VIDEO: Menendez Slams GOP for Jamming Through Trump 3rd Circuit Judicial Nom

VIDEO: Menendez Slams GOP for Jamming Through Trump 3rd Circuit Judicial Nom

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today slammed Senate Republicans for trying to jam through a lifetime appointment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes New Jersey, without the consent of either of the state’s senators, thereby silencing the ability of New Jerseyans to have a say in who sits in judgement of them.  In breaking with longstanding Senate tradition, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) today moved forward on the nomination of Paul Matey without first receiving a “blue slip” from either Sens. Menendez or Cory Booker (D-N.J.) indicating their approval.  Both New Jersey senators voted “NO” on today’s procedural vote.

It’s shameful.  So long as this President keeps packing our courts with corporate-friendly, Federalist Society judges, the Republican Majority is willing to destroy a process Sen. Orin Hatch once called the ‘last remaining check on the president’s judicial appointment power.’ President Trump’s nominees are now being confirmed at record speed despite objections from home-state senators,” Sen. Menendez said during a speech on the Senate Floor following the cloture vote.  “There never was meaningful consultation between the White House and Senator Booker or me to identify a highly qualified consensus nominee.  Rather, we were informed about the decision to nominate Mr. Matey.  Nor did I receive any offer to meet with Mr. Matey—not before his nomination, not after his nomination, not to date.”

 CLICK to WATCH Sen. Menendez’s Full Remarks

Sen. Menendez noted that in the hundred years before President Trump took office, only five judges were confirmed with only one blue slip returned, and a Democratic-led Senate never once held a hearing or confirmed a judicial nominee without a blue slip from the minority party.  If confirmed, Matey would be the third nominee to get a lifetime appointment on the federal bench without a blue slip from either home state senator.

The blue slip process allows the people of any state to have a voice—through their duly elected representatives in the Senate—on whom ultimately renders justice in their state.

Sen. Booker, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, was denied an opportunity to meet with Matey prior to his nomination hearing before the Committee. 

During his speech, Sen. Menendez said New Jerseyans have “no appetite” for a judge who held a senior position in Governor Chris Christie’s administration and was once considered his protégé.  Matey served as the former governor’s deputy chief counsel during the Bridgegate scandal and rampant mismanagement of Superstorm Sandy recovery, and later as senior vice president for University Hospital in Newark when it failed a nationwide investigation of patient safety standards.  The Senator also cited Matey’s lack of pro bono work as a private attorney.

“Mr. Matey has done nothing to serve the disadvantaged, and that does not bode well for the fair administration of justice, nor does the Republican Majority’s disregard for procedures like blue slips bode well for the Senate’s constitutional role to provide advice and consent…,” Sen. Menendez continued

Sen. Menendez’s remarks are below, as prepared for delivery:

“M. President, I rise today having just voted NO on the motion invoking cloture on Paul Matey’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“Look, I know speeches on procedure rarely make headlines but I cannot be silent as this Majority shreds long-held norms for political gain.

“Once again, the Republican Majority has ignored the blue slip process that allows Senators to either greenlight or prevent hearings on judicial nominees from their home states. 

“Some Americans may wonder: Why does this matter?

“Well, the blue slip process helps give the people a voice – through their elected representatives – on whom ultimately renders justice in their state. 

“Neither Senator Cory Booker nor I have returned blue slips for Mr. Matey.

“In fact, Mr. Matey’s confirmation hearing took place before Senator Booker – our state’s voice on the Judiciary Committee – was even extended the common courtesy of meeting with Mr. Matey.

“M. President, it was not for lack of trying. Senator Booker requested time with Mr. Matey – but when he didn’t receive it, the Judiciary Committee proceeded anyway.

“To add insult to injury, Committee Republicans falsely claimed that the White House had meaningfully consulted with myself and Mr. Booker, Mr. Matey’s home state senators.

“That is simply not the case. There never was meaningful consultation between the White House and Senator Booker or me to identify a highly qualified consensus nominee.

“Rather, we were informed about the decision to nominate Mr. Matey.

 “Nor did I receive any offer to meet with Mr. Matey. Not before his nomination. Not after his nomination. Not even to date, as we are voting on the Senate Floor. 

 “Look, I’ve come to expect this behavior from the Trump White House.

