This is another installment of an ongoing series of posts summarizing 2020 Democratic presidential candidates' views on judges and the courts. All posts in this series can be viewed here.
On Brett Kavanaugh: Voted No. [i]
On the nomination of Judge Kavanagh to the Supreme Court, Senator Klobuchar said the following:
- “There were many highly credentialed nominees like yourself [Judge Kavanaugh] that could have been sitting before us today, but—to my colleagues—what concerns me is that during this critical juncture in history, the President has hand-picked a nominee to the Court with the most expansive view of Presidential power possible… a nominee who has actually written that a President—on his own—can declare laws unconstitutional.” [ii]
- “I just think we could have had someone who was more independent.” [iii]
- In a television townhall, Senator Klobuchar: “[Judge Kavanaugh] was basically politicizing the whole judiciary with how he acted [during his confirmation hearings].” [iv]
On Neil Gorsuch: Voted No.[v]
On the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Senator Klobuchar stated:
- “After thorough examination and consideration, I have decided that I will not vote in favor of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. His judicial record on critical issues including the rights of children with disabilities, campaign finance, and preserving health and safety protections have led me to conclude that I cannot support his nomination.” [vi]
- “I felt that he [Judge Gorsuch] was out of the mainstream, not really in—how he interacted personally. I had a very good conversation with him…I’m not going to relitigate the whole thing today, but there were some real concerns about his philosophy.”[vii]
Her opposition to Trump’s judicial nominees:
During the last Congress, Senator Klobuchar voted against Trump judicial nominations about half of the time, or 50.9% of the time. Of the 57 lower court judicial nominations, Senator Klobuchar voted to confirm 29 nominees. [viii]
- In September 2018, Senator Amy Klobuchar stated that she regrets Senate Democrats eliminating the filibuster for most judicial nominees in 2013. She went on to say: “I would prefer to bring it back…But we are where we are and now I don’t think anyone’s going to want to hamstring themselves.” [ix]
- Regarding the recent post-cloture time change in April to overcome Senate Democrat obstruction of Trump nominees, Senator Klobuchar stated: “I don’t know why they are continuing to pursue this [rule change] except that they want to ram through judges, they want to ram through Justice Department people.”[x]
- In apparent attempt to justify Senate Democrat obstruction on President Trump’s nominees, she made the follow remarks on the Senate Floor: “At a time of blistering rhetoric, anger and divisiveness, this is no time to cede this chamber’s ability to do its due diligence by removing the guardrails that help ensure judicial nominees have the qualifications for lifetime appointments to the federal bench.”[xi]
Position on Expanding the Supreme Court:
Senator Klobuchar has stated that “court packing” is not a priority of hers. In a CBS News report:
“Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, said she would look at various proposals but said her priority is to get fair and qualified judges through the existing system.
“One of the problems we've had, even when President Obama came in, there's been a lot of delay to in starting that process,” Klobuchar told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe. “I know a lot of people who are qualified people all across the country that I think would make excellent judges, some of whom are left hanging...so I think that is very important to get judges in place immediately.”
She has also said when asked about expanding the Court: “‘the most reasonable’ thing for Democrats to do now is win elections and ‘try to stop the bad judges.’’[xii]
What kind of Supreme Court justice would she appoint?:
When expressing the type of Supreme Court justice that she would vote for, she stated during a television interview:
“I want a judge who is independent-minded. Justice Kennedy, yes, you get a lot of conservative things. 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—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.”[xiii]
Her views about the role of the courts:
Speaking during the opening remarks Judge Kavanaugh nomination hearings to the Supreme Court, Senator Klobuchar stated:
“And the last branch, the third branch of government – our courts and individual judges – have been under assault, not just by a solitary disappointed litigant, but by the President of the United States.
Our democracy is on trial. And for the pillars of our democracy and our Constitution to weather this storm, our nation’s highest Court must serve as a ballast in these turbulent times.” [xiv]
Last Updated: May 17, 2019
[i] https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=2&vote=00223 (115th Congress, Second Session RCV No 223).
[v] https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=1&vote=00111 (115th Congress, First Session RCV No 111).
[viii] Sen. Klobuchar voted for the follow lower court nominations: https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu_115_1.htm (115th Congress, First Session RCV Nos. 158, 182, 188, 207, 251, 253, 280, 281); https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu _115_2.htm (115th Congress, Second Session RCV Nos. 3, 5, 7, 9, 27, 38, 46, 47, 49, 65, 87, 89, 92, 93, 94, 113, 115, 117, 145, 185, 200, 204).
[xiv] https://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/9/klobuchar-opening-statement-at-supreme-court-confirmation-hearing-for-judge-kavanaugh & https://qz.com/1378639/kavanaugh-confirmation-hearings-our-democracy-is-on-trial/