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Senate Proceeding on Jul 28th, 2010 :: 6:54:00 to 7:20:00
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Jeff Sessions

6:53:59 to 6:54:20( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mr. sessio the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, i want to share just a few thoughts on the kagan nomination for the supreme court. i'll share some other thoughts as we go along, and i will be producing for my colleagues a

Jeff Sessions

6:54:00 to 7:20:00( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

6:54:21 to 6:54:45( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: summary of some of the concerns that i have about the nomination that would explain why i and a number of other senators voted against this nomination in committee and why i think that calls for our colleagues to vote agains the nomination on the full floor of the senate. this nominee has the least

Jeff Sessions

6:54:46 to 6:55:06( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: experience of any nominee in the last 50 years, perhaps longer than that. having practiced law only about two years, right out of law school with a large law firm, never having tried a case or argued a case before a jury of any kind, small or large, it

Jeff Sessions

6:55:07 to 6:55:27( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: appears, and spent five years in the clinton white house, spent time teaching and being active politically, but those are issues that i think go to the basic qualities that you look

Jeff Sessions

6:55:28 to 6:55:48( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: for in a -- in a nomination. she had one year, 14 months, actually, as the solicitor general of the united states, and that's a legitimate legal job, but as i will point out she didn't perform very well in that job and made some serious errors that i think reflect a

Jeff Sessions

6:55:49 to 6:56:12( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: weakness in her judicial philosophy. so there's no sustained legal practice that gives us a direct view of this judicial philosophy, but other things indicate it. there is plenty of evidence i think that will show that this nominee is not committed to the faithful following of the law.

Jeff Sessions

6:56:13 to 6:56:34( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: the law as it is. the constitution, the final words say we do ordain and establish this constitution for the united states. not some other constitution, not a european constitution, not a constitution that's viewed by somebody in argentina or france or wherever, but our constitution, passed by real

Jeff Sessions

6:56:35 to 6:56:57( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: amicans through the process that calls upon american input to pass that constitution, and judges take an oh to be faithful to it. they take an oath to serve under the constitution and laws of the united states. so i think the evidence will

Jeff Sessions

6:56:58 to 6:57:19( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: show that this nominee believes that judges have powers that go beyond what a judge has, and this we have taken to calling an activist judge, a judge who believes that they can advance the law, further the law, bend the law, that the constitution

Jeff Sessions

6:57:20 to 6:57:44( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: is not playing words or a contract with the american people, but a living document which really means they can make it grow into what they would like it to be. they can set policy from the bench. and this is not law. this is politics. judges are required to adhere to law. it's the great american principle that we taught from

Jeff Sessions

6:57:45 to 6:58:05( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: elementary school. now, this nominee, pretty clearly, is a legal progressive. it acknowledged that in her own testimony. when i asked her if she was, she didn't acknowledge it, but later she was asked again about it, and to senator lindsey graham, she acknowledged she was.

Jeff Sessions

6:58:06 to 6:58:26( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: that's wha liberals have taken to calling themselves today, progressives, apparently thinking that's more popular than calling themselves liberals. i don't know. that's w they have taken to do that. it has a history. progressivism h a history in this country. i think the people who call

Jeff Sessions

6:58:27 to 6:58:47( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: themselves legal progressives today are indeed in the tradition of progressivism that was rejected in the early part of the 20th century by the american people. president obama is a legal progressive. i'm convinced.

Jeff Sessions

6:58:48 to 6:59:08( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: he is a lawyer, a good friend and somebody we all liked when he was in the senate, but he has a view of the law that i think is a progressive view. he seeks, he says, to advance -- what america should be."

Jeff Sessions

6:59:09 to 6:59:33( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: that's what judges should do. when he was discussing judges, they should seek to advance a -- quote -- "broader vision of what america should be." i'm not in agreement with that. i don't think judges have that responsibility. they have never been given that responsibility. their responsibility is to decide discrete cases before them objectively, and some have

Jeff Sessions

6:59:34 to 6:59:55( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: complained that justice roberts somehow was an automaton by declaring that a judge should be a neutral empire. just call the balls and strikes. he can't take sides in the game. i think that's almost a -- that is a very wonderful metaphor of what a judge should be.

