tv Political Programming CSPAN July 12, 2009 6:30pm-8:00pm EDT
visible? of what people might expect for health care system? >> i think so. if you look at the finance committee bill and the senate health bill, you will see interesting insurance market reforms. it will seek an exchange, a marketplace where people can shop for insurance if you do not have it. given the democratic congress, you may see some sort of alternative to the private insurance market, though that is still obviously a big challenge. there are broad outlines out there. you can see a situation where every individual will have to buy insurance, which will be a big change for the culture of this country. we do not have that at all right now. we have a for auto insurance, but that will be a big cultural change. >> in the week ahead, a lot of things are happening in different places. the senate help later inventions
committee are finishing their negotiations after three weeks of going through every bit of the bill. finance is still waiting to put their bill out. the house is beginning to move their bill through in three different committees. a lot of details are going this way and that. >> thank you for setting the stage for that. i appreciate you being here. "q&a" tonight. president harry truman and his decision to recognize the state of israel. >> no one knew what harry truman would do. what will we do if the jews declare a state as they said they are wrong to do? truman said i do not know, we will have to see. he said he will support eight jewish state when they announce
it. >> you can listen to the program on c-span radio and online as a c-span podcasts. >> sonia sotomayor was born in 1954 in the bronx. this is the apartment complex where she grew up. tonight, a look at the life and career up judge sotomayor york through our friends and colleagues. we begin with susan sterne, a columbia university law professor who knew her when they were students at yale university. >> professor susan sturm, when did you first meet sonia sotomayor? >> in my first year of law school at yale, in 1976. >> what are the circumstances? >> we were friends with a common friend and her small group, and we met at a social occasion.
a group of law students who were getting acclimated to a new situation. >> what did you have in common? >> we shared an interest, most importantly in social justice. we both came to law school to advance those goals, and discover that was a common bond. we also really enjoyed trying to figure out what actually was going on in the world at yale law school. we enjoy trying to analyze the culture we were in. >> what was going on at yale law school at that time? >> it was both a very exciting place -- we had a class of people who were really very serious about themselves and their futures. there were many discussions
about the role of the law as an agent of change and also the role of a lot as an agent of stability. there was a lot of discussion of that. we were in the second wave of women. there were 41 women in our class out of 180 students. very few faculty were women. we were also navigating our way into a world that had opened up to us, but we were still relative newcomers. that was also part of the journey. >> she came from princeton. where did you come from? >> i came from brown university. >> did she ever talk about princeton and how she made that transition? >> that was not a big subject of discussion. we were focused on the work we were doing, and we were law journal colleagues together. there was some talk about what it was like to write an article
for the law journal. we decided to play our leadership roles elsewhere besides the law journal, so there was discussion of that as well. >> what was her role at the law journal? >> she was an editor of the law journal, which meant that she worked on other people's articles and she also wrote an article for the law journal which was subsequently published. >> why have a law journal? who reads it, and what is it for? >> that is a very good question. the idea is that we are trying to create knowledge to inform both the practitioners of law, judges, policy makers, and other researchers. law students are also entering into the field, so large journal
articles are an opportunity to allow law students to express their views, to use it in their research, to draw on the research just -- resources of the law school to learn about that issues of the day. >> you remember her articles? >> she wrote an article on puerto rico and the role of states' rights in allocating natural resources. it was in many ways indicative of her as a thinker and a subsequent jurist. it was motivated by a sense of justice and trying to really understand a problem executed with great care and precision.
there was a careful and close reading of the case law, and trying to do a thorough and thoughtful job to in vance law -- to advance law. it was typical of her then and typical of her now. >> were you ever in a classroom situation together? >> i do not think we were in class together. i remember her socializing and also brainstorming ideas together in law school. >> let's talk about the brainstorming verse. what would happen? you said you went to different leadership roles. >> she led a policy journal and is on the executive leadership of it. that was the part that i knew most about. i actually took the route of using law school as an
opportunity to really develop ideas and to really go into depth about an area that i thought was deeply important and for which there was insufficient understanding. we both share that as well. >> paint a picture of the two of you in a social setting or whatever you do, and what this exchange of ideas might have looked like. >> i am picturing us in her apartment, although i cannot be sure, with our feet up, but simultaneously laughing, but also in a deep conversation and constructive conflict around ideas. we were each trying to figure
out both where we fit in, but also, more importantly, this larger set of institutions and what it meant to be a lawyer and to be addressing this set of issues that we came into initially out of a set of commitments, but we were now being socialized into a role, and what did that mean. what was the relationship between one troll -- between one's role and what one was trying to accomplish? i remember being struck at the time by the degree to which sonya had a deep appreciation of role, and figuring out what it meant initially to be a lawyer, what it meant to be a prosecutor, what it meant to be writing from the position of the law journal editor as opposed to a reporter, what it meant to be
an advocate versus a judge. i remember having an initial set of conversations about the relationship between role and content, that one's content was shaped by the position you are in, and i remember having a sense of her as someone who had this kind of passion for the law and a deep set of commitments to figuring out what the role meant, what do you were a judge, a legislator, or an advocate. >> that has been some of the criticism of her -- is she an advocate or a judge? >> i think it is actually a misunderstanding of her. what was clear then, and has become much clearer to me now, watching her on the bench and having some conversations with
her socially even in the last year, having a strong sense of role means that she really develops her opinions, where she stands, how she inquires, based on what it means to be a judge. she is not an advocate. in law school, she was coming in figuring out where she was in this at and what is the role she wants to occupy to enable her to fulfill our public mission. having taken on the position of judge, i would say she is as committed to the it -- to the legitimacy of that role as anyone i have ever seen. she is a very careful jurist. she reasons for the decisions
