Skip to main content

tv   C-SPAN Looks Back at Supreme Court Justices Confirmation Hearings  CSPAN  March 20, 2017 8:29am-10:36am EDT

8:29 am
supreme court justices at their confirmation hearings. this program also includes remarks by senators who introduced the nominees. this is just over two hours. >> as supreme court nominee neil gorsuch rares to testify before the senate judiciary committee, c-span takes a look at the court's current justices. we begin with the longest-sitting member of the court, anthony kennedy. appointed by ronald reagan after the failed nomination of robert bork, justice kennedy was confirmed unanimously this 19ing 8 -- in 1988. he replaced justice louis powell and previously served on the ninth circuit court of appeals. here's a brief portion of justice kennedy's confirmation hearing beginning with an introduction by california congressman robert matsui. ..
8:30 am
judge kennedy in an of itself is a superb candidate for united stes supreme court. in comparison to do not this gentleman justice. he has a deep compassion for the law, as many of you know your keys highly intelligent of his academic record. we can discern that come and his experience, 12 years on the appellate court in california and in the western area demonstrates a level that very few nominees to the supreme court demonstrate.
8:31 am
obviously, judge kennedy is a conservative, and here represented are here as democrats. we support him because of our personal knowledge of judge kennedy. i look back in sacramento county where he grew up and where i grew up, and i can talk to the 1 million people in sacramento county, and that one of them would have anything negative to say about this candidate. one individual when asked by a reporter what they thought of him said, they noticed a lack of an observable ego. judge kennedy is a man of humility, a man of compassion. he's an individual that really has no ego, and is an individual who understand the plight of the
8:32 am
common man when matters come before this court. i would also have to say that even though he is a conservative and we are moderates to liberals, we have great deal of confidence in judge kennedy in termof what he will do on the u.s. supreme cou. if one looks at his opinions one will notice that he does demonstrate judicial restraint. but in 1987 that might make a lot of sense because that means that he probably will not be overturning many of the decisions of the '60s, '50s and 70s and '80s. as a result of that you have stability on the court which i think all of us in the united states desire today. and let me make one further observation. you will hear testimony of a gentleman i have regular admiration for in the next few days. the gentleman is in sacramento.
8:33 am
his name is nathaniel coley, a black lawyer. he was former general counsel of the naacp. he was born in alabama, came to sacramento, opened up his law practice and became truly one of the prominent lawyers in the united states, one of the great trial lawyers in the state of california. i would like you to read or listen to his testimony when he gives it, because that testimony will demonstrate the regard that lawyers, law students, ordinary individuals have for judge kennedy. i heartily enjoy some -- endorses nomination for supreme court. you could make a better selection. thank you spirit i most appreciate the gracious welcome from the members of the committee this morning, and from senator wilson and the distinguished congressmen from my district in sacramento, all three of whom i've known for a
8:34 am
number of years. this is an appropriate time for me to think the president for entrusting me with the honor of appearing before you as his nominee, for associate justice of the united states. my family share and extending hand of great appreciation for showing this confidence in me. i wish also to thank the members of the committee, mr. chairman, for the most interesting and impressive set of meetings that i've had with you and members of ththe senate as a whole over the last four weeks. these are courtesy calls, as i understand it. it seems to me that that is perhaps a somewhat casual term for what is a very important and
8:35 am
significant part of the advice and consent process. in a number of these advise and consent discussions, mr. chairman, you are, your colleagues, indicated that you wanted to explain to me your own views, your own convictions, your own ideas, your own concerns about the constitution of the united states. you've indicated that no report our response was expected from me. and in every case, mr. chairman, i was profoundly impressed by thdeep commitment to constitutional rule and a deep commitment to judicial independence that each member of the united states senate has. i wish a workload was such that you could have the experience that i have had to every nominee
8:36 am
appointment for the courts in the article iii system. and now, mr. chairman, i understand it's appropriate and at your invitation i will introduce my family who are here with me. my oldest son, justin is a recent graduate of stanford and is now an assistant project manager for a major corporate relocation in sacramento, and we're delighted to have him home with us in sacramento. his brother gregory, ou are othr son, is a senior at stanford and i'm authorized to assure the committee that has taken the test and use on his way to law school somewhere. our youngest child is kristin, who is now a sophomore at stanford majoring in liberal arts, particularly english and history. and finally my wife mary who has
8:37 am
