Sen. Tom Cotton discusses judicial selection process, COVID-19 relief options

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 958 views 

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., expects the next time Democrats hold the White House and the U.S. Senate they will waste little time confirming judicial appointments that may exist.

“If you have a circumstance in the future with a Republican president and a Democratic Senate, then I suspect the Democratic Senate won’t confirm anywhere near 200 judges. And if there’s a Democratic president and Democratic Senate one day in the future, then I suspect they’ll confirm more of those judges,” Cotton said, in defense of the GOP-led Senate holding up scores of judicial appointments during the Obama administration, but pushing them through during the Trump presidency.

When asked if it was good government to not work across party lines with judicial nominees, Cotton said today’s polarized environment is an outcome of decades of court activism.

“This touches on a deeper issue about the role the Supreme Court has taken on for itself in our society over the last 50 or 60 years. I think the Supreme Court has extended its reach far beyond what it should be. Most questions should be left to the people acting through their elected representatives in Washington or in their state legislatures or local governments,” he said. “The Supreme Court too often though has substituted its preferences for elected officials. So, it’s not surprising that there’s so much political tension in these nominations, where 50 or 60 years ago and back to the beginning of the country, these nominees went through sometimes on the same day they were nominated.”

Cotton, who is running for re-election this year against Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., will return to Washington D.C. this week for an expected Wednesday vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her confirmation hearing last week was largely uneventful. Many Republicans praised her record and poise, while many Democrats argued she did not address basic questions regarding her legal views.

“I think most Democrats, I think maybe all Democrats, will vote against Judge Barrett. That’s fine. I wish that they would simply vote against her, though, because they say they disagree with her judicial philosophy or they don’t want Donald Trump to fill this vacancy. I hope we don’t see a replay of what happened with Justice Kavanaugh two years ago,” Cotton said in reference to the contentious hearings and Senate vote.

The state’s junior senator also expects the Senate to take up a coronavirus relief package this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing a measure with a roughly $500 billion price tag that would provide additional unemployment assistance to laid-off workers, targeted relief to the hospitality and tourism industry, and money fro public schools.

“Those are the things on which the parties agree. We’re going to vote on those. I just wish Nancy Pelosi would let the House vote on those as well. She doesn’t oppose any of those measures. She just wants to use them as leverage for things that are obviously very divisive, like using our tax dollars from Arkansas for a no-strings-attached bailout for states like Illinois and Rhode Island.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has been promoting a larger $2 trillion package that includes unemployment, hospitality and school relief, but also more money for testing and local governments struggling with lower tax revenues. Arkansas city and county officials contend money for municipalities and counties would be beneficial.

Cotton also discussed his reasoning for passing on an Arkansas PBS Senate debate with Harrington last week, the Presidential election, and his concerns about “Big Tech” censorship. You can watch his full interview in the video below. Talk Business & Politics will release new polling numbers on Cotton’s re-election bid against Harrington on Monday, Oct. 19.

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