has so blatantly gone against 
that is unacceptable.
  Mr. Speaker, on voting rights and so many other issues, from 
healthcare to police brutality, the American people cannot trust 
Trump's judicial nominees to put the law before politics. We must call 
on the Senate to stop President Trump's attempt to stack the courts. 
Nothing less than the third branch of government, our democracy, is at 
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for allowing me 
to speak on this issue, and I ask that all Americans oppose this 
nominee to the Supreme Court.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from the 
great State of Alabama a question.
  This President talked about cleaning up the swamp. She may recall he 
talked about that issue. From listening to her just now, it appears 
that we know how it was taking place with his Cabinet, but we are 
talking about something very sacred, and that is the courts. Can she 
talk a little bit about, does she see cleaning up the swamp taking 
place here relating to the courts? Because as I listened to her, it 
sounds like the courts are not being cleaned up.
  Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Pennsylvania 
is exactly right. The swamp only needs to be cleaned up when the swamp 
doesn't agree with this President.
  We have seen, in the nomination of Brett Talley to Alabama's Middle 
District, that he did not report that his wife worked for the White 
House counsel. Now, this, to me, is an important disclosure. You can't 
be more on the inside, in the swamp, drowning in the swamp, than to 
have a relationship like your wife working for the White House.
  I think it is really hypocritical that this White House would talk 
about draining the swamp, and yet choose judicial nominees that are 
clearly in line with far rightwing views and are clearly a part of the 
problem, not a part of the solution.

[[Page H6644]]

  I think that we, the American people, need to really speak out when 
it comes to the Supreme Court nominee, and, actually, all Federal 
  I had the great honor of clerking for the first African American 
judge in the State of Alabama, Judge U.W. Clemon. It was a great honor 
of my life as a young lawyer to sit at his feet and to learn. And I 
have to tell you that it is disheartening to me to see people who are 
woefully unqualified getting the opportunity to be nominated to a 
Federal bench. These are life appointments, life appointments that 
allow people to sit in those seats for decades to come and, therefore, 
decide decisions decades to come.

