Senator Mazie Hirono’s (HI) Powerful Rebuttal on Senate Floor

On Saturday, Senator Mazie Hirono delivered a powerful statement of rebuttal on the senate floor in response to Senator Collin’s speech  for Judge Kavanaugh.

Below is Senator Hirono’s statement which she submitted for the Congressional Record.

LIVE STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD BY SENATOR MAZIE K. HIRONO

M. President,

Yesterday, we heard our colleague from Maine express the hope that his “nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.” On this I agree. I hope we never again reach a place where women are as disrespected, ignored, and disregarded, as they have been throughout this confirmation process.

My colleague also observed that “[w]e live in a time of such great disunity” that “people bear[] extreme ill will toward those who disagree with them.” While that may be true for some, I think many of us who have strongly spoken out about our concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s nominations do not bear any ill will against those who disagree with us. In fact, being able to strongly disagree with others and voice our opinions without being told to “grow up” or called a “loud mouth” reflects a respect for the American values of democracy and respecting women. And it is in that spirit, I would like to clarify several misunderstandings raised by my colleague yesterday.

As my colleague from Maine noted yesterday, she cares about protecting women’s reproductive rights. Given this concern, I feel compelled to clarify her description of Judge Kavanaugh’s record on reproductive rights. She referenced, without naming, Judge Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion in favor of a religious organization, Priests for Life. In that case, he argued that religious employers could deny their women employees access to health care coverage of contraception because filling out a 2-page form was too burdensome for them.

Despite this conclusion, my colleague described Judge Kavanaugh’s decision as “seeking to ensure the availability of contraceptive services for women while minimizing the involvement of employers with religious objections.” It’s hard to see how blocking access to contraceptives for women by finding a 2-page form too burdensome is truly seeking to ensure access to contraceptives.

She claimed that his critics “frequently overlook” the fact that he wrote that “Supreme Court precedent ‘strongly suggested’’ that there was a ‘compelling interest’ in facilitating access to birth control.” But that ignores the fact that regardless of this rhetoric, Judge Kavanaugh has consistently demonstrated hostility to women’s reproductive rights, including in the very case that she referenced – Priests for Life v. Department of Health and Human Services. Moreover, if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh can make clear to the entire country that facilitating access to contraceptives is not a compelling interest.

I am also very concerned that my colleague failed to mention the key case addressing Judge Kavanaugh’s views on women’s reproductive rights – Garza v. Hargan. In that case, a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant sought release from HHS custody to obtain an abortion. In his dissent, Judge Kavanaugh mischaracterized the case as one of “parental consent” case to reach his desired outcome – denying this young women access to her constitutional right to an abortion. Parental consent was not at issue at all in that case. The young woman had already received a proper judicial bypass from a Texas judge. That case is troubling not only because it shows Judge Kavanaugh’s complete disregard for a woman’s right to make her own decisions about the most intimate aspects of her life, but also because it reveals his willingness to misrepresent the law and facts to reach his partisan, desired outcome.

Although some of my colleagues have tried to hang their hat on Judge Kavanaugh’s generic statements about his respect for precedent, even his own colleagues have criticized him for ignoring precedent, when expedient. In one case – United States v. Anthem, his colleagues in the majority sharply criticized his dissent, stating that their “dissenting colleague applies the law as he wishes it were, not as it currently is.”

My colleague from Maine also noted Judge Kavanaugh’s “rave reviews . . . as a judge, including for his judicial temperament.” She pointed to the fact that the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (ABA) “concluded that ‘his integrity, judicial temperament, and professional confidence met the highest standard.’” But I would be remiss if I didn’t further note that the ABA informed the Judiciary Committee yesterday morning that it was reopening its evaluation of Judge Kavanaugh because of “[n]ew information of a material nature regarding temperament during the September 27th hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.” This new information includes Judge Kavanaugh’s angry, partisan screed on September 27, when he accused Senators of “orchestrat[ing] a political hit” as “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and ominously said, “what goes around comes around.”

These statements, which were not mentioned by my colleague, directly contradict Judge Kavanaugh’s statements of nonpartisanship that my colleague quoted in her remarks.

 

But the most important clarification that I feel compelled to make is my colleague’s discussion of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. My colleague stated that she “found [Dr. Ford’s] testimony to be sincere, painful, and compelling.” She also said that she “believe[s] [Dr. Ford] is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life.”

But these statements of support were followed in the caveat, “Nevertheless.” “Nevertheless,” it was said, “the four witnesses [Dr. Ford] named could not corroborate any of the events of the evening gathering where she said the assault occurred.” My colleague raised questions about the fact that no one came forward from this small gathering in the summer of 1982 to say that they were at the party or that they gave Dr. Ford a ride home that night. Point by point, these statements sought to poke holes in Dr. Ford’s testimony based on little details.

In the midst of the questions raised about these little details in Dr. Ford’s testimony, the bottom line message was clear – Dr. Ford was not to be believed. She was mixed up, mistaken. By contrast, Judge Kavanaugh was to be believed because he “forcefully denied the allegations under penalty of perjury.” But there was no mention of the fact that Dr. Ford also testified until penalty of perjury and said she was “100 percent” certain it was Brett Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her in the summer of 1982.

And in contrast to the claim that there was a “lack of corroborating evidence,” there was significant corroborating evidence, as my colleagues have already entered into the record. To highlight just a few, Dr. Ford’s account was corroborated by Dr. Ford’s therapist, results of a polygraph examination, and other witnesses who were told about Dr. Ford’s account of her sexual assault even before Judge Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court.

In contrast to my colleague’s description of this process as a dysfunctional “frenzy” of special interest groups spreading “outright falsehoods,” I believe what we have heard over the past few weeks is democracy in action. Across America, women and men have been sharing their painful experiences of sexual assault and why it matters that someone who commits sexual assault should not be rewarded with a seat on the highest court in the land. They are saying character, credibility, candor, and temperament matter. Those are the American values we will be rejecting today, if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. I yield the floor.