McConnell: Republicans Recognize the Importance of Thorough Review

‘But in the rush to complete the questionnaire in order to garner a talking point, you are prone to these sorts of mistakes. This of course counsels the Senate to have a thorough, deliberative process, not a rush to judgment in order to meet an arbitrary deadline’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the proposed hearing date for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:

“Senator Leahy’s decision to rush Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing is puzzling. It risks resulting in a less-informed hearing, and it breaks with years of tradition in which bipartisan agreements were reached and honored over the scheduling of hearings for Supreme Court nominees. And it damages the cordiality and good will the Senate relies on to do its business. These kinds of partisan maneuvers have always come with consequences. This time is no different.

“The explanations that some of our friends offered yesterday to justify a rushed hearing were almost as remarkable as the decision itself and the partisan way in which it was handled. Some said Republicans had proposed unreasonable hearing dates.

“Yet no one can cite the time or the place when any of these supposed requests were made.

“But blaming Republicans for statements they never made wasn’t nearly as ludicrous as the claim that Judge Sotomayor’s long judicial record is somehow reason to rush the review process. Not only is this counterintuitive — why should it take less time to read more cases? — it also flies in the face of every statement our Democrat friends made on the topic after the nomination of the last two Supreme Court nominees.

“Time and again, they told us that the Senate was not a ‘rubber stamp,’ and that hearings for Judge Alito and Judge Roberts couldn’t be rushed. As Senator Leahy put it at the time, ‘We want to do it right. We don’t want to do it fast.’

“Republicans respected those requests because we recognized the importance of a thorough review. On the Alito nomination, for instance, senators had 70 days to prepare for a hearing on a nominee who, as Senator Leahy noted at the time, had handled some 3,500 cases on the federal bench. Judge Sotomayor has handled over 3,600 cases, so it stands to reason that we’d have as much time to review her record. But for some reason the old standard has suddenly been thrown out just as new reasons have emerged for rushing the process on this particular nominee.

“As Senator Sessions informed us yesterday, the questionnaire Judge Sotomayor filled out suffers from several significant omissions. For example, she failed to produce numerous opinions from cases in which she was involved as a district attorney. In addition, she failed to produce a memorandum from her time with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund that opposed the application of the death penalty. When this omission was brought to the judge’s attention, I understand that the White House then provided this memorandum, saying it was an ‘oversight.’ But in the rush to complete the questionnaire in order to garner a talking point, you are prone to these sorts of mistakes. This of course counsels the Senate to have a thorough, deliberative process, not a rush to judgment in order to meet an arbitrary deadline.

“When it came to Republican nominees, like Judge Roberts and Judge Alito, our Democrat friends wanted time to review the record. And Republicans worked in a bipartisan fashion to come to a consensus on a fair process that respected the minority’s rights. Yet when it comes to a Democrat nominee our friends want to deny Republicans the same rights. They want the shortest confirmation timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent memory. This violates basic standards of fairness, and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties — a thorough review of the president’s nominee to a lifetime position on the highest court in the land. The decision to short-circuit that process is regrettable and unnecessary.”