Press Release

ICYMI: In Senate Floor Speech, Gillibrand Honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg And Denounces Senate Republicans For Rushing Through Confirmation Of Next Supreme Court Justice

Sep 24, 2020


**WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Speech on the Senate Floor HERE** 

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today spoke on the Senate floor to denounce Republican efforts to rush through the confirmation process and vote on the next Supreme Court Justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The confirmation of the next justice will have immediate consequences on health care, immigrant’s rights, women’s rights and more. Instead of allowing the winner of the next election to fill the seat, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Trump administration are pushing the Senate to scramble through the nomination process. Gillibrand blasted the hypocrisy of Republicans — who just four years ago denied a hearing for Obama’s nominee eight months before the election– and urged the Senate to ensure American voters are heard.  

Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as delivered: 

Mr. President, I rise today to remember a daughter of New York and an American giant. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an icon, a legend, and a role model for so many people – myself included. We may never see a jurist with her kind of courage again in our lifetimes.

The daughter of an immigrant furrier and garment district bookkeeper, born and raised in Brooklyn, she pushed back against every expectation and limitation that society had for her and rose to the bench of the highest court in the land.

She was a brilliant legal mind, an unparalleled jurist, an opera fan, a fearless dissenter, and the Notorious RBG. 

Justice Ginsburg spent her whole life fighting against injustices – those she faced personally, and those that she could not abide in society. 

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg went to law school, she was one of just nine women in her class of 500. She graduated the top of her class, but was rejected by law firm after law firm, because she was a woman and because she was a mother. Undaunted, she found a different path to success. 

She educated generations of law students at Rutgers and Columbia and spent her time outside the classroom at the ACLU, becoming an architect of the plan to eradicate gender discrimination. One strategically chosen case at a time, she proved to a male-dominated legal system that discrimination on the basis of sex is real.  

She was a trailblazer. She took herself to places that few women had ever been. And she took the law to places it had never been.

She stood for all of us. She stood against discrimination in all its forms. She was someone who fundamentally understood the gifts that people have to give this country – regardless of their sex, their gender orientation, or their race or their background.

She knew that the words etched in stone above the entrance of the Supreme Court – equal justice under the law – she knew those words were still a goal, they were not a given. And she fought to make them a reality every day of her life.

As has been noted, in the Jewish tradition, only someone of great righteousness dies on Rosh Hashanah, because God determined that they were needed until the end. Justice Ginsburg was truly someone of great righteousness. 

And at the very end, she left us with one final message – “My most fervent wish is that I not be replaced until a new president is installed.” She asked us to respect the right of the American people to be heard.

But within just hours of her passing, that wish was denied by members of this body.

The hypocrisy of my colleagues is breathtaking.

The same members rushing this process are the very same ones who denied Merrick Garland hearings because his nomination was supposedly too close to an election. He was nominated in March. It’s nearly October.

This election is not just close, it’s already happening – people across the country are already casting their ballots.

But this is about more than rank hypocrisy. Let’s look at what is really at stake.

The first case that will be argued in November will decide if 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions can continue to have access to affordable health care.

Think about that. My Republican colleagues are rushing through the confirmation of a judge in order to nearly guarantee that 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will see their premiums go up, or have their health care ripped away entirely. 

That would be inhumane at any time, but in the middle of a pandemic it’s truly unthinkable.

They’re rushing to vote on a justice who will decide the fate of the more than 640,000 DACA recipients who have known no other home, no other country, but this one.

They seek to confirm a judge who will revoke the rights of 50% of the population to make decisions about their own bodies and their reproductive healthcare.

This new judge could very well overturn recently decided cases that finally granted same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry the person that they love. 

This new judge will likely decide on the nation’s ability to conduct a fair and accurate census and the right of every person in this country to have equal representation under the law.

Mr. President, it’s clear to me why my colleagues are rushing this. They fear that the American people simply don’t agree with their views. They fear that this is their last chance to impose an ultra-conservative view on our country, where women’s rights and LGBTQ rights and immigrant’s rights take a back seat to corporate interests and to discrimination.

That is not what the American people want. They should get the chance to have their say. Their ability to access health care, to marry, to live in this country, to be represented fairly and fully by this government is on the line. Their rights hang in the balance. 

The actions of my colleagues deny the people a voice. What does that say about this chamber? What does that say about our democracy? 

Mr. President, I yield the floor.