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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 25, 2009 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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the presiding officer: is there anyone wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? hearing none, the ayes are 65, the nays are 31, and the motion to table is agreed to. you without objection.
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the presiding officer: pursuant to rule ix of the rules and procedures in the senate when sitting on impeachment trials, the secretary of the senate will now swear the sergeant at arms. the secretary of the senate: do you, terrance w. gainer, solemnly swear that the return made by you upon the process issued on the 24th of june, 2009, by the senate of the united states, against samuel b. kent, is truly made, and that you have performed such service as therein described: so help you god? the sergeant at arms: i do. madam president, i send to the desk the return of service i executed upon service of the summons upon judge samuel b. kent yesterday, june 24, 2009, at 4:30 p.m., at devens federal medical center, ayers, massachusetts, accompanied by a statement of resignation executed by judge samuel b. kent following service of the summons, and to be effective june 30, 2009. the presiding officer: the return of service and accompanying statement of resignation will be spread upon the journal and printed in the
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record. the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the secretary of the senate be directed to deliver the original statement of resignation executed by judge samuel b. kent on june 24, 2009, to the president of the united states and to send a certified copy of the statement of resignation to the house of representatives. i further ask consent that a copy of the statement of resignation be referred to the impeachment trial committee on the articles against judge samuel b. kent established by the senate on june 24, 2009. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: the senate is not having a quorum call, is that true? the presiding officer: that's correct. mr. reid: madam president, there will be no more votes today. we will have no session tomorr tomorrow. when we come back a week from monday, we'll have a number of votes beginning at 5:30. as i've told everyone more than once, the next five weeks after we get back here is going to be jam-packed with stuff to do. members should understand that we'll have votes on mondays and fridays with the one exception that's already been announced, on the 17th of july. we will have -- we hope we don't
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have to have weekend sessions. we have a lot to do. everyone knows the workload we have. and i would hope that the -- we understand the amount of work we have to do. we're going to be in a week longer than the house of representatives. as everyone knows, because of our rules, we can't move as quickly as they do. but we have an immense amount of work to do. we have the sotomayor nomination. we have defense authorization that is reported out of committee today by senators levin and mccain. that something that is very important for the military and to the american people. we have other appropriation bills that we have to work on. we have health care. we're going to move as far as we can on that during that period of time. so we have just a lot of work to do.
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i also, mr. president, on july 14 there, wil, there will be nor 2:00 p.m. this is an arrangement i made with one of the senators and this will be good for the entire body. so july 14, there will be no votes after 2:00 p.m. mr. mccain: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: madam president, i have an amendment at the desk and ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from arizona, mr. mccain, proposes an amendment numbered 1367 to amendment number -- 1366 to amendment number 1365. mr. mccain: madam president, i ask further proceedings -- further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: madam president, the amendment's simple, very simple. it strikes from the bill an earmark of $200,000 for the
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durham museum in omaha, nebraska. let me be very clear. i hold no grudge against the museum or the sponsor of this amendment -- of this earmark. on the contrary, i hold my colleagues from nebraska in very high esteem and i have no doubt that the museum does wonderful work thanks to the modern technology and wikepedia, it has a very nice description of the durham museum formerly known as the durham western heritage museum. downtown omaha, nebraska. dedicated to preserving and displaying the history of the united states western region and it's housed in omaha's union station. i'm sure it's a very fine place and i'm sure it gets lots of visitors from all over the great state of nebraska. the only problem is, madam president, as i understand reading the bill here -- which sometimes some of us don't do -- this is a bill that is entitled
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"making appropriations for the legislative branch for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2010, and for other purposes." well, obviously the distinguished manager of the bill found another purpose, but certainly none that has the slightest connection to the state of omaha -- the city of omaha or the state of nebraska except the senator happens to be from that state. and maybe even resides in that city. you see, the reason why i'm -- i'm taking the floor is because americans are hurting right now. americans all over this country are hurting right now. i go downtown in my city -- hometown of phoenix, arizona, and i see people closing up storefronts and i see people not making their housing payments or able to pay their medical bills. and, you know, $200,000 would mean a lot to them. $200,000 is not a small sum. so the fact is, i don't question