and she is not advancing any kind of agenda as an advocate. that is what it means to be really attentive to roll. it means i am in this position. what does one in the position of a judge or justice do in a way that will give both credibility and legitimacy to the institution that you are a part of? that seems to be hard wired into how she operates. that is something she started figuring out even when she was in moscow. >> so that is the brainstorming side. let's go to the social side. what did you do when you let your hair down christian mark -- when you let your hair down? >> i don't like it was letting our hair down all that much. i remember wonderful dinners. she is someone who really enjoyed good food of all different kinds, so wonderful
dinners. >> did you go out or did you cook? >> i am not the cup. -- i am not the cook. sonia and others did cook wonderful pofood. just conversation about issues of passionate interest in the group. she was always somebody who was very serious and committed, but was able to stand back with humility and laugh at herself and understand herself in relation to a broader group. one thing i have to say that really stands out to me about her than, that i think she has held up to even as she has become a judge, is that she was
someone who really paid attention to the content of what you were saying, whoever you were, rather than who you were. she would listen to a good argument or persuasive view whether it came from the person on the street or a supreme court justice. she pays very close attention to what people are saying, and at the same time is not easily intimidated. she would push back if she disagreed, and do it with grace and respect, but also making sure that she got to the bottom of things. that was something that was actually part of the enjoyment. we would do that socially and when we were brainstorming
about our ideas. >> so the peppering of lawyers that we here she is known for was happening between you and your friends at dinner parties as well as in a classroom? >> sonia ask great, hard questions, and she does so with an interest to really understand at a very deep level and with an open mindedness about rethinking her own position if what she hears justifies that rethinking process. >> were there other social thing she would do besides dinners? were there any sports, anything else, cards, games? >> i remember listening to music, but actually, i would have to say what stands out in my mind is food and deep conversation. >> how would you say she fit in terms of the class?
were there many other latinas in the class? >> very few, actually. she was breaking new ground, although she was not somebody who present herself with that as her marker identity. she mingled with a wide range of people. she seemed to celebrate or she came from but did not define yourself by where she came from -- she did not define herself by where she came from blood by where she was going. she was a vibrant part of the law journal, which was the center of intellectual life of
the students, although there were many other centers as well. she was also very active in some of the social issues that were relevant at the time. if i remember correctly, this does not stand out very vividly, but she didn't some clinical work while she was a law school and was very involved in that community as well. she was active in the latino organization at yale. i think she played a leadership role in that as well. she wore many hats in law school and was a very active presence. >> do you remember your graduation? >> i remember it vaguely.
>> were you all together? or their goodbyes, or how did that work? >> we were all together. there was some kind of cocktail party afterwards and there was an opportunity to say our goodbyes and reminisce a little bit. >> how often do you talk to her, or have you seen her since then? >> since i came to columbia, i visited in 1999 and joined the faculty in 2000. we have rekindled our friendship. we both speak sometimes about potential law clerks. we talk about teaching, and we have had dinner on a number of occasions to share our lives. >> we will have live coverage of
the confirmation hearing beginning at 10:00 a.m. here on c-span, c-span radio, and c- span.org. we talk about the confirmation process with michael o'neill. he is now at george mason university school of law in arlington, virginia. >> i was primarily tasked with advising the judiciary committee, principally senator specter, who was chairman of the committee, as well as the other republican members of the committee, both in terms of setting up the hearings and briefing the members as they prepare for the hearings. also as staff director of the committee in setting of the staffing, we had considerable staffing hired prior to the hearings. the size of the committee when i was there, there were around the 60 plus lawyers and supports and professional staff. not all those people were working in the hearing. we hired separate people just to
work on the supreme court hearings themselves. we had a full legislative agenda we were working on. chairman specter was quite an active chairman. >> what was your relationship with him during the nomination process? >> it was a great relationship. he was a demanding chairman. he really wanted to be prepared for the hearing process, so we went through a great deal of work in terms of preparing him to make sure that he was ready to conduct what had been the first supreme court hearing 11 years. we help prepare the other members and their staffs. >> whether any type of strategy sessions where you talked about what would take place in a hearing with the centers? >> absolutely. we had strategy sessions with the white house, department of justice, among the members, and just with the chairman. we decided on the timing of the hearings. president bush wanted to see
his first nominee seated before the start of the october term. those meetings were imported in terms of stating it -- setting up the schedule. chairman specter was trying to be solicitous of the democrats, recognizing that they needed to be prepared for the hearings. >> did you talk about the questions that the senators would be asking the nominees during the sessions? >> absolutely. one of the first things that we did as soon as it was announced there would be a retirement, we went through and got all of the past supreme court hearing transcripts that we could. we primarily focused on ginsberg and thomas hearings. we also looked at the bork hearings as what you should not do in preparation for a hearing. we went through those with a
fine tooth comb. we looked carefully at the type of questions that the republicans and the republican members of the committee asked and what type of questions the democrats asked as well. we wanted to have a good idea about the sorts of questions that would be asked of the nominee. we also looked at other transcripts of court of appeals hearings in district court hearings to get a flavor for the type of hearings would ask and what they wanted to ask. >> those transcripts -- or that part of the documents we hear about that the nominee is required to submit to the committee, or were they separate? >> they were separate. most of that kind of work was done prior to actually have a nominee. once we had a nominee, most of the focus of preparation is looking at the nominee's record. there was a big difference between chief justice roberts
when he was nominated versus when justice alito was nominated. alito had been on the court of appeals for quite a long time. chief justice roberts had not sat on the circuit that long, so we did not have a thick appellate record to review. he had been an active appellate lawyer in the various courts of appeals, so we have a lot of briefs to look at. you get background questionnaires from the nominees that you have to vet in committee. >> that material from the nominee is coming from a team of folks at the white house in the justice department that is preparing the nominee. what is the relationship with them during that process? >> we had a very close relationship with the white house and the department of justice. they consulted a lot chairman specter. they knew he was important in terms of running the hearing.
