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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 10, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT

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she deserves the opportunity to go before the public and speak of her record, especially if someone has mischaracterized record or misstated her record. the only place she can speak and speak of her record, is in that hearing. it is also a reasonable schedule that observes the many interests involved. the first and foremost is the american people's stake in a process that is fair, but not needlessly prolonged period. . senate who will need sufficient time to prepare for confirmation hearing. and we have a full legislative plate of additional pressing business in the weeks and months ahead. it's of great importance to our constituents and to the nation. and then, of course, it serves the need of the third branch of government which depends on the
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other branches of government to fill court vacancies in our independent judiciary. in the needs of the president who nominated judge sotomayor. but less we forget serves the needs of the nominee herself, who is a judge and will only be able to speak publicly about her record when the hearings are weaned. -- convened. this is an extremely important obli this is an extremely important obligation that we in the senate take on. there are only 141 people who get a direct say in the nomination and confirmation of the -- of a justice of the united states supreme court. first and foremost, of course, the president of the united states. in this case, president obama con sulted with numerous -- con sulted with numerous senators
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prior to making his nomination. then, once a nomination is made shall the 100 members of the united states senate have to stand in for 300 million merneds in zige who will get that lifetime appointment. i voted on every single member of the united states currently, as well as in the past. i know how important that obligation is. the justice thank takes justice 's session, also needs time to hire law clerks shall set up an office, even a place to live here in washington, and take part in the prep tri work that proceeds the formal start of the session on the first monday in october. now, i mention that, madam,
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because i put together a schedule that follows by bipartisan agreement in consideration bush's nomination of roberts to the treem supreme court in 2009. at that time i served as the ranking member of the judiciary committee. we worked out a schedule that provided for his hearing 48 days after he was named by president bush. gh and time was reached even before the committee received the answers to the bipartisan questionnaire. and while justice roberts had not -- then judge roberts had not decided as many opinions as judge and while justice roberts had not had as many opinions as judge sotomayor, he had been in a political policy position in
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republican administrations for years before, and there were 7r5,000 painls of documents -- 75,000 pages of documents. in fact some arrived almost on the eve of the hearing itself. that judge replaced justice o'connor who was the pivotal vote on the supreme court. now, if something that significant required 41 days and democrats and republicans were in agreement they were prepared for that hearing, certainly that is a precedent that says we have more than adequate time to prepare for the confirmation hearing for judge sotomayor. i'm trying to be fair to all concerned. i want to be fair to the
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nominee. allow her the opportunity to respond to attacks made to her credit. it is not fair for people to call her a racist and equate her with people from the ku klux klan, an outrageous zamente from republicans and democrats, but she can't speak to it until she's in the hearing. in 2005 senator mcconnell whorks is in the -- who is in the majority whip, said the senate should confirm the non nominations within 60 to 70 days. we worked hard to achieve that. the nomination of judge sotomayor should be more easily completed within that time frame. we were able to complete the senate confirmation, and john roberts was confirmed 72 days after his initially designated
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to be the associate justice. we did this despite the fact the initial nomination was withdrawn, and only shortly before his hearing it was renominated to serve as the chief justice of the united states. and we did this despite the terrible aftermath of hurricane katrina when everybody, republicans and democrats alike, agreed we should hold back the hearings for a week so we could all concentrate the nation's resources on hurricane katrina. so that required a week's delay, and then 72 days after we followed the same schedule. 72 days after judge sonia sotomayor was designated on august 6, we're not even having the week of katrina. leer is the opportunity for all