                              {time}  2045

  I know that when you talk to our Senators, they will, if they are 
truthful, tell you that some of the most pressing legacy issues for 
them are the nominations to the Supreme Court and the nominations to 
the Federal court. Why? Because these nominations, life appointments, 
have lasting effects that yield way beyond the actual nomination 
  It is unfortunate to me, because when we think about, of the three 
branches government that worked for the civil rights movement and 
worked for all those freedom fighters, it was the Federal court that, 
with its independence, was able to grant so many opportunities to those 
freedom riders.
  I think about Frank Johnson, a young judge from Montgomery, Alabama, 
who grew up in rural Alabama and had the temerity, had the audacity, 
had the courage to do what was right in the face of mounting pressures 
that came from his White citizenry around him to do the right thing and 
to actually issue that injunction that allowed marchers, such as our 
colleague,  John Lewis, to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which 
brought us the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  Where is our courage today? I ask the gentleman from Pennsylvania. We 
have to stand up in the face of such overt partisanship and speak out 
against it.
  The balance of the Court is so important. So much of the progress 
that we have seen as a Nation, we have always been one Supreme Court 
Justice away from a lot of that progress being eroded. It is with great 
sadness that I see Justice Kennedy leave, but it is with greater 
sadness that I see the nominee, Kavanaugh, coming before the Senate for 
confirmation as the next Federal Justice.
  I do know that politics and elections have consequences, but when I 
think about the scale of progress and what affects that progress, 
nothing is more telling, nothing is more important, than the Supreme 
  I hope that aggrieved persons, irrespective of their gender, 
irrespective of their race and who they love, that they can come before 
the Supreme Court and get a fair hearing.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague another 
question, but before I do that, may I inquire as to how much time is 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Faso). The gentleman from Pennsylvania 
has 4 minutes remaining.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, in the past, Judge Kavanaugh has emphasized 
the importance of ``checking political alliances at the door.''
  So I ask the gentlewoman that question relating to what she just said 
because, in addition to the dark future for landmark decisions like Roe 
v. Wade, voting rights, affirmative action, Brown v. Board of 
Education, accessibility to affordable healthcare could be greatly 
diminished, the gentlewoman said that has consequences. And this is his 
quote. He said ``check political alliances at the door.''
  So tell us now, we have got about 4 minutes, tell us, can we believe 
that he will check the political alliances?
  Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Well, he has a very expansive record. He sat 
on the bench now for over a decade, so there is an expansive record 
there. I believe in looking at a person's record to be able to tell 
what they will do in the future.
  His past has shown that he is squarely aligned with the Federalist 
Society, squarely aligned with the far right. It is because of his 
extreme views that he is now the nominee.
  Now, I would love for him to prove me wrong, but one's history, one's 
past, is a judge of what one will do in the future. So my great fear is 
about issues such as the right of the executive branch to overreach. 
His decisions that relate to that, to me, are why I believe this 
President chose him, because there has been some overreaching going on 
in the executive branch, and this President feels that this judge will 
be more partial toward him.
  Now, let's just be very clear. The judge should be about being 
partial toward the facts and toward the law, irrespective of who the 
petitioner is. I can tell you that often people say that justice is 
blind. But the reality is justice often is seen through the eyes of the 
experience of the judges. That is why it is important to have a bench 
that is diverse, a bench that has diversity of thought, diversity of 
philosophy and ideas, because, at the end of the day, we are not 
monolithic as a people. We all have different views, and we come to 
those perspectives based on our experiences.
  Frankly, this particular judge, this particular nominee, Kavanaugh, 
does not show that diversity of experience. His views have been clearly 
aligned with the far right, and I believe that that is woefully out of 
character with the American public.
  I believe that the American public is far more centrist than that and 
that the American public deserves better than that.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Alabama, and I 
really appreciate her comments and help.
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, the Congressional Black Caucus, with both of 
my colleagues, all of them today, really have shown how we need to be 
very conscious of this decision that the Senate is about to make. This 
is extremely important in talking about the future in America, and we 
need to understand that we must operate under the Constitution and the 
rule of law.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to join my colleagues in 
unequivocally condemning the President's gross assault on the 
independence of the federal judiciary by stacking the federal courts 
with unqualified nominees.
  Since his inauguration a year and six months ago, the President and 
his supporters in the Senate have proceeded at breakneck speed to 
nominate ideological, often-unqualified candidates.
  In his first 330 days in office, the President had won confirmation 
for 12 of his appeals court nominees--the most in an administration's 
first year since creation of the circuit court system in 1891.
  The President's appellate nominees were approved by the Senate in an 
average of just 20 days after being voted out of the committee--which 
is eight times faster than President Obama's nominees.
  As a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, I am concerned by the 
pervasive lack of oversight and partisanship that has poisoned our 
judiciary far more than the collection of highly publicized incidents 
would have us believe.
  We must remember that the judiciary abuses of this Administration are 
the continuation of the shameless partisanship of Senate Republicans 
first began with the theft of the seat of Judge Merrick Garland.
  Judge Garland had long been considered a prime prospect for the high 
court, serving as chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 
District of Columbia Circuit--a frequent source of justices that is 
sometimes called the ``little Supreme Court.''
  Widely regarded as a moderate, Judge Garland had been praised in the 
past by many Republicans, including influential senators such as Orrin 
Hatch of Utah.
  But even before President Obama had named Judge Garland, and in fact 
only hours after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority 
Leader Mitch McConnell declared in February 2016 that any appointment 
by the sitting president would be null and void.
  Senator McConnell foreclosed any consideration of a nominee for the 
vacancy until after the 2016 election, nearly a year away.
  Mr. Speaker, Supreme Court picks have often been controversial.
  There have been contentious hearings and floor debates and contested 
  But never has a nominee been ignored entirely, as if no vacancy 
  A federal lawsuit was filed to compel Senator McConnell to hold a 
vote on Judge Garland, but it was dismissed because the plaintiff 
lacked stand-ins.
  This president has used the levers of his office to continue to 
divide, rather than unite.
  When confronted with a replacement to the Supreme Court's swing vote, 
the President has chosen an ideologue and a foot soldier of