our staff's work closely with their staffs in getting materials and information from them, making sure the materials were disseminated to the republican and democratic staff. one thing chairman specter was insistent on is that when we receive materials, that the democrats received the materials as well. he wanted them to be done as fairly as possible. texted you take into account ratings that interest groups put out about a nominee during the process? >> people look at the american bar association. it has come under some criticism at times for their ratings, but people still look at those sorts of things. more important is the nominee himself or herself, and looking at that person's record. their performance as a lawyer -- that is what the committee looks
more closely at. the aba tries to play it fairly. they will use outside interest groups to promote those things. >> is that the benchmark, the aba rating, is that the benchmark that everyone looks to? >> no, i think the benchmark is how they feel and what their opinion is after reviewing the entire record of the nominee. the members take it seriously. the supreme court is so important for the country and the american people. members taken very seriously. i don't think any of them was beholden to any sort of outside interest groups, whether partisan or non-partisan. they really wanted to look at and review the records themselves for their own purpose so they could make a candid
assessment of the record and a good judgment of whether they believe the nominee is qualified. >> when these records are delivered to the staff, what is the staff looking for? >> you are looking for a couple of different things. obviously in today's world, we were the first nomination where you had access to the internet. it was widely used to research people. you are looking to add fullness to the person's record so you can understand them up as a lawyer and as a human being. a lot that information comes from newspaper reports. the media is very important, articles they may have written -- all of that gives you a fuller picture of the nominee. people are also looking for unsavory things they can use to attack the nominee. as a lawyer, you want to know what those things are, so you
can defend the nominee against those attacks. if you are predisposed to voting against them, you want to be able to use that information to down the nominee as well. >> during the strategy sessions you mentioned, do you work with the majority staff about the way the democrats will be questioning? >> absolutely. based on past questions, we tried to guess what all the members will be interested in, what areas they are likely to focus on. senator kennedy has been a long time historic figure in terms of the civil rights movement. we knew that would be one area he would want to question people about. senator hatch has always been very interested in federalism and what the appropriate role of state and federal government is. we knew he would be asking about that. based upon current events, what
current supreme court cases are going on, what constitutional law issues members are going to be interested in. for senator specter we went through all of the major constitutional law topics of the day and basically created a series of briefing memos for him about what the current state of the law was and what was going on with miranda vs. arizona, what was going on with the voting rights act, an executive branch relations. during the bush presidency, there were many questions raised about the actual power of the executive branch and what are the limits -- limits of article to authority. we wanted to bring them up to speed on the important constitutional issues of the day. >> there has been a lot of talk about the staff committee not having enough time between the time that the documents have been submitted and the hearings
take place. the new field as staff director that your staff had enough time to go through all the records that were available to you? >> is difficult, even with a fairly large staff, if you have someone who sat on the bench as long as justice alito had. it is difficult to make it through all the cases when you are not only going to the cases, your going for someone's record. in his case when he was the u.s. attorney in new jersey, or you look at their record when they practice law outside of the government, it is difficult to digest all that information. you will have to rely on some extent to the media. it is impossible to ferret out everything, even with a fairly large staff. you are focused more on the person's legal record. the way these nominations have gone, there is an expectation that it sometimes is not
fulfilled. if you work republicans and have a republican administration nominating someone, you will be principally responsible for defending that person when he or she is nominated. the role that the democrats play, they are the loyal opposition, but they will be more searching in terms of the question. they will be more concerned about the nominee's record. . . . >> we would get together and
talk about these issues. we talked about interpretation under the law. how we thought this person was likely to rule on individual cases. we talked about their role of the law and the role of a good judiciary and our constitution system. we talk about those things. we would also write questions as well that we would recommend to him about certain areas of the law. we would make recommendations to other members as well. the judiciary committee staff is set up so that the chairman and ranking members have a number of different staffers. each of the members are also allowed to high years unstaffed. those stocks are much smaller. they are really strapped in terms of of the people looking at these things. they look to the ranking chairman to help them reduce the record and provide them