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-- here is the opportunity for both returns and democrats to ask questions, raise concerns, evaluate the nominee. our republican colleague said they intend to ask her about her judicial philosophy. now, it doesn't take four months to prepare to ask these questions. in fact, many have already raised the questions. they will surely be prepared to ask them a month fwr now. and during that month we have a week's vacation from the senate. i intend to be using that week without the introduction -- interruption of committee meetings and regular senate business to prepare for the hearings. i would advise those senators who feel they have to have extra time, forego your vacation and spend that week preparing for the hearing. because this is an historic
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nomination. i hope all senators will cooperate. the schedule is both fair and adequate. fair to the nominee, but also adequate to the united states senate to prepare for the hearing that's under consideration. there is no reason to indulge in needless and unreasonable delea. -- delay. i say it is an historic nomination because it should unite and not divide the american people in the senate. hers is a distinctly american story. whether you are from the south bronx or the south side of chicago or south burlington, vermont, the american dream inspires all of us. her life story is the american dream. so, i might add, is the journey
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of the president who nominated her. she deserves a fair hearing. not attacks on her character. let us proceed to give her that fair hearing without unnecessary delay. i have said in my 35 years here in the senate, oftentimes on the floor of this great body, that we senators should be the conscience of the nation. as we were called upon to do. and there have been occasions when this senate, republicans and democrats united, have shown they could be the conscience of the nation. i would say this is one time we should rise above partisanship and be that conscience. when i met with judge sotomayor last week i asked her about her approach to the law. she asked her of course one's life experience shapes who you are, but ultimately and
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completely, her words, as a judge who follows the law. there is not one law for one race or another. there is not one law different for rich or poor. there is not one law fwor those who belong to one political party or the other. one law for all americans. she was very emphatic that as a judge you follow that one law. she said ultimately and completely a judge has to follow the law no matter what their upbringing has been. that is the kind of fair and impartial law making that the people expect. that is the kind of judge she has been. judge sotomayor is extremely equipped to serve on the nation's highest court.
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tomorrow the phrase that the l first lady used lafflet week, not only do i believe judge sotomayor is prepared to serve on the supreme court, i believe the country is more than readyy to see this -- more than ready to see this accomplished hispanic woman do just thafment this is -- that. this is an occasion for the senate and our great nation to come together. this is a time for us to come together. the process is another step in the judiciary regaining that judiciary. our independent judiciary is the envy of the world. the judiciary is a vital part of the infrastructure that knits our nation together under the rule of law. every time i walk up the steps into the supreme court, i look at the words engraved in marble
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from my native state of vermont. over the entrance of the supreme court, those words say, "equal justice under law." the nomination of judge sotomayor keeps faith with that model. president obama is to be commended for having consulted about senators from both sides of the aisle. i was with him on some of the occasions that he d iffer had republican senators come up to me and tell me they have never been called by a president of their own party, to say nothing about a democratic president, to talk about a supreme court nominee, but president obama did call every person. now the senate's duty comes to the floor. i hope all parties will help to move this forward in a fair and timely manner.
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>> the distinguished ranking member of the ranking committee, senator sessions. senator kile and i are going -- kyle and i are going to take a few moments to discuss the supreme court nomination. i've notified the democratic floor staff, that it might slightly delay the 4:20 vote. i find that not objectionable on the other side. so i would just inform our colleagues that we're going to proceed here as if in mourning business. i ask permission to proceed as if in morning business. >> without objection. >> senator sessions is up and will be the first speaker. >> mr. president, senator from alabama. i want to thank senator mcconnell for his leadership in so many ways, but in particular his concern that he's shown repeatedly on the united states judiciary.
