The Best Lines From Each Hour of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley's 15-Hour Marathon Speech on the Floor of Congress

The Best Lines From Each Hour of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley's 15-Hour Marathon Speech on the Floor of Congress

“There is absolutely no foundation for what happened last year in American history.”


By:  Corey Pein

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley is a champion talker.

Last week, the Oregon Democrat attempted to block President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, with a speech on the Senate floor. It lasted more than 15 hours, and ultimately failed—Gorsuch was sworn in April 10. But Merkley's stemwinder made a national impression.

You probably haven't had time to listen to the whole thing, so here are the highlights, hour by hour.

Hour 1
"The majority team in this chamber decided to steal a Supreme Court seat."

Hour 2
"This is a crime against our Constitution, and the responsibilities of this body."

Hour 3
"If President Trump worked to conspire with the Russians or his team conspired with the Russians at his direction or his knowledge, that is traitorous conduct. And we shouldn't be considering on this floor a nominee under that set of circumstances."

Hour 4
"The Koch brothers are in charge. They paid for the third-party ads that put your election in the victory column."

Hour 5
"Just pause for a moment and ask yourself, would you feel comfortable if the parties were reversed, if this were a Democratic Party stealing a Supreme Court seat from a Republican president? Would you? I ask you, would you?"

Hour 6
"The Constitution didn't say money is speech. Citizens United is the opposite. It says those who sit on the board of bazillion-dollar corporations get a voice a bazillion times large than the ordinary citizen. It is damaging our nation."

Hour 7
"We should not go back in time to a world in which the copper barons ruled Montana, not back to a time where the railroads and the oil companies called all the shots."

Hour 8
"You know, the more I read his opinions, the more I think Neil Gorsuch should run for office. He wants to change the law in case after case after case."

Hour 9
"There is a researcher from Oregon State University, Professor Dixon, who has made studying coral reefs his life's work. He said, 'These reefs are my babies, and my babies are dying.'"

Hour 10
"The very survival of the court as an independent body will be at stake—is at stake right now. That's why I'm here on the floor at 4:20 in the morning. Because so much is at stake in terms of the legitimacy of the court."

Hour 11
"You can bet if the shoe were on the other foot and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI, Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances."

Hour 12

"I understand the sun is coming up behind the Supreme Court. Mother Nature gave us a beautiful, beautiful day, but partisan politics gave us a very, very ugly setting here in the Senate chamber."

Hour 13

"Certainly we have a nominee who seems to want a 19th-century judicial philosophy for the 21st century."

Hour 14

"There is absolutely no foundation for what happened last year in American history."

Hour 15
"It's exactly what the filibuster was designed for—to keep there from being judges nominated from outside the judicial mainstream."

Hour 16
"Finally, this is an extreme nominee from the far right who doesn't believe in the fundamental vision of 'We the People' and makes decision after decision through tortured, twisted, contrived arguments defined for the powerful over the people, and that is unacceptable."