information. we talk about specifically about questions that might have arisen in his mind or if he had questioned about the case or the interpretation of rule on the case. we talk about it. he might ask a question and i will provide him an answer that i could give. >> what about at the end of each hearing? would you have another session with the chairman or the republicans that for the republican senators on the committee? >> absolutely. we would sit down with the chairman and talk about him predict talk with him about the way the day had unfolded. -- we would sit down and talk with the chairman of of the way
he saw the day and how it had unfolded. >> we would sit down with each of the committee staffers and talk about the very same things and go through and try to coordinate what sorts of questions were going to be asked the next day. if a member wants to ask a particular line of questions, then obviously they will be allowed to ask the question. we tried to avoid duplication. you want to make sure you are not just repeating the same things over and over, but that you're covering a broad expanse. >> unlike the alito and roberts nomination, democrats are in charge. how will that change the dynamic. >> interestingly enough, that they mimic will probably not changed that much. this is someone who comes from
the old school. he is a very fair man he will be a very fair chairman. he has been doing it for a long time. i think we have a majority of democrats on the committee and we're working with the democratic administration. now it democrats are in a role that we build for the bush administration. -- that we fulfilled for the bush administration. you want to make sure you are filling your role. now the republicans, instead of trying to push a nominee through or rush of nominee through to make sure they are on the bench for the first monday in october, it will be in a position of wanting to ask for more time and wanting to review the record more thoroughly. that is the way the system is set up.
>> have you been in communication with people on the bench and what would be your advice to them for how to handle hearings? >> this is something i learned from senator specter and from senator hatch as well, i also worked for, and that is the most important thing that you can do is to be fair. be fair to the other side, then over backwards to make sure that every i is dotted and t's crossed and mixers that the minority gets the opportunity to ask all the questions that they want, that all what they need, provided it is reasonable. you just cannot fail the process when you do it fairly. i have every expectation that the chairman will be extremely fair. >> michael o'neill, and you very
much. >> i hope that was helpful. >> tonight, all we're talking with friends and colleagues of it judge sonya sodomite york. -- sonia sotymayor. the new york district attorney is said to testify tomorrow morning on behalf of her hearing. >> district attorney, robert morgenthau, the first time you met her. do you remember? >> i do. >> i was recruiting. >> recruiting 42? >> the district attorney's office.
-- recruiting for who? i asked if we had any good candidates. he said i think we have one but i do not think she ever thought of being assistant district attorney. she would be good for you. i said what is her name and he said sonia sotomayor. i said if she is interested, have her call me. >> day to interview her in this room? day remember? >> yes, i did. -- did you to review her in this room? -- do you remember? >> yes, i did. she had an incredible academic record. she had gone to princeton. she told me she had trouble with
the language her first year but that her professor had taken an interest in her and she had spoken with his family and wrecked an essay every day. she ended up graduating summa cum laude. i was impressed by her. i was impressed by her common sense. i am always looking for people that i think can relate to victims. i was not wrong. >> that relation to victims and witnesses, what does it take to have that ability? >> you have to have an understanding of people. you cannot be arrogant. you cannot think you are better than anyone else. even though she was very smart, she had the ability to communicate.
we did a survey, i remember, fairly early on and we found the number one reason for dismissal of cases because the victims and witnesses would refuse to testify. we wanted to be sure that whoever came to us what have the ability, but also they could relate to victims or witnesses so they could persuade them to testify in testify truthfully. >> it was 1979. you were at yale looking for lawyers, and a professor was the one who ended up. have the two at you ever talked about this? >> it was a chance meeting. he and i work founding directors of the porter begin -- puerto rican defense fund.
>> when you brought her into this office. what jobs she had. -- what job did sehe have? >> she went through a training program to handle misdemeanors. >> is that what you call the trial piro 50? -- trial bureau 50? >> we have six every day. they rotate. she was in a 050. >> i know that every day is separate year. it has to be. if you had to describe what a normal day would have been like
at that time for her as an assistant district attorney, how would you describe it? >> they meet with the arresting officer. they have to evaluate his testimony and they had to meet with witnesses if there were any. they had to ride up the complaint and then they handle the arraignment. >> right then and there? >> right then and there. , they had to take fingerprints or something. most of the cases, once they got in the complaint room, they would be arraigned that day. they carried heavy caseloads. >> how many? >> about 60 or 70 cases. >> they would continue with that and continue doing in take? to go on that day of the case,
they would have a lot of balls in the air. she had the capacity to handle a lot of work. with judges who sat on the agreement part, they would compete to see how many cases they could dispose of. they used to push around the young assistance. no one pushed sonia sotomayor around. >> what kind of style which she used to deal with people on one level and be good at it and also not allow herself to be pushed around? >> she just was very even tempered, and she was prepared to the extent that you can be when you are handling that many cases.