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he's from a member of the judiciary committee, and he takes these issues seriously, and i think it is important that we all do so. i have to say that i'm disappointed that this morning that we learned from media reports, i did, that the chairman of the judiciary committee, senator layly, announced we would begin the hearing on july 13th on judge sotomayor. i believe that's too early. i don't believe it's necessary. it is far more important that we do this matter right than we do it quick. when the announcement was made, president obama said that the time we sl look to was october 1, when the new supreme court term starts. and i think that always was an achieveable goal, and it is something i said we could achieve and do it in the right way. the question is, can we get all this consumer done in this
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rush-rush fashion. it will be the shortest govern -- shortest confirmation time of any nominee. days time shorter than chief justice roberts. we had a need to move that a bit, because he was confirmed, as it turned out, september 29th, a couple days before the new term gun. -- term began. and he was going to be chief justice. but the last nominee, whose record was much like this nominee, justice alito, was coming up in late -- in december, and the democratic leader that -- then on the judiciary committee, senator lahy, asked that it be put off until christmas. it move forward, he said, no, i think that's a reasonable request and we put it off. there was some 90-some-odd days
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before that confirmation occurred and well over 70 days before the hearings began. i just want to say, mr. president, first and for foremost we are committed to a fair and just hearings but we need to examine the record of 3,500 probably more than 4,000 cases. in addition she has given a lot of speeches and written law review articles and those need to be analyzed because make no mistake about it, this is the only time, the only opportunity, this congress and this the american people have, to play a role in what would town ou turno be a lifetime appointment, a federal bench of independence and unaccountability for the rest of their life. so i think it is important we do this thing and we do it so i think it is important that we do this thing and we do it
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right. i thank senator mcconnell for his leadership in trying to insist that we do it right. i believe from what i know today, the time frame set forth is unrealistic. more than that, it is unnecessary. let's do this right, take our time, and do it in a way that i hope, as i've said repeatedly, this would be what people could say is the finest confirmation process we've ever had. i thank the chair and i yield the floor. >> republican leader. >> i want to thank my good friend from alabama for his observation about this nomination. he and i have involved in a number of these confirmation proceedings over the years. i think there is in every one of them a sense that fairness can be reached on a bipartisan basis so that the nominee is vetted appropriately.
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that is what the senator from alabama is looking for here as we go forward on the judiciary committee. frankly, i was surprised to learn that the majority had decided unilaterally, basically, that the schedule would involve hearings beginning on that specific day, july 13th, at senator -- that senator sessions referred to. during the senate's considerations of both the roberts and aleto nominations, we heard a lot from our democratic senators that the senate was not a rubber stamp and about how it was more important to do it right than to do it fast. now, if that was a standard, i would suggest to our colleagues just a few years ago, why would it not be a good standard today? if that were a good standard when the republicans were in the majority in the senate, why
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would it not be a good standard now? we're talking about the same sbreem court, we're talking about the same life htime appointments that senator sessions was referring to. the chairman of the judiciary committee said today, said back then we need to consider this nomination as thoroughly and carefully as the american people deserve. it's going to take time. that was senator leahy then. he also said we need to do this right. he also said, we want to do it right, and we don't want to do it fast. if that was the standard a few years ago when republicans are in the majority, i don't know why it wouldn't be the standard today. i don't know what our friends on the majority are fearful of. this nominee has been confirm by the senate twice. she has an extensive record,
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which is why it takes a while to go through 3,600 cases. in the case of the chief justice, there are were only 327 cases. he'd only been on the circuit court for a couple years. sheeds been on one court or another for 17 years. it's just a larger record. i'm confident, and our ranking member, senator sessions, confirms that the staff has been working rapidly to work their way through this length any number -- this lengthy number of cases. but a way to look at it, the committee had to review an average of six cases per day in order to be prepared for judge roberts hearing. the committee will now have to review an average of 76 cases per day in order to be ready to be ready in time for the
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proposed sotomayor hearing. now the senate functions on commity and cooperation. the senator and i do that every day, try to respect each other's needs and make athe senate function appropriately. here the democratic senate is proceeding in a heavy-handed fashion, and is ignoring the minority's need for a fair process. it serves no purpose other than to run the risk of destroying the kind of commity and cooperation that we expect of each other here in the senate. all of which was granted in the case of chief justice roberts and justice aleto.
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because of this, it will now be difficult to achieve the kind of cooperation we need and expect as we try to deal with the nation's business. i would hope they change there are decision and allow us to work on a thorough review of this lengthy, lengthy record that the nominee possesses. mr. president, i yield the floor. >> senator from arizona. >> i would like to join the ranking member of the committee on which i sit as well as the distinguished minority leader in asking the question why we have to set a date right now on the hearing for judge sotomayor. there is no reason for us to do that because there is no way to know at this point whether we will have our work done at that time.
