Apr 22, 2021
Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham Press Conference on Supreme Court Expansion Transcript April 22
Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Marsha Blackburn held a press conference on April 22, 2021 to discuss opposition to Supreme Court expansion. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Senator Lindsey Graham: (00:00)
Okay. Are you ready? Okay. Last week, a group of Democrats, including the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to change the makeup of the Supreme Court, claiming that the system was broken, attacked the court in the most vicious way, and Ted and myself and many others are here to tell the American people we’re going to protect the court. We’re not going to allow the most radical liberal movement in modern American history to destroy the rule of law for partisan purposes. Why do they want more justices? To make the court liberal so that when they fell at the ballot box, they can get the Supreme Court to enact their agenda. That’s been a liberal dream for decades, and they’re willing to destroy the rule of law as we know it to achieve their goal. They are willing to change the makeup of the United States Senate to achieve their goal.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (01:17)
I don’t want to cross her religious ceremony, but it’s as if she… There we go. That’s a blessing in someplace, I’m sure. The bottom line is there’s a movement to change America as we know it by the most partisan people in this town, and they’re saying a lot, that includes fundamentally changing the makeup of the court, which would set in motion the end of the rule of law as we know it, because if the Democrats did it and Republicans got back in George, we’d be forced to change the number. The court would become a political football, destroying its independence, and the American people would lose faith in the institution. By increasing the number of United States senators, making DC a state, is the biggest assault on the Senate in my lifetime and comes at the expense of Texas and South Carolina and every other state. A horribly bad idea.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (02:24)
H.R. 1 is nationalizing how we vote. It’s a federal takeover of our election. And there’s an open discussion in the United States Senate, led by the majority leader, about changing the rules of the Senate to make all this a reality. Steny Hoyer, a friend of mine, says that the filibuster needs to go so this agenda can go through the Senate. I want the American people to know what the filibuster means to you. It’s a tool we have as Republicans to make sure that extreme ideas like turning the Supreme Court from nine to 13 can’t happen without Republican buy-in. It’s a check and balance on the desire to federalize the elections through H.R. 1. It’s the end of making DC a state, unless you can get some Republicans to agree that’s a good idea.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (03:25)
If you’re wanting to understand why all this matters, Senator Cruz wrote a book called One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History. He will tell you better than I what this book is about. But if you’re a gun owner, the Heller decision was five to four, interpreting the constitution in such a fashion as that you as an American citizen have an individual right to own a gun. That the constitutional provisions about guns apply not to malicious but to individuals. So the Republican Party in the Senate is the last line of defense against this radical agenda.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (04:16)
And I want to thank Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema for rejecting the idea of changing the filibuster. I’m asking no more of them than I ask of myself. I appreciate what they’re doing for the Senate and for the country. But conservatives care about the court. Our goal is to make sure that people on the court do not become legislators in a robe. Their goal is to add to the court judges who will do our job; creating laws, not interpreting laws. This is the biggest fight for the rule of law maybe since Marbury v. Madison. Well, that somebody who I respect immensely when it comes to legal ability, who’s worked in this building and can tell you better than I can how single vote can change America in the Supreme court. Senator Cruz.
Senator Ted Cruz: (05:25)
Thank you, Lindsey. What is it that makes America different? What makes America special? In America, we believe in the rule of law. In America, we don’t have government by men or women, but rather every person is under the law. We are standing before what is a temple to justice. This institution, the Supreme Court of the United States has stood up to political pressures from the very first day America was a nation. It has stood up against buffeting politics. The Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education decree that the despicable practice of segregated schools and Jim Crow laws were no longer acceptable in America and struck them down. And the justices had the courage to have the independence to follow the law and follow the constitution.
