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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 10, 2009 4:00am-4:30am EDT

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of days before the new term began. and home 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 then on the judiciary committee, senator leahy, asked that it be put off until after christmas. and the republican chairman at that time, senator specter, despite president bush's desire 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 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
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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 right. i thank senator mcconnell for his leadership in insisting we do it right. i believe from what we know today the timeframe that is set forth is unrealistic. more than that, it's not necessary. let's do this right. take our time.
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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. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i just want to thank my good friend from alabama for his observations about this nomination. he and i have been involved in a number of these confirmation proceedings over the years. there is, i think, in every one of then, a sense of fairness that can be reached on a bipartisan basis so that the nominee is adequately vetted appropriately and that is what the senator from alabama is looking here as we go forward on the judiciary committee. i was surprised to learn that the majority had decided unilaterally, basically, that the schedule would involve
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hearings beginning on that specific day, july 13, that senator sessions referred to. during the senate's considerations of both the roberts and alito nominations, we her a lot from our democratic colleagues about how the senate was not a rubber stamp. not a rubber stamp. and about how it was more important to do it right than to do it fast. now, if that a standard, i would suggest to our colleagues just a few years ago, why would it not be a go standard today? if that was the standard when the republicans were in the majority in the senate why would it not be a standard weapon thee democrats are in the majority. we're talking about the same supreme court, we're talking about the same lifetime appointments that senator sessions was referring to. the chairman of the judiciary committee today said back then we need to consider this nop nation anomination as thoroughld
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carefully as the american people deserve. it's going to take time. that was senator leahy then. he also said it makes sense that we take time to do it right. i think the american people deserve nothing less. and he also said we want to do it right and we don't want to do it fast of thit fast. if that was the standard who years ago when the republicans in the majority i don't know why it isn't the standard today. i don't know what our friends on the majority are fearful of. this nominee certainly has already been confirmed by the senate twice, she has an extensive record which is the reason why it takes a while to go through 3,600 cases. in the case of the chief justice, there were only 327 cases. he had only been on the district, the circuit court for a couple of years. she's been on one court or
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another for 17 years. it's just a larger record. i am competent and our ranking member, senator sessions confirms that the staff is working rapidly to try to work their way new this lengthy number of cases. but a way to look at it, mr. president, the committee had to review an average of six cases per day in order to be prepared for judge roberts' hearings. six cases a day. the committee will now have to review an average of 76 cases -- 76 cases -- per day in order to be ready by the time the majority has proposed for the sotomayor hearing. the senate, mr. president, functions on comity and cooperation, and the majority leader and i are a big part of that every day, trying to respect each other's needs and try to make the senate function
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appropriately. here the democratic majority is proceeding, in my view, in a heavy-handed fashion, completely unnecessary, and is basically being dismissive of the minority's legitimate concerns for a fair and thorough process. there's no point in this. it serves no purpose other than to run the risk of destroying the kind of comity 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 alito. so let me be clear, mr. president, because of what our democratic colleagues are doing and the way they are doing it, it will now be much more difficult to achieve the kind of comity and cooperation on this and other matters that we need and expect around here as we try to deal with the nation's business. i would hope they'd reconsider their decision and work with us on a bipartisan basis to allow a
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thorough review of this lengthy, lengthy record that the nominee possesses. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. kyl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: i'd like to join the ranking member of the committee on which i sit, as well as the distinguished minority leader in asking the question of why we have to set a date right now on the hearing for judge sotomayor? there's no reason for us to do that because there's no way to know at this point whether we'll have our work done by that time. and historically -- and it's for good reason -- you want to have the review completed before you question the witness about the matters under review. that makes sense. so there's no reason to set that date today, and that is troublesome. we just don't know whether we'll be ready by the 13th or not, but there's a lot of history that suggests it's going to be very difficult to be ready at that time.
