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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 18, 2009 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT

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colleagues on the judiciary committee and i have begun a thorough review of her record. judge sotomayor comes with one of the longest 10ures of any judge mom -- tenures of any judge nominated to the united states supreme court on the federal bench for about 17 years, so there's a rather lectsdzy record to -- lengthy record to review. in addition, she's given many speeches and written law review articles and made other statements that deserves our attention. she has responded to the questionnaire sent by the senate judiciary committee and there are other followup questions which i anticipate she'll be answering in the coming weeks. so our review is ongoing in anticipation of a confirmation hearing begin july the 13th, in the senate judiciary committee. but so far it's fair to say there are a number of issues
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that have come up which i would like to talk about briefly that i anticipate she will have an opportunity to clarify or otherwise respond to and make her position clear for the american people and for the senate. as we perform our constitutional obligation under the article 2, section 2 of the constitution -- madam president the most -- most of the focus during a judicial confirmation hearing is under the president's thort under the constitution to nominate individuals to serve as judges. but, in fact, the very same provisions of the constitution, the very same section of the constitution, section 2 of article 2 also imposes an obligation on the senate -- in other words, we have a constitutional duty ourselves and that is to provide advice and consent and then to vote on
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the nomination once presented -- once voted out of the committee. the concerns i want to raise at this point do not suggest that these are disqualifying by any means for judge sotomayor. i believe that -- as i've indicated -- she deserves the opportunity to explain her approach to these issues and particularly her judicial philosophy more clearly and to put the opinions and statements that we've come across during our review and prop -- in proper context. and i believe it's not appropriate for any of us to prejudge or to preconfirm judge sotomayor. our job, as senators, is to ask how she would approach the duties of an associated justice of the united states supreme court, and the areas, as i said, i'd like to focus on, are number 3. the first issue has to do with her approach to the second amendment. of course, the second amendment
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of the united states constitution, part of our bill of rights, incorporates the right to keep and bear arms. the second amendment says -- quote -- "a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." the american people understand that the second amendment limits government and protects individual liberty. as justice joseph story wrote nearly 200 years ago the second amendment acts as a strong moral check against the arbitrary power of rulers and as a the united states supreme court held itself last year in the district of columbia versus heller, there seems no doubt based on text and history that the second amendment confirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms. close quote. madam president, i agree strongly with the supreme
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court's reasoning in the heller decision and i think that most americans accept that as the law of the land. judge sotomayor, on the other hand, as a member of the second circuit court of appeals, was one of the judges that was first given an opportunity to apply the supreme court case in heller to the states. and she concluded in that decision that the trite keep and bear arms was not a fundamental right and therefore was not enforceable against the states via the due process clause of the 14th amendment. her decision in that case was troubling in light of the heller decision, especially because her opinion included very little significant legal analysis. i would expect and hope judge sotomayor would elaborate on her thinking as well as the scope of the second amendment during the course of the confirmation hearings. americans need to know if we can count on judge sotomayor to uphold all of the bill of rights
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including the second amendment. the next subject i think will bear some discussion during the confirmation hearing is judge sotomayor's views of private property rights, another fundamental right protected by our bill of rights. and that is simply stated in the fifth amendment of the united states constitution, the right not to have property taken for government use without just compensation. i should have said for public use without just compensation. thus the fifth amendment provides an essential guarantee of liberty against the abuse of eminent domain to provide government to cease private propertiy only for public use. our colleagues will recall the controversial decision of the united states supreme court in 2005 the kelo versus the city of new london decision where the supreme court greatly broadened the definition of public use and
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greatly limited the property rights protected by the bill of rights for more than two centuries. the court held that the government could take property from one person and give it to another person if government decided that by so doing it would promote economic development. the kelo decision represents a vast expansion of government power of eminent domain and that's why i introduced legislation to limit that power and to restore the basic protections of our homes, small businesses and other private property rights that our founders intended, but in the fifth amendment of the constitution. i believe the kelo decision went too far, yet, by her decision in the case didden versus village of port chester, it appears judge sotomayor did not feel like it went far enough. judge sotomayor was part of a panel that upheld an even more