Senator Ted Cruz: (06:26)
What differentiates America from dictatorships? My father fled Cuba under a communist dictatorship today. In banana republics, the dictators don’t have courts that follow the law. They instead have puppet judges that do what they want. When Hugo Chávez came in in Venezuela, one of the first things he did is destroy the court and take it over. What Senate Democrats and House Democrats are trying to do is fundamentally corrupt. Their first priority is to change the rules to stay in power. Now, that tells you a lot of things. It tells you, number one, they don’t believe in democracy. They don’t believe in the voters. If they want to stay in power, there’s a real simple path to that. Convince the voters your ideas are right.
Senator Ted Cruz: (07:20)
But that’s too complicated. Sometimes the voters disagree. So what are Senate Democrats trying to do? They’re trying to add new senators to the Senate so they keep control forever. They’re trying to change voting in America so Democrats can never lose. And they want to pack the US Supreme Court with four left-wing radicals. This is an assault fundamentally on the independence of the judiciary. Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried this nearly a hundred years ago. He had a Democratic super majority in the House. He had a Democratic super majority in the Senate, and his own party stopped him. FDR at the height of his popularity…
Senator Ted Cruz: (08:03)
… party stopped him. FDR at the height of his popularity, they said, “No, this is a bad idea. Packing the court is a bad idea. It will threaten our fundamental freedoms.” Unfortunately, today’s Democratic Party is a lot more radical than the Democratic Party used to be and they’re perfectly happy to tear down the institutions of democracy, to tear down the institutions that protect our constitution in order to try to ram through their agenda.
Senator Ted Cruz: (08:33)
Lindsey referenced my book, One Vote Away. I wrote that last year, last fall, because so many of our fundamental rights are hanging by a single vote. Hanging in the balance. Free speech, the right of every one of us to come out here and speak and say what you believe. We’re one vote away from free speech being stripped away and Congress having the power to punish you for exercising your right to free speech for speaking about politics.
Senator Ted Cruz: (09:04)
Religious liberty. The fundamental right. We have to worship God according to our own faith. A few minutes ago, we had a woman who was out here praying and blowing the shofar, exercising her religious liberty. We’re one vote away from your religious liberty rights being taken away. The Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arm. Lindsey talked about the Heller case. I represented 31 states in the Heller case, the foundational case establishing our Second Amendment, right to keep and bear arms. That vote was five to four.
Senator Ted Cruz: (09:40)
The four to setting justices were prepared as is effectively to erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights. To conclude that no American anywhere has an individual right to keep and bear arms. These are radical and extreme ideas and by the way, they’re incredibly unpopular ideas. There’s a reason the Democrats don’t want to actually go to the voters and try to convince the voters to do this because the voters are telling them to jump in a lake.
Senator Ted Cruz: (10:08)
So instead, they’re trying to rake the gate. Instead, they’re trying to fix the system. They’re behaving like corrupt politicians. And by the way, just a few years ago, Republicans were in the same position. 2017, all of us were here. We had a Republican president, a Republican Senate and a Republican House. We didn’t do this. We could have. They love to say Donald Trump to paint him as some crazy autocrat. You didn’t see Republicans when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court.
Senator Ted Cruz: (10:50)
There was nothing that would have prevented Republicans from doing what they’re doing other than respect for the rule of law, other than basic decency, other than recognizing that democracy matters and packing the court and tearing down the institutions that protect our rights is fundamentally wrong. And the American people need to know, this is not… Look, we could have arguments back and forth about tax rates. Democrats want to raise taxes, we don’t. Fine. That’s the bread and butter of politics. That’s the thing you’re supposed to debate in the Capitol.
Senator Ted Cruz: (11:23)
What we shouldn’t be debating is a radical plan to destroy the United States Supreme Court, to destroy judicial independence and to destroy the rights that are protected in the Bill of Rights. All of those are hanging in the balance.
Speaker 1: (11:40)
Thanks, Ted. And Ted’s exactly right. Can you even imagine what Joy Reid and her MSNBC friends would be saying if Republicans had tried to pack the court? They would just lose it and it would be nonstop coverage. One of the things that we do know is that the Democrats are trying to pack the court to turn it into a super legislative body so that they have people that are going to rubber stamp everything that they believe, everything. Whether it’s the Green New Deal, whether it is H.R. 1, whether it’s the Equality Act.