[[Page H6645]]

the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
  To be sure, Brett Kavanaugh has acceptable credentials and has 
enjoyed an undistinguished tenure as a member of the United States 
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
  But, it is not his credentials or his pedigree which is worrisome.
  Rather, throughout his entire career--as a deputy in the right-wing's 
crusade against President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, as a political 
operative fighting to prevent the recount in Florida in 2000, which 
paved the way for the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, and 
thereafter a decade as a stalwart conservative on the country's most 
important federal appellate court--Brett Kavanaugh has used his legal 
acumen in the service of decidedly and uncompromisingly conservative 
  Instead of ensuring that the court will protect the rights of 
minorities, women, children, and society's most vulnerable, the 
President has chosen to politicize our halls of justice.
  This President has used his Constitutional powers to push down on the 
scales of lady justice.
  Both of the President's Supreme Court appointees--Neil Gorsuch and 
Brett Kavanaugh--have drawn withering criticism from respected 
organizations across the nation.
  Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, the oldest 
and largest community-based nonpartisan civil rights organization of 
its kind, condemned Neil Gorsuch's nomination and the regression of the 
Supreme Court on civil rights issues.
  More recently, the National Urban League, National Action Network, 
NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund & National Coalition on Black Civic 
Participation urged citizens to contact Senators to delay confirming 
Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
  The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit formed 
in 1963 at the request of President Kennedy to involve the private bar 
in providing legal services addressing racial discrimination, 
explicitly denounced Kavanaugh's nomination.
  President and executive director of Lawyers' Committee for Civil 
Rights Kristen Clarke remarked that in this critical time for civil 
rights protections under attack by the administration, ``it would be an 
abdication of [the Senate's] constitutional responsibility to merely 
rubber stamp Kavanaugh's nomination'' on partisan grounds.
  Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights leader and President of National 
Action Network (NAN), released the following statement following 
President Donald Trump's announcement of the nomination of Brett 

       Some will pass this off as a middle of the road pick. Don't 
     be fooled. On every issue, Kavanaugh has proven to be an 
     ideologue who will ignore our rights . . . This is a fight 
     for the soul of our country, and we at National Action 
     Network call on the Senate to stop Kavanaugh's nomination at 
     any cost--his confirmation would be a disastrous attack on 
     basic human rights.