the loving admiration of her, and also of her 30 students in golden empire school in sacramento, and we most appreciate your invitation to be here with us today, mr. chairman. thank you very much. >> i surely do not in the your tuition bill. [laughing] spittle at like that part of the record, mr. chairman. >> it's a sacrifice your making come and meet at sincerely. please move forward, judge come if you'd like spirit that concludes my opening remarks, mr. chairman, and i'm certainly ready to receive the questions from you and your committee members. >> c-span's "in depth" on sitting supreme court justices continues with clarence thomas nominated in 1991 by president george h. w. bush, justice thomas one confirmation by a narrow margin following hearings
8:38 am
that included allegations of sexual harassment by a former colleague, anita hill. justice thomas replace thurgood marshall on the court. he previously served for less than two years on the d.c. circuit court of appeals, and before that as head of the equal employment opportunity commission. at his confirmation hearing justice thomas was introduced by missouri republican senator john danforth. >> i have no doubt whatever in giving the committee this assurance, just as clarence thomas will resist any effort to impinge on his independence by seeking commitments on how he will decide cases before the court, so he will never become a sure vote for any group of ices on the court. for two months i have noted with
8:39 am
wonder the certainty of various interest groups as they have predicted how the nominee would vote on an array of issues. they don't know clarence thomas. i do. i cannot predict how he would vote on any issue. he is his own person. that is my first point. second, he laughs. to some this may seem a trivial matter. to me, it's important. because laughter is the antidote to that dread disease, federal-itis. the obvious percentage of interest groups trying to defeat a supreme court nominee is to suggest that there is something weird about the individual. i concede that there's something weird about clarence thomas. it's his laugh. it is the loudest laugh i have
8:40 am
ever heard. it comes from deep inside and it shakes his body. and here is something at least as weird in this most uptight and cities, the object of his laughter is most often himself. third, he is serious. deeply serious. in his commitment to make a contribution with his life. i'll never forget visiting with clarence after he had been nominated for a second term at the eeoc. i pressed him on why he would accept a second term. it's a thankless job, one that when done well makes everyone mad. it's a career blind alley. he answered simply, i haven't yet finished the job. i've pondered that statement many times over the past five
8:41 am
years. undoubtedly it meant that he had not yet finished the job of transforming the eeoc from the administrative basket case he inherited to the first rate agency it is today. but i think you meant more than that. i think he meant that the discrimination he is now in his own life is still too much with us. there is so much more to do if we are to end it. this is the seriousness of clarence thomas. it's not anger, as some have suggested. it's not a bitterness that eats away at him, but it's profound. and it forms the person he is in the justice he will become. i hope that sometime in the days judge thomas will be before this committee someone will ask him, not about unenumerated rights or
8:42 am
the establishment clause, but about himself. what was it like to grow up under segregation? what was it like to be there when your grandfather was humiliated before your eyes? what was it like to be laughed at by seminarians? because you are black. everyone in the senate know something about the legal issues before the supreme court. not a single member of the senate knows what clarence thomas knows about being poor and black in america. >> members of the committee, i am humbled and honored to have been nominated by president bush to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the united states. i would like to thank the committee, especially you,
8:43 am
chairman biden, for your extraordinary fairness throughout this process. and i would like to thank each of you and so many of your colleagues here in the senate for taking the time to visit with me. i not enough words to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to senator danforth who gave me my first job out of yale law school. i have never forgotten the terms of his offer to me. more work for less pay than anyone in the country could offer. believe me, he delivered on his promise, especially the less pay. [laughing] i appreciate his wise counsel and his example over the years, and his tireless efforts on my behalf during the confirmation process. and i'd like to thank senators
8:44 am
bond, nine, fowler, warner and rob for taking the time to introduce me today. much has been written about my family and me over the past ten weeks, for all that is happened throughout our lives and to all adversity we have grown closer, and our love for each other has grown stronger and deeper. i hope these hearings will help to show more clearly who this person, clarence thomas is, and what really makes me tick. my earliest memories as alluded to earlier are those of pin point georgia a life far removed in space and time from this room, this day and this moment. as kids we can't minnows in the creeks, fiddler crabs in the
8:45 am
marshes, we played with offers and skipped shells across the water. it was a world so vastly different from all this. in 1955 my brothers and brother and i went to live with my mother in savannah. we live in one room, and a tenement here we share a with other tenants and we had a common bathroom in the backyard, which was unworkable and unusable. it was hard, but it was all we had and all there was. our mother only earned $20 every two weeks as a maid. not enough to take care of us. so she arranged for us to live with our grandparents late in 1955. 1955. imagine if you will too little boys with all their belongings and to grocery bags.