she became well-known very quickly as one of the new assistance that you could not push around. >> there was a question at that time about whether she would be interested in being in your office did you have to convince her. >> know. -- no. we had a tall. she did not really say i have to think about that all while. >> how many assistance would you have had that year in general? >> probably about 50. >> is that how many of you have today? >> yes. >> i read somewhere that the salary was $17,000 per year. >> that sounds right. >> was that considered good at
the time? >> not really, no. the difference between coming to work for the district attorney's office and going into private practice, if you go into private practice, you are an employee. when you become -- when you work at the district attorney's office, you are employed. there was one senior partner. you get a lot of responsibility very quickly. >> how often would you have one on one meetings? >> we always had a lunch for them. later on we would have a reception for them. only if they were handling the case. >> were there any large cases that she dealt with during that time that you would have been
working with her on? >> there were two major cases. one was the so-called tarzan burglar robberies. he would swing down from a group and kick in the window and then robbed people. he committed three murders during the course of his rampage. she tried that case along with another assistant. they put him away for 137 years to live. she is still in their. >> what about the other case? >> the other case was a child pornography case. we had difficulty with child pornography case is because some of the old law you had to show that this appeal to the interests of the viewer.
there was a trial lawyer from buffalo that used to come down and say, i cannot believe that this appeals to your pure interest. we got a change in the statute to bring it up with a child where where did welfare block. -- child welfare law. that case went to the supreme court in people vs. fibur. she tried the first case after the consonance redid constitutionality -- after the constitutionality of the bill. >> you are still getting their legs wet yourself? >> yes.
i came in 1975 and she came in 1974. >> when you think about her, that this -- the possibility of her serving on the supreme court, what do you see in the current justices today that you also see in judge sotomayor? in terms of legal, personal, what ever. >> number one, she is highly intelligent. she believes in their rule of law. she is a good listener. i think she has excellent judgment. and when i first got at of law school, i went to work for robert patterson. i had some familiarity with judicial thinking, and i thought she was outstanding.
i think she will be outstanding. she will be the only judge on that court that has tried cases at a local level. so she knows what the issues are when a victim undergoes a difficulty. she also understands the impact that a federal decision will have on the state courts. what people tend to forget is more than 90% of the people in correctional institutions are sent there by state prosecutors. to have only one judge that on that score who understands what the problems are of the state system is extremely important.
>> one of the criticisms of the judge has been whether personal thoughts come into her legal ideas. how would you do with your assistant district attorneys at how we did about how their own personal opinions about certain things and how to keep that out of their judicial life? >> that was certainly never a problem with her. she believed in the role of law. she believed in enforcing the law. we never saw that as a problem. >> did you have another assistant district attorneys that you had to work with that on? >> once in a great while, but generally not. we have great guidelines. we have a practice manual. the assistance followed the guidelines. if they do not want to, they have to check with the chiefs. we never had any issues with
this. thank y>> i read someplace in oo be a district attorney, it was on was a self-contained world. would you describe your office and that way? >> it certainly is hard work. there are some assistance who want to try cases in this way, but the good assistance are always prepared on the facts and law. she was always prepared. you have to get out and interview witnesses. it is certainly not a job where you can live in your own world. that is one of the things we always look for. some who could come in who has a great record, but we want to see someone relate to the community and to witness this.
i will say, if you do not have the cooperation of victims and witnesses, you could be the best trial lawyer in the world. >> will her ability to speak several link which is help her? -- will her ability to speak several languages help her? >> yes. when i came in, there were no latino assistance. there were very few minority assistance. now we have 119. >> how about women? did you have very many women in the group? >> we had 19 women. now we have 268. a big change. >> did you have to work to get those numbers up? >> initially yes.
the chief of the trial division, nancy rhine and, of course, is a woman, and i have had two cheap assistance. initially but i was brought up by my mother. i understand the importance. >> what if i switch to give a judge sotomayor york as she walks into the senate judiciary committee for the hearing? to go tell the truth. -- >> tell the truth. >> as she is testifying before the committee, you will be celebrating to settle at -- celebrate your 19th birthday, is that correct? >> i think it is. >> what are your plans over the next year? >> my plans are limited this year. i have a lot of cases on the
pipeline and i want to get them all out. that is what i am concentrating on. >> one final question. how would you compared the current predict the crime of the city in new york in 1979 -- how would you compare the crime in this city of new york in 1979 compared to today? >> there is more white-collar crime now. there is more fraud at the corporate level. there is more corruption. there is more identity theft. when i became district attorney, there were 648 murders in manhattan. last year there were 62. that has freed up resources to deal with the new work kinds of crimes. -- newer kinds of crimes.
there is a new way that the federal government handles immigration, and i think it is a disgrace. immigrants are afraid to testify when they are witnesses of crime. we have a policy where we will not refer any case involving an illegal immigrant to federal authorities because they have abused their power to such an extent. >> thank you. >> thank you for the opportunity. >> now, in new york attorney. we talk with him about his impressions of the supreme court nominee. >> elkan abramowitz, you were
quoted as saying judge sotomayor york was a natural choice. what do you mean as natural? >> i mean that she will bring the talents to the court that she has brought to the court of appeals. that is a person who strives to get to the bottom of the argument. she will press against until they answer her question, maybe not to her satisfaction, that at least she will understand the argument that is being made. that is something that i think too many appellate judges forsake. a distant and listen to arguments that are prepared. from a bit against point of view, they do not know what is bothering the courts and what is really something that could be
straightened out. it will give the litigants' an opportunity to try to persuade her that she may be going down the wrong path. she is very open to that. i think generally she is a natural. i stick with that ". >> when did you first meet her and when did you first argue before her? >> i first met her in connection with a district court case in 1995 or 1996, i do not remember exactly. it was a routine criminal case. i do not remember the details now, but i was impressed by the fact that she showed no pre- conceived way one way or the other. she was neither pro-government or pro-defendant.
