Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I sit in a position on this committee where I often follow Senator Cruz and I often have to throw out my entire plan for what I was going to say because of what he said. But I have never had an experience quite like this one. I could choose to start by taking on his interpretation of history because of the fact that the only other time that we have had a justice die this close to an election was when Abraham Lincoln—a wise wise leader—was president. What did he do?
He waited until after the election.
What is unique in your words, Senator Cruz, about this situation? People are voting right now. Democracy is happening right now and we in this room are supposed to be stewards of this democracy. What else is unique in your words about this situation? It is the precedent that was set just a few years ago by the very people sitting here, by the very leader who is still the leader of the Republican Party.
He said this—Mitch McConnell—the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president. Those are the facts that you live with. But to me, none of those arguments even compare to what I just heard and what I must respond to. Our democracy, what’s happening right now.
What this President said yesterday and Joe Biden has said he will abide by the results of this election. It is this president, President Trump who refuses to commit to make sure there is a peaceful transfer of power after the election if he is not re-elected. Instead, as he has done for months, just yesterday, he again worked to undermine confidence in our election.
He has repeatedly told people, the citizens of this country that it’s not safe to vote by mail. That there’s something wrong with it, except for in Florida where he has voted by mail. This is what he says almost every single day. And to have the chairman of this committee lead this discussion on this solemn day, when tomorrow the first woman in the history of the nation will lie in state and raise the fact that yes, this may end up in court and then to hear you, Senator Cruz talk about how this is because of some war game that you’re talking about that I’ve never even heard about that this can end up in court.
Well, guess what, I will not concede that this is going to end up in court. You know why? Because the people are voting in droves right now. They are voting all over this country because President Trump is behind in states, in red states that no one even thought he could be behind in. Why? Because the people of this country are fighting back because they know what’s on the line. Do I think this is a tragic death at this moment? Yes, it’s tragic because we lost this woman who is an icon way ahead of her time, someone who opened doors for women at a time when so many insisted on keeping them shut.
Well, we are not keeping our democracy shut this year. This was a woman who would never as Senator Durbin explained would not take no for an answer. She literally applied for law school when there were no women hardly in her law school, when she had to go to a dinner with the dean of Harvard Law School. And he had each woman explain why they were allowing a man to be taking this seat, taking the chair of a man and taking it away from a man.
She then goes on to Columbia and graduates, number one in her class. She then comes up with theories that no one had even conjured up before to argue that women should have equal protection under the law. And when they say a man should argue it, she goes and does it herself. And she wins five out of six times setting landmark law for this country.
She then goes to the Supreme Court, is respected across the land, becomes a cultural icon with her own hashtag—Notorious RBG—in her 80s. She never gave up and I am not going to give up on this democracy. Despite these false lies about the Democratic candidate for president. It is President Trump who chose to clear out peaceful protesters and wave a Bible in front of a church.
It is President Trump who after Charlottesville said there are two sides. Well, there’s not two sides when one side is the Ku Klux Klan. It is President Trump who has put out there that military and soldiers should be at the voting places in a pure attempt to suppress the vote. So don’t go telling the people this committee who know better, who is the divisive person, who is the one that has been inciting violence in this election.
And even if they don’t believe us in this room, the American people have seen through it. That’s why just today you saw nearly 500 military leaders join together—former military leaders—and civilian national security leaders, Republicans, Democrats and independents to say that they did not support this president, because they were afraid of what was happening to our country and our democracy.
So this hearing that we are about to have is about that very democracy. And so I don’t think people really care about the fights we’ve had about this before. I think we missed a really important ingredient in what I’ve been hearing my colleagues say from across the aisle and that is people are voting right now.
They are voting on health care right now. The fact that we have a court case out of Texas that is coming up for oral argument on November 10th, in which yes, pre existing conditions are on the line because the argument was made that the whole Affordable Care Act should be thrown out. You cannot just fix that when you haven’t been able to even take up the Heroes Act to do something about the pandemic. Yet, in fact, we see that we’ve got time to ram through a Supreme Court hearing in two weeks instead of spending those two weeks to actually take up the Heroes Act and hope the people of this country.
What else is on the line? Well, civil rights is on the line when you look at the decisions and all the money that has flowed into our politics from the outside as a result of this current court’s decision that is dominated by nominees put forward by Republican presidents.
Women’s rights. Oh, yeah, they are on the line and as those fires were blazing on the West Coast of our country, even the right to regulate our environment and do something to protect our air and water, that is on the line. So this hearing will not be divorced from what is happening right now because this president has put it right in the middle of a political campaign.
That’s his choice, not our choice.
So, I don’t see this as theater as you describe, Senator Cruz. I see this as the real world. I see this deeply personally because I know that we have a President in place that knew that this virus was deadly. He knew that it was airborne and yet my family, we were just trying to clean off the surfaces all the time and wash our hands. And then my husband ends up in the hospital with COVID on oxygen because this President didn’t share with us the information he had at the time. All of that is going to be on the line.
So we will look at this nominee and we will look carefully at this nominee that is our job, but we cannot get away from the fact that the process that puts her before us will be one that is not respecting the democracy that we are supposed to cherish.
So I just—I have listened to this for too long and I think the American people see through this raw use of political power. That is why they’re voting in droves. So if you think you can get away from this just by trying to get this nominee through and no one’s going to notice what she stands for or what her views are and how that’s going to play into decisions that are made that affect people’s lives. They already know. They’re voting now.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.