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the merits of the program. i don't question that the durham museum is probably a nice place to visit. i do question when we're going to stop earmarking pork-barrel projects because of the influence or clout of members of the united states senate. i want to repeat, i do not question that this museum is a fine museum. i do question -- and any objective observer would question -- how in the world that has a place on appropriations of the taxpayers' dollars for legislative branch. i don't think the durham museum is in the legislative branch of government, unless i'm badly mistaken, and i'm sure that i'm not. here we are with trillions of dollars -- trillions of dollars of deficit, $1.2 trillion for tarp, $410 million for the omnibus appropriations bill,
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which was loaded up with 9,000 unnecessary and wasteful earmarks, tens of billions of dollars into the domestic auto manufacturers, and passed a budget resolution totaling $3.5 trillion. and now we have us a bill totaling $3.1 billion to run the legislative branch of governme governme and the fact is that we will, as has been widely trumpeted, this bill is less than that requested. but it is also, though, is 3% more than it was last year -- 3% more than it was last year. how many americans are able to get 3% more money than they had last year? over $76 million more than last year's bill. so is this a big deal, just $200,000? probably not. probably not in the trillions of dollars that we seem to throw
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around here. but i'm serving notice on my colleagues that i and some of my other colleagues are going to go to the floor and challenge these earmarks. we've got to stop doing business as usual while we're committing generational theft and mortgaging our children's futures. so madam president, i ask, since it's going to be about ten days or so before we will have a vote on this amendment, as the majority leader just mentioned we will not have anymore votes i ask unanimous consent before the vote that i have five minutes and the senator from nebraska how many he needs before the vote that will take place at the pleasure of the majority leader. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mccain: madam president, i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second?
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there appears to be a sufficient second. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. mccain: madam president, i yield the floor. mr. nelson: i respect greatly my colleague from arizona and his concern about spending. i share that. the presiding officer: i'm sorry, go ahead. mr. nelson: i share that concern. and as it is noted, the increase in the spending requested in the appropriations bill is about 2.4%. while $200,000 is a lot of money and it certainly is a lot for people today i think it's important to point out that this is associated with a the
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legislative branch in the following matter. the durham museum is seeking to provide a public service of federal interest making it appropriate to promote a public-private partnership. the funding of the project in this bill is only 10% of that total cost. the durham museum will be privately raising the remaining 90% and occur all ongoing operating costs. $200,000 requested to this bill for the durham museum is to begin the brez vacation and digitalization of the museum's photo archive collection that will create new jobs, preserve our history and improve access to these priceless treasures. the project will be moved significantly forward by the able assistance of the -- by the library of congress and i thank dr. billington, the librarian of the library of congress for his willingness to assist us in this important project.
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it's important to point out that the lie brer of congress has been a leader -- the library of congress has been a leader in this area and the library enjoys a remarkable long-term relationship with the durham museum, long before i came to the senate, and will undoubtedly oversee a quality project as the durinthemuseum seeks to follow. not all treasures are located inside the beltway soing it's important to point out this is more than a photo exhibit. in addition to making the images available to the public as noted in the legislative branch report, durham museum will work to establish conservation and preservation training programs and on incorporating digitalized primary source materials into school curriculum. we have worked together to ensure that the library's most impressive exhibits have traveled to the durham museum
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ensuring my fellow nebraskans and iowans from the east, and cakansans have had these asht at fact, showcasing the photographs of the farm security administration in the late 1930's and 1940's and commemorting the 50th anniversary of the landmark supreme court decision in brown v board of education. in january of 2011 the most recent impressive exhibit, the library of congress' most recent exhibit on abraham lincoln "with malice toward none," will travel to the museum showcasing some of our revered former president's most transformative speeches and eloquent leaders. so madam president, i urge that
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this not be considered just a local project. it is associated with a library of congress and as such has a tie that is long-going and long-standing relationship that will benefit both the library of congress and the durham museum. there is a nexus here and it is not isolated incident. so at this important in time i ask my colleagues to support the inclusion of that funding within this budgetary request. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: quorum call i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be dispensed. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. ing is session madam president, the nomination of a new justice
