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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. BURRIS. Madam President, here, in our Nation's Capital, we stand for justice, for fairness and opportunity and for the rule of law.

On the floor of this Senate and in the Oval Office, we shape national policy, and guide the course of a Nation.

In the chambers of the Supreme Court, the principles of justice laid down in our Constitution are translated into the real world.

Our system of government, embodied in this city, stands as an example for all others around the world.

And yet today we are met with a certain irony.

As I address this chamber, the DC Superior Court has been paralyzed, and our justice system has ground to a halt, thanks to my Republican colleagues.

My good friend, the junior Senator from South Carolina, has chosen to obstruct an eminently qualified judicial nominee and current DC magistrate judge, named Marisa Demeo.

When the President of the United States appoints a judge to the Superior Court here in Washington, these nominations are generally approved by the Senate without delay or controversy.

But this time, my Republican friends have decided to play politics with our judicial system.

They have stalled Judge Demeo's nomination for 8 months, and have turned a routine vote into the longest confirmation battle of the Obama Presidency.

As a result, DC government officials have warned that their ability to administer justice is being tested.

As a former attorney general of Illinois, I understand how dire this situation is. I understand how this obstructionism is crippling the Superior Court system.

And for what reason? My colleagues and I have asked our Republican friends to name their objections, but no one can get a straight answer.

No Republican has cast any doubt on Judge Demeo's qualifications, which are superb.

She has served as a magistrate judge since 2007. Before that, she worked at the Department of Justice, in the Civil Rights Division and as an assistant U.S. attorney.

She has degrees from Princeton and New York University. Her legal training and experience are more than adequate for the post of Superior Court Judge, and yet, for unspecified political reasons, the junior Senator from South Carolina continues to hold up this important nomination.

He said he has concerns that Judge Demeo may not be fair and balanced in her approach. But there is nothing in her record to suggest anything of the sort.

In fact, not a single Republican even took the time to ask a question at Judge Demeo's confirmation hearings.

So I cannot imagine what they find objectionable.

The court system in our Nation's Capital is strained to the breaking point, and my friend from South Carolina doesn't seem to mind.

I believe this is simply unacceptable.

This is why the American people are frustrated with their government: because petty political battles and Republican obstructionism are impeding our ability to govern.

My friends on the other side are certainly entitled to play political games if they like, but I would urge them to save politics for the campaign trail, and stop holding up the course of justice and the important business of the American people.

We simply do not have time for this. This is not about politics, this is about people's lives.

This is about the functioning of the American justice system, right here in the Capital of the United States.

This is about the constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial, a right which has been denied to DC residents by Republican political games.

The American people have had enough.

So I urge my friends on the other side to abandon this kind of obstructionism and take their political games elsewhere.

Let us stand up for the ideals of fairness and justice that are embodied here, in this system of government.

And let us make sure that every American, including the residents of our Nation's Capital, can avail themselves of this system.

I ask my colleague from South Carolina to drop his hold on this eminently qualified nominee, so this Senate can hold a vote, and then we can move forward in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges we face.

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