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egregious overreached by government when it came to private property rights. in that case two private property owners wanted to build a pharmacy on their land but in an area that the government essentially handed over to a private developer. the developer offered the owners a choice, give me a piece of the action or we'll proceed to condemn your property. the property owners, as you would think would be their right, refused, yet the government, the local government delivered on the developer's threat the very next day. i believe this decision represents an outrageous abuse of the power of eminent domain for a nonpublic purpose and a tremendous extension of an all flawed in the decision of the kelo case by the united states supreme court. so i think it is only fair and right that we ask judge sotomayor how she could square that decision in the didden case with the plain meaning of the
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fifth amendment of the constitution and, intoday, even the -- and, indeed, even the kelo case itself. the third area that we need to understand judge sotomayor's approach to is deciding cases involving employment discrimination. we need to understand how judge sotomayor interpts and applies the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment which reads in part -- quote -- "no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." close quote. for most americans equal protection of the laws means just what it says. it means that government can't treat you differently based on your race or your sex or your etethnicity. it means that the government can't practice discrimination, including reverse discrimination. in the case recently argued to
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the united states supreme court, called richie versus dastphano, judge sotomayor participated in a court of appeals decision that raises questions about her commitment to the provisions of equal protection of the laws in the constitution. at least i think it raises questions that we need to ask her to respond to and to hopefully clarify her views on whether government can lawfully discriminate based on skin color. just for the facts of that case, and -- the case involves firefighters in new haven, connecticut. the fire department established a testing program to ensure a fair process in deciding who would be promoted to captain and lieutenant. the testing was rigorous. and it was not racially bias. it was racially neutral to give everyone a fair chance to succeed in taking the test.
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but the government, as it turned out, did not get the result it wanted. the mayor and five commissioners of new haven felt that not enough african-americans had passed the test so they threw out the test and refused to promote anyone. now, this was unfair to the firefighters who had qualified for promotion. many of the firefighters were of italian or hispanic dissent -- descent and felt that they had fallen victim of racial discrimination by the city government. in fact, one of the fire commissioners was quoted as saying that the department should stop hiring people with too many vowels in their name. so the firefighters sued in federal court and the case came before a three-judge panel including judge sotomayor. judge sotomayor voted to dismiss the case even before these firefighters had a chance to go to trial. the panel of three judges that
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she participated in issued a one-page opinion that was unpublished and did not even address these claims or the merits or the constitutional issues of the case brought by the court -- brought by these petitioners. madam president, i would ask for unanimous consent to speak for an additional three minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, the firefighters were disappointed in judge sotomayor's decision and indeed some of her colleagues on the bench were shocked by the refusal to acknowledge much less address the claims by these firefighters. one colleague, judge jose habranes, worked to get the case reconsidered by the entire second circuit. he wrote that the case might involve an unconstitutional racial quota or set aside. he said at its core it raises a question: may a municipal employer disregard the results
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of a qualifying examination which was carefully constructed to include raish neutrality. too many qualified applicants of one race and not enough of another. judge sotomayor apparently was not persuaded to answer that question, but, thankfully, the united states supreme court will. in a matter of days we'll know the united states supreme court's decision which will help the american people understand whether judge sotomayor's philosophy is within the judicial mainstream or well outside of it. madam president, there are other statements that the judge has made in the course of her long career, including one at berkley in 2001, which has received quite a bit of press coverage where she said -- quote -- "i would hope that a wise latino woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who
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hasn't lived that life." now president obama has said that she has -- she misspoke, but it's clear that that's not the case. congressional quarterly reported that she used this language or something very similar to it in multiple speeches from 1994 to 2003. it would be one thing if judge sotomayor is simply celebrating her own journey as a successful latino woman in our country. every american would understand that. every american would embrace that. because her story is an american success story and all of us can justly take pride that someone of humble origins worked hard and sacrificinged and -- sacrificed and achieved so much in this country. in particular the hispanic community is especially proud of judge sotomayor's personal achievements and she is a role model for young people and a symbol of success. all americans can be proud that his spannics are assuming --
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hispanics are assuming more positions in our society. the bush administration elected more hispanic judges than any other previous administration. unfortunately they did not always have the same fair and dignified consideration that judge sotomayor. miguel estrada was not treated respectfully during his confirmation proceedings, filibuster several times and denied an up or down vote on his confirmation. so i want to make clear that there's no problem in judge sotomayor was simply showing pride in her heritage as we all should as a nation of immigrants. but if it suggests a judicial philosophy that says because of sex or race or et ethnicity thaa judge is better qualified or more likely to reach better legal decisions, i simply do not understand that contention, and i would like the opportunity to ask her about it.
