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tv   President Obama Supreme Court Nomination Announcement  CSPAN  March 20, 2016 10:30am-10:58am EDT

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important issue but not when the voters actually vote on. mr. bravin: willsure the leadership let them distinguish themselves that way. again, it has been an unusual year. we don't know what will happen. but, it is difficult to see that pressure not only effecting a handful of five, or vulnerable candidates there are, but moving their whole caucus, which has ,ery, very, principled members maybe they would use a different word, perhaps. saying,publicans are there is divide and rule. referring to senator joe biden saying that the american people speak during an election.
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who is right on history know? this is unprecedented. >> history is written by the victors. we will find out after this plays out. we can say this about joe biden, he was speaking hypothetically. let's member where joe biden was in 1992. he had just presided over the confirmation of clarence thomas, which was not a very great moment in his own record as a senator. he managed to disappoint both sides. felt as thomas was -- republicans vote counts thomas wasn't treated fairly -- clarence thomas was not treated fairly. confirmation of an extreme it conservative justice to succeed one of the most liberal justices in history, thurgood marshall. joe biden may have been under special pressure 1992 to say
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that he was not going to let that kind of debacle occur again on his watch. i don't know if he was speaking more broadly for the democratic caucus. let's remember where he specifically was at that point. we can see there is a movie that much on hbo. we will see how great can near put trays -- people see how ear joe biden. host: thank you for being here. i appreciate it. today when continues former president bill clinton speaks at a campaign rally in tucson, arizona. also scheduled to appear at the event, former arizona representative getty giffords and former astronaut mark kelly. coverage begins at 5:30 on c-span. supreme court has outside
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amount of power. it comes great responsibility. you have an individual sitting on the court unfettered for 35 years. sunday night on q&a, gave rock talks about changes he would like to see in the supreme court including open up oral andments to cameras requiring justices to it here to the same code of ethics that other federal judges have. >> this decision effects all americans. -- americans are you where all americans are aware of the third branch of government. issues on voting, marriage, health care and immigration and women possible rights -- and rights -- the
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buck stops at the supreme court that i feel is unprecedented given that the supreme court is making these impactful decisions in our lives. sunday in a at 8:00 eastern on c-span "q&a." on wednesday, president obama formally announced he was nominating district court of appeals chief judge merrick garland to the supreme court. speaking at the white house row's garden, they called on judge merrick to give him a fair vote. this is 30 minutes.
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pres. obama: good morning. everyone, please have a seat. of the many powers and responsibilities the constitution vests in the presidency, few are more consequential than appointing a supreme court justice. particularly one to succeed justice scalia, one of the most influential jurist of our time. the men and women who sit on the supreme court are the final arbiters of american law. they safeguard our rights. they ensure that our system is one of laws and not men.
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they are charged with the essential task of applying principles put to paper more than two centuries ago to some of the most challenging questions of our time. so this is not a responsibility that i take lightly. it's a decision that requires me to set aside short-term expediency and narrow politics so as to maintain faith with our founders and perhaps more importantly with future generations. that's why over the past several weeks i have done my best to set up a rigorous and comprehensive process. i sought the advice of republican and democratic members of congress. we have reached out to every member of the senate judiciary committee, to constitutional scholars, to advocacy groups, bar associations representing an array of interests and opinions from all across the spectrum. and today after completing this , exhaustive process, i have made my decision. i have selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of america's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity,
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evenhandedness, and excellence. these qualities, and his long -term commitment to public service have earned him the , respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle. he will ultimately bring that same character to bear on the supreme court. an institution in which he is uniquely prepared to serve immediately. today i am nominating chief , judge merrick brian garland to join the supreme court. [applause] pres. obama: now, in law enforcement circles and in the legal community at large, judge garland needs no introduction, but i'd like to take a minute to introduce merrick to the
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american people whom he already , so ably serves. he was born and raised in the land of lincoln. in my hometown of chicago. in my home state of illinois. his mother volunteered in the community. his father ran a small business out of their home. inheriting that work ethic, merrick became valedictorian of his public high school. he earned a scholarship to harvard where he graduated. , he put himself through harvard law school by working as a tutor, by stocking shoes in a shoe store, and in what is always a painful moment for any young man, by selling his comic book collection. [laughter] been there. [laughter] merrick graduated from harvard law and the early years of his legal career bear all the traditional marks of excellence. he clerked for two of president
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eisenhower's judicial appointees. first for a legendary judge on the second circuit, judge henry friendly, and for supreme court justice william brennan. following his clerkships, merrick joined a highly regarded law firm, one that practiced focus on litigation and pro bono representation of disadvantaged americans. within four years he earned a , partnership. the dream of most lawyers. but in 1989, just months after that achievement, merrick made a highly unusual career decision. he walked away from a comfortable and lucrative law practice to return to public service. merrick accepted a low-level job as a federal prosecutor in president george h.w. bush's administration, took a 50% pay cut traded in his office for a , windowless closet that smelled of stale cigarette smoke. this is a time when crime here
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in washington had reached epidemic proportions. he wanted to help. and he quickly made a name for himself going after corrupt politicians and violent , criminals. his sterling record as a prosecutor led him to the justice department where he , oversaw some of the most significant prosecutions in the 1990's. including overseeing every aspect of the federal response to the oklahoma city bombing. in the aftermath of that act of terror, when 168 people, many of them small children, were murdered, merrick had one evening to say goodbye to his own young daughters before he boarded a plane to oklahoma city and he would remain there for weeks. he worked side by side with first responders, rescue workers, local and federal law enforcement. he led the investigation and supervised the prosecution that