8:46 am
our grandparents were too great and wonderful people who loved us dearly. i wish they were sitting here today, sitting here so that they could see that all their efforts, their hard work were not in vain. and so that they could see that hard work and strong values can make for a better life. i'm grateful that my mother and my sister could be here. unfortunately, my brother could not be. i attended segregated parochial schools, and later attended a seminary near savannah. the nuns gave us hope and belief in ourselves when society did not. they reinforced the importance of religious beliefs in our personal lives.
8:47 am
sister mary, my eighth grade teacher, and the other nuns, were unyielding in their expectations that we use all of our talents, no matter whathe rest of the world said or did. after high school i let savannah and attended immaculate conception seminary, then holy cross college. i attended yale law school. yale had opened its doors, it's hard, it's conscience to recruit and admit minority students. i benefited from this effort. my career as has been delineated today, as an assistant attorney general in the state of missouri. i was an attorney in the corporate law department of monsanto company. i joined senator danforth staff here in the senate as an
8:48 am
assistant secretary in the department of education, chairman of the eeoc, and since 1990, a judge on u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. but for the efforts of so many others who have gone before me, i would not be here today. it would be unimaginable. only by standing on their shoulders could i be here. at each turn in my life, each obstacle confronted, each fork in the road someone came along to help. i remember, for example, in 1974 after i completed law school i had no money, no place to live. mrs. margaret bush wilson who would later become chairperson of the naacp allowed me to live at her house.
8:49 am
she provided me not only with room and board, but advice, counsel and guidance. as i left her house that summer, i asked her, how much do i owe you? her response was, just along the way help someone who's in your position. i have tried to live by my promise to her, to do just that, to help others. so many others gave their lives, their blood, their talents. but for them i would not be here. justice marshall, whose seat i've been nominated to fill, is one of those who had the courage and the intellect. he's one of the great architects of the legal battles to open doors that seem so helplessly and promote a sealed.
8:50 am
and to knock down barriers that seem so insurmountable to those of us in the pin point, georgia, of the world. the civil rights movement, reverend martin luther king and the sclc, roy wilkins and the naacp, whitney young and the urban league, fannie lou hamer, rosa parks and dorothy height. they changed society and made a help her i benefited greatly from their efforts. but for them there would have been no road to travel. my grandparents always said there would be more opportunities for us. i can still hear my grandfather, y'all don't have more of a chance than me. and he was right.