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to the supreme court has somewhat unexpectedly, i think, brought to our mind a core question both for the senate and the american people. that is, what, if any, is the appropriate role for foreign law to play in the interpretation of our constitution? meaning, should judges look at what other countries say when they are determining what are our constitutional rights? this is not an academic question. it's a question that has the potential to impact our fundamental rights guaranteed to us by the united states constitution. until recent years the answer has always been understood to be "no." apart from a few rare circumstances and certainly never in the interpretation of the meaning of our precious constitutional rights. this traditional understanding has served to protect our
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constitutional rights by ensuring that judges remain true to the will of the american people not the will of foreign judges or courts. our system has been a critical component. our system has a critical component: moral authority. that moral authority comes from the basic concept that our law is a product of the will of the people and through the people they chose to represent them. the constitution begins, "we the people do ordain and establish this constitution." and our laws are enacted by a congress, a body subject to the will of the people, composed of people elected by the people. we are accountable to the american citizens. the novel idea that foreign law has a place in the interpretation of american law creates numerous dangers and a
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number of academics and even federal judges are, i would say, seduced by this idea. judge sotomayor clearly shares in that judge. i'm somewhat surprised but it's true as i will discuss. her vision seems to be we should change our laws or listen to other laws and judges in sort -- and so the of merge them with the foreign law. that is the overt opinion. mr. koh who was just nominated and confirmed to the chief counsel of the u.s. state department, mr. koh is quite open about it, shockingly, really. i suggest if we become transnational we suffer two blows to our legal system.
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first the laws we are subject to would not be laws made by us. this would remind us of the boston tea party. the colonies objected to paying taxes but not just any taxes. they objected because the taxes were being imposed on them by the british parliament and they didn't have a voice in it. the complaint was taxation without representation. thus, the moral power of the american law to compel obedience arises from the people's choice to enact it in the first place, that moral authority is undermined when we allow foreign law we had nothing to do with to impact our law. that is a pernicious thing, i suggest. secondly, it is not ever going to work in our good way. most countries don't have law, the truth be known. they have politics masquerading as law.
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trying to merge our system based on truth, the law and the evidence with these political legal systems will only result in our being shortchanged. we can reach agreements affecting mutual interests with foreign nations and adhere to them as long as we mutually agree to do so through treaties and other agreements but to submit ourself to their political policies while pretending we are merging our law with theirs is just plain foolishness. it also creates confusion on a matter of utmost importance. the question is, who does the judge serve? the people of the united states or the people of the world or some individual country with whom they agree? or to the world community often referred to? furthermore, reliance on foreign law places our constitutional rights in jeopardy. there are great differences between american and foreign law
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on cherished rights protected by our constitution. the constitution's protection of free speech is probably unparalleled anywhere in the world. or in additions punish, sometimes, spirited debate on controversial matters. they call it sometimes "hate crime," and take action against speech and other things that we would allow without a single thought or criminalize -- are criminalized in other countries. the constitution protects the right to keep in bear mines and other nations ban private gun ownership and the constitution allows for the death penalty. other nations reject the use of the death penalty even for violent killers while other nations have the death penalty and they impose it without do you process being carried out. yet this troubling potential for
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infringements on constitutional rights i would suggest is only the tip of the iceberg. first and foremost, reliance on foreign law creates opportunities for judges to undulling their policy preference. in a speech given to the puerto rico chapter of the american civil liberties union on april 28 of this year, 2009, just one day after having been contacted by the white house about the possibility of a supreme court vacancy, judge sotomayor placed herself firmly on what i believe is the wrong side of this debate. stating in this speech -- quote -- "to suggest to anyone that you can outlaw the use of foreign or international law is a sentiment that's based on a fundamental misunderstanding. what you would be asking american judges to do is close
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their mines to good ideas." well, the requests our judges supposed to reflect are the requests that united states congress in the to be go. ones we enacted into law. not what was enacted in france or saudi arabia or china or any other place. this is a matter of real respose. and this whole concept of foreign law has been a matter of real controversy for several years. it's a timely subject for sure. i thought it was pretty roundly condemned although one judge on the supreme court defends it. but in her speech judge sonia


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