Speaker 1: (12:24)
And if they are successful, you will not see life protected. You will see government run healthcare. You are not going to see your rights protected and I guarantee you, they will come to take away your guns. These are things you can count on because this is their agenda. Their policies are so unpopular. They know, they could not get it through the House and the Senate. Why are they keeping the Capitol in lockdown? Why are they keeping people away? Not giving them the opportunity to petition their government. They are doing it because they want to radically change this country and radically change our institutions.
Speaker 1: (13:18)
So are we standing against their push to pack the court? Absolutely. Will we continue to fight to preserve our liberties? Absolutely, we will. These institutions are important to the American people and they want to see us stand for the constitution, for freedom, for liberty, for these institutions that have kept this nation free. Lindsey.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (13:51)
Speaker 2: (13:52)
Senator Graham, what do you think Senator Schumer’s end game is here? Today the House is going to on D.C. statehood and then he’s committed to bringing up some of these other bills that you’ve mentioned previously in your opening remarks. I mean, what do you think his end game is here with this legislature bringing it up against the developments?
Senator Lindsey Graham: (14:09)
I think his end game is not get primaried by EEOC. I think Nancy Pelosi’s end game is to keep her job. I think Joe Biden’s end game is try to be the most progressive president since FDR and that his whole campaign turns out to be a fraud. So the bottom line is I think Senator Schumer is being pressed very hard by the most extreme people in the House and quite frankly, the Senate and I’m worried. 2022 will be here before you know it. So this election cycle is incredibly important.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (14:52)
If we can take back the House, what happens today with D.C. statehood would not happen. So I think Senator Schumer said it best, all options on the table. And he’s telling us as Republicans, if we don’t toe the line and be good boys and girls, he will take the Senate and change it to push this agenda through, including packing the court.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (15:19)
We’re here today to tell Senator Schumer, we were under pressure. President Trump argued every day about changing the filibuster rule so we could get the things that we wanted through and many of us said no and that comes with the cost. So I’m asking Senator Schumer to think about the consequences to the country. Think about the consequences to the court and where does this end? Will there be an effort to break California into three states. If we get power back, will they be 20 Supreme court justices, will they be five?
Senator Lindsey Graham: (16:03)
Will there be 20 Supreme Court Justices? Will there be five? Packing the court was rejected by Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a bad idea. What have I learned in this whole process? How compliant the media is with this agenda. If Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Marsha Blackburn, when we’re in charge, came up with these ideas, you would eat us alive. You can’t find this into sports page. Mitch McConnell constantly says it’s never reported that Justice Breyer and Ginsberg are against expanding the court because it destroys the court.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (16:45)
So what are we here today to do? To tell our Democratic colleagues, if you go down this road, you destroy the country, and there’s no going back. Because we’ll have to push back. Every option’s on the table for me. If I have to stay in South Carolina to deny a quorum to do this crazy stuff, destroying the court, take over our election process, on, and on, and on, I will.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (17:19)
The road to anarchy is being paved with this agenda. The destruction of the systems that have kept us a free people are at risk. What would I do to prevent that? Everything in my power. And what am I asking? Back off. I didn’t do this. I’m not asking you to do anything I wasn’t willing to do. When the pressure was put on us, we said no.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (17:53)
Because what’s the use of being up here. If you can’t make it better. And better is allowing every American, through the ballot box, to have a chance to say how their country would be.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (18:08)
If a third world emerging democracy did this, the State Department with all us would be talking about a puppet government creating a puppet court. We would be pushing back all over the world if somebody tried to do this. This is being done in America in 2021. And we’re here to say, “We’re going to fight back.”
Speaker 3: (18:37)
I have a question about… So right now many Progressive’s are using the race card to kind of push through their agenda. I just came from a filibuster press conference that the Progressive [crosstalk 00:18:49] had trying to end the filibuster. And they were using the race card as a part of that. We know with the Black Lives Matter rights and everything. What is your response to using race in order to push through [crosstalk 00:18:59].