8:51 am
he felt that if others sacrificed and greater opportunities for us, we had an obligation to work hard, to be decent citizens, to be fair and good people. and he was right. you see, mr. chairman, my grandparents grew up and lived their lives in an era of blatant segregation and overt discrimination. their sense of fairness was molded in a crucible of unfairness. i watched as my grandfather -- was called boy. i watched as my grandmother suffered the indignity of being
8:52 am
denied the use of a bathroom. but through it all they remained fair, decent, good people. fair, in spite of that terrible contradictions in our country. they were hard-working, productive people who always gave back to others. they gave produce from the farm, fuel oil from the fuel oil truck. they bought groceries for those who were without. and they never lost sight of the promise of a better tomorrow. i follow in your footsteps, and i've always tried to get back. -- in their footsteps. over the years i have grown and matured. i've learned to listen carefully, carefully to other
8:53 am
points of views and to others. to think through problems, recognizing that there are no easy answers to difficult problems. to think deeply about those who will be affected by the decisions i make and the decisions made by others. but i've always carried in my heart the world, the life, the people and the values of my youth. the values of my grandparents and my neighbors, the values of people who believe so very deeply in this country, in spite of all the contradictions. it is my hope that when these hearings are completed that this committee will conclude that i am an honest, decent, their person. i believe that the obligations
8:54 am
and responsibilities of a judge in essence involved just such basic values. a judge must be fair and impartial. a e must not bng this job, to the court, the baggage preconceived notions of ideology, and certainly not an agenda. and the judge must get the decision right. because when all is said and done, the little guy, the average person, the people of pin point, the real people of america will be affected not only by what we as a judges do, but by the way we do our jobs. it confirmed, by the senate, i pledge that i will preserve and protect our constitution and carry with me the values of my
8:55 am
heritage, fairness, integrity, open-mindedness, honesty and hard work. thank you, mr. chair. >> the next justice to be appointed to the supreme court was ruth bader ginsburg in 1993. 1993. nominated to fill the seat of kennedy appointee byron white, justice ginsburg was confirmed by vote of 86-three. she had previously served on the u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia and was the second woman ever nominated. new york democratic senator danielatrick moynihan introduce judge ginsburg at her confirmation hearing. spinning judge ginsburg is perhaps best known as the lawyer and litigator to raise the issue of equal rights for women to the level of constitutional principle. she is also distance yourself in
8:56 am
a wide range of legal studies, and for the last 13 years has been one of our nations most respected jurists on the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. i must tell you that senator d'amato and i come and i will take special pride in her nomination she was born and raised in brooklyn the day after her nomination at the front page of the "new york daily news" exclaimed, a judge grows. she was elected to phi beta kappa, later columbia law school where she tied at the top of her class. indeed, she actually attended to law schools beginning at harvard and finishing at columbia so that she could be with her husband, martin, would return from cambridge to begin the practice of law in new york. never before ruth bader ginsburg had anyone been a number of both
8:57 am
harvard and columbia law reviews. with such a record you think it not surprising that she should be recommended to serve as a law clerk to supreme court justice. neither is it surprising that at that time, time she has changed, justice frankfurter thought it would be appropriate to have a woman clerk. she clerked for judge edmund palmeri and then entered the columbia law school project on international procedures. she taught at rutgers law school, then columbia becoming one of the first tenured women professors in the country. and then became the moving force behind the women's rights project of the american civil liberties union.
8:58 am
the prime architect of the fight to invalidate discriminatory laws against individuals on the basis of gender. or in print can found on virtually every gender case which reached the supreme court in the 1970s. she herself argued six of the cases before the court, and she won five of them. >> thank you, mr. chairman, senator hatch, and other members of the committee. may i say first how much i appreciate the time that committee members took to greet me in the weeks immediately following the president nomination. it was a particularly busy time for you, and i thank you all the
8:59 am
more for your courtesy. the senator moynihan, who has been at my side every step of the way, a thousand thanks could not begin to convey my appreciation. despite the heavy demands on his time during trying days of budget reconciliation, he accompanied me on visits tonate. he gave over his own desk for my use. he buoyed up my spirits whenever of it was needed. in all, he served as the kindest, wisest counselor a nominee could have. senator d'amato for my great
9:00 am
state of new york volunteered to join send it a moynihan in introducing and sponsoring me, and i am so grateful to him. i have had many enlightening conversations in senate chambers since june 14. but my visit with senator d'amato was sheer fun. >> it always is. [laughing] >> my children decided at early age that mothers sense of humor needed improvement. they tried to supply that improvement, and they kept a book to record their successes. the book was called mommy laughed. my visit with senator d'amato
9:01 am
would have supplied at least three entries for the mommy laughe book. representative the norton has been my professional colleague and friend since days when we were still young. as an advocate of human rights and their chances for all people, eleanor holmes norton has been as brave and as vigilant as she is brilliant. i am so pleased that she was among my introducers, and so proud to be one of her constituents. most of all, the presidents confidence in my capacity to serve as a supreme court justice is responsible for the proceedings about to begin.
