Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) took to the chamber floor on Thursday and unleashed against the Trump administration’s nomination of politically controversial, and young attorneys to lifetime federal judgeships.
“This body yesterday confirmed a judge who would limit rights for a generation,” Brown, speaking for nearly 10 minutes, said to fellow lawmakers. “We used to pick ... sort of wise, prudent lawyers who believed in public service. Didn’t believe in some far-right agenda where they put their thumb on the scale of justice.”
His comments came shortly before the Senate voted to confirm Eric Murphy to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. The 39-year-old has been the solicitor general of Ohio since 2013, and had faced harsh criticism for defending Ohio’s voter purge law, writing that same-sex marriage would be “disruptive ... to our constitutional democracy” and arguing against women’s access to contraception.
The day before, the Senate confirmed another Trump appointee to a lifetime judgeship. Allison Jones Rushing, 36, was approved with a 53-44 vote to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and faced similar criticism. Democrats pointed to her work for the Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and her arguments that there were “moral and practical” reasons to ban same-sex marriage.
Brown railed against his Republican colleagues ahead of Murphy’s confirmation vote, urging fellow senators to vote him down while expressing his frustrations with the politicization of lifetime-appointed positions.
“I just can’t imagine they came here thinking I’m going to take the oath office, right here, and you know one of the things I’m going to do? I’m going to vote to restrict voting rights, I’m going to vote to tell gay people they can’t marry, I’m going to vote to take away worker rights. I’m going to vote for judges that put their thumb on the scale of justice,” Brown said.
He later accused the Republican party of losing political fights “through the democratic process” and instead telling themselves that “you win through the backdoor in the judiciary.”
His speech came shortly after he said he would not run for president in 2020, but rather, devote his political efforts to Congress.
“Connie and I have spent the last few months traveling around the country to make dignity of work a centerpiece of Democrats’ 2020 campaign, and we are so grateful to everyone who has welcomed us into their communities and into their lives,” Brown said in a statement, referring to his wife. “We’ve seen candidates begin taking up the dignity of work fight, and we have seen voters across the country demanding it – because dignity of work is a value that unites all of us. It is how we beat Trump, and it is how we should govern.”
He said he would work to help elect a Democrat next year to challenge Trump, and said that “the best place for me to make that fight is in the United States Senate.”
Watch the entire moment above.