Sen. Klobuchar: I Want A SCOTUS Justice With An "Independent Spirit"; Process Well Over 140 Days


Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) spoke about the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Wednesday broadcast of Chris Cuomo's CNN show. Klobuchar said she wants a Supreme Court Justice with an "independent spirit." She also said that it is unlikely a nominee would be confirmed before the midterm election took place as the process takes well over 140 days.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: It all matters. But that's why elections matter. We had one.

You have a Republican in there. He's taking the advice from counsel, also known as the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Group, for who to pick as judges. And he's going to do that.

Can you stop it?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): We can. And that is by getting the American people behind us.

CUOMO: And then what?

KLOBUCHAR: You have seen over the last year whether it is pushing back and we picked up three Republican votes in a dramatic moment to uphold the Affordable Care Act, because of public pressure. We have thrown out some judges that did not make it through the committee or did not even get nominated because of public pressure. Senator Kennedy himself undid one nominee. Those things have happened.

And I will admit this is going to be a tough fight. But I think it is important that we make the case to the American people. And as for the McConnell rule, I have culled through some of the statements of my own colleagues on the Republican side during that year of 2016 when they held up Merrick Garland. Some of them referred to a presidential year, but a lot referred to senators.


CUOMO: Yes, we saw it, too. With McConnell, though, I was trying to box him in with Kennedy. McConnell talked about a presidential year. He did do that. He didn’t do it all the time.


CUOMO: But he did do it, and he used Biden as a reference for it. But I guess in the political question for you comes down to, you have -- then have -- you have two plays here. One is can I get people on the other side to forestall a vote until after the election?

KLOBUCHAR: And you have people like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski who have shown to be independent before, especially when it comes to women's rights and privacy rights.

CUOMO: Right. They voted for Gorsuch. But with Roe v. Wade potentially on the table, and the conservative majority as we laid out at the top of the show, maybe they might make a play. But what would do that get you? One, that might be political suicide for them because if they were to forestall a vote and then lose control of the Senate, they would always be forever blamed for that.

But you would just be delaying a vote until after the election in, what, the hopes that you would take over the Senate.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, that can make a major difference --

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

KLOBUCHAR: -- for the hearings and everything else.

CUOMO: Sure.

KLOBUCHAR: And actually, one thing that hasn't come out a lot today is the average time for these hearings is well over 140 days.

CUOMO: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: And that gets you past the election anyway. So, if you look at through history how long these hearings have taken before you have a vote and before confirmation process ends, it is past the election time.

CUOMO: But that's custom, not by rule.

KLOBUCHAR: That's correct. But again, the public pressure and focusing on what matters to the people here, that's on our side. The other thing we have is some Republicans that have shown some independence over time.

Then we have the right to ask questions and ask as many as we want in writing, at the hearing. And we have to be ferocious about it so that the American people know what they are getting here.

CUOMO: But what's the chance that he puts somebody up that you’d be OK with?

KLOBUCHAR: I don't know. It doesn't sound good given that he's been pointing to the number of some of the people that have come out in the top group, a number of those people. I had not supported the top five that they are talking about today or top four.

And so, I -- that's not looking good. But again, I think that my colleagues have to weigh in now. He should be consulting with Democrats and Republicans and people like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

I want a judge who is independent-minded. Justice Kennedy, yes, you get a lot of conservative things.


KLOBUCHAR: When you look at when he showed those incredible, major sparks of independence and when he wrote the case guaranteeing -- the opinion guaranteeing marriage equality --

CUOMO: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: -- when he took a stand and voted to affirm Roe v. Wade, something that is part of his legacy, you look at that kind of independent spirit, someone that brings people together in consensus, that's what we want to see.

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