9:02 am
there are no words to tell him what is in my heart. i can say simply this. if confirmed, i will try in every way to justify his faith in me. i am as you know from my responses to your questionnaire a brooklyn night, born and bred, a first-generation american on my fathers side, barely second-generation on my mothers. neither of my parents have the means to attend college, but both taught me to love learning, to care about people and to work
9:03 am
hard for whatever i wanted, or the lead-in. their parents had the foresight to leave the old country when jewish ancestry and faith meant exposure and denigration of one's human worth. what has become of me could happen only in america. like so many others, i owe so much to the entry this nation of 42 people yearning to breathe free. i have shared life with a partner, truly extraordinary for his generation, a man who
9:04 am
believed at age 18 when we met, and who believes today, that a woman's work, whether at home or on the job is as important as a man. i became a lawyer in days when women were not wanted by most members of the legal profession. i became a lawyer because marty, and his parents, supported that choice, unreservedly. i have been deeply moved by the outpouring of good wishes received in recent weeks from family, neighbors, classmates,
9:05 am
cast mates, students at rutgers and columbia, law teaching colleagues, lawyers with whom i have worked, judges across the country, and many women and men who do not know me. that huge spirit lifting collection shows that for many of our people and individuals sex is no longer remarkable or even unusual with regard to his or her obligations to serve on the supreme court. indeed, in my lifetime, i expect to see three, four, perhaps even more women on the high court bench, women not shape from the same mold, but of different complexions. yes, there are miles in front,
9:06 am
but what a distance we've traveled fm the day president thomas jefferson told the secretary of state, the appointment of women to public office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared. nor, jefferson added, am i. the increasingly full use of the talent of all of this nations people hold large promise for the future, but we could not have come to this point, and i y would not be in this room today without the determined effort of men and women who kept dreams alive, dreams of equal citizenship, in the days when
9:07 am
she would listen. people like susan b anthony, elizabeth cady stanton, and harriet tubman come to mind. i stand on the shoulders of those brave people. supreme court justices are guardians of the great charter that has served as our nations fundamental instrument of government for over 200 years. it is the oldest written constitution still in force in the world. but the justices do not guard constitutional rights alone. courts share that profound responsibility with congress, the presint, the states and
9:08 am
the people. constant realization of a more perfect union, the constitutions aspirations, requires the widest, broadest, deepest participation on matters of government, and government policy. one of the worlds greatest jurists, judge hand, said that the spirit of liberty that imbues our constitution must lie first and foremost in the hearts of the men and women who composed this great nation. judge hand defined that spirit in a way i fully embrace, as one which is not too sure it is
9:09 am
right, and so seeks to understand the minds of other men and women, and to weigh the interest of others alongside its own without bias. the spirit judge and described strives for a community where the least shall be heard and considered side-by-side with the greatest. i will keep that wisdom in the front of my mind as long as i am capable of judicial service. some of you asked me during recent visits why i want to be on the supreme court. it is an opportunity beyond any other for one of my training to serve society. the controversies that come to
9:10 am
the supreme court as the last judicial resort conscience concerning the health and well-being of our nation and its people. they affect the preservation of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity. serving on this court is the highest honor, the most awesome trust that can be placed in a judge. it meansorng at my craft, working with and for the law, as a way to keep our society both ordered and free. let me try to stay in a nutshell how i view the work of judging. my approach i believe is neither
9:11 am
liberal nor conservative. rather, it is rooted in the place of the judiciary of judges in our democratic society. the constitutions preamble speaks first of we've the people and then of our fair elected representatives. the judiciary is third in line and is placed apart from the political fray so that its members can judge fairly, and partially, in accordance with the law, and without fear about the animosity of any pressure group. in alexander hamiltons words, the mission of judges is to secure a steady upright and impartial administration of the laws. i would add that the judge
9:12 am
should care about that function without fanfare, but with due care. she should decide the case before her without reaching to cover cases not yet seen. she should be ever mindful as judge, and then justice engine -- benjamin nathan cardozo said, justice is not to be taken by storm. she used to be wooed by slow advances. we, th committee and i, are about to embark on many hours of conversations. you have arranged this hearing to aid you in the performance of a vital task. to prepare your senate colleagues for consideration of my nomination.
