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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 24, 2009 5:00am-5:30am EDT

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of funding@@@@@@@@@ )@ @ @ @ @ just as dred scott, v. sanford refused citizenship to black people, these opinions stripped the poor of meaningful citizenship turned fundamental law. in their vaw of the equal protection clause of the united states prohibited restriction on federal or our state provisions of funding borgses. i think this is an intwinsable position. we don't know how much judge sotomayor had to do with developing the funds and certainly she was an officer of it and involved in the litigation committee during most of this time but we -- because we don't have the information we requested. we do know that the fund and
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judge sotomayor opposed reinstatement of the death penalty in new york based not on the law but on what they found to be the inhuman psychlogical burden that pleases it own criminals, based on evident racism. what does this mean on how judge sotomayor would approach death penalty cases? i think she has affirmed death penalty cases but on the supreme court there is a different ability to redefine cases and these peripheral views of hers should affect that. recently five justices of the supreme court decided based on rulings in foreign countries that the constitution says that united states cannot execute a
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violent criminal if he is 17 years and 364 days old when he willfully repedestrian tatedly killed someone. they say that the constitution says that the state that has a law to that effect cannot do it. looking "to evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society". now this is what the court said as they sat about their duty to define the united states constitution. five members of the supreme court. four strong decrepits said looking to "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." we conclude the death penalty in this case violated the eighth
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amendment. if states don't believe 18-year-old's should be executed they should prohibit it and many, many states do but it is not answered by the constitution but five judges didn't like it. they consulted with world opinion and what they considered to be evolving standards of decency, and said the constitution prohibited the imposition of the death penalty in this case when it has never been considered to be so since our republic. i think that is an approach of jurisprudence. i'll ask -- ask about some other
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cases, too, that give me pause. for centuries states and colonies before we became a nation have concluded that individuals who commit serious crimes, felonies, forfeit their right to vote, particularly while they are in jail. it is a choice that states can make and have made between 1776 and 1821, 11 state constitutions contemplated preventing felons from voting. new york state passed its first disenfranchise law in 1849. when the 14th amendment was adopted in 1968, 29 states had such provision for years these types of laws have been upheld by the courts through -- against a range of challenges.
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but in 2006, justice sotomayor stated her belief that these types of laws violate the voting rights act of 1965, even though that act makes no reference to these laws even though they are specifically referencesed in the 14th amendment in the constitution itself. the new york law was found "she found -- she con cluted that the new york law was "on account of race" and therefore it violated the voting rights act. it was on account of race because of its impact and nothing more statistically it seems that in new york as a percentage of the population, more minoritieses are in jail
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than non-minorities. therefore it was con cluted that this about was un-- concluded that this act was unconstitutional. i think this is a bridge too far. it would mean that state law setting a voting age of 18 would also violate federal law because in the society or most society of our country, minorities would have more children under 18 and that would have an impact on them. so i don't think this can be the law as -- and as a majority of the colleagues on that court, explained and did not accept her logic. actually her opinion was not upheld so i look forward to asking her about that. i'm aware that judge sotomayor would say that she is acting as a strict constructionist by systematically applying
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literally the 40-year-old voting rights act of 1965. well, i don't think so, really. i remember when estrada, that brilliant hispanic judge that president bush nominated to the appellate court after several attempts to field off a filibuster but could never do so. he said during his hearings he didn't like the term strict constructionist. he preferred the term fair constructionist. he was correct, i think. the question is this a fair construction of the voting rights act? no such thing was considered in the debate on legislation. that historic law which limits felons voting are to be just wiped out even allowing felons still in jail to vote?