 “But here in the Senate, Democrats always respected the blue slip process during our time in the majority. That’s undeniable.

“Before President Trump took office, only five judges in the past century were confirmed with only one blue slip, much less no blue slips. 

“Never has a Democratic-led Senate ever held a hearing or confirmed a judicial nominee without a blue slip from a Republican Senator. 

“It’s shameful.  So long as this President keeps packing our courts with corporate-friendly, Federalist Society judges, the Republican Majority is willing to destroy a process Senator Orin Hatch once called the ‘last remaining check on the president’s judicial appointment power.’

“President Trump’s nominees are now being confirmed at record speed despite objections from home-state senators.

“Republicans claim to be the party of conservatism. Yet there’s nothing conservative about sweeping aside century-old norms for political gain. 

“They’ve put their party before country and shown no fidelity to the institutions that have made this country great.

“Aside from the degradation of Senate norms surrounding Mr. Matey’s nomination, I have real concerns with his record.

“The people of New Jersey have no appetite for a judge who served in Governor Chris Christie’s Administration and was once even called a protégé of our esteemed former Governor.

“As Deputy Chief Counsel for Governor Christie, Mr. Matey said he tried to ensure the Administration followed ‘the highest standards of proprietary, ethics, and legality.’

“Somehow, I question that. Consider what the people of New Jersey had to go through during Governor Christie’s tenure.

“The Bridgegate scandal, the defunding of a Rutgers Institute that was run by a federal nominee, the spiteful removal of a security detail from former Governor Codey and the rampant mismanagement of Superstorm Sandy relief contracts, which forced too many families to live in trailers for years on end.

“That’s quite a list. I struggle to believe that Mr. Matey – the second most senior attorney in the Christie Administration – had no knowledge of this behavior.

“During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Matey could not detail the steps he took to ensure ethics rules were followed and declined to offer any description of his supposed ‘rigorous system’ of monitoring and oversight at his confirmation hearing. 

“Apparently, Mr. Matey’s system wasn’t so rigorous, considering that Bridgegate amounted to one of the most egregious abuses of political power against everyday New Jersey families in our history. 

“I also have concerns about Mr. Matey’s career after working for Governor Christie.

“During his time as Senior Vice President for University Hospital in Newark, a nationwide investigation gave the hospital an ‘F’—failure—for patient safety standards.

“Mr. Matey has acknowledged that while these issues were technical and medical in nature, he did have some personal responsibility to mitigate risk to patients.

“Likewise, some of Mr. Matey’s writings suggest a hostility towards plaintiff attorneys who help everyday Americans take on powerful corporate interests in class-action lawsuits.

“In 2005, he authored an article with now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch that lamented how the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dura Pharmaceuticals was a missed opportunity to ‘curb frivolous fraud claims’ and dismissed plaintiff attorneys as seeking ‘free rides to fast riches.’

“In other words, Paul Matey saw a very narrow question in the Dura Pharmaceuticals case as an opening for the court to make a sweeping ruling on all securities class actions.

“Now that is what you call an activist judge!

“Matey then goes on to decry the ‘enormous toll on the economy’ that securities fraud litigation takes on corporations – with little concern for the actual victims of securities fraud.

“Most troubling to me is how Paul Matey has done zero – I repeat, zero – pro bono work throughout his legal career.

“His Senate Judiciary Questionnaire lacks any record of pro bono representation.

“When asked about it, Mr. Matey claimed his work on behalf of the State of New Jersey satisfied that requirement.

“I couldn’t disagree more.

“Cannon 2 of the American Bar Association’s Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly emphasizes the importance of pro bono work.

“For many corporate lawyers, representing the underserved is the only way to witness firsthand how the scales of justice in this country are too often tipped in favor of the wealthy and well-connected.

“Pro bono work helps lawyers cultivate sound judgment – and it’s especially important to those seeking to become federal judges!

“Mr. Matey has done nothing to serve the disadvantaged – and that does not bode well for the fair administration of justice.

“Nor does the Republican Majority’s disregard for procedures like blue slips bode well for the Senate’s constitutional role to provide advice and consent or our responsibility to help build a judiciary that’s responsive to the needs of the American people in the courtroom.

“I urge my colleagues to oppose confirmation of Paul Matey to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are better than this.”

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