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brought timothy mcveigh to justice. but perhaps most important is the way he did it. throughout the process, merrick took pains to do everything by the book. when people offered to turn over evidence voluntarily he refused, , taking the harder root of obtaining the proper subpoenas instead because merrick would take no chances that someone who murdered innocent americans might go free on a technicality. merrick also made a concerted effort to reach out to the victims and their families. updating them frequently on the case's progress. everywhere he went he carried with him in his briefcase the program from the memorial service with each of the victims' names inside. a constant searing reminder of why he had to succeed. judge garland is often referred to his work on the oklahoma city case
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as, and i quote, the most important thing i have ever done in my life. and through it all he never lost , touch with that community that he served. it's no surprise, then, that soon after his work in oklahoma city, merrick was nominated to what's often called, the second highest court in the land -- the d.c. circuit court. during that process, during that confirmation process, he earned overwhelming bipartisan praise from senators and legal experts alike. republican senator orrin hatch, who was then chairman of the senate judiciary committee, supported his nomination. back then he said, in all honesty, i would like to see one person come to this floor and say one reason why merrick garland does not deserve this position? he actually accused fellow senate republicans trying to obstruct merrick's confirmation
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of playing politics with judges. and he has since said that judge garland would be a consensus nominee for the supreme court who would be very well supported by all sides and there would be , no question merrick would be confirmed with bipartisan support. ultimately merrick was confirmed , to the d.c. circuit. the second highest court in the land. with votes from a majority of democrats and a majority of republicans. three years ago, he was elevated to chief judge. and in his 19 years on the d.c. circuit, judge garland has brought his trademark diligence, compassion, and unwavering regard for the rule of law to his work. a circuit court known for strong-minded judges on both ends of the spectrum, judge garland has earned a track
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record as a thoughtful, fair-minded judge who follows the law. he's shown a rare ability to bring together odd couples. assemble unlikely coalitions. persuade colleagues with wide -ranging judicial philosophies to sign on to his opinions. and this record on the bench speaks, i believe, to judge garland's fundamental temperament. his insistence that all views deserve a respectful hearing. his habit to borrow a phrase from former justice john paul stevens, of understanding before disagreeing. and then disagreeing without being disagreeable. it speaks to his ability to persuade. to respond to the concerns of others with sound arguments and airtight logic. as his former colleague on the d.c. circuit, and our current chief justice of the supreme court, john roberts, once said, any time judge garland
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disagrees, you know you're in a difficult area. at the same time, chief judge garland is more than just a brilliant legal mind. he's someone who has a keen understanding that justice is about more than abstract legal theories. more than some footnote in a dusty case book. his life experience, his experience in places like oklahoma city, informs his view that the law is more than an intellectual exercise. he understands the way law affects the daily reality of people's lives in a big, complicated democracy, and rapidly changing times. and throughout his jurisprudence runs a common thread, a dedication to protecting the basic rights of every american. a conviction that in a democracy, powerful voices must
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not be allowed to drown out the voices of everyday americans. to find someone with such a long career of public service marked by complex and sensitive issues, to find someone who just about everyone not only respects but genuinely likes, that is rare. and it speaks to who merrick garland is not just as a lawyer , but as a man. people respect the way he treats others. his genuine courtesy and respect for his colleagues and those who , come before his court. they admire his civic mindedness, mentoring his clerks throughout their careers. urging them to use their legal training to serve their communities. setting his own example by tutoring a young student at a northeast d.c. elementary school each year for the past 18 years. they are moved by his deep devotion to his family. lynn, his wife of nearly 30 years, and their two daughters, becky and jessie. as a family, they indulge their
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love of hiking and skiing and canoeing and love of america by visiting our national parks. people respect merrick's deep and abiding passion for protecting our most basic constitutional rights. it's a passion, i'm told, that manifested itself at an early age. one story is indicative of this, it's notable. as valedictorian of his high school class, he had to deliver a commencement address. the other student speaker that day spoke first and unleashed a fiery critique of the vietnam war. fearing the controversy that might result, several parents decided to unplug the sound system and the rest of the , student's speech was muffled. and merrick didn't necessarily agree with the tone of his classmate's remarks, nor his choice of topic for that day, but stirred by the sight of a fellow student's voice being silenced, he tossed aside his
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prepared remarks and delivered instead, on the spot, a passion impromptu defense of our first , amendment rights. it was the beginning of a lifelong career as a lawyer and a prosecutor and as a judge devoted to protecting the rights of others. and he has done that work with decency and humanity and common sense and common touch. -- and a common touch. and i'm proud that he'll continue that work on our nation's highest court. i said i would take this process seriously, and i did. i chose a serious man and exemplary judge, merrick garland. over my seven years as president, in all my conversations with senators from both parties, in which i asked their views on qualified supreme
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court nominees, this includes the previous two seats that i had to fill, the one name that has come up repeatedly from republicans and democrats alike is merrick garland. now, i recognize that we have entered the political season, or perhaps these days it never ends. a political season that is even noisier and more volatile than usual. i know that republicans will point to democrats who made it hard for republican presidents to get their nominees confirmed. and they are not wrong about that. there's been politics involved in nominations in the past. although it should be pointed , out that in each of those instances democrats ultimately , confirmed a nominee, put forward by a republican president.