Senator Lindsey Graham: (18:59)
So I’ll let other colleague… But that’s exactly what they’re doing. I had dinner with Joe Manchin last night. Jim Clyburn, who is a Congressman in my state, I’ve known Jim for a long time. I try to work with him where I can. We have different political philosophies, but I always found him to be a decent man.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (19:18)
He is basically saying, Joe Manchin is embracing racism, but not embracing the filibuster. The President of the United States, who I’ve traveled with throughout the entire world working on problems, has called every Republican, every person who supports Georgia voting reform, Jim Crow 2.0. The terms being used to try to bully us into agreeing to this agenda won’t work.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (19:52)
I voted for sentencing reform. I would like to work with my Democratic colleagues on police reform. So to my Democratic colleagues playing the race card won’t work. It diminishes you, not us. There’s nothing racist about keeping the filibuster. And here’s the question, if it’s a tool of racism, why did they use it so much when they were in the minority? Why did they use it to stop Tim Scott’s ability to have a discussion about police reform? This is hypocrisy, and it’s not going to work.
Speaker 3: (20:36)
Senator Lindsey Graham: (20:37)
Speaker 3: (20:37)
On Tim Scott’s police reform. We’ve seen that he’s floated the idea of maybe having qualified immunity not apply to departments, but still apply to officers. Do you think that that is a good starting point for negotiation?
Senator Lindsey Graham: (20:48)
I’d be willing to talk with my colleagues about police reform.
Senator Ted Cruz: (20:51)
Senator Lindsey Graham: (20:51)
I talked with Tim last night. We’re going to have a meeting later in the week. I don’t want cops to be sued. I don’t want their employers to be sued. I don’t want a cop to have to lose their house or their car by going to work.
Speaker 4: (21:03)
Senator Lindsey Graham: (21:03)
If they did something wrong, they can be held accountable under the law. But the idea of suing individual police officers, in these days and times, I think, needs to be renewed, revisited. Because I think it is deterring people from being cops.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (21:17)
So our point is, we’re willing to work with folks within a system that protects us all and gives us voice. So, yes, police reform is possible in this partisan environment. But the more you do this, the more you assault democracy as we know it, the more you challenge all of us in our character, the harder it is to get something done.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (21:43)
President Biden, you promised to bring us together. You’re doing a lousy job.
Senator Ted Cruz: (21:53)
Well, and the last several questions that were asked, or actually all interrelated. You look at police reform. Are there reforms we need to do? Yes, and all of us worked with our friend and colleague, Tim Scott on a reasonable police reform bill in the prior Congress. Every single Democrat filibustered police reform. These same Democrats that are now posturing that a filibuster is racist, every one of them.
Senator Ted Cruz: (22:25)
Dick Durbin stood on the Senate floor right across the street. And he derided Tim Scott, an African-American Senator from the South, as a token. That’s disgusting. That has no place in political discussions. But today’s Democrats, on every topic, they go to race. And if you oppose whatever radical agenda they’re trying to push, they call you a racist. The Democrats filibustered hundreds of times when Republicans had the majority.
Senator Ted Cruz: (23:04)
You talk about police reform. I agree with Lindsey that we want to protect officers, that an individual officer shouldn’t face crushing civil liability for doing his or her job, and that there are a lot of officers right now… The left likes to demonize cops, likes to immediately assume when something happens that the police officer is to blame. That’s wrong. That’s a mistake. The vast majority of police officers are heroic men and women risking their lives to keep us safe.
