April 04, 2017

Duckworth Participates in “Women’s Power Hour” in Opposition to Judge Gorsuch’s Supreme Court Nomination


WASHINGTON, DC - On Equal Pay Day, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined fellow female Senators on the Senate floor for a "Women's Power Hour" to voice their concerns regarding Judge Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, pointing to his questionable rulings on reproductive rights and women's issues. Video of Duckworth's remarks is available here.

Her full remarks as prepared are below:

"Today, on Equal Pay Day, we are reminded of the fact that women across the country still make less money for the exact same work as their male counterparts - which is especially problematic for women of color, for whom the gap is even wider. We are also reminded of how vital our court system is to the future of equal opportunity for women in America, and to the future of our working families. The next Supreme Court Justice will enter the court at a critical moment for women's rights-a moment which could change the course of reproductive rights, voting rights, disability rights and civil liberties in our nation for generations to come.

"So, naturally, I, much like my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, wanted to know how these critical issues fit in Judge Gorsuch's judicial philosophy. I have serious concerns with his record of failing to protect women's health - granting corporations and health care providers leeway to undermine women's access to care. I'm also troubled by his rulings on disability rights that would jeopardize access to public education for students with disabilities - which is particularly alarming for the 27 million women in America living with a disability.

"It's personal for me. As an American living with disabilities, my life isn't like many of my colleagues in Congress. Getting around can be difficult. I can't always get into restaurants or other public spaces. I have to spend a lot of time planning how to get from one place to another. I understand that not everyone thinks about these things, and for most of my adult life I didn't either. But after I became injured in combat in my service in Iraq, I learned how important the protections of laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are to ensuring millions of Americans with disabilities can live and thrive with dignity. Without them, Americans like me wouldn't be able to get to work, go to school, hold a job, pay taxes, go shopping or do any of the things people take for granted.

"That's one of the reasons why I'm speaking out today, because it matters deeply to me that our next Supreme Court Justice understand just how vital these protections are for Americans living with a disability. It's not just a disability rights issue, it's a civil rights issue.

"Similarly, a woman's access to health care is also a civil rights issue - and it's an issue that affects every single American. When a woman can't get the care she needs, her family suffers. And when her family suffers, her community suffers, our country suffers. That's why I find it so deeply troubling that Judge Gorsuch has time and again actively worked against reproductive justice. In a dissenting opinion, he argued in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood in Utah based on evidence that other judges deemed as false. In the Hobby Lobby case, he made it clear that he favors the religious beliefs of corporations over the rights of women to make their own choices about their bodies.

"What's worse, that isn't the only time that Judge Gorsuch ruled to put corporate rights over human rights. You may have heard about a case from my home state of Illinois in which Judge Gorsuch ruled to favor the rights of a trucking company over the rights of an employee in grave danger through no fault of his own. That's deeply concerning to me. He also dissented from arulinggiving a female UPS driver just the opportunity to prove sex discrimination; and then again on a decision to fine a company that failed to properly train a worker, resulting in his death.

"Judge Gorsuch's record makes it very clear that he's willing to elevate large corporations at the expense of everyday Americans - jeopardizing our civil rights. That's why it was so important to me that he explain his judicial philosophy - that he explain his view on so many of these critical issues. But then, during four days of hearings before the Judiciary Committee, Judge Gorsuch had the chance to clarify the philosophy behind his past rulings - to explain how his rulings may reveal his judicial philosophy as a Supreme Court Justice.

"However, instead of addressing these concerns, Judge Gorsuch dodged these questions - questions on some of the most important issues of our time. He wouldn't even clearly express his views on Roe v. Wade. The American people deserve better than that. Earning a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court requires much more than a genial demeanor and an ability to artfully dodge questions. It requires honestly answering even tough questions.

"That's why I cannot vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch. I take seriously my constitutional responsibility as a United States Senator to offer the President my informed consent, and it's clear Judge Gorsuch has not provided some of the most essential information needed to grant him a lifetime appointment. Therefore, I'm voting no on his nomination and supporting continued debate on the subject because I can't vote for a nominee when so many questions are left unanswered."