whatever the issue was, i felt at the time, that she handled it straight, meaning that she showed no particular bias one way or the other. what happens to many judges is they get a reputation over -- after some amount of time afte peakes being a pro-government judge. -- as being a pro-government judge for the other way. i think that if you have a judge that has pre-conceived notions, it is almost impossible to change that person's views. i as a lawyer have a particular
issue that i want raise and decided on the merits, not because someone favors defendants or the government. i really did give the impression right from the very first time i met her she would call it straight down the middle. she was very fact specific. she wanted to know precisely what the case was about, and i felt, even though i do not remember the details now, i felt she was going to give everyone in that courtroom a fair shake, including the government. >> set the stage for people who have not seen a district court. how is a case like that play out? for which she plays into it? >> of the district court is where trials are held, but before any trial is held, there are pre-trials proceedings and generally involving motions, motions directed to -- on
discovery issues. issues like that in a criminal field. in a civil field, it would be involving motions for summary judgment and motions to clarify the litigation. so that a district court judge is the judge of a first impression on cases. after a trial or after a case is resolved, it then goes up to the core intermediate appellate level in the federal system, which she also served on. and then occasionally to the supreme court. >> does it make any difference for a district to have someone on the supreme court. is there any kind of regional,
you know, it helps a little bit because people she knows our backs and knows our geography? >> this is a good question. i do not know the answer to it. i think appellate judges, for example, as she has been for what ever number of years, it coming from a district court in serving in the same location, probably no the judges, certainly on a superficial level and sometimes on a more intimate level. i am not sure if that makes any difference. i think the kind of issues that the supreme court faces would be more issue oriented than course of -- the and personality oriented. -- than personality oriented.
her personal relationship there may have impacted, although it did not. she overruled the judge. i think that when you get to the supreme court, you are really dealing more with issues and less with personalities. i really do not think it will have an impact. >> is there a progression of the judge's life in the wake of the district court and appellate court? >> of course. to the extent that the issue she faced as a circuit court judge are somewhat different from the issues she is going to face as a supreme court judge, and that's obviously entirely. i think one of the cases that the supreme court is going to decide deals with one of her cases on reverse discrimination,
so that there are many occasions, not the majority of cases, where the issues would be almost the same period i think the issues in the supreme court tend to be more broader and less specific and related to litigation issues, which i think she faces on a separate court. >> how did you prepared to argue before her? >> you would prepare as you would be for any judge. if you really have to know the case backwards and forwards. one of the interesting differences between the american system and the english systems fort appellate advocacy is that as far as i understand, i am told that the house of the lord's take as long as they need to decide an appeal and hear
arguments. what is unusual here is that both in the circuit court and supreme court, there are time limitations as to how long you are allowed to argue and they are usually strictly enforced. in the supreme court, i am told, they are routinely and forced -- and source. -- enforced. you know in advance how long you have a. you have to figure alloway and preparation to gain your argument down so that you get the point across to the judges. this is where kirk reputation -- her reputation comes in. sometimes she could take the full 10 minutes and asking
questions. that was not my experience, but i am told that she will keep asking questions until she really understands the answers that are given. those circumstances are sometimes given more time i think if you know what is bothering the judge and the other judges on the panel, you have to focus in on the argument. i think that is what is so important about having a dialogue, as opposed to standing there in arguing for 10 minutes. i prepared by knowing everything and trying to anticipate what the question is going to be in responding to them. >> now, with nine justices there and she would be one of nine asking the questions in that short amount of time, it is likely that there will be even more give and take.
>> i do not know. i do not know whether justice souter was a proper of questions. i do not think he was. certainly from what i have heard and seen it is that justice scalia is. i think she will be also. i do not know whether any one of them will dominate the entire proceeding, but i think you can expect that she would ask a serious number of questions, if she had some problem with the case and issue. >> you mentioned justice scalia. he is also a justice of humor from the court. have you ever seen a judge sodomite york use humor as a way of getting across her point. -- have you ever seen judge
sotomayor use humor? >> she had invited me to participate in a class that she taught at columbia law school on public advocacy. -- on the appellate advocacy. she asked me and another lawyer answer questions. she had a very nice sense of humor and a very warm approach to the whole process. then she took us all to dinner. we had a great time. and she is a charming woman. she has obviously a great american story. it was great to spend that kind of time with her. she is a very down-to-earth, blunt, a charming person.
i think in the conferences of the supreme court i think she would bring that personality there, and i think it would be helpful. >> when you made that presentation, what kind of reaction did you get from the students? did you get any feel for how she ran her classes? >> there was obvious affection. the class was held in her chambers, so that the students came down and they were all sitting in her conference room. it was a very warm feeling. it was not a i am a professor, you are the student. they were sitting around the table talking it out. she picked up on the points that the other lawyer and i were making and gave other examples from her other experiences with other door years. i thought it was well received. i did not get the sense that it was anything more than that.