  The NAACP--with its cherished heritage of struggling for fair-minded 
justice, including when it was instrumental in defeating a Herbert 
Hoover nominee to the Supreme Court, John Parker--characterized the 
Kavanaugh nomination as an effort to ``re-make the Court in President 
Trump's own image.''
  Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women's Law 
Center (NWLC) expressed strong concern that Kavanaugh's nomination 
could put women's health, equality, dignity, and even lives on the 
line: ``it will shift the balance of the Court, and could roll back 
rights for an entire generation.''
  The backlash has not only to do with the abandonment of the pursuit 
of justice for blatant partisanship, but also the flagrant breach of 
protocol in nominating Kavanaugh.
  Usually, the White House Counsel's office maintains a list of 
potential nominees on hand, along with some basic information about 
them, long before an opening appears.
  An informal working group is assembled from several sections of the 
White House, including not just the counsel's office but legislative 
affairs, the vice president's office, the chief of staff, and the 
Attorney General.
  Congressional leaders from both parties are consulted, as well: GOP 
strategist Ken Duberstein, who helped shepherd half a dozen Supreme 
Court nominees, said in an interview that it is critical the 
administration reaches out to both parties on Capitol Hill, as ``there 
has to be some consultation, on both sides of the aisle, coming from 
the White House.''
  Instead of this time-honored, bipartisan process, the President has 
relied heavily on the Federalist Society--a nationwide organization of 
conservative lawyers that openly seeks to ``reorder priorities within 
the legal system to place a premium on conservative values.''
  Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, 
went as far as to take leave from the Society to construct a list of 
nominees for the President: granting such unprecedented access to an 
unashamedly partisan organization is a departure from convention.
  This approach--partisanship above justice; loyalty above protocol--
should be concerning and insulting to every American whose civil 
liberties are at stake.
  But more disturbing than partisanship in judicial nominations is the 
deliberate appointment of unqualified candidates.
  Thomas Farr, the Raleigh attorney nominated for a judicial 
appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of 
North Carolina, received the wholehearted support of the President and 
North Carolina's two U.S. senators, while two qualified African-
American women could not even get a hearing.
  Farr has been the lead attorney in a series of recent legislative 
efforts to suppress political participation by African Americans in the 
  In 2010, Farr advised the General Assembly in what federal courts 
later termed a ``racial gerrymander'' of North Carolina House, Senate 
and U.S. Congressional districts.
  In separate lawsuits, each redistricting plan was proven to have 
intentionally discriminated against African-American voters.
  In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted a bill that 
shortened early voting, required voters to present government-issued 
IDs and eliminated same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct 
voting--all of which are forms of marginalization and voter 
  Farr advised the legislature on the bill and then became lead counsel 
in a three-year battle to defend it.
  Federal courts ruled the law unconstitutional and an attempt to 
disenfranchise African-American voters ``with almost surgical 
  Farr began his notorious in voter suppression and race-baiting career 
as a campaign aide to Senator Jesse Helms, who entered public life in 
campaigns that urged ``White People Wake Up'' and smeared the 
University of North Carolina as ``the University of Negroes and 
  Helms was infamous for his diatribes against ``Negro hoodlums'' and 
``forced integration,'' and for touting the ``purely scientific 
statistical evidence of natural racial distinction in group 
  Helms became the state's most vociferous opponent of the civil rights 
movement, which, as late as 2005, Helms railed had ``ripped away at the 
customs and institutions people cared about.''
  During Farr's time on the campaign, the Helms Campaign Committee sent 
more than 105,000 post cards to African Americans falsely warning that 
they were ineligible to vote and could be arrested for voter fraud if 
they appeared at the polls.
  Farr denied having any knowledge of this effort, but a former 
Department of Justice official said the Helms disciple ``absolutely'' 
was involved in this and earlier illegal voter suppression tricks that 
the campaign described as ``ballot security efforts.''
  A 1992 consent decree prohibited the campaign from tactics ``to 
intimidate, threaten, coerce, deter, or otherwise interfere with a 
qualified voter's exercise of the franchise''--and Thomas Farr signed 
the decree.
  More than 20 years later, during Farr's defense of the election law 
that the Fourth District Court ruled targeted African-American voters 
``with almost surgical precision,'' the judge in Winston-Salem asked 
Farr, ``Why don't y'all want people to vote?''
  A track record that continues to raise this question should prevent 
anyone from being appointed to the federal bench.
  But the problem is compounded by the fact that Farr would preside 
over the Eastern District, which contains a majority of the state's 
counties with the highest percentages of African-American residents.
  Despite being home to North Carolina's ``Black Belt,'' the Eastern 
District has never had an African-American judge in its nearly century 
and half of existence.
  Senator Burr says Farr will ``serve North Carolina well,'' and 
Senator Tillis--a supporter of the massive voter suppression and 
racialized redistricting that allowed Republicans to take a super 
majority in the state legislature--calls the President's nominee 
``impeccably qualified.''
  In doing so while blocking the hearings of May-Parker and Timmons-
Goodson, these Senators insist North Carolina be revealed as backward-
looking and bitter during nationally televised Senate hearings for a 
morally stained and unrepentant figure like Thomas Farr.
  Being a conservative is not the same thing as spending almost 40 
years fighting to block full citizenship for all Americans.
  This nomination is not just about what Thomas Farr stands for--it is 
about what America stands for.
  Some nominations have been entirely inconsiderate of any standards of 
qualification that judicial nominees would otherwise be subject to.
  Matthew Petersen, a Trump nominee to a lifetime appointment on the 
U.S. District Court

[[Page H6646]]