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i don't think so. neither did most of the judges who have heard these cases. with regard to the new haven firefighters case, i would just say madam president and we will be looking to enter that days in some length. stewart taylor did a very fine analysis of it in his writing i believe in the national jourm, he recognized that no one ever found that the examine nations these firefighters took was invalid or unfair as he has explained if the belated weak and speculative criticisms obviously taylored to impugn the outcome of the tests are sufficient to disprove and examines of validity or
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fairness, no test will ever withstand a desperate impact lawsuit. that may or may not be judge sotomayor's objective but it cannot be the law. says mr. stewart taylor in his thoughtful piece. the firefighters were told that there was going to be a test that would determine eligibility for promotion. the rules had been set forth, but the rules were changed and the motions did not occur because the sotomayor court precluded that too many nominees did not -- too many minorities did not pass the test and no finding was made that the test was unfair so we'll be looking at that and quite a number of other matters as we go forward. weep be talking about the
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question of foreign law. the question of this nominee's commitment to the second amendment. the right to keep and bear arms. the constitution said the right shall not be infringed. we'll talk about that and some other matters because once on the court, each justice has one vote. it only takes five votes to declare what the constitution says and that is an awesome power. and the judges must show restraint and respect the legislative body and they must understand that world opinion has no role in how to define the united states' constitution, for heaven's sakes. neither does foreign law. how can that help us interpret the meaning of words passed by
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an american legislature. oftentimes world opinion is defined in no effect i ever way. i'm not sure they conduct a world poll. what law do they establish or examine around the world to help that influence their opinion on an american case. this is a dangerous philosophy is all i'm saying. it is a very serious debate. there are many in law schools who have a different view. the judiciary should not be tethered to dictionary definitions of words that judges ought to be willing and bold and take steps to advance the law, they would say. and to protect this or that group that is favored at this or that time. i think that's dangerous. i think it is contrary to our great heritage of law and i'm
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not in favor of that approach to it. madam chair, i think the president will yield the floor. >> some of my colleagues have begun their attacks on president obama's historic and incredibly qualified nominee to the supreme court, judge sonia sotomayor. they clearly decided for ideological reasons that they were going to oppose whoever president obama appointed before the hearings even started. we've heard people try to attach a lot of labels to judge sotomayor over the past few weeks but it is clearer and clearer as we look hard at judge sotomayor's record and vast experience that attacking this nominee is like throwing rocks at a library. it is uncalled for and it doesn't accomplish anything. her points are grasping at straws because it turns out we have before us one of the most
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qualified, exceptional nominees to come before this senate in recent history. let there be no doubt, sonia sotomayor's nomination is a proud moment for america. it is proof that the american dream is in reach for everyone willing to work hard, play by the rules and give back to their communities regardless of their ethnicity, gender or socio-economic background and it is further proof of the deep roots the hispanic community has in this country. let's be clear. we get to be proud of this nominee because she is exceptionally qualified. we get to be proud because of her vast knowledge of the law. her practical experience fighting crime and her proovepb record of dedication -- proven record of dedication to equal justice under the law. those are the reasons we're proud and those are the reasons she should be confirmed without
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delay. it should move just as promptly as the nomination of john roberts and that's exactly what we're going to do. just a little while ago at a press conference we heard from prominent legal and law enforcement organizations who explain how the people who have actually seen her work know her best. as a fair and highly qualified judge. it came from across our country from florida, texas, nebraska, to my home state of new jersey. they shed light on how important her work has been in the fight against crime. how her work as a prosecutor put the tarzan murderer behind bars. they made it clear how much they admire her strong respect for the liberties and protections granted by our constitution
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including the first amendment rights of people she strongly disagreed with. judge sonia sotomayor's credentials are undeniable. she became an editor of the law general and yale law school which many consider to be the nation's best. prosecuting crimes from murder to child abuse to fraud winning convictions along the way. republican president george h.w. bush appointed her. bill clinton apointed her to the u.s. court of appeals. she was confirmed by a democratic majority senate and then a republican majority senate. her record as a judge is as clear as accessible as any recent nominee and clearly shows modesty and restraint on the
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bench. she would bring under experience the the supreme court than any justice in 70 years and more federal judicial experience than anyone in the past century. her record and hered a theerns precedent leave no doubt whatsoever. she respects the constitution and the rule of law. her record has made it clear that she believes what determines a case is not her personal prempses but the law. her hundreds of decisions prove conclusively that she looks at what the law says. she looks at what congress has said and she looks, above all, at what precedent says. she is metic louse about looking at the facts and then decides the outcome in accordance with the constitution. on top of that judge sotomayor's perm background is rich with the joys and hardships that millions
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of american families share. her record has proven that someone can both be an impartial ar bitor of the law and still recognize her decisions will affect people's everyday lives. i think it really says something that the worst her points can accuse her of is being able to understand the perspective of a wide range of people whose cases will come before her. judge sotomayor deserves nothing less than a prompt hearing and a prompt confirmation. as the process moves forward i plan to come back to the floor as often as is necessary to rebut any baseless attacks leveled at this judge. it fills me with pride to have the opportunity to support president obama's ground-breaking nominee. someone who is clearly the right person for a seat on the highest court of the land. and it is an enormous joy to be
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reminded once again that in the united states of america, if you work hard, play by the rules and give back to your community, anything is possible. thank you, madam president. with that i yield the floor. >> several of my colleagues from across the aisle have come to the floor today to attack judge sotomayor's nomination to the supreme court and i must say i think these attacks are entirely misplaced. i've always had a consistent standard for evaluating judicial nominees. i use it when voting for them. when joining in on the nomination process under president bush and continue to under president obama. and those three standards are excellence, moderation and diversity. i am confident that judge sotomayor meets these criteria. based on my reviews thus far of her lengthy and impressive
