How to Handle a Supreme Court Nominee

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) will run point on President Obama’s upcoming judicial nominations as the new ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As he settled into his new committee leadership post yesterday, Sessions sat down for an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS to talk about judicial confirmations as well as the imminent release of the Uighur terrorists from Gitmo into Northern Virginia.

“We’ll be looking at some things,” Sessions said of his new role in the judicial confirmation process. “One of them will be this question that the President has more than once raised about he wants a judge that shows ‘empathy.’

"The danger of that is: what is empathy? Empathy is a totally non-objective standard. It is utterly subjective. In other words, I don’t like you so I have no empathy for you, but I have empathy for your opponent therefore I’m going to tilt the playing field in favor of the person who’s suing you or you are suing. And that’s antithetical to the classical rule of law. … I think Americans understand that when a judge goes on that bench and puts that robe on, the robe symbolizes that he’s divorcing himself from personal, political or ideological views that might infect his ability to give both parties a fair trial.”

“An analogy that we used right here in this room — part of the discussion was about a baseball umpire,” Sessions continued. “It’s that an umpire should call the balls and strikes fairly, not tilt the calls to favor one team or another. That’s so basic it’s to be without dispute. I think some of the comments that the President made raise troubling questions.”

We asked Sessions about the duty of the committee to examine the qualifications, the character, the history and the experience of a nominee.

Sessions said, “Fundamentally you would look at their record. You talk to people who know them and have seen them perform. You like to have — and it’s almost essential in my mind — a nominee who has been involved in serious legal matters in their life either as a judge or a lawyer, and if they haven’t had any experience in the courtroom, and have mostly a political experience or a professorial experience, that’s troubling to me. I’m not saying you could never confirm somebody, I’m just saying that is very problematic to take a person and put them on a bench and they’re charged with reading briefs that are prepared with the utmost care, every single word, citing cases, to preside over oral arguments that lawyers make and participate in that exchange, and then be able to assimilate what’s really meaningful in that. Now if you’ve never done that and have no experience in it, it’s just not very good thing.”

“I don’t go for the idea that you need somebody outside of the legal profession because you see, sometimes that implies that you want somebody who will bring their feelings to bear and their personal values to bear,” Sessions continued. “The ideal of American justice is a judge who renders opinions based on the law and the facts and the great tradition that we inherit and so I think that a lack of experience is certainly a detriment to me. … I don’t think that governors and senators and politicians are necessarily the best choice unless they have a real history of legal rigor in their background.”

“The classical understanding of the judiciary is that they’re not in politics,” Sessions concluded. “Some of our conservative friends miss that point. I don’t desire that the judiciary advance my political agenda. I think the problem with the left is that they have made it almost acceptable that a judge should use the power to reinterpret the words to make it say what they’d like to say as an end result. Now that’s an abuse of law. A judge who does that is violating his or her oath.”

Sessions on Obama’s Plans to Release Terrorists into Northern Virginia

As HUMAN EVENTS reported this week, Sessions has asked the Obama administration for information on their proposed release of Uighur terrorists into U.S. soil. He sent a second letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on May 4. Holder has ignored the requests for information made over a month ago, yet jokes in a speech he made in Germany that they’ll release the Gitmo terrorists to hotels.

“I clearly do not share your sense of humor on this matter,” Sessions said in the second letter. “It would be both dangerous and contrary to our immigration laws to admit trained foreign militants into our civilian population. The Uighur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay trained at camps run by the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the United Nations since at least 2002. It is uncontested that the leader and chief instructor at these camps was Abdul Haq, a man the Obama administration labeled as a ‘brutal terrorist,’ with ties to al Qaeda in a Treasury Department advisory issued just last week. It defies logic for this administration to label the training camp’s leader and instructor a ‘brutal terrorist,’ while simultaneously contemplating releasing his trained pupils into communities in this country.”

The letter goes on to again cite specific laws the Obama administration will be violating if they follow through with the insane notion of releasing these terrorists into America with, unbelievably, a public stipend to provide for their wants and needs. The letter also speaks to violent acts committed by these Uighur terrorists while in custody as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

“We’ve gotten no answers to them which I think is troubling,” Sessions said. “And I asked the [Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday] at the hearing and we certainly got no definitive answer there although she did indicate that she was in some meetings concerning the issue. She also indicated that a court had indicated that they should be released.”

The court order Napolitano is referring to is a lower court ruling in Kiyemba v. Obama that was recently overturned by two different decisions issued in 2009 the D.C. Circuit Court. The D.C. Circuit reversed the lower court that had ordered the Uighurs be released into the United States. The D.C. Circuit noted that no court in the history of habeas corpus has released an alien that is held outside the country into the country.

“I would say her answer [yesterday] about the court order was baffling, since the direct precedent seems to be exactly the opposite,” Sessions said in yesterday’s interview. “China doesn’t have a great human rights record, but it’s a major trading partner with the United States, and I’m a bit baffled they’re saying that China would like to take these people and investigate them or maybe try them for terrorism. I don’t know why we’re so skittish about that.”