9:13 am
the record of the constitutional convention shows that the delegates had initially entrusted the power to appoint federal judges, most probably supreme court justices, not to the president, but to you and your colleagues, to the senate, acting alone, only in the waning days of the convention did the framers settle on a nomination role for the president, and an advice and consent role for the senate. the text of the constitution as finally formulated makes no distinction between the appointment process for supreme court justices and the process for other offices of the united states, for example, cabinet
9:14 am
offices. but as history bears out, year and senators passed have sensibly considered appointments in relation to the appointees task. federal judges may long outlast the president who appoints them. they may serve as long as they can do the job, as the constitution says, they may remain in office during good behavior. supreme court justices most notably participate in shaping a lasting body o constitutional cisions. they continuously confront matters on which the framers left things unsaid, unsettled, or uncertain. for that reason when the senate
9:15 am
considers the supreme court nomination, the senators are promptly concerned about the nominees capacity to serve the nation, not just for the here and now, but over the long term. you have been supplied 9 in the five weeks since the president announced my nomination with hundreds of pages about me, and thousands of pages i have penned. my writings as a law teacher, mainly about procedure. ten years of briefs filed when i was a courtroom advocate of equal stature of men and women before the law, numerous speeches and articles on that same thing, 13 years of
9:16 am
opinions, counting the unpublished together with the published opinions, well over 700 of them, all decisions i made as a member of the u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. several comments on the roles of judges and lawyers in our legal system. that body of material, i know, has been examined by the committee with care. it is the most tangible, reliable indicator of my attitude, outlook, approach and style. i hope you will judge my qualifications principally on that written record. a record spanning 34 years, and that you will find in that
9:17 am
written record assurance that i prepared to do the hard work and to exercise the informed, independent judgment that supreme court decision making entails. i think of these proceedings, much as i do, of the division between the written record and briefs on the one hand and oral arguments on the other in appellate tribunals. the written record is by far the more important component in an appellate courts decision making. but the oral argument often elicits helpful clarifications, and concentrates the judges mind on the character of the decision they are called upon to make.
9:18 am
there is, of course, this critical difference. you are well aware that i come to this proceeding to be judged as a judge, not as an advocate. because i am and hope to continue to be a judge, it would be wrong for me to say or to preview in this legislative chamber how i would cast my vote on questions the supreme court may be called upon to decide. were i to rehearse here what i would say and how i would reason on such questions, i would act in judiciously. judges in our system are bound to decide concrete cases, not
9:19 am
abstract issues. each case comes to court based on particular fax, and a decision should be on those facts and the governing law stated and explained in light of the particular arguments the parties or their representatives present. i judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecast, no hint, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process. similarly, because you are considering my capacity for independent judging, my personal
9:20 am
views on how i would vote on it publicly debated issue, were i in your shoes, were i a legislator, are not what you will be closely examining. as justice oliver wendell holmes counseled, one of the most faith-based duties of a judge s not to read her convictions -- sacred duties -- into the constitution. i have tried and i will continue to try to follow the model justice holmes set in holding that duty sacred. i see this hearing, as i know you do, as a grand opportunity once again to reaffirm that
9:21 am
civility, courtesy and mutual respect properly keynote our exchanges. judges, i am mindful, over the elted branches, the congress and the president respectful consideration of how court opinions affect their responsibilities. and i'm heartened by legislative branch reciprocal sensitivity, as one of you said two months ago at a meeting of the federal judges association, we in congress must be more thoughtful, more deliberate in order to enable judges to do their job more effectively. as for my own deportment, or in
9:22 am
the constitutions words, good behavior, i price advice received on this nomination from a dear friend, frank griffin, a recently retired justice of the supreme court of ireland. justice griffin wrote, courtesy to you and consideration for one's colleagues, the legal profession, and the public, are among the greatest attributes a judge can have. it is fitting, as i conclude this opening statement, to express my deep respect, my deep respect for and abiding appreciation to justice byron white for his 31 years and more of find service by the supreme court.