>> did she disagree with you at all? >> i think so. she disagrees with me a lot. that is something that just does not bother me. i think if she did, she would say so. that is fine. >> can you give me an example of when you might have disagreed over the years. >> i cannot. i am sure that at some point in my argument -- actually what happened is that as i really thought i was going to lose the case. she was asking questions premised on the other side of the argument. i felt at the time of the argument that i was running uphill. alternately she rolled my way. i think she was trying to get the best answer she could. -- ultimately she ruled in my way. i think it was part of her
process of learning. >> people who watched the court say that the supreme court talks about the oral argument and how it can sometimes be deceiving because you do not know where the justice is coming from and they may actually -- you may think you are losing and they may be on your side. the question is, if she is confirmed, is this the kind of -- we will not know by her questioning and oil argument where she stands. -- oral argument where she stands. >> i think she is interested in getting to the essence of what the decision that she has to make is. i think it is not a game. it is not like where the judges asked questions for the sake of
asking questions. i do not think that is it at all. i think if she has decided that i am right, she wants to make sure the other side gets a fair shake. she will ask tough questions while i am the one doing the argument. i find that exhilarating, and that is what i like about appellate work, but it is not a game. she is not doing it to see how good of a lawyer you are. she really is trying to get to the bottom of your argument. >> as confirmation hearings continues, i want to ask you, if you have any advice for the members of congress that are asking her questions, what would you recommend to them? >> i think they should ask the questions of her that she wouldn't of a judge asked of them. i that i mean, i do not think
they should be asking for shaping their questions from their own political viewpoint. i believe that she is not a political judge. she certainly has political views, every person on the court does, but i do not think she will be the type of judge that will review every case through her political prison. my advice to the senators is, if you want to know what kind of a judge who will be on the supreme court, find out what kind of a lawyer she is and what kind of approach he takes towards judging cases, and not spend their time questioning her about things that she did in college and things that she may have done in high school and what i deemed to be irrelevant questions. >> tell me a little bit about your firm in new york. >> my firms started out many years ago as 83 or four person
firm, and has now grown into a 60-lawyer firm. -- it started out many years ago as a three or four person firm. >> more concerning the confirmation process with jamie brown. she is a formal -- former special assistant to president bush. >> i was responsible for the senate strategy for both chief justice roberts and alito. that involves determining which courtesy visits should be held at which time.
we would work with the lawyers and leadership staff on a vote and getting them confirmed. >> how large of the team was this? >> there was probably 12 to 15 people that were working full- time. there were a large number of people who would spend part of their day. they would spend their time in the white house and the justice department working on the legal work, the communications work, the legislative team, the grass- roots outreach. it was a great effort. >> how did you get involved and all the other people and departments that you mention? >> wants justice o'connor
announced that she was going to be retiring, i was told all of all might legislation responsibilities i was pulled off of the responsibilities and was spending my time getting ready for the announcement of chief justice robert said. -- chief justice robert. i was part of a team that involved communications leaders. before we had robertson as a nominee, we spent the time working with senate leadership on framing the messages about what a nominee should be like, what to expect, how to consult with the senate, and also talking about what the process should be like for the nominee. how they should be treated >>
was there any difference between the preparations for the roberts confirmation hearing versus the alito? >> probably because with chief justice roberts we had not had a nomination process for over a decade on the republican side. we were doing things for the first time, if you will. especially with the internet explosion and the use of blogs, and all the various tools, those were not around the last time we had a supreme court confirmation. there was a lot of figuring out how the process should play out in this day and age. once we had gone through that with chief justice roberts, we had the confirmation process for the second vacancy. it was, in some ways, a tiny bit easier because we had just gone through it, but we still had to handle the nominee's record.
we had an enormous amount of opinions and other work with the committee. >> you mentioned that one of your responsibilities during the confirmation process was the visits to senators. tell us about those experiences. >> the courtesy visits, even though they take place in private, they are incredibly important. eight it is an opportunity for allies and supporters of a nominee to get to know them better -p- it is an opportunity for allies and supporters to get to know a nominee that year. -- better. you want to build your support through this personal visits. you also have an opportunity to
show that you are a strong nominee and you are engaging person. the senator will realize that your nominee will come across very well in a confirmation hearing. they are not necessarily going to be extra combat of with the nominee- -- they are not necessarily going to be extra combative sen nominee. >> is it the goal to meet with all of the senator's? >> you want to meet with all of the senators that you hope will support you and any senator who asked to meet with you. you end up meeting with almost everyone in the senate. they each met with over 80 senators a piece. >> i hear a term that people in your jobs are given. >> it is a colorful term.
