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Public Statements

Judicial Nominations

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS -- (Senate - April 10, 2008)


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I have sat here and listened and I have some outline notes from which to speak, but I am not sure we should. The very thing we are talking about is what America wants to spit out, in terms of their elected representatives. The Senate has an obligation to offer advice and consent. There is no question judges are important. That is why you are here, seeing a demonstration from the minority today, of judicial committee members, because we know it is important. It is important across the country because making law from the bench is something that is the antithesis of what most freedom-loving Americans want. The idea that we want to have judges who know their role, know the role of interpreting law rather than making law, is something with which the vast majority of Americans agree.

But I am struck by the fact that gamesmanship is taking place--not just in terms of the majority but also the minority. We are in a game now. How do we move this? How do we leverage this? How do we force it?

My disheartenment comes from the fact--why are we here in the first place? Why did we get here, when we know what the role of the Senate is in terms of advice and consent.

My hope is we do not see a devolution to parliamentary maneuvering, to raise the issue above where it should be.

I am reminded of the fact that the majority had problems with four of President Bush's nominees, starting in January. He withdrew those. In a gesture of good will, he withdraw four nominees who were not--although they were well qualified, they were not acceptable to movement down the road. Now we have highly qualified judges in districts that are judicial emergencies that get actually slandered by the chairman of the committee about supposedly an anti-Catholic statement--when they are Catholic in their faith. So we offer criticism to somebody and never offer them a venue in which to defend themselves.

That is not what America expects of this body. That is not what it expects of the Judiciary Committee. My hope is the majority leader will say: There is a deal to be struck here. Let's do what we can so we don't spend our time on the business of creating wedge issues that don't further the best interests of this country. Give President Bush five or six more, seven or eight more district court nominees, all of which are qualified, bring them to the floor. Let's get it done so it doesn't interfere with other important work. It is time for the Senate to make good on promises. It is time for it to reciprocate for what President Bush did in terms of withdrawing the four nominations. My hope is we will think about what is in the best long-term interest of the country and not the next election.

I thank the Chair.


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