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Blog Home Page --> Judiciary

Excerpts of Elena Kagan's Opening Statement

The White House just released excerpts of Elena Kagan's opening statement to the Judiciary Committee, which she'll deliver this afternoon:

"Mr. Chairman, the law school I had the good fortune to lead has a kind of motto, spoken each year at graduation. We tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to "those wise restraints that make us free." That phrase has always captured for me the way law, and the rule of law, matters. What the rule of law does is nothing less than to secure for each of us what our Constitution calls "the blessings of liberty" - those rights and freedoms, that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding. And what the Supreme Court does is to safeguard the rule of law, through a commitment to even-handedness, principle, and restraint. ...

"The idea is engraved on the very face of the Supreme Court building: Equal Justice Under Law. It means that everyone who comes before the Court - regardless of wealth or power or station - receives the same process and the same protections. What this commands of judges is even-handedness and impartiality. What it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every American.

Continue reading "Excerpts of Elena Kagan's Opening Statement" »

Rep. Scott: Previous Nods Suggest Moderate Temp.

Calling her "well qualified and highly experienced," Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said Sonia Sotomayor's previous nominations to U.S. district court and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton "suggests a judicial temperament that will likely be moderate."

Whether accurate or not, this seems to be a line of argument many Democrats are taking.

"I suspect her decisions on the U.S. Supreme Court will not satisfy completely neither those who wish to see a more conservative, nor those who wish to see a more liberal, philosophy than reflected by the decisions of Supreme Court Justice Souter whom she will replace."

Scott, who represents both the Hampton Roads area as well as Richmond, sits on the House Judiciary Committee and was reportedly being pushed himself by the Congressional Black Caucus for the Supreme Court vacancy.

As of 5 p.m., no Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee had statements regarding the nomination available on their official websites .

More GOP Senate Reactions to Sotomayor

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) offered a short statement on the nomination Sonia Sotomayor. Below we'll have his remarks, as well as a running and constantly updated post including other members of the Senate.

McCain: "I congratulate Judge Sonia Sotomayor on her nomination by the President to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. I look forward to examining her record thoroughly during the Senate confirmation process."

Here are some more: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).

Continue reading "More GOP Senate Reactions to Sotomayor" »

House Leaders Offer Thoughts on Sotomayor

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner offered the following statements on Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court.


"I commend President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor's experiences and understanding of the law will assure a strong voice for fairness on the Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor will preserve our civil liberties, maintain the independence of the judiciary, and protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

"As the first Latina to be nominated for the Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor's nomination and life story are a testament to the American values of equality, opportunity, and justice. Her outstanding intellectual achievements -- as a student, attorney and judge -- make her one of the most qualified nominees in many years. I look forward to her timely confirmation by the United States Senate."

Continue reading "House Leaders Offer Thoughts on Sotomayor" »

Sotomayor Ruled On Clarett Case

Football fans will remember this one.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King notes in today's column that Sonia Sotomayor was a member of the three-judge panel that ruled against Ohio State star running back Maurice Clarett's attempt to enter the NFL Draft one year early.

Players are not eligible to enter the NFL Draft until they are three years removed from their high school graduation.

Clarett's attorney, Alan Milstein, argued that keeping Clarett out of the NFL would unreasonably restrict his client's earnings. Of course it would restrict his earnings, because it would keep him out of the NFL for another year. But the question for the three-judge panel was whether this was unreasonable or unfair.

Opined Sotomayor: "That's what unions do every day -- protect people in the union from those not in the union. Why is this case different?''

Reid Approves of Sotomayor Nomination

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), who's receiving fundraising help from President Obama tonight in Las Vegas, issued a statement of approval for the president's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor:

"As Majority Leader, I will do all I can to ensure Judge Sonia Sotomayor receives a fair and respectful hearing and the Senate's quick confirmation.

"I commend the President for selecting such an accomplished, qualified and experienced nominee to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor has had wide-ranging experience not only in the legal world, but in the real world as well, which has helped to ensure that her understanding of the law is grounded not only in theory, but also in practice.

"Both Democratic and Republican Presidents have nominated Judge Sotomayor to the federal bench, and the Senate has confirmed her with strong bipartisan support in the past. I look forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to confirm Judge Sotomayor as the first Hispanic and the third woman to sit on the Court.

"Justice Souter has been a friend of mine for a long time and powerful defender of our constitutional rights. Americans everywhere again thank him for his decades of service to the nation."

Click through for more statements from Senate Democrats.

Continue reading "Reid Approves of Sotomayor Nomination" »

Senate Judiciary GOPers React to Sotomayor

Judiciary Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.):

"The president's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court today is an important step in a constitutional process that includes the advice and consent of the Senate. I congratulate Ms. Sotomayor on her nomination.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee's role is to act on behalf of the American people to carefully scrutinize Ms. Sotomayor's qualifications, experience, and record. We will engage in a fair and thorough examination of Ms. Sotomayor's previous judicial opinions, speeches, and academic writings to determine if she has demonstrated the characteristics that great judges share: integrity, impartiality, legal expertise, and a deep and unwavering respect for the rule of law.