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the leader has just pointed out the fact that if you compare the work that was required to consider the nomination of the now-chief justice john roberts as opposed to this nominee, you've got more than ten times as many cases to look at with judge sotomayor as you had with justice roberts. that takes a lot of time. and even with 20-some staffers reading these 4,000-plus decisions, it's not just a matter of reading the cases. it's a matter of then looking to see what the precedence cited were to determine whether or not you think the judge was right in the decision that was 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 might be trying to make law as opposed to deciding law. that's important in this particular case because of the standard that the president has laid down for his nominees which strongly suggests something beyond deciding the law. in 5% of the cases, as he said, there's no precedent, no legal
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mechanism for deciding how the case should come out. you have to base it on other factors. everybody is well aware of some of the factors that this particular nominee has talked about. and the president 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. about the other writings, her law review writings, the speeches she's given, the f.b.i. report, the a.b.a. report which we do not have, the questionnaire which has not been completed. a variety of things which have to be reviewed and read and then you discuss the nomination with witnesses to say this matter has been raised, this matter has
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been raised. what do you think about that? she will have a sraoeurt of people writing to the committee on -- a variety of people writing to the committee on her behalf. we will have reams of letters and comments from people who think she is a good nominee and we will receive a lot of comments, i suspect, from people who think she's not a good nominee. we need to go through all of that. when people write to us about these nominees for or against, we don't just ignore what they say. we take it to heart. that's part of our job. all of this takes a great deal of time and effort. the final point here, mr. president, we don't just want to leave this to staff. we're going to read those opinions. i have instructed my staff on the opinions that i want to read. i'm used to reading court opinions, but not everybody has done that fairly recently in their career, and that takes a lot of time as well considering all the other work we have to do. so to do this right, to conduct the kind of fair and thorough hearing that senator sessions talked about, and to follow the kind of precedents and tradition
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that the minority leader talked about here, i think it's important for us to do it right to get it right, to take the time that that requires, and if that means going skwropbd july 13, then do that. -- beyond july 13. senator specter worked in a bipartisan way with senator leahy. senator leahy can work in a bipartisan way with us to ensure there is an adequate amount of time. at the end of the day what we want here is a hearing that everyone can say was fair, was thorough, resulted in a good decision and hopefully and presumably would allow this nominee, if she's confirmed, to take her position prior not 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 he needed -- or two days. the court reconvenes on october 5. and, therefore, i see no reason why to do this right we can't have the nominee, if this nominee is confirmed, confirmed by the time that the october term begins. so i say to my colleagues, let's
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do this right and not try to push things beyond the point that is appropriate under the circumstances. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i thank senator kyl for his leadership on this committee. he's one of the senate's great lawyers. i appreciate his insights, as we all do. i would just note i think this rush is ill-advised. in truth, the white house was determined to get the nominee's questionnaire to the senate in a hurry, and there are a number of cameras and crews and press releases that went out when boxes were delivered. but in many ways the questionnaire was incomplete. 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
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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 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
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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 descriptions or are so vague as to be utterly uninformative, including these quotes i just note from the record. and we've had some problems with her speeches. a lot of speeches she notes she's given she has no text for. but i would just note this is on her questionnaire. i spoke on the second circuit employment discrimination cases -- close quote. didn't indicate what or give any summary of that. another one -- quote -- "i spoke at the federal externship class on access to judgment, close
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quote. no indication of what that was and no summary. certainly no text. -- quote -- "i participated in a panel entitled sexual harassment how to practice safe employment." no explanation. next -- quote -- "i spoke on the united states judicial system." next, i spoke on the topic of lawyering for social justice. close quote. i discussed my life experiences and the role of minority bar organizations, close quote. i participated in a symposium on post conviction relief. i spoke on the execution of judgments of conviction. i spoke on the implementation of the hague convention in the united states and abroad, close quote. -- quote -- "i praised in a discussion on sentencing -- i participated in a discussion on sentencing guidelines. i praise pra*euted in a round table discussion and reception on the art of judging at this event.
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that would be nice to note what she thought about the art of judging. i contributed to the panel, the future of judicial review, the view from the bench at the 2004 national convention of the -- where the official theme was liberty and equality of the 21st century. that's some of the things that are there that i think are inadequate responses to the questionnaire's requirements. this questionnaire is one we use for nominees of both parties for a number of years. so the chairman justifies our rushed schedule because of the need, he says, to allow the nominee to respond to unfair criticism of her record. but the chairman and all our democratic colleagues know that the republican senators who will actually be voting on this nominee, i am confident and certain have been nothing but extremely fair and courteous and respectful of the nominee, even when she made mistakes like omitting several things from her
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questionnaire, we haven't criticized her for that. so in return for this courtesy, i'm disappointed that we are being rushed to complete this process at a time, based on what i know now, is not a wise approach. so i don't think it's a good way to begin the proceedings. i look forward to working with my colleagues on this date. perhaps we can do better as we move forward. it is an important process. it's the public's only opportunity to understand what this is about, and i think we ought to do it right. as senator leahy has said. and not rush
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