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Sen. Sherrod Brown criticizes Brett Kavanaugh’s record, FBI investigation: Watch his speech

October 6, 2018

Sen. Sherrod Brown criticizes Brett Kavanaugh’s record, FBI investigation: Watch his speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the U.S. Senate prepared to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown delivered a speech on the Senate floor Saturday decrying the nominee’s judicial record and calling an FBI investigation into whether he committed sexual improprieties in his youth “straightjacketed.”

Brown announced his opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination on ideological grounds before the public airing of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a drunk teenager. But he said he’s grateful she came forward “even at great personal cost and risk.”

Brown also said “political influence and artificial deadlines” kept the FBI from thoroughly investigating her claims, noting they didn’t interview Ford herself or more than a dozen witnesses she asked them to interview.

“Instead, Senate leaders and the White House straightjacketed the FBI and kept our law enforcement professionals from doing their job,” Brown said.

Brown also said Kavanaugh’s “rulings and positions on the rights of Ohio workers, women, and consumers would take us in exactly the wrong direction.”

“It comes down to whose side you’re on,” said Brown. “Are you a judge who will stand on the side of workers, or multinational corporations? Will you stand on the side of a mother seeking cancer treatment, or on the side of insurance companies who want to raise her rates? Judge Kavanaugh’s record is clear.”

Kavanaugh has already secured enough votes for confirmation without Brown’s backing. Ohio’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Rob Portman, has backed Kavanaugh from the beginning. He delivered his floor speech to support the nomination on Friday.

Here’s the prepared text of Brown’s remarks:

I announced my decision to vote against Judge Kavanaugh several weeks ago, after meeting with him and studying his record, because he has consistently sided with Wall Street and corporate special interests over workers and consumers. I made this decision before Dr. Ford came forward.

But I’m grateful that she did – even at great personal cost and risk. I believe Dr. Ford, and I’m grateful to her and to all the brave women who were inspired by her to speak out and share their own stories – including those who’ve written my office.

Please know: we see you. We hear you. Your story matters. And you make a difference.

It’s wrong that political influence and artificial deadlines prevented the FBI from performing the complete and thorough investigation the American people deserve.

Instead, Senate leaders and the White House straightjacketed the FBI and kept our law enforcement professionals from doing their job.

According to Dr. Ford’s lawyer, the FBI didn’t even speak to more than a dozen witnesses Dr. Ford asked them to interview. They didn’t even interview Dr. Ford herself.

The Supreme Court has enormous influence over the lives of Ohioans.

Any nominee must defend the rights of all Americans to have comprehensive health care coverage and make their own health care decisions, to collectively bargain for safe workplaces and fair pay, and to be protected from discrimination and Wall Street greed.

I’m already very troubled by the Supreme Court’s recent decisions stripping rights from Ohioans on many of these issues.

That’s why I met with Judge Kavanaugh earlier this summer, and asked him about his views on the issues that matter to Ohioans. And I carefully reviewed his record, and listened to Ohioans who weighed in.

It was clear then that I could not support Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to our highest court.

His rulings and positions on the rights of Ohio workers, women, and consumers would take us in exactly the wrong direction.

And his nomination comes when the stakes for working Ohioans couldn’t be higher.

Already last term, the court issued a string of anti-worker decisions. In Janus v. AFSCME, the Court overturned decades of precedent and limited public sector unions’ ability to advocate for the workers they serve.

And the decision Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis limited workers’ ability to have their day in court when they’re mistreated by their employer.

This Court has proved time and again that it stands on the side of powerful corporations, not American workers.

And there are several cases next term where the Court has the power to fundamentally tip the balance of power even further toward corporations.

Cases like Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, where the court could rule on whether a worker can file a class action suit against an employer that violates her privacy and releases personal information to the public.

Or cases like New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, where the Court will decide whether a worker who was misclassified as an independent contractor can bring a class-action lawsuit, and whether the Federal Arbitration Act applies to independent contractor agreements.

I’ve looked at Judge Kavanaugh’s record, and it’s clear we cannot trust him to stand with Ohio workers in any of these cases.

He has opposed basic protections for workers trying to hold employers accountable, in cases like AFGE v. Gates, and he’s consistently ruled against claims of worker discrimination and worker safety violations, and against workers who stand up to corporate mistreatment, in cases like Verizon New England v. NLRB.

Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination also poses a serious threat to the five million Ohioans, under age 65, with preexisting conditions – that’s half our state.

Right now, the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections for Americans with preexisting conditions are under attack in the courts, with the case Texas v. United States that could make its way to the Supreme Court.

And Judge Kavanaugh’s record on health care gives us a pretty good clue as to how he would rule.

He refused to uphold the entire law as constitutional – we’re talking about the law that says if your child has asthma or your mother has diabetes, the insurance companies can’t raise your costs or turn them away. 

Without these protections, insurance companies would once again be free to charge you five times the rate of your neighbor, because you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, or because your child was born with epilepsy.

We cannot risk Ohio families’ access to care by sending Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

And it’s not just on preexisting conditions where he could post a threat to Ohioans’ health care.

There are dozens of cases pending in lower courts that could determine the price you pay for health care over the next few years – or whether you can get care at all. Cases on everything from false advertising by insurance companies to whether your employer is required to give you access to health care.

And of course, we know that the stakes are particularly high for women. That was true before Dr. Ford came forward, and it remains true.

We can’t risk Ohio women’s ability to make their own personal, private health decisions between themselves and their doctors by giving a lifetime appointment to a judge who has shown repeated hostility to women’s health care and freedom.

It comes down to whose side you’re on.

Are you a judge who will stand on the side of workers, or multinational corporations?

Will you stand on the side of a mother seeking cancer treatment, or on the side of insurance companies who want to raise her rates?

Judge Kavanaugh’s record is clear.

He has consistently sided with the most powerful special interests, not American workers.

The stakes for Ohioans are too high to give this justice a lifetime appointment to our highest court.

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