Durbin: Instead Of Responding To COVID-19 Pandemic, Senate Republicans Charging Ahead With Judicial Nomination Of Justin Walker
Durbin Pressed Walker To Recuse Himself From Cases Involving Constitutional Challenges To The Affordable Care Act – Walker Refused
WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Justin Walker to the D.C. Circuit Court, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for prioritizing this nomination over responding to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 70,000 Americans.
Durbin noted that there are many important and timely COVID-19 topics that the Senate Judiciary Committee and its subcommittees should be focused on, including ensuring that DACA and TPS recipients and other immigrants can continue to serve as frontline health care and other essential workers; ensuring the fundamental constitutional right to vote is respected and that all Americans can safely vote in November; and ensuring adequate personal protective equipment is available for police departments and prisons.
“When we heard that Senator McConnell was summoning us back to Washington, D.C. after five or six weeks where most of us were sheltering-in-place at home, I was waiting to hear the agenda. I knew what America was focused on – a ‘national emergency’ in the words of President Trump, a public health care crisis that we hear about every minute of every day that has literally changed the lives of so many people across America, and as of this moment, claimed at least 70,000 Americans lives,” Durbin said. “Instead, we are considering the nomination of a 37-year-old family friend of Senator McConnell’s to the second highest court in the land—a nominee who has a record, ironically, of stridently opposing the Affordable Care Act, which seeks to extend health insurance coverage to more Americans, and who last year was found unqualified to serve as a district court judge in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Video of Durbin’s opening remarks in Committee is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s opening remarks in Committee is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s opening remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.
Durbin pressed Judge Walker to commit to recuse himself from cases involving constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s provisions in light of Walker’s public comments about his views on the ACA’s constitutionality. On July 2, 2018, Walker wrote a column in The Federalist publication in which he described the Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB v. Sebelius, which upheld the constitutionality of the ACA as an exercise of Congress’s tax power, as “an indefensible decision.” He also wrote that the Court’s rationale in that case was, “catastrophically accepted.” Durbin also noted that Walker, while he was a siting federal judge, publicly mocked the rationale of the NFIB decision during his ceremonial investiture in March 2020.
“In light of your public comments about the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality, will you commit to recuse yourself from any case involving constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s provisions?” Dubin asked.
Judge Walker refused to make that commitment.
“Judge Walker, after 162 television appearances, after all that you have written and all that you have said, it is painful to hear you say you have an open mind on the issue of the Affordable Care Act,” Durbin said. “I gave you an opportunity to clear this issue off of the agenda, and you have chosen not to.”
Durbin previously asked Judge Walker in writing during his district court confirmation process if he would commit to recuse himself from cases involving challenges to the ACA’s constitutionality. He refused to make that commitment as well.
Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.
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