Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced yesterday that the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor would begin June 13th. In a typical display of Democratic bipartisanship, Leahy gave no notice of his decision to key Republicans who found out from press reports.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) objected to the rush to begin hearings for this lifetime appointment. “I believe that’s too early,” Sessions said. “I don’t believe it’s necessary. It’s far more important we do this right than we do it quick. … It will be the shortest confirmation time of any recent nominee.”
Sotomayor has an extensive record of writings and legal opinions, some decisions unpublished that the committee has yet to receive.
“I just want to say, Mr. President, first and foremost we are committed to a fair and just hearing but we need to examine the record of 3,500 probably more than 4,000 cases,” Sessions said. “In addition she has given a lot of speeches and written law review articles and those need to be analyzed because make no mistake about it, this is the only time, the only opportunity, this Congress and the American people have, to play a role in what would turn out to be a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, of independence and unaccountability for the rest of their life. So I think it is important we do this thing and we do it right.”
DeMint Voices New Concerns after Meeting with Sotomayor
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, met privately with Judge Sonia Sotomayor yesterday to discuss issues and her judicial philosophy. Sotomayor made statements in the meeting that caused new concerns.
“She was unwilling to say the Second Amendment protects a fundamental right that applies to all Americans, which raises serious questions about her view of the Bill of Rights, “DeMint said. “When I asked if an unborn child has any rights whatsoever, I was surprised that she said she had never thought about it. This is not just a question about abortion, but about the respect due to human life at all stages, and I hope this is cleared up in her hearings.
“Those who serve on the highest court in America must have an unwavering commitment to the Constitution and equal justice for all Americans,” DeMint concluded. “I will continue to review Judge Sotomayor’s decisions and public statements and will watch her hearings closely.”
Sens. Graham and Lieberman Threaten to Shut Down Senate
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) yesterday caught wind that the far-left fringe elements who dominate the Democrat House majority leadership were successful in stripping out the Graham-Lieberman amendment to the beleaguered War Supplemental funding bill that is currently in conference. The amendment that passed the Senate by unanimous vote would block for a period of at least three years the release by the government of some photographs much sought after by al Qaeda and the ACLU.
Sen. Graham appeared on Fox News’ On the Record last night to talk about the issue. Following is a quick partial transcript. Any transcription errors are mine.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: There are some detainee abuse photos out there that the American government has in their possession that shows detainee abuse very similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib. The ACLU filed a lawsuit to have these photos released. The 2nd Circuit ruled that they should be released. The administration appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.
Initially, President Obama was going to support the release of the photos. I wrote a letter to him along with Senator Lieberman saying these photos will be used by our enemies to incite violence against our troops. He took that letter seriously. He called General Odinero and Petraeus and they told him that if you release these detainee photos we’re not going to learn anything new about detainee abuse but Baghdad will burn according to Prime Minister Maliki. All of the commanders in the field have told the Commander in Chief that if these photos are released, Al Qaeda will put them on websites all over world, incite violence against American soldiers and it would be a death sentence to some. The President has changed his mind.
The Senate unanimously allowed Senator Lieberman and myself to put an amendment into the War Supplemental funding bill that would be outcome determinative in court that would allow the government to win at the Supreme Court on this issue. The Progressive Caucus of the House has been in revolt. I’m now being told they’ve stripped that language because the fringe element of the House, the most liberal people in the House are saying they won’t vote for the supplemental bill to fund the war if these photos are protected from being released.
I will do anything that I can to make sure that the language that Senator Lieberman and I came up with preventing these photos from being released — anything — shutting down the Senate. Anything.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: How do you shut down the Senate?
GRAHAM: You stop anything, and let me just say that the Democratic leadership in the Senate was terrific.
VAN SUSTEREN: They support you on this?
GRAHAM: Yes, and basically what you do is you say nobody gets appointed to any position. No bill goes forward without my consent or Senator Lieberman’s consent. We freeze the Congress as far as the Senate’s concerned to make sure the American people understand what’s at stake here. We’re not going to learn anything new about detainee abuse, but we are going to get some kids killed.