Pelosi Remarks at Press Event with Pro-Choice Caucus and National Women’s Organizations Standing in Opposition to Kavanaugh

Jul 17, 2018
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Members of the Pro-Choice Caucus and leaders from national women’s organizations at a press event to stand in opposition to Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  Below are the Leader’s remarks: 

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning everyone!  There are some eloquent t-shirts in the room, some of them representing organizations who have been there all along to support the Constitution of the United States and that’s what it is all about. 

I am honored to be here with everyone gathered here, but I particularly want to acknowledge Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congresswoman Barbara Lee as champions, as co-chairs of our Pro-Choice Caucus.  I want to acknowledge the loss of Louise Slaughter, who was a relentless, dissatisfied, persistent champion of a woman’s right to choose her whole life and she continues to inspire us.  

We are pleased to be joined by [Congressman] Jerry Nadler, the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, the committee of jurisdiction; Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Co-Chair of the [Democratic] Women’s Working Group; [Congresswoman] Jan Schakowsky, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee which has some of the jurisdiction here and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue.  

Well, let me just say there are many other Members here, but you will hear from the ones I just mentioned.  But we are joined by [Congressman] Mike Thompson of California.  Some good men here.  [Congressman] Jimmy Gomez of California, [Congresswoman] Susan Davis of California, [Congresswoman] Alma Adams of North Carolina, the Chair of the Democratic Women Working Group Lois Frankel, Congresswoman of Florida.  Congresswoman Judy Chu of California, the Chair of Congressional Asian Pacific [American] Caucus.  Is that it?  Others will be coming and going.  As you know, this is a working farm.  People are all in their committees or on the Floor doing the important work.

This is so important, because last year – because of the relentless activism of so many strong women – we defeated the monstrosity of Trumpcare, which would have dragged us back to the days where being a woman was a pre-existing condition.  May I just say – we were able to defeat that because of the activism of so many people on the outside, because of so many of you and other organizations.  There were 10,000 events across the country.  There were sit-ins, press conferences, roundtable discussions, marches, whatever there were.  Ten thousand events to defeat Trumpcare.  

So we can do just so much with the inside maneuvering, without having the majority, the outside mobilization saved the day and saved a woman’s right to choose.  Now we must mobilize more than ever, again, to defeat the threat to a woman’s right to choose.  

Forty-five years ago, the Supreme Court declared that a woman’s right to choose is protected by the Constitution.  Today, that right is under a direct, dire threat by a Republican Congress that tries to interfere in a woman’s most private, personal decisions on a regular basis, from a President who shows no respect for women, and now from the Supreme Court nominee with a proven and active hostility to women’s reproductive rights.

Judge Kavanaugh was hand-picked from a list of radical nominees with strong support for dismantling a woman’s right to choose.  The President has said so himself: it’s a done deed, Roe v. Wade will be repealed, will be overturned.

A vote for Judge Kavanaugh is a vote to destroy Roe v. Wade.  It’s not just about that, as important as that is, it’s about women’s health: it’s about the health of all Americans.  It’s a vote to roll back a generation of progress for women and their families. 

But we don’t agonize, we organize because we know that a Democratic Congress can stop much of the Supreme Court’s awful assault.

You remember the first bill President Obama signed when he became President of the United States with a Democratic Congress, the first bill he signed was Lilly Ledbetter legislation that was to correct a decision of the Supreme Court’s, an action that was taken by the Supreme Court.  We know that we could correct what the Court said about voting rights if the Republicans would bring such a bill to the Floor.  Congress has a role to mitigate damage done by the Court and we have to assert that right but first we have to work to say that we shouldn’t be appointing someone to the court who doesn’t support stare decisis, previous decisions of the court, especially one in which the President has heralded as a done deed.  The first bill, as I mentioned, was about Lilly Ledbetter.  

So, here we are as Democrats, we think that is a raw deal for America’s women, America’s families.  Democrats propose a Better Deal with lower health costs and more protections for women and their families.  This week, we will celebrate the 170th of the women’s convention in Seneca Falls.  170 years ago, imagine the courage, these women, and a few good men, Frederick Douglass is one, were pioneers and shook the world with a simple declaration: ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…such is now the necessity [for women] to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.’  Let us stand shoulder to shoulder with those heroes as we defend the equality of basic rights they fought for. 

And now, it is my privilege to yield with great respect and gratitude for her leadership on this issue, a woman who has not only been an advocate and a legislator, but a successful challenge to women’s right to choose in the courts, Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado.

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Leader Pelosi.  It’s a room full of fighters!  And we’re here to fight for a women’s right to choose, but also for respect for women.  I thank all of you for joining us, I’m particularly honored, Ellie Smeal, Feminist Majority is with us and some of her members of the organization!  We’re also joined by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, of course, Ilyse [Hogue], All Above All, the American Medical [Student] Association, Alliance for Justice, Feminist Majority as I mentioned, National Abortion Federation, Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights and the list goes on and on.

I mentioned the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights something that Congresswoman Lawrence had mentioned.  When a nominee is put forth for confirmation, the question is does she or he believe in stare decisis, previous decisions of the court.

Because of some of the comments Kavanaugh has made and others, it’s important to note that everything is at risk – women’s right to choose, Brown v. the Board of Education, civil rights, environmental issues, gun safety – the list goes on and on.  

In particular, I want to note that we’re focusing on a women’s right to choose and women’s health issues, because what will go to the court probably, because it’s a case that says, no longer will people have the protection, that is in the Affordable Care Act of the pre-existing condition not being a barrier to receiving health insurance that is affordable.  So that benefit is greatly at risk in the courts now and again that benefit can be a victim of this in court.

I’ll just say it again in closing because our colleagues have said it so forcefully and with such specificity.  This judge has said that the president is above the law – he said, it would be such an inconvenience to respond to any accusation made against him even in a very responsible way.

He has also said investigations can be undermined by outside mobilization, which is exactly what they are doing with the Mueller investigation – to mobilize outside to undermine support for that investigation.  So this is dangerous in many ways because the Mueller investigation is about our right to vote.  That people eligible to vote can vote and that their vote will be counted as cast.  It’s about the separation of powers, the system of checks and balances.  We, the legislative branch, Article I, the legislative branch and he has spoken out in ways that undermine even that.

When he made a private speech supporting Justice Rehnquist’s vote against Roe v. Wade he defined himself in that department.  So, in any case, we are fighters, we are fighting for the women’s right to choose, for the respect women should have, for the dignity that we all deserve and I hope that we all recognize, again, the role outside mobilization plays in this fight.  Congresswoman Schakowsky says, ‘When we fight, we win.’  But when we don’t fight, we don’t win.  

I close standing in front of a portrait of a great patriarch in our country [George Washington] and quote another President, Abraham Lincoln, ‘Public sentiment is everything.  With it you can accomplish almost anything, without it, almost nothing.’  The public has to know what is at risk so thank you for making that so clear to the public.  Thank you. 

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