Jeff Sessions

6:59:56 to 7:00:17( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: a neutral umpir judges can't take sides in the game. that's not what they are paid to do. that's not what they are in power to do, not in the american legal system. maybe somewhere els but not in our system. and the american people understand that clearly. they are not happy. they are not happy with judges

Jeff Sessions

7:00:18 to 7:00:38( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: who lislate from the bench who think they know better, who consult some european somewhere with very little accompanying scientific data to say the world has advanced and evolved, and the constitution has gro

Jeff Sessions

7:00:39 to 7:01:01( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: and -- alive and sprung new branches i guess that -- and new words that weren't in there before, and we can find those words and we can have a broader vision for what america should be. i don't think that's law. it's not law. i don't think the american people want that kind of judge.

Jeff Sessions

7:01:02 to 7:01:23( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: and i don't believe in this nominee that we're dealing with slight differences of gradations and judicial philosophy. i don't think it's just a little bit more activist and a little bit more advanced law of philosophy and somebody else

Jeff Sessions

7:01:24 to 7:01:44( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: doesn't and there's not much difference here. i think there's a very serious difference. and it's a question of where the american people ahow power to reside -- allow power to reside, power over themselves. they can vote us out of office.

Jeff Sessions

7:01:45 to 7:02:07( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: i suspect people will be voted out of office this november. people are not can tell you that. polling numbers show congress is at the bottom of popularity that it's ever been. what, 11% or something? and the 11% that's happy with this crowd? where are they?

Jeff Sessions

7:02:08 to 7:02:28( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: i haven't met any. so i would just say that the american people are not enomineered with the -- enamored with the idea that somehow when a person puts on that robe that they've been anointed with greater wisdom than if they had

Jeff Sessions

7:02:29 to 7:02:49( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: to run for office and answer to them. you want to be a politician, run for politician. but i think the president has an incorrect view that have, frankly, a very seriously defective view of that, and in a

Jeff Sessions

7:02:50 to 7:03:10( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: speech here in the senate just a few years ago when he was a young, new senator, he pose opposed chief justice -- now chief justice john roberts, one of the finest nominees ever to come before this senate. what a fabulous person he was, how magnificently dide

Jeff Sessions

7:03:11 to 7:03:31( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: testify, and what a good background he's had, and he was recognized as a premier appellate lawyer in america, had argued 30 or 50 cases, i believe, before the supreme court, more than almost anybody, certainly anybody his age, and had demonstrated the kind of

Jeff Sessions

7:03:32 to 7:03:52( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: skill that you look for in someone who would sit on our nation's highest court. president obama voted against him, and he said that he didn't think judge john roberts in --

Jeff Sessions

7:03:53 to 7:04:13( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: quote -- "in truly difficult cases that john roberts would apparently rely on precedent and try to follow the law." and he said that you can't rely on precedent or -- quote -- "rules of statutory or constitutional construction" -- close quote. instead, he argued that judges

Jeff Sessions

7:04:14 to 7:04:35( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: must base their rulings on -- quote -- "one's deepest values, one's core concerns, when broader perspectives on how the world works and the depth and breadth of one's empathy." close quote. that's what president obama says a judge should do.

Jeff Sessions

7:04:36 to 7:04:56( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: i would assert that that is contrary to the american heritage of law. that's not law. you make decisions based on your deepest values? you mean the judge's deepest values? his core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works? and the depth and breadth of

Jeff Sessions

7:04:57 to 7:05:17( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: one's empathy? that's what a judge should do? not in the united states's order of jurisprudence, not the way i understand it. and i don't think it's the way the american people understand it either. in a speech to planned parenthood, president obama said he hoped judges would reach decisions based on -- quote --

Jeff Sessions

7:05:18 to 7:05:38( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: "their broader vision of what america should be." close qte. well, he indicates that he believes ms. kagan fitshat bill, and if you look at her record, the speeches and background, i think it's fair to conclude that she does. she once in a law review article

Jeff Sessions

7:05:39 to 7:06:00( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: declared that the court primarily exists to look out for -- quote -- "the despised and the disadvantaged." close quote. well, i don't think a court is required to do justice. the oath that a judge takes says this a judge should do equal justice to the poor and the rich -- close quote.

Jeff Sessions

7:06:01 to 7:06:21( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: no another law review article, ms. kagan said, dealing with confirmation -- actually the title of it was "tftion messes old and new." she quoted steven carter's book "the confirmation mess," with

Jeff Sessions

7:06:22 to 7:06:42( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: approval writing that -- quote -- "in every exercise of interpretative judgment, there comes a crucial moment when the judge's own experience and values become the most important data." well, i don't think so.

