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Rounds Speaks in Support of Judge Neil Gorsuch to Be Confirmed to Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor in support of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

“Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has proven time and again that he is exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Rounds in his floor speech. “The knowledge and careful deliberation he will bring to the court will result in rulings that reflect justice, fairness, and an interpretation of what the law is and what Congress intended it to be, not what administrative agencies want it to be.”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:


Mr. President, I rise today to offer my strong support for Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court.


On Monday, his nomination passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and we expect to confirm him before the end of the week.


I am tremendously excited to have him on the bench.


Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has proven time and again that he is exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.


He has been praised and endorsed by members of both sides of the political spectrum: the left and the right.


As a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006 after being unanimously confirmed by this body, Judge Gorsuch has proven he is as mainstream as they come.


In fact, of the 800-plus opinions he has written for the 10th Circuit, less than two percent, or 14 opinions, have drawn dissents from his colleagues.


In other words, 98 percent of his opinions have been unanimous.


That is even more remarkable when you look at the makeup of the 10th circuit: 12 of the judges were appointed by Democrat presidents, while only 5 were appointed by Republicans.


Mr. President, it doesn’t get much more mainstream than that.


During his confirmation hearings last month, Judge Gorsuch again proved that he is eminently qualified to serve on the bench of our nation’s highest court.


Let me share some of his quotes from his hearing:


          “The Constitution doesn’t change. The world around us changes.”


          “I don’t believe in litmus tests for judges.”


“If I'm confirmed, I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant to the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”


And one last quote:


“As a judge now for more than a decade, I've watched my colleagues spend long days worrying over cases. Sometimes the answers we reach aren't the ones we personally prefer. Sometimes the answers follow us home at night and keep us up. But the answers we reach are always the ones we believe the law requires. And for all its imperfections, I believe that the rule of law in this nation truly is a wonder. And that it's no wonder that it's the envy of the world.”


Mr. President, it is clear that Judge Gorsuch is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and that he understands the role of a judge: to interpret the law, not to make the law.


To that end, I also would like to highlight Judge Gorsuch’s in-depth understanding of the separation of powers doctrine and am optimistic that Judge Gorsuch will carefully scrutinize cases and controversies that involve executive overreach.


The past eight years have seen an unprecedented expansion of the administrative state. 


This has come at the expense of both the legislative branch, whose purpose is to make laws, and the judicial branch, whose purpose is to interpret the law and decide on a specific law’s Constitutionality.   


But more concerning than that, it has also come at the expense of American citizens.


Overreach by executive agencies has led to regulatory expansion that results in the federal government involving itself in nearly every facet of our lives today. 


This expansion has been permitted, in-part, to U.S. courts relying on the flawed Chevron doctrine to show great deference to agency interpretation of the laws passed by Congress. 


As a result, agencies have been able to broadly interpret laws in a way that has allowed them to expand their regulatory authority far beyond what Congress ever intended.


Fortunately, U.S. judges are beginning to question the Chevron doctrine and its impact on the separation of powers doctrine relied on by our Founding Fathers and affirmed in the U.S. Constitution.


Judge Gorsuch is one of these judges.


Regarding Chevron, Judge Gorsuch has written that Chevron seems to be no less than a judge-made doctrine for the abdication of the judicial duty that prevents American courts from fulfilling their Constitutionally-delegated duty – interpreting what the law actually intends.


Careful judicial scrutiny and interpretation of the law will allow courts to reign in agency actions that are inconsistent with the law and beyond the bounds of what Congress intended.


In his concurrence in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, Gorsuch argues that the Administrative Procedure Act vests in the courts the responsibility to “interpret statutory provisions and overturn agency action inconsistent with those provisions,” and questions the idea that Congress “intended to delegate away its legislative power to executive agencies.”


Judge Gorsuch takes his duty as a judge with the utmost seriousness. 


He seeks to interpret the law the way Congress intended, not in the way that an executive agency wants it to be.


His careful and academic approach to judicial review is well-suited for our nation’s highest court. 


I am confident that Judge Gorsuch will respect and enforce the Constitutionally-affirmed separation of powers doctrine that in recent years has been diluted by executive agencies broadly interpreting laws, resulting in regulatory overreach.


This has minimized the role of Congress in the legislative process. 


As a result, the voices of American citizens has also been minimized and replaced with unelected Washington bureaucrats who think they know what is best for all Americans.


Judge Gorsuch is one of the finest judges our nation has to offer. 


The knowledge and careful deliberation he will bring to the court will result in rulings that reflect justice, fairness, and an interpretation of what the law is and what Congress intended it to be, not what administrative agencies want it to be.


Despite impeccable credentials, we are in a situation today because of a precedent set in November 2013 by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid and his conference.


Former Leader Reid’s use of the so-called “nuclear option” in 2013 meant the Senate could reinterpret its rules via simple majority vote.


Former Leader Reid accomplished this by challenging a ruling of the chair with regard to the number of votes needed to end debate on certain nominations.


The Standing Rules of the Senate require the support of a supermajority, or 67 percent of senators, to change the rules.


To challenge the ruling of the chair, Reid only needed a majority vote to overturn the presiding officer’s correct interpretation of the written rule.


In other words, Former Leader Reid broke the rules to change the rules, taking highly unusual actions for which there is now precedent.


Based on this new precedent set by Former Leader Reid, the Senate is likely to confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by a simple majority vote.


Because the Senate has always operated on precedent, we will likely follow this new precedent to approve Judge Gorsuch’s nomination later this week. 


When he is confirmed, Judge Gorsuch will make a tremendous addition to the Supreme Court.


His lifetime of defending the Constitution and applying the law as it was written provides clear evidence that he has the aptitude for this lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.

Thank you Mr. President, I yield the floor.