9:23 am
in acknowledging his colleagues good wishes on the occasion of his retirement, justice white wrote that he expects to send u.s. courts of appeal some time to time, and so to be a consumer of instead of a participant in supreme court opinions, he expressed a hope shared by all lower court judges, he hoped the supreme court's mandate will be clear and crisp, leaving as little room as possible for disagreement about their meaning. if confirmed, i will take that counsel to heart and strive to write opinions that both get it right and keep it tight. thank you for your patience.
9:24 am
>> thank you very much, judge ginsburg. now what we will do is as i present announced we were recess and reconvene at 3:15. [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching a special program on sitting supreme court justices. stephen breyer was appointed by president bill clinton in 1994 to fill the seat of nixon appointee harry blackmun. justice breyer was confirmed by a boat 87- nine and came to the court after serving as chief judge on the circuit court of appeals. his career in government include a role as assistant special
9:25 am
prosecutor during the watergate investigation. at his confirmation hearing justice breyer was introduced in massachusetts senator ted kennedy. >> in his decisions has construed the constitution to defend the basic rights of all americans. he has protected the rights of women seeking family planning advice to hear about the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. he has protected the right of government employees to engage in political activity and advocacy. he has protected right of students belong to a church group to be recoized by a state university. he has protected the right of every citizen to rent or to buy housing free from the threat of discrimination. his opinions on environmental laws have been praised by environmentalists. his opinions and criminal law cases seek to which your public safety by protecting the constitutional rights of defendants. as one of first members of the sentencing commission, he is
9:26 am
widely credited with developing the guidelines to reduce the disparities in sentences given to defendants committing similar crimes. as a judge he has also continued his dedication to teaching and legal scholarship in addition to his administrative and judicial duties, he has continued to teach courses at harvard law school and he has also continued to write and publish articles and books, analyzing important issues of law and government. judge breyer ranks among the countries most thoughtful scholars of the regulatory process and his knowledge and experience in this complex area of the law will be a major asset to all the members of the supreme court from the date he takes his seat. his most recent book on regulation drew praise from leading experts on all side of the debate. he has sought to assure that the public health and safety are protected while avoiding needless inefficiency and waste in government. not everyone agrees with all of his views, but i suspect that
9:27 am
everyone will agree that his views have contributed immensely to our understanding of these complex issues in our modern society. in addition perhaps because of his service to the senate, judge breyer has emerged as one of the leading exponents of the view that laws should be construed in the matter that congress intended. if confirmed, he will add a needed and well-informed perspective to the many important questions of statutory interpretation that come before the supreme court. spir youave the outset, mr. chairman, i'd like to thank this committee really are the serious attention that you all have paid to my nomination. i appreciate the members taking the time out of enormously busy schedules to meet with me personally. and i recognize that you enter staffs hav everly prepared thoroughly for these hearings, and you have read the books and articles and the opinions, and
9:28 am
these things i've written. it seems to me that some kind of new form of cruel and unusual punishment. >> quite a few. >> speed of the remaining of the people i'd like to thank today. i'm obviously an very much deeply grateful to senator kennedy who has given me so much over the years. i've learned and continue to learn lessons of great value from him. and i really want to think they might send it to carry and senator boxer for having come and taken the time to come along with senator feinstein for supporting my nomination. i am especially grateful to president clinton for nominating me to a position that i said and i do find humbling to think about. if i am confirmed, i will try to become a justice whose work will justify the confidence that he, and you, have placed in me. now i'd like to began by telling
9:29 am
