Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) defended the Supreme Court Tuesday against assertions by Democrats that its rulings under Justice John Roberts have amounted to judicial activism.
The Democrats used much of Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings to attack the current Supreme Court for what they call its activist rulings, particularly the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case, where the court overturned several restraints on campaign spending by corporations.
Democrats—including Senators Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R.I.), Benjamin Cardin (D.-Md) and Al Franken (D.-Minn.)—continued the accusations Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s final consideration of Kagan’s nomination.
Sessions responded in his closing remarks that the witnesses called during the Kagan hearings “all consistently demolished the argument that those [Citizens United and Ledbetter vs. GoodYear Tire] are activist cases.” He then gave his view of the court, quoting the famous analogy given by Justice Roberts himself.
“One is the judge as a neutral umpire,” said Sen. Sessions, at which point Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) chuckled. “That’s what I was taught. We were taught all along. I see Sen. Schumer smiles and laughs, he thinks this is ridiculous to discuss that a judge could be a neutral…”
“It’s just, whose definition of neutral?” Schumer interjected. “Many of us think Citizens United was not definition of a neutral umpire. That’s all.”
“Well, we had witnesses that testified for the nominee who believed that was not an activist decision,” Sessions responded (watch the exchange at the 1 minute mark in the video below).
Sessions went on to defend the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United and closed by warning against judicial activism.