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Public Statements


Location: Washington, DC

PAGE S14635
Nov. 12, 2003


Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. I thank the Senator from Mississippi for yielding.

How much time remains?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Eight minutes.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. I think it would be appropriate now to compliment Senator Lott. During his time as majority leader, he ran into a very dicey situation with judges. There was a lot of emotion on both sides. He was able to manage the system so that the people would get the vote the Constitution requires.

After having witnessed this debate for the last day or so, I can understand how hard that must have been. It must have taken a lot of effort, a lot of courage. He had to tell people no who did not want to hear no. The country is better off by Senator Lott allowing these people to have a vote up or down. If we do not fix this situation before the Senate, and it becomes part of the institutional way of doing business, then the consequences to the public are very dire.

The first thing that is going to happen, in my opinion, is we are going to get good men and women who are watching this, maybe one day aspiring to be judges, to say: Why in the world would I put myself through this? You are called all kinds of bad names. They take everything you have written or said or thought about saying, and they cut and paste it and try to create mental images of who you are that are totally contradictory to your life's work, are contradictory to what the ABA says about you as a professional, are contradictory to what your friends and the people who have practiced with you say about you. So it is not a very pleasant thing.

The Senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton, with whom I have very much enjoyed working on other matters, had a chart talking about 168 to 4. The 168 were apples; the 4 were lemons. Now we are down to calling people lemons. These are real people and they have one thing in common. It is not four that are going to be filibustered, it is well over a dozen before it is over with. The one thing these four have in common right now-and that is not including Justice Brown and Judge Kuhl, who will be filibustered; they cannot get a vote either-is that they are the first in the history of the country.

We could literally put everybody in a phone booth who has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee by a majority vote but has never received a vote on the Senate floor. This 168 to 4 is a joke. The four people in question are the only ones in the history of the country to come out of the Judiciary Committee and never get to be voted upon. That is very dangerous because if that is the way we react to people who come out of the Judiciary Committee, if we start letting 40, 41 Senators dictate the advise and consent role, then we have really taken a turn for the worst because the Constitution says the Senate will advise and consent to the Presidential nominations.

Who does the advising and consenting? A majority of us or a minority of us? For 200-plus years, we have done it one way. But on the watch of Senator Daschle, with whom I have also enjoyed working, we have taken a very big turn for the worst.

We are in political and constitutional quicksand. The harder we try to get out of it, the deeper we go. If my colleagues do not believe it will be answered in kind down the road if there is ever a Democratic President, as Senator Lott talked about, then I think we are all naive.

What I hate the most is I have been in the Senate for a year, and the abuses of the past I am sure are real. I have never put a hold on any judge for any reason. I am worried about the future. I think my job as a new Member of the Senate is to talk about the consequences of this action for the future.

I do not want to serve in the Senate in its darkest days. Right now, we are writing every day we speak one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Senate. Good people are being put through the wringer unnecessarily. If my colleagues do not think they are good people and they really think they are lemons, the Constitution gives my colleagues a way to object to them, and that is vote.

My colleagues can be on record forever saying, this is a lemon, this person should never be able to be on the bench; but they do not have the right to take the Constitution and turn it upside down for their own political gain and their own political desires. That, my colleagues do not have the right to do.

Money was mentioned. They were talking about the phones ringing over at the Republican Senatorial Committee because our base is excited we are fighting back and this is a fundraising opportunity. Well, people are raising money off this event and it pretty much stinks, on both sides, but that is the moment in which we find ourselves.

Let me read an e-mail that was sent out on November 3 by Senator Corzine, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His job is to fire up his donors to give money so the Democratic Party can recapture the Senate. There was a great deal of lambasting the Republican Party about writing fundraising letters about this event, and that we are doing this to fire up our base, and that we are doing this to raise money.

[Page S14666]

Let me read what Senator Corzine told his Democratic contributors:

Senate Democrats have launched an unprecedented effort. . . .

We are well into the 30 hours and we cannot get an agreement as to whether or not this is unprecedented. I can assure my colleagues that he is not lying in the e-mail, that this is not false advertising. If it is false advertising, people ought to get their money back.

It is unprecedented, and the word "unprecedented" is underlined for a reason. No one has ever done this before. He was not lying when he put it in an e-mail to open up people's wallets. Unprecedented by doing what?

By mounting filibusters against the Bush administration's most radical nominees.

Let's break that statement down. It is unprecedented, but my colleagues on the other side will not admit it is. Filibustering, exactly what my colleagues on the other side are doing, against the Bush administration's radical nominees because of their ideology. That is something that is very dangerous, too.

One of the nominees was asked the question why he and his wife chose not to take their two daughters to Disney World during Gay Pride Day. Nobody should be asked about that. They are trying to ask that question to have a mental construction that this person somehow is not going to be fair to people based on sexual orientation.

The Mississippi situation is the worst of them all, in my opinion, of trying to change an image of who somebody really is. In 1967, Judge Pickering, who has been a Federal judge for a dozen years, well qualified by the ABA, well respected in the State of Mississippi, was a young prosecutor-an elected position-who chose to testify against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, not the fast track to get ahead in 1967. It was radical in the right way.

In 1967, they integrated public schools in Mississippi, as they did in South Carolina. I was in the sixth grade. I could remember going back to school and seeing five Black kids come to my class for the first time in my life. As an adult, a 48-year-old man, I now realize how their parents must have felt, to send their kids into a very uncertain, unchanging situation, but they sent their kids to public schools to make it better. I respect those parents because a lot of people quit, on both sides.

In 1967, Judge Pickering chose to send his children to public schools when White flight was the phenomenon of that county. We will see a photograph of a lot of Black kids with very few White kids in 1967 Mississippi public schools, and those White kids are Judge Pickering's kids. That was the right thing to do.

These people are not lemons, but if my colleagues do not like them, vote against them. My colleagues do not have the right to change the Constitution for the political moment.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

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