for the District of Columbia, withdrew from consideration for the seat 
in December 2017 days after a video clip showed him unable to answer 
basic questions about legal procedure.
  Petersen, a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, was a 
member of the Federal Election Commission since 2008 but had no trial 
  His only connection to the Trump Administration was that his tenure 
on the FEC overlapped with that of White House counsel Don McGahn for 
about five years.
  Petersen was one of three judicial nominees picked by President Trump 
to have withdrawn in that week amid criticism about their 
  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley told the 
White House to ``reconsider'' the nominations of the other two 
nominees, both of whom were reported to have endorsed positions or 
groups that embrace discrimination.
  A day later, both nominations were pulled.
  This gross disregard for competence is inconceivable in any 
profession, much less our government.
  One of the two withdrawn for discrimination was Brett Talley.
  Talley had been rated ``unanimously unqualified'' for the post by the 
American Bar Association after an evaluation that questioned his 
  Talley had never argued a case, or even a motion, in federal court, 
he testified.
  Mr. Talley nevertheless won preliminary approval from the Judiciary 
Committee's Republican majority to be a judge.
  Even after Talley's nomination advanced through the Senate Judiciary 
Committee on an 11-9 party-line vote, media reports and good government 
groups cast doubt on his credentials for the spot on the U.S. District 
Court in Alabama.
  As he was awaiting a Senate floor vote, it emerged that Mr. Talley 
had not disclosed that he was married to White House Counsel Don 
McGahn's chief of staff.
  It was further publicized that he had failed to disclose that he had 
apparently written thousands of pseudonymous posts on a University of 
Alabama sports fan website, including one defending the early Ku Klux 
  Talley's withdrawal is celebrated as a case in which civic awareness 
and activism by various groups from media to good governance 
organizations pressured the government to do the right thing.
  One such organization that is critical to safeguarding fairness of 
justice in our courtrooms is the American Bar Association, which gave 
Talley the ``unanimously unqualified'' rating.
  Since 1953, this venerable legal organization has played a critical, 
behind-the-scenes role in assessing judicial nominees and their fitness 
to serve on the bench.
  By the end of President Trump's first year, the ABA deemed at least 
four of Trump's judicial nominees ``not qualified.''
  But with the ABA emerging as a major stumbling block in President 
Trump's effort to transform the courts, our colleagues in the GOP 
accused the nonpartisan group of holding a liberal slant and is seeking 
to sideline it.
  Instead of being equally concerned of the quality of judicial 
nominees put forth by this Administration, our colleagues chose to 
ignore the ABA and discredit the century-old group.
  ABA President Hilarie Bass said the group is a ``nonpartisan 
organization that has focused on legal issues and not politics'' and 
that it has vetted thousands of judicial nominees ``fairly and in a 
nonpartisan fashion'' under both Republican and Democratic 
  However, our colleagues are engaged in a desperate charge against 
factual truth itself.
  ``The ABA's record on judicial nominations has been highly 
questionable,'' said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate 
Judiciary Committee, ``it has demonstrated over past decades repeatedly 
partisan interests and ideological interests.''
  Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee and 
is a vocal GOP critic of Trump, added: ``Not a big fan of the ABA.''
  ``It's blatantly political,'' Flake said. ``Often. Not always.''
  In a shift from the Obama Administration and a return to the policy 
of President George W. Bush, the administration decided earlier this 
year not to allow the ABA to review potential candidates before they 
were nominated.
  Trump officials are abandoning the practice so Republicans can push 
through younger, conservative attorneys who may not have as much--if 
any--experience to a lifetime position on the bench.
  Mr. Speaker, I stand today in opposition of the Trump 
Administration's misguided and foolish judicial nominations.
  I stand today as a woman, who fears for my fellow woman's right to 
  I stand today as a granddaughter of immigrants, who recognizes the 
value of immigration to our, society and national identity.
  I stand today as an African American, who celebrates the progress our 
community has made in expanding civil rights in our nation, but 
recognizes the struggle yet left ahead.
  I stand today as a mother and grandmother, who is determined to hold 
our courts accountable to safeguarding our nation's civil liberties for 
generations to come.
  I stand today as an American, because a judiciary that dispenses 
evenhanded justice is what defines who we are and what we stand for.
  Mr. Speaker, fellow members of Congress, let us be unequivocally 
clear that it is our responsibility and our high call of service to our 
fellow citizens to defend the rule of law and preserve our courts as 
the bastion of justice in our nation.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the judicial branch 
serves as one of the key pillars of our democracy, charged with 
restraining both the legislative and executive branches from reaching 
beyond their constitutional authority first envisioned by our Founding 
Fathers. The importance of having qualified judges on the bench is not 
only vital to the judiciary, but also to the proper functioning of our 
system of checks and balances--and by extension, our democratic system. 
By stacking the courts with biased, unqualified judges, President Trump 
and Senate Majority Leader McConnell are choosing party over their 
country in a manner that will cause enduring harm to the process and 
principles that we hold dear as a democratic nation.
  The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme 
Court is already a dangerous threat to longstanding precedent on 
matters regarding civil rights, abortion, and government oversight. 
However, the lower federal courts are equally as important to the 
judiciary's ability to protect the fundamental rights that we enjoy as 
Americans. President Trump has demonstrated time and time again through 
his nominations of extreme candidates that he has little to no regard 
for due process, and has every intention of leaving behind a lifelong 
legacy of stacking the courts to favor radical right-wing conservatism.
  Mr. Speaker, the nominees being put forth by this Administration and 
the process by which they are being vetted is a wild and dangerous 
departure from regular order. Senate Republicans are knowingly 
sidestepping traditional vetting protocols in order to rush right-wing 
judicial nominees through the process before the American people can 
react. It is a misguided practice that places partisan politics over 
the needs of the American people, and I urge my colleagues in the 
Senate to oppose any unqualified nominee at every opportunity.