Jeff Sessions

7:06:43 to 7:07:04( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: what do you mean the judge's own values become the most important data? you meaning we are ceding to the judge their personal values instead of a faithful following of the law and the facts as written? in her oxford thesis, she wrote -- quote -- "judges will often try to mold and steer the law in

Jeff Sessions

7:07:05 to 7:07:26( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: order to promote certain ethical values and achieve certain social ends, such activity is not necessarily wng or invalid. the law, after all is a human instrument, an instrument designed to meet men's needs."

Jeff Sessions

7:07:27 to 7:07:48( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: close quote. the law is a set of commands from the government that have to be consistent with our constitution and -- but if they are, they should be followed. if they've been duly enacted by congress, the american people can elect a new congress and

Jeff Sessions

7:07:49 to 7:08:09( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: change those laws, if they desire, but until so, they remain the law, and i don't think judges are supposed to be steering the law to promote certain ethical values. let me ask you, whose values are they?

Jeff Sessions

7:08:10 to 7:08:30( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: whose ethical values are they? the judge's? is that what we put them on the bench for, to be able to steer the law to promote their ethical values? and some people wrongly say that the constitution is really defined by the nine justices on the supreme court.

Jeff Sessions

7:08:31 to 7:08:52( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: not so really. if you want to be cynical about it, they're not faithful to the law. five justices can redefine the constitution. four justices voted to basically eviscerate the second amendment, the right to keep and bear arms,

Jeff Sessions

7:08:53 to 7:09:13( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: just recently saying that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms was not a psonal right and that the constitution did not apply to the states and the counties and cities and that in effect a city, chicago, could have basically eliminated all guns in their city and it wouldn't have violated the constitutional guarantee of the

Jeff Sessions

7:09:14 to 7:09:34( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: right to keep and bear arms. they just wrote it out of the sture, becaconstitution, i guess, and we know that other cultures aren't as acceptable to letting people have guns as the american culture what. does foreign culture got to do with ours? so this is the kind of thing

Jeff Sessions

7:09:35 to 7:09:57( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: we're talking about. it plays out in real cases and creates a real abuse. and she goes on to say, "judges will often try to mold and achieve -- quote -- "certain

Jeff Sessions

7:09:58 to 7:10:21( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: social ends" -- close quote. such activities, she say, is not necessarily wrong or invalid. well, i think it is wrong or invalid. well, am i being unfair to the judge -- the nominee, m kagan?

Jeff Sessions

7:10:22 to 7:10:45( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: i don't think so. when asked about ms. kagan's record, a person in a very good position to know, former counsel to president obama in the first year or two of the administration who knows ms. kagan and who reviewed her when she was considered parntsly for

Jeff Sessions

7:10:46 to 7:11:07( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: appointment, this is what mr. gregg craig said, an her -- quote -- "she is largely a progressive in the mold of obama himself." close quote. now, i have come to believe that that is exactly right. i mean, i just believe that's right. i think the president looked

Jeff Sessions

7:11:08 to 7:11:28( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: around the country to pick somebody young who long time. she's 50 years old. if she serves as long as justice stevens, whom she's replacing, she will serve 38 years. lifetime appointment. could be longer. and so mr. gregg craig said that

Jeff Sessions

7:11:29 to 7:11:49( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: she is largely a progressive in the mold of obama himself -- close quote. and i think the president, the community activist, he is a lawyer, he's taught some constitutional law. i am a sure he's a good teacher. but if he's teaching this kind of philosophy, i think it's not

Jeff Sessions

7:11:50 to 7:12:11( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: good, sound judicial philosophy. and his approach, i don't think, is g so i believe he looked for somebody that shared his views, as 59 democratic senators expects him to go down the line and vote for whoever he puts up there and so he's put somebody

Jeff Sessions

7:12:12 to 7:12:33( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: he thinks follows his views. a second person who has been in a good position to know and like ms. kagan is vice president biden's chief of staff ron clain. who worked in the clinton white house closely with ms. kagan

Jeff Sessions

7:12:34 to 7:12:55( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: when she spent five years in the white house doing mostly policy work, as she said. this i what mr. clain, an experienced lawyer who's been around washington a long time. this is what he said about her. "elena is clearly a legal progressive. i think elena is someone who

Jeff Sessions

7:12:56 to 7:13:17( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: comes from the progressive side of the spectrum. she clerked for judge mikva, checked for justice marshall, worked in the clinton administration, worked in the obama administration. i don't think there's any mystery to the fact that she is, as i said, more of the

Jeff Sessions

7:13:18 to 7:13:39( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: progressive mold than not." well, let's just take a note there. when she graduated from law school, she clerked for judge mikva, who was a very smart individual, a very liberal individual, i believe clearly would be considered a judge of the activist variety, and then she clerked for justice