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one of her fellow judges contrasted their views by saying judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to have a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the law. i think that is exactly right. so we need to know whether judge sotomayor embraces this notion of color blind justice that most americans expect from the highest court in the land. and i hope she'll be given an opportunity, indeed, she will be given an opportunity to clarify her comments and let us know whether she intends to be a supreme court justice for all of us or just for some of us. madam president, i yield the floor and -- mr. burris: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. burris: i'd like to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. burris: thank you, madam president. more than 200 years ago, at the height of a humid summer in
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philadelphia, 56 men affixed their signatures to a document that contained these words -- i quote -- "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." these words expressed a sentiment that could not be realized for all americans until more than a century later. at that moment, the united states of america was born and a declaration signed. a great injustice was woven into the fabric of our nation. slavery, racial segregation that followed have left a tragic legacy that divided this country in the bloodiest war we have yet known. it is a legacy that still affects each and every one of us this day.
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my colleagues, senator harkin, senator brownback, have introduced a resolution apologizing for slavery, jim-crow laws and policies of segregation and hate. this is often an uncomfortable subject so i applaud my colleagues for their willingness to confront the difficult history we all share. i thank them for their leadership on this issue and rise in support of this resolution. which has just passed this body. several state governments have issued similar apologie apologie fact that the plight of slavery was a national concern demands a national response. some in the black community will dismiss this resolution. some will say that words don't matter, that the actions of our
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forefathers cannot undone. it is true that those who toiled in the fields, those who were deprived their freedom will gain no peace from this resolution. the story is inescapably in our history. it is a story we must confront and try to overcome on a daily basis. madam president, words do matter. they matter a great deal. words of the declaration of independence acknowledging the equality of all men, even if the flawed policies of the time failed to embrace it. the words of a president who held a union together and promised -- and i quote -- "new birth of freedom." even if his words require the forces of an army to achieve liberty for all the words of a supreme court opinion was declared that -- and i quote --
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"separate but equal" was not justice even if the nation was not quite ready to listen. the words of a king who declar declared -- to dared to dream of the promised land, even if he knew he might not live long enough to see it. the words of a troubled nation searching for hope in time of fear, who seized upon the raleighing cry of a young -- raleighing cry of a young black man from illinois whose words led those crierks "yes, we can." all these words are the fundamental truth we have uttered to ourselves and to our children since the birth of our nation -- i quote -- "in ameri america, anything is possible." as i look around the senate floor today, i think of my parents who never saw this chamber.
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i think of my grandparents who never saw this city. i think of my ancestors who could dream only their freedom. i think of my great-great-grandfather, who was given that freedom, freed from bondage as a slave in 1865 near columbus, georgia. without a name of his own, he adopted the army rank as his first name, "major," and he adopted the name of his county, greene, as his last name. and he named himself major greene. and in the span of those few generations, i stand here in the senate chamber as the great-great-grandson of major greene on that uniquely american arc of history that has taken my family from slavery to the
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senate. as a nation, we have come a long way, but we cannot turn our backs on the shame of slavery, just as we cannot turn our backs on the rest of the constitution that at one time embraced it. the greatness of this nation come from our ability to chart a new course, to shape and reshape the destiny that we share, choosing to reject injustice and cruelty, choosing to overcome the tragic legacy of past misstakes and look ahead to a bright future. this resolution cannot erase the terrible legacy but it can help to heal the wounds of centuries gone by. it can pave the way for future progress. this journey, however, is far from over. we have not yet reached the quality promised in our founding documents, equality that
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transcends race, gender, sexual orientation and religion. equality upon which our perfecting union is founded, madam president. this story is still being written. as we confront the enduring legacy of slavery and jim crow, this resolution is important -- is an important part of moving forward. madam president, i would like the record to show that this resolution has a different ending in it as the resolution that's passed by the 110th congress, and it carries -- this resolution carried a disclaimer, and i want to go on record making sure that that disclaimer in no way would eliminate future actions that may be brought before this body that may deal with reparations. i want to thank senator harkin, senator brownback for their leadership on this issue. i urge my colleagues to join as
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we seek to write the next chapter in our history, to move forward not only saying we apologize for slavery but moving forward to make sure remnants of discrimination of any kind is removed from this great nation of ours. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. splays mean: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: thank you. a senator: will the senator yield? the presiding officer: the senator from california. [inaudible] mrs. boxer: i would wonder if she could expand her request and say upon finishing if i could have just about five minutes. mrs. shaheen: i'm delighted to do that for the -- my colleague from california. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware.