"Of primary importance, we must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one's own personal preferences or political views.

Click through to read the rest of Sessions' statement.

Continue reading "Senate Judiciary GOPers React to Sotomayor" »

Judiciary Chairman Leahy, Specter on Sotomayor

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a top player in Sonia Sotomayor's movement through the Senate confirmation process, issued a statement today regarding her nomination. Here is an excerpt:

While I was visiting with our troops in Afghanistan today, President Obama called to inform me that he will nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor has a long and distinguished career on the federal bench. She has been nominated by both Democratic and Republican presidents, and she was twice confirmed by the Senate with strong, bipartisan support. Her record is exemplary. Judge Sotomayor's nomination is an historic one, and when confirmed she will become the first Hispanic Justice, and just the third woman to sit on the nation's highest court. Having a Supreme Court that better reflects the diversity of America helps ensure that we keep faith with the words engraved in Vermont marble over the entrance of the Supreme Court: "Equal justice under law."

Click through for more reaction from Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, including Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).

Continue reading "Judiciary Chairman Leahy, Specter on Sotomayor" »

GOP Leaders' Statements On Sotomayor

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement today, as President Obama introduced Sonia Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee:

"Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences.

"Our Democratic colleagues have often remarked that the Senate is not a 'rubber stamp.' Accordingly, we trust they will ensure there is adequate time to prepare for this nomination, and a full and fair opportunity to question the nominee and debate her qualifications."

RNC Chairman Michael Steele:

"Republicans look forward to learning more about federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor's thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court's fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. Supreme Court vacancies are rare, which makes Sonia Sotomayor's nomination a perfect opportunity for America to have a thoughtful discussion about the role of the Supreme Court in our daily lives. Republicans will reserve judgment on Sonia Sotomayor until there has been a thorough and thoughtful examination of her legal views."

AP: Obama Picks Sotomayor

President Obama will attempt to make Sonia Sotomayor the first Latino justice on the Supreme Court, the AP reports.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Officials tell The Associated Press that President Barack Obama intends to nominate federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor (SUHN'-ya soh-toh-my-YOR') as the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiring Justice David Souter if confirmed by the Senate. The officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because Obama has not yet announced his decision.

The White House has called a 10:15 a.m. news conference in the East Room, where Obama will formally announce the nomination.

Gibbs: No "A List" Yet For Supreme Court Pick

Robert Gibbs said today that the Obama administration has been making preparations for a Supreme Court choice since before inauguration day, but at this point said he is unaware of whether there's an "A, B or C list" for the high court.

"The transition began identifying a long time ago candidates for what we assumed might be a pick for the Supreme Court," he said today. "Right now there's a collection underway for a pool of very qualified candidates."

At the daily press briefing, Gibbs was asked an array of questions from reporters looking for clues about what direction the president might go in making his pick. Would it be a woman or minority? Will he choose a younger individual who'd likely have a longer tenure? And how quickly can he expect to get a candidate confirmed?

On the latter point, Gibbs acknowledged that the process will need to be well under way before the Congress heads out for summer recess. In addition, given the other items on the legislative agenda, the administration knows September is "going to be a busy time." So to meet the goal of having a new justice by the Supreme Court's new term in October, "obviously this process has to be a decent ways down the field," he said.

Obama has already spoken today with Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), more senior members of the Judiciary Committee. Gibbs repeated that the president is going to choose someone "who respects precedent, tradition and rule of law," and also someone who "understands that decisions have to be made using common sense and understanding people's every day lives."

"I'm sure he will look at candidates with diversity in their background," he said, but that whether the person is a "he or a she," that will be his primary mindset.

At Daily White House Briefing, Obama Confirms Souter Retirement

Just after getting off the phone with Supreme Court Justice David Souter, President Obama surprised White House reporters at the daily briefing and confirmed that Souter would indeed be retiring this year.

"I will seek someone with a sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity," Obama said. "I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.

"I will seek someone who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.

"As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties, across the political spectrum."

Obama said that he hopes the new Justice can be sworn in "by the first Monday in October, when the new Court term begins."

A Supreme Vacancy

NPR's report last night on Justice David Souter's retirement this year has led to ample speculation about who will fill his shoes. National Journal put together a slideshow of potential candidates to fill the expected vacant slot on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Included in NJ's list: Solicitor General nominee Elena Kagan; 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor; 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood.

Check it out the rest, along with pictures, bios and background here.

Who else?

-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears is in the running.

-The Huffington Post has a list with some of the same names, but some others as well.

-Legal Times has a piece on replacements, as well as on the "accomplished appellate lawyer with 16 Supreme Court arguments under his belt" found dead in his office yesterday morning.