Senator Ted Cruz: (23:34)
Now, if a police officer breaks the law, they’re held accountable. We saw that in the Chauvin verdict this week. That’s also how the justice system operates. That’s how it’s meant to operate. But we allow the justice system to work fairly and impartially. This institution that we’re standing in front of is what protects all of this. I’ve done many press conferences on the steps of the court after arguing cases in inside the court. I actually represented a man-
Senator Ted Cruz: (24:03)
You in cases inside the court. I actually represented a man, John Thompson, who was wrongfully convicted of capital murder and spent 14 years on death row in Louisiana. And he was exonerated. He was proven innocent. And he sued the prosecutors that had suppressed the evidence that convicted him, and he got a $14 million judgment. And I represented him here at the Supreme Court, trying to fight to defend that judgment. Unfortunately, we lost 5-4. I think it is important when your constitutional rights are violated, that you have redress, you have a way of getting compensated for that. But we depend upon this institution being fair and impartial. You look at what Democrats are trying to do. Last year Chuck Schumer stood up here with Democrats and threatened the Justices and said, “You will reap the whirlwind.” Threaten the justices with political retribution, and we’re seeing that retribution as they’re trying to rig the Supreme Court.
Senator Ted Cruz: (25:06)
Political disagreements are fine. That’s part of politics. And if the voters disagree with some policy being pushed by whoever is in control, they can throw the bums out and put the other bums in charge. That’s how the democratic process is meant to work. But what Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are doing is trying to rig the system. They’re trying to cheat and break the rule of law. That is a profound threat.
Senator Ted Cruz: (25:35)
And Lindsey referenced Joe Biden. All three of us have served with Joe. Joe used to be a reasonable guy. The Joe Biden who swore me into the Senate nine years ago, I don’t know where that guy is. I think they got him tied up in a basement somewhere because it’s the crazies who are running the ship. And so I’d like to see the Joe Biden we served with escape from the basement and come out and say, “All right, we’re not going to break the system. We’re not going to cheat. And we’re not going to destroy the Supreme Court of the United States. This is a time…
Senator Ted Cruz: (26:10)
Look, Joe Biden has wanted to be president since he’s two years old. Now I’m not one to throw rocks at that particular instinct. But you know what? He is president now. So act like it. And a president has an obligation under the Constitution to take care that the laws are followed. He’s not doing that. He is allowing the crazies in his party to tear down the Constitution, to tear down the Bill of Rights and to tear down the Supreme Court. That is incredibly dangerous.
Speaker 3: (26:45)
Speaking of Biden, can I get your reaction, and Senator Graham, to President Biden’s climate plan, committing to cutting greenhouse emissions in half by 2030. He’s announcing that today.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (26:56)
I don’t know. I’ll be glad to look at it. I’m speaking for myself. I believe climate change is real. I believe the Green New Deal is a terrible deal for the United States. You can’t really solve the problem unless India and China involved. I’ll be glad to look at it. I’ll be glad to work with President Biden on infrastructure. I’ll be glad to have a healthy conversation about climate change. I’ll be glad to find common ground where I can, but I am going to echo what Senator Cruz said. Mr. President, there’s some real big assaults on democracy and democratic institutions occurring on your watch, and you’re AWOL.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (27:34)
You said it was a bonehead idea for FDR to try to pack the court. You’re sitting on the sidelines while you’re president, forming a commission that may actually do that. The Joe Biden that was progressive, but reasonable needs to emerge because it’s pretty hard for me to sit down and try to find a way to solve problems when your party is trying to destroy the country as I know it. So I would just ask that president Biden have a timeout on some of these radical ideas so that we can find some common ground.
Senator Lindsey Graham: (28:20)
Today they’re going to try to make DC a state. The Constitution created the District of Columbia for a purpose, that the place we govern ourselves nationally, one state won’t have an advantage over the other. If you’re worried about people in the District of Columbia being disenfranchised, they can participate in Maryland politics. This is a power grab. Packing the court is a power grab. H.R. 1 is a power grab. The filibuster elimination is a power grab. So the Joe Biden presidency is not problem solving thus far. It’s the biggest power grab in my lifetime. And I know that the Joe Biden that I worked with all these years would not be a part of this. Something has changed. Something has changed in the Democratic Party that needs to be dealt with. The people pushing this agenda need to be toned down by their own party. There’s only so much we can do. I have done that at times with my own party. I’m getting worried, nervous, and scared about the next 18 months.