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i also know that because of justice scalia's outsized role on the court, and american law and the fact that americans are , closely divided on a number of issues before the court, it is tempting to make this confirmation process simply an extension of our divided politics. the squabbling that's going on in the news every day. but to go down that path would be wrong. it would be a betrayal of our best traditions. and a betrayal of the vision of our founding documents. at a time when our politics are so polarized, at a time when norms and customs of political andoric, and courtesy, comity are so often treated like they are disposable, this is precisely the time when we should play it straight.
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and treat the process and appointing a supreme court justice with the seriousness and care it deserves. because our supreme court really is unique. it's supposed to be above politics. it has to be. and it should stay that way. to suggest that someone as qualified and respected as merrick garland doesn't even deserve a hearing, let alone an up or down vote to join an institution as important as our supreme court, when 2/3 of americans believe otherwise, that would be unprecedented. to suggest that someone who has served his country with honor and dignity, with a distinguished track record of delivering justice for the american people, might be treated as one republican leader stated, as a political pinata, that can't be right.
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tomorrow, judge garland will travel to the hill to begin meeting with senators one-on-one. i simply ask republicans in the senate to give him a fair hearing. and then an up or down vote. if you don't, then it will not overwhelm be an abdication of the senate's constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair. it will mean everything is subject to the most partisan of politics, everything. it will provoke an endless cycle of more tit for tat and make it increasingly impossible for any president, democrat or republican, to carry out their constitutional function. the reputation of the supreme court will, inevitably, suffer.
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faith in our justice system will inevitably suffer. our democracy will ultimately suffer as well. i have fulfilled my constitutional duty. now it's time for the senate to , do theirs. presidents do not stop working in the final year of their term. neither should a senator. i know that tomorrow the senate will take a break and leave town on recess for two weeks. my earnest hope is that senators take that time to reflect on the importance of this process to our democracy. not what's expedient, not what's happening at the moment, what does this mean for our institutions? for our common life? the stakes, the consequences,
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the seriousness of the job we all swore an oath to do. and when they return, i hope that they'll act in a bipartisan fashion. i hope they are fair. that's all. i hope they are fair. as they did when they confirmed merrick garland to the d.c. circuit. i ask that they confirm merrick garland now to the supreme court. so that he can take his seat in time to fully participate in its work for the american people this fall. he is the right man for the job. he deserves to be confirmed. i could not be prouder of the work that he has already done on behalf of the american people. he deserves our thanks, and he deserves a fair hearing. with that i'd like to invite
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judge garland to say a few words. [applause] judge garland: thank you, mr. president. this is the greatest honor of my life. other than lynn marrying me 28 years ago. it's also the greatest gift i have ever received except, and another caveat, the birth of our daughters. as my parents taught me by both , words and deeds, a life of public service is as much a gift to the person who serves as it is to those he is serving.
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and for me there could be no , higher public service than serving as a member of the united states supreme court. my family deserves much of the credit for the path that led me here. my grandparents left the pail of settlement at the border of western russia and eastern europe in the early 1900's, fleeing anti-semitism and hoping to make a better life for their children in america. the settled in the midwest, eventually making their way to chicago. there, my father, who ran the smallest of small businesses, from a room in our basement, took me with him as he made the rounds to his customers always impressing upon me the importance of hard work and fair dealing. there, my mother headed the local p.t.a. and school board directed a volunteer service agency all the while instilling
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, in my sisters and me the understanding that service to the community is a responsibility above all others. even now, my sisters honor that example by serving the children of their communities. i know that my mother is watching this on television and crying her eyes out. [laughter] so are my sisters who have supported me in every step i have ever taken, i only wish that my father were here to see this today. i also wish that we hadn't talked my older daughter to be so adventurous that she would be hiking in the mountains out of cell service range when the president called. [laughter] it was a sense of responsibility to serve the community instilled by my parents that led me to leave my law firm to become a line prosecutor in 1989. there, one of my first assignments was to assist in the

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