Speeches & Floor Statements

Remarks Of Sen. Alexander - Consent Decree Legislation

Posted on April 7, 2005

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record an article I wrote, which appeared in the Legal Times for the week of April 4, entitled "Free the People's Choice." This involves a piece of legislation that Senators Pryor and Nelson on the other side of the aisle and Senators Cornyn and Kyl on this side of the aisle and I have introduced, which would make it possible for newly elected Governors and mayors and legislatures to do what they were elected to do and be free from outdated consent decrees their predecessors may have agreed to, and which exist with the approval of the Federal courts. We have hundreds of outdated Federal court-approved consent decrees across America, which are running our education systems, foster care systems, Medicaid systems, and they make it impossible for democracy to flourish in the U.S., at a time when people are fighting and dying to give other people democracy in another part of the world. We have strong Democratic and Republican support in the Senate for this. In the House, I finished a meeting with the Republican whip, Roy Blunt, who with Congressman Cooper from Nashville, and all of the Democratic Congressmen from Tennessee, have introduced the same bill in the House. This piece of legislation would put term limits on Federal court consent decrees and cause them to be more narrowly drawn and do as the Supreme Court said they should do - get these issues back into the hands of the elected officials as soon as possible. This legislation has strong support, and I hope it will be moving through the Judiciary Committee in proper fashion. It is the No. 1 priority of the National Governors Association and National Association of Counties, and many others. We cannot expect States to control the growth of Medicaid spending if we do not allow them to make their own decisions. We need to get flexibility from our laws, and we need to get the courts to step aside and let elected officials make policy decisions.