Jeff Sessions

7:13:40 to 7:14:00( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: marshall, a great, famous justice on the united states supreme court but probably considered the most activist member er to sit on the supreme court of the united states. that's who she worked for. she took a leave -- i think it was a leave from her teaching position to come to the united states senate, work on the judiciary committee, to help

Jeff Sessions

7:14:01 to 7:14:21( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: confirm to the supreme court of the united states the chief counsel for the american civil liberties union, ruth bader ginsburg. i mean, that's the kind of judges she's admired and worked for, and she played a speech in which -- and she made a speech

Jeff Sessions

7:14:22 to 7:14:43( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: in which she called justice barack of israel, who's been called the most activist judge in the world, her judicial h so i think the american people know the role of a judge. they know a judge is not

Jeff Sessions

7:14:44 to 7:15:05( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: empowered to legislate, the know a judge is not empowered to set policy, they know a yuj is not empowered to redefine the meaning of words in the constitution on some statute to make it say what they'd like it to say in a given case that's before them, this know that's an abuse of -- they know that's an abuse of power.

Jeff Sessions

7:15:06 to 7:15:26( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: it is a violation of oath. and the american people care about it. when i talk to people, when i'm in town hall meetings, people invariably ask about activist judges who are legislating from the bench. they know it is against the american view of law because these judges are unaccountable

Jeff Sessions

7:15:27 to 7:15:47( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: to the public. they have a appointment. they can't be removed if you disagree with their approach. and so for them to advance an ideological, philosophical, social agenda from the bench frustrates democracy in a real way.

Jeff Sessions

7:15:48 to 7:16:09( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: the american people understand it. and i don't think the american people are going to hold harmless those who vote to impose a legal progressive activist legislator from the bench upon them. so i'm asking my colleagues to look at this nominatio carefully. do not be a rubber stamp for the president.

Jeff Sessions

7:16:10 to 7:16:31( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: i'm talking primarily to my democratic colleagues now. it's your vote. it's your responsibility to make sure your constituents don't wake up next year, next year, next year and find some judge redefining the constitution to make it say something it was

Jeff Sessions

7:16:32 to 7:16:54( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: never intended to say. so don't be a lemming. review this nomination. be careful about it because i'm afraid that we have a dangerous progressive, political type nominee that's going to be before us.

Jeff Sessions

7:16:55 to 7:17:16( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: i would call on myemocratic leadership in the senate, let's be sure we have a good time for debate. let's don't curtail it. i call on all my colleagues to come to the floor to express their views, but most importantly to ask themselves: is this nominee the kind of

Jeff Sessions

7:17:17 to 7:17:38( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: nominee you can launch for 30, 40 years on the federal bench, who will subordinate themselves and serve -- quote -- "under the constitution and laws of the united states" as that oath says? or will they feel they're just a little bit above it and they have a right to advance a social

Jeff Sessions

7:17:39 to 7:18:00( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: agenda or some other broader vision for what america should be, that somehow congress didn't see fit to enact the people's branch didn't see fit to act, so they should justo it anyway because congress didn't act. we should act. that is not a justification for judicial activism.

Jeff Sessions

7:18:01 to 7:18:21( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: when congress doesn't act, it doesn't act. that's a decision not to act. and courts are not empowered to set about to fix all that if they're not happy with it.

Jeff Sessions

7:18:22 to 7:18:42( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: so, madam president, we're heading into an important period for the congress, for the senate. we'll be looking at this nomination. the nominee was a skillful and articulate one and had a good sense of humor and handled herself in many ways well.

Jeff Sessions

7:18:43 to 7:19:04( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: but i think as you'll hear from a number of people who studied her testimony that they had a bit too much spin and not enough law, not enough clarity, not enough intellectual honesty to meet the high standards we should look for in a supreme court nominee. we ought to be looking for the

Jeff Sessions

7:19:05 to 7:19:25( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: best of the best, a lawyer's lawyer. not a political lawyer. a lawyer's lawyer or a proven judge. the fact that she's not a judge is not disqualifies. but i could euld expect if you're not -- i would expect if you're not a judge you ought to be proven as a lawyer in the

Jeff Sessions

7:19:26 to 7:19:38( Edit History Discussion )

Jeff Sessions: real world of law practice. this nominee is not. she's more of a political lawyer and i don't believe should be elevated to the supreme court of the united i thank the chair and would

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