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record in the court of appeals and in public and private sectors and her stellar academic credentials. i've also been deeply impressed with her personal story. a true story of the american dream. she pulled herself up from the bronx to stand before this committee for as a nominee for the highest court in the land. it is what america is all about as my friend new jersey said earlier. i think some of the comments i've heard from my republican colleagues this morning have distorted judge sotomayor's record. let's take a minute and consider what the real story and how judge sotomayor's record reflects the highest ideals of judging. her record reveals her to be
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modest and moderate, dedicated to the rule of law and not outcome-oriented. for example, senator sessions spent some of his time this morning criticizing one particular case, hayden v. pataki because judge sotomayor's dissent would have resulted with an outcome which he did not agree. he failed to mention that her opinion was based on the plain text of the statute for the court and left out some of the key revealing comments she made in her dissent. no one disputes it. second, the duty of a judge is to follow the law, not question his plain terms. and number three, i trust that congress would prefer to make any needed changes itself rather than have to court's do so for them. these are the kind of statements in the very case my good friend from alabama uses to criticize the judge that we have heard
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from people on the other side of the aisle over and over and over again as to what a judge should do. not replace his or her own judgment for that of the legislature. or that of the law. judge sotomayor was following text to a result. not the other way around. these quotes tell us a lot more about judge sotomayor's judicial philosophy and commitment to rule of law than simply looking at the outcome in any particular case. and even when we look at outcomes, the entirety of her record gives us a more accurate position of her philosophy than the outcome of any one case. she rejected discrimination claim in 81% of the claims she considered. she dissented from the panel that she was on only twice. when my office looked at her
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record on immigration cases she sided with immigrantses only 17% of the time. that's average for the entire second circuit. this should put to rest that she is swayed by any notions outside of the law. obviously she sympathizes with the immigrant experience. that's been clear but she doesn't let those sympathies stand in the way of her judging what the law says and mandates. so she is clearly not a judicial activist. i think it is about time to debunk the notion of judicial activism as some are using. i think that judicial activism is starting to become code for many of my friends on the other side of the aisle for "decisions with outcomes i don't agree
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with." when they say judicial activists they are not looking at how close or how far from the law. that's why i prefer to use the term modesty in describing my ideal judge and it is a term that was used by justice roberts when he was before us. well, i'll quote from the federalist papers as some of my colleagues have done. in federalist number 78, judicial review in the constitution. alexander hamilton explains the role of a judge. a judge must interpret the constitution and interpret the laws when there is "irreconcilable variance between the two that has the superior obligation and validity or to be preferred" in in irreconcilable variance that imposes a high bar on any judge who is tempted to
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strike down a law or a practice or any decision by a legislature or executive is unconstitutional. this is exactly the standard judge sotomayor lived up to this reaching when she defered to the elected local official in new haven and no federal title 7 law and to firm second circuit precedent. it's always been my sthrue a commitment to modesty is key in a judge. a judge who was modest understands that any concept of doing justice must have as his touchstone the meaning the authors intended to gift. i also believe it is consistent with judicial modesty that our constitution is written to endure. it doesn't live and breathe like a flesh and blood child does who evolves through dolse. i don't believe in those terms.
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the constitution endures. it endures because the people whom it governs, the people who retain all the many, many rights believe that it continues to apply to them and the only reason that it continues to apply to them is through guardianship of judges who are modest in reaching their conclusions. they understand that people have to live by the court's interpretation and judgment. they understand that people want justice. and that justice means predictability, adherence to text and the willingness to avoid patently absurd results so i'm looking forward to confirmation hearings of judge sotomayor. she is a gifted lawyer and a serious jurist and her life experiences will only help aid the views of the other eight justices. lessons taught by a hard working
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grandfather in pinpoint, georgia. by a mother who died the day before her daughter graduated high school. by a hotel owner in chicago, illinois or by a single spanish-speaking mother who told her daughter she could do anything through hard work and a good education. let's be reasonable and realistic. these experiences do not turn a good judge into a bad one or an impartial one or whatever my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are suggesting. to recognize the role of perm experience is simply to acknowledge that in the art and science of interpreting the constitution and laws of our country, we have to ask ourselves the following questions. do we frust more the decisions of judges who as i have said have ice water in their rain iseses? who view their role of stripping them of their past? or do we trust more the decisions of judge who is
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acknowledge and address their own life experiences even while striving always to be fair and within the law. as judge sotomayor herself has said. madam president, mr. president, these are questions i look forward discussing at judge sotomayor's upcoming hearing. >> i thank the distinguished presiding officer and my friend. i also want to thank senator menendez for the outstanding statements in the senate today. they spoke about judge sonia sotomayor and i could not them but think as i reviewed judge sotomayor's record in preparation for a confirmation hearing on july 13, i reviewed that was what all senators were doing. i was struck by her extraordinary career and how she
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has excelled in everything she has done. i know how proud her mother salinea, a registered nurse is of her accomplishments. this goes across political lines. i was glad to hear laura bush, the former first laid combri say recently she too is proud that president obama nominated a woman to serve on the supreme court. you know, i -- i recall that justice ginsberg since she was cheered by the announcement that she is glad she is no longer going to be the lone woman on the court. i contrast this to president bush's nomination naming of justice o'connor's successor a few years ago when justice
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o'connor conceded her disappointment because she was leaving and not replaced by another woman, the percentage of women on the supreme court dropped by 50%. now, sandra day o'connor, justice ruud baader ginsberg weren't being discriminatory. of course not. hopefully what it says about america is being a land of opportunity for all. she is the first nominee to the supreme court in 100 years to have been nominated to three federal judicial positions by three different presidents. it was president bush george h.w. bush whombings a republican, who nominated her to be a federal district court judge.


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