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[inaudible] the presiding officer: the senator from california has requested five minutes. a senator: i've been waiting for awhile. [inaudible] a senator: go ahead. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i would make an apology to my colleague. we're here quickly to speak about a very important issue, a murder of a doctor. i didn't want it to be interruptive. but can i make another u.c. that following my remarks, that senator carper be recognized for -- mr. gregg: well, madam president, reserving the right to object. as i understand it, we're supposed to be moving to the supplemental and that there's a unanimous consent agreement which was -- has been reached and that hopefully that will be placed in order. the presiding officer: the senate is in a period of morning business. mr. gregg: well, i would to be any more unanimous consents. mrs. boxer: well, they already
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passed. mr. gregg: i'm objecting to the one that you just requested. mrs. boxer: for senator carper? is there any way we can assuage the senator. does he want to take the floor before senator carper? mr. shaheen: madam president, i believe i still have the floor. the presiding officer: the senator has the floor. mrs. shaheen: madam president, yesterday, along with senators boxer, senator klobuchar and 43 other senators, i introduced senate resolution 187, a resolution condemning the use of violence against providers of reproductive health care services to women. and expressing sympathy for the family, friends and patients of dr. george tiller. unfortunately, the murder of
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dr. tiller was not an isolated incident. our country has a history of violence against reproductive health care providers. since 1993, eight clinic workers have been murdered and there have been hundreds of additional attempted murders, bombings, death threats, and kidnappings. since 1977, there have been more than 5,800 -- 5,800 -- reported acts of violence against providers and clinics. my own state has been touched by such acts of violence. in december 1994, a man from new hampshire killed two workers at clinics in massachusetts, including a nurse from salem, new hampshire. almost nine years ago, the feminist health center in concord, new hampshire, was burned in an arson attack.
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these acts of violence are just not acceptable. not only do they violate our laws and lead to human tragedy, but they dissuade medical professionals from entering a field of medicine that is critically important to women across the country. madam president, i realize that the issue of reproductive choice is divisive. i know that there are many heartfelt feelings on both sides of this issue and on both sides of the aisle, even within my own caucus. however, i was hopeful that regardless of our differences of opinion on this sensitive issue, the senate could come together and quickly pass a resolution that rejects the use of violence against reproductive health care providers. sadly, this is not the case. my cosponsors and i have tried to pass this resolution by unanimous consent. unfortunately, some on the other side of the aisle have objected. how disappointing that in this
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country and in this body, we can't come together to unanimously condemn the use of violence. my cosponsors and i were urged to eliminate references to women's reproductive health care to get this resolution passed through the senate. well, we're not going to back down. this country should be able to come together to condemn violence against reproductive health care providers. it is a very sad day when the elected leaders of the greatest democracy on earth can't agree to protect those exercising their constitutional rights. i'm pleased to be joined by 45 of my colleagues on this important resolution. we're saddened that we're not able to pass it without objection. madam president, i'd like to now read the simple resolution, a
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resolution condemning the use of violence against providers of headlight care services to womenment -- of health care services to women. "whereas dr. george tiller of wichita, kansas, was shot to death at church on sunday, may 31; whereas, there is a history of violence against providers of reproductive healthcare, as health care employees have suffered threats, hostilities and attacks in order to provide crucial services to patients; whereas the threat or use of force or physical obstruction has been used to injure, intimidate, or interfere with individuals seeking to objecttaken or provide health care -- obtain or provide health care services; and whereas acts of violence are never an acceptable means of expression and always shall be condemned. now, therefore, be it resolved that the senate expresses great sympathy for the family, friends and patients of dr. george tiller, recognis


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