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there's no reason to set that date today. that is troublesome. we don't know if we will be ready by the 13th or not. there is a lot of history that suggests it will be very, very difficult to be ready by that time. the last speaker pointed out if you compare the record of the now chief justice john roberts as opposed to this nominee, you have more than 10 times as many cases to look at with judge sotomayor as you had with justice roberts. that takes a lot of time. even with 20-some staffers reading these 4,000-plus decisions, it is not just a matter of reading these cases, it is worth realeding to see if you think the judge was right in the decision rendered. to look at the other references in the case to see how closely this followed the existing law, and whether it appears the judge
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might be trying to make law as opposed to deciding the law. and that is important in this case which the president has cladelade down which strongly suggests something stronger than deciding the law. he said there is no legal mechanism for deciding how the case should come out, you have to base it on other factors. and everybody is well aware of some of the other factors this particular nominee has talked about. the empathy, the background, the experience in other matters. so the question is, in reading these opinions do you find a trend of deciding cases on something other than the law, potentially the making of law in this particular case? and even if, as the leader said, you have to review 76 cases a day, that is just the decisions that she has participated in or the opinions that she has written or joined in. how about the other writings? her law review writings?
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her speeches? the f.b.i. report, the a.b.a. report, which we do not have yet the questionnaire that has not been completed. there are a variety of things, and then you discuss the nomination with quints to say this matter has been -- with witnesses to say, this matter has been raised. what do you think about that? she will have people writing to the committee on her behalf. we will receive reems of comments from people who whether think she is a good nominee. i suspect we will see information from people who think she is not a good nominee. we have to go through those. when people write us, we don't ignore what they say, we take it to heart. that's part of power job. so all of this takes a great deal of time and effort. so final point mr. president, we don't want to leave this to staff. i have instructed my staff on opinions i want to read. now i'm used to reading court opinions, but not everybody has
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done that fairly recently in their career, and that takes a lot of time, considering all the work we have to do. to follow the kind of precedence and tradition that the minority leader talked about here, i think it is for the for us to do it right, get it right, take the time that requires, and if that means going beyond july 13, then do that. senator leahy can certainly work in a bipartisan effort with us. at the end of the day, we want a hearing that everyone can say was fair, result in to a good decision, and presumably will allow this nominee to take her position prior to the beginning of the october term. justice roberts was confirmed i believe on the 29th of september, and that was four days ahead of the time i think
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he needed, or two days. the court reconvenes on october 5th, and therefore, i see no reason why, if we do this right, we can't have the nominee, if this nominee is confirmed, confirmed by the time the october term begins. i say to my colleagues, let's do this right and not try to push things beyond 66 -- beyond the point which is appropriate under the circumstances. >> senator, i have said to the committee, he is one of the senate's great lawyers. i appreciate his insight. i would note, i think this rush is ill-advised. in futhe truth, -- truth, the whause was determined to get the senate nominee in a hurry. questionnaire was incomplete.
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the result, i think, of that kind of rush. the nominee failed to provide sufficient details that were required by the questionnaire. for example, the judge did not include her troubling recommendation to the puerto rican appeal defense fund to lobby against a new york state law that would have reinstated the death penalty. and it had quite a bit of intemperate rhetoric in it. after that was noted, she admitted she failed to and got that document in. but i suggest perhaps if somebody hadn't been aware of that omission, maybe we would not have received that document at all. what else might she have failed to include that might be an important bit of information as our committee does its oversight work? in addition, the nominee was supposed to provide opinions and filings for cases going to verdict, judgment or final
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decision, or three cases she indicates that the district attorney's office is searching for records and she did not provide those. in 14 cases, she admitted -- noted that she tried. the record is incomplete and not provided there. so we don't have any document related to these cases. as another example, the nominee is supposed to list speeches, remarks, and lectures she gave in the absence -- and in the absence of having a prepared text, to provide outlines, notes, and then a summary of the subject matter. several of the entries lack any subject matter >> several of the entries lack any subject matter descriptions or are so vague as to be utly un-- utterly uninforming. and we've had some problems with the speeches. a lot of the speeches she's given she has no text for. i would note this is on her


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