it basically explains that the role is to help the person. at my level, i had a lot of background experience with the various -- working with the various senators. i had a sense of what the committee was focused on. i knew what they cared about and what their priorities were. i was able to get the nominee a sense of where the senators may be coming from in their questioning, but things may be on their mind and a sense of their personality and keep them updated on the process and how it will play out. we also had more senior sure us. -- senior sherpias. each of the former senator's had a great debt and personal
relationships with their former colleagues. they have a set of experiences and insights that you cannot replicate anywhere else in. it was great to have been there and helped talk the nominees through on what to expect and get them personal insight on the senators. they were able to talk to their colleagues about how their nomination was going and if there were any recommendations on ways to improve. >> next comes the practice sessions. tell us about this. >> it is a terrible turn to explain a very critical part of the process. even though the nominees that we had been very capable lawyers, the stakes for the hearings are so high, it is critical that they have a thorough preparation. the goal for the process is to first of all go through a time of refreshing the nominee's
memory on their opinions that could be considered controversial in give them an opportunity to re-educate themselves on it. then we basically replicate a hearing condition where we have members of the white house council office played the role of various senators on the committee, asking the types of questions that you would expect them to ask and put the nominee through the paces of the hearing. the goal is that you want the questions that you ask in the murder boards be harder than anything that they will face in their real hearing. it is basically one of the most high-profile job interviews that you have in the american government. you want to get them ready for that. >> different members of the team are planning chairman and
ranking member? >> exactly. basically there is resources to look for. there are three places to look for for potential questions. you look at the nominee's writings or opinions and articles and speeches that they have given over the years. you also look to the questions that the nominees have been asked in courtesy visits to see what the senators seem to be interested in, and you also look at what these senators have asked and prior nominees. >> tell us about the preparation and filling out all of the documents prior to the hearing. >> i think it is probably one of the least favorite parts of the process. you are pulling together every possible thing you have written for public speech that you have given. it involves a lot of people. typically what we have had --
clerks have helped to gather that information. it is a huge team effort to put all that together. >> is its independent research? are you relying on media sources or group sources or transcripts from their court documents? what are you looking for? >> all of the above. the nominee will be able to get their hands on all of their opinions through working with the clerks are yen -- at the the appellate level. the nominee will go into their own records that they have at home. you are doing your best efforts to find anything that is possibly available. >> so with justice alito and roberts you were in the steering room.
what was that experience like? i noticed a picture over year sharing with your time at the alito key ring. >> it is an incredible experience. it is incredible to be a part of this. with chief justice roberts, the first day of his hearing was held in a beautiful room and a room with great historical significance. a lot of important events and hearings have occurred there. there was a real sense of excitement because it had been a long time since we had a supreme court nomination process. various members of the committee to give their opening statements. it is tradition for them to give an opening statement. then people who were there to introduce the chief gave their introductions and then it was turned over to chief justice
roberts's opening statement. it was incredible. it was a very strong statement. you had a sense sitting there that he was on his way to confirmation. it was incredibly exciting. with justice alito, it was a similar experience. as we were going through the process with chief justice roberts, obviously it is such a strong nominee and impress the senate. there was a little bit of a running joke with senators towards the end, like we feel sorry for the person that has to go through this next because we have set the standard for the nominee. justice alito and his own wheat -- and his own way was incredible. it was incredible to support both of those gentlemen as they were going to the process. the hearings are long. part of it is just the nominee being able to physically sick
under the hot lights and under questioning where anyone questioning them if you answer the wrong way could flare up and caused a controversy. and it is pretty grueling. >> was there anything that surprised you? >> not really. like i said before, your goal as a team is to not have any surprises at the hearing. we knew where the lines of attack would come. we knew what types of questions they would get. certainly unexpected was the emotional toll that it took on mrs. alito. it was just unfair and deeply personal attacks. that certainly was a surprise. i think that incident sums up some of the toll that it takes on a family when a loved one at is under such enormous scrutiny
and attack. >> -- at the end of each hearing did you have a strategy session to talk about the next day possible hearing? >> when you have sat under the hot lights undergoing questioning, i think the last thing either one of and wanted to do was spend more time with us. the most important thing was to get home and get a good night's sleep and relax for a little bit. we certainly would quickly huddled in the rooms and talk about how the day went, but it was not anything exhaustive with a nominee. and as a team we were never off the clock during the hearings. it was a constant responding to unfair characterizations of opinions, highlighting the good answers that the nominees gave upended for us, there were no breaks. >> you had a republican
president for those hearings into republican chairing that judiciary committee. this time it is a democratic president and democratic majority. how will this affect this hearing? >> i believe it is fairly similar. even though the senate was controlled by the same party as the president during our process, what i thought time and time again is that members of the senate had a firm believe in separation of powers. they have a constitutional role in this process to provide their advice and consent, and they took it seriously. even though they were in the same party they went through the process and a diligent way. >> what advice would you have for the sherpias that are working with the judge
sotomayor? >> you want to make sirte -- sure you are with the nominee as much as possible. if you want to have a record of what they say, especially in private visits. you want to make sure there are no surprises can anything you can possibly brief the nominee on in terms of the senator and what they care about, you want to make sure that you have given your nominee every piece of information possible. >> thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> live coverage of the confirmation steering for sonia sotomayor starts on monday at 10:00 eastern. coming this fall, to which the hon -- tour the supreme court on