Senate Republicans are presiding over a broken confirmation process for judicial nominees.

Today, I am voting no on the confirmation of Michael Park to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — the federal appeals court that covers New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

This nominee does not represent the values of New York State. He does not share the priorities of New York State. And that is why Minority Leader Schumer and I vehemently oppose giving him a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.

I’ll tell you why his promotion to this federal judgeship threatens so many of our hard-fought rights, but first I want to talk about the bigger picture: the truth that this nomination represents something far more sinister than just one dangerous judge.

To begin with, this vote should not be happening in the first place. This nominee never should have passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here’s why: When both home-state Senators are saying that a nominee is the wrong choice and too extreme for a lifetime appointment to a powerful court in our state, then the rest of the Senate is supposed to listen, respect the home-state Senators’ views, and find a better nominee.

That’s what used to happen when we had a functioning Senate. That’s how it used to work.

But that didn’t happen here.

Instead, with disregard and utter disrespect for the opinions of the people of New York, Senate Republicans are forcing through this nomination of an ideological extremist, who is far outside the mainstream, to a lifetime court appointment.

It is yet another example of how far my Republican colleagues are going in their mission to turn the judicial branch into just another partisan entity.

Yes, that is exactly what is happening.

President Trump and his loyal allies in Congress, who refuse to stand up and speak out while the President breaks one democratic norm after another — and are in fact helping him do that very thing — are on a mission to remake the judicial branch for a generation.

Not into one that is fair — but into one that is remade in their own image.

They are changing the rules in the Senate so they can pack the courts with judges who all see the world the same way — through the same narrow, ideological lens. Look how far they’ve already gone.

They already removed the check of a filibuster on all federal judges. They already took away most of our time to even debate the majority of these nominees on the Senate floor — another check removed. They refused to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

And for what? For what are my colleagues so determined to weaken our checks and balances, weaken our democracy, and destroy the credibility of our judiciary branch as an independent institution?

For this reason: To advance a far-right agenda — an agenda that is too extreme to pass through Congress.

So they want the courts to do it for them instead.

So many of the hard-fought laws that exist today — laws that only came into being after years of struggle and protest and debate — laws to protect workers, to protect LGBTQ Americans, to protect the environment, to protect women’s reproductive rights, to protect voting rights –

The President and his allies want judges who will interpret those laws out of existence.

That is not how our constitutional democracy works. That’s not how it was designed.

My colleagues in Congress have a decision to make.

Are we here to protect our democracy? To strengthen it? To preserve it for the next generation?

Or have we given up on that?

We must stop this before it is too late. No judicial opinion is worth the price of destroying our democratic institutions.

We must restore the integrity of our judicial branch.

And that restoration can begin right here, by opposing this judicial nominee on the merits.

Based on his record, this nominee represents a threat to women’s rights in our country, to civil rights, to LGBTQ rights, and to workers’ rights.

As an attorney, he fought against women’s reproductive rights, even going so far as to defend a state government that tried to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for Medicaid funds.

He has fought against environmental protections and challenged a rule to ensure we have clean water, even though communities all over the country are suffering from the effects of climate change.

He has fought against the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, even though it has given millions of New Yorkers and Americans all across the country access to health insurance and care.

He has fought to add a citizenship question to the census, which would jeopardize the accuracy of census data and undermine our democracy.

He has placed the profits of corporations and employers over financial and physical protections for workers.

He has fought to withhold federal funding from cities that refuse to use local law enforcement as federal immigration agents, even though that separation is one of the basic principles of federalism.

And why are his views so uniformly right-wing across all of these issues? The answer is simple.

Because he is an ideologue — a member of the Federalist Society, which is essentially a well-funded, right-wing, private club that does the Republican Party’s work when they need to find a loyal judge.

This nominee is, without question, an ideological extremist. He is on the far edge of the political spectrum. And he should not be handed a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.

The American people deserve a judiciary that is fair and unbiased.



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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator for New York. Official Senate Medium account.