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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

Rep. Gutiérrez on Judge Kavanaugh and His Accusers: “Listen to the Women" (w/ video)

September 26, 2018
Press Release
“We should be leading by example and allowing victims to come forward, be respected and be heard…Women in this country should know that if you come forward to make credible allegations against anyone – anyone – you will be respected and you will be heard.”

Washington, DC Today in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) called on Senators to “listen to the women” in the confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, jeopardized as it is by multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, because “this is an important moment for young men and young women in this country.”  How the Senate handles these allegations – or dismisses them to steamroll opposition and speed the nominee to a confirmation vote – is vitally important because “we should be leading by example and allowing victims to come forward, be respected and be heard.”

“Women in this country should know that if you come forward to make credible allegations against anyone – anyone – you will be respected and you will be heard,” Rep. Gutiérrez said.

The Congressman noted at the outset that he and his House colleagues play no role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, but Rep. Gutiérrez said, “I feel a sacred responsibility to raise my voice.” He continued to outline the consequences for the country and young men and women should the Senate fail to take the accusations seriously:

Do I want my grandson to learn a lesson that sexual assault while he is in high school could follow him for the rest of his life?  You’re damn right I do.  Do I want young men to learn that behavior that hurts other people – no matter how drunk or high you are – is unacceptable? You’re damn right I do.  Do I want young women to not be afraid to come forward, no matter when they are ready to?  You’re damn right I do.

Rep. Gutierrez made it clear that he would oppose the Kavanaugh nomination regardless of the accusations because “I believe in a woman’s right to control her own reproductive system regardless of what men think” and because “I believe people should marry who they want to marry; who they love” and because “I believe freedom of religion should extend to all including those of the Muslim faith…”  He added that Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment at this particular moment is troubling because he is “a Judge who thinks a sitting President is above the law right now when we as a nation need an independent judiciary to hold politicians – even the President – accountable.”

But the bulk of his 5-minute floor speech during “Morning Business” was about sending a signal to the country that victims of sexual assault and other crimes can and should come forward. 

What is important is that we lead by example.  We need to be clear that the days of “boys will be boys” or “it was just locker room talk” are over.  And the Senate should take as much time as is needed to take that very, very seriously.  They should take it seriously, for our daughters, for our sons, for you and for me too.

A video of the Congressman’s floor speech, delivered shortly after 10 am ET is here: https://youtu.be/cOJjaouy4ws

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is the Dean of the Illinois delegation and a thirteen-term Member of Congress from Chicago.  He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Floor Remarks

September 26, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am a Member of the Judiciary Committee in this body and unfortunately, the framers of the Constitution did not give my Committee or this Chamber a role in vetting and confirming the President’s nominees to the Supreme Court. 

But in the House we pride ourselves on being the People’s House because we are in constant contact with our constituents and we are accountable to them every two years. 

So while I do not have a vote in the process, I do have a voice.  And as an elected representative I feel a sacred responsibility to raise my voice.

First of all, I don’t care when allegations of sexual assault come forward.  I don’t care about whatever schedule Senator Chuck Grassley thinks is more important.  I don’t care about the impending fall term of the Court, the coming midterms, or the timing of Robert Mueller’s next indictments in his investigation of the Trump White House and campaign.

In the case of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, we should listen to the women.

We should always listen to the women, but in this case, multiple women have come forward to risk their lives and reputations because they believe the truth about Judge Kavanaugh must come out before he is confirmed or rejected by the Senate.

Women in this country should know that if you come forward to make credible allegations against anyone – anyone – you will be respected and you will be heard.

You want to know why so few sexual assaults are reported in this country?  Well, it is unfolding on the national stage. 

Why didn’t she report it? Why didn’t she do something? Why didn’t she say something?

It is always she, she, she, when we know that sexual assault is not her fault and fear of coming forward is not her fault either.

They didn’t believe Bill Cosby’s accusers until they did.  Or Harvey Weinstein’s or Speaker Hastert’s or a hundred other people I could name.  Until we did believe them.

When the stakes are this high, we shouldn’t be imposing deadlines or ultimatums or requiring victims to conform to our timetables, as Republican Senators have done.

And by high stakes, I don’t just mean the lifetime appointment of a judge, but this is an important moment for young men and young women in this country.

We should be leading by example and allowing victims to come forward, be respected and be heard. 

Do I want my grandson to learn a lesson that sexual assault while he is in high school could follow him for the rest of his life?  You’re damn right I do. 

Do I want young men to learn that behavior that hurts other people – no matter how drunk or high you are – is unacceptable? You’re damn right I do.

Do I want young women to not be afraid to come forward, no matter when they are ready to?  You’re damn right I do.

Look, I’m not saying you need to believe Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers, but as a Congress and as a country, we need to listen to the women.

Now, I’ll admit that I would not vote for Judge Kavanaugh whether or not the current allegations are true or Republicans steamroll the victims to fast-track his appointment.

I believe in a woman’s right to control her own reproductive system regardless of what men think, so yeah, you can bet I’d vote against Kavanaugh.

I believe freedom of religion should extend to all including those of the Muslim faith who should be free to worship and move around just like everyone else, so, yeah, you can bet I’d vote against Kavanaugh.

I believe people should marry who they want to marry; who they love.

I oppose a Judge who thinks a sitting President is above the law right now when we as a nation need an independent judiciary to hold politicians – even the President – accountable, which is another reason why I would be a vote against Kavanaugh.

But what is important right now is not how I feel about Judge Kavanaugh.  What is important is that we lead by example. 

We need to be clear that the days of “boys will be boys” or “it was just locker room talk” are over.  And the Senate should take as much time as is needed to take that very, very seriously. 

They should take it seriously, for our daughters, for our sons, for you and for me too.

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