you a little bit about myself but you've heard quite a lot. and maybe to a few of the experiences that i think about an important effect on my life, how i think and what i yam. i was born as you heard and i grew up in san francisco. i attended public schools, grant grammar school, lowell high school. my mother was from st. paul minnesota. her parents were immigrants. for each pressure which is now part of poland. my mother was a very intelligent, very practical public spirited kind of person and she like many mothers had an enmous influence on me. she was the one who made absolutely clear to me in no uncertain terms that whatever intellectual ability i might have, means nothing and will not mean anything unless i can work with other people and use whatever talents i have to help
9:30 am
them. so, i joined the boy scouts. i did work as a delivery boy. i did dig ditches for the pacific gas and electric companies, and i mixed salads at the city its summer camp. at that your policemen and firemen and lawyers, doctors and businessmen and their families, and they were all there together at the city camp for two weeks in the summer. great, great. my mother really didn't want me to spend too much time with my books, and she was right. i mean, my ideas about people did not come from libraries. my father was born in san francisco. he worked as a lawyer and an administrator in the san francisco public school system for 40 years. i have his watch, as you said, send it in. he was a very kind, very astute and very considerate man. he and san francisco helped me develop something i would call a
9:31 am
trust in almost a love for the possibilities of a democracy about basic government and we have really seen vast improvement in the fairness of government. i still bully with trust and participation, people can order their government to improve
9:32 am
their lives. in 1957, i served in the army for a little while. i studied in england, return to harvard law school and a clerk to justice arthur goldberg who became a wonderful, lifelong friend. after two years in the antitrust division and the justice department went back to harvard to teach and to massachusetts to live in for the last 27 years i have been privileged to live in cambridge, work in boston. i love teaching. i love my students. but if i were to pick out one feature of the academic side of my life, that influenced me especially, i think it would be this. the opportunity to study law as a whole helped me understand that everything in the law is related to every other thing and always has homes pointed out, the whole log reflects not so much logic as history and
9:33 am
experience. academic lawyers, practicing lawyers, government lawyers, judges in my opinion have a special responsibility to understand how different parts of the seamless web of the law interact with each other and how legal decisions will actually work in practice to affect people and to help them. working here on this committee in the 1970s, i learned a great deal about congress, about government and about political life. there were disagreements to resolve, but everyone shared the same basic ground rules, basic assumptions about democracy, freedom, fairness and the need to help others. do she did a cold winter coat areas of widely shared belief or what he shape the law of america and the lives of all americans. since 1980 and then a judge on the u.s. court of appeals for the first circuit maine,
9:34 am
massachusetts, puerto rico, rhode island. because of my colleagues in the work itself, this job is a great honor, a great privilege and it's been a great pleasure. i tried to minimize what i think that some of of the less desirable aspects of the job, when the justice goldberg felt strongly about the judges can become isolated from the people whose lives their decisions affect. i continue to teach and participate in the community and in other activities, which are important in connecting me to the world outside the courtroom. i've been helped by my wife and her work at dana-farber and cambridge hospital, which shows me another some of the sadness in this world as well as its hopes enjoy. i believe the law must work for people. that vast array of constitution,
9:35 am
statute, rules, regulations, practices, procedures, and that huge, vast web has a single basic purpose. that purpose is to help the many different individuals who make up america. from so many different backgrounds and circumstances, with so many different needs and hopes, its purpose is to help them live together productively, harmoniously and in freedom. keeping the ultimate purpose in mind helps guide the judge through the labyrinth of rules and regulations that the law too often become. to reach buddies there at bott, the ry human goals that underlie the constitution anthe statutes that congress
9:36 am
write. i believe, to comment and the importance of listening to other points of views. as a teacher, i discovered i could learn as much from students as from books. on the staff of this committee, it is easy to see how much senators and staff alike learn from each other, from constituents, from hearing. i think the system works that way. that works better than any other system. our task is to keep trying to improve their. -- improve it. my diploma refers to live such a slice restraints that make men free. women, too. all of us. i believe that, too.
9:37 am
i thought the particular importance of all of this, when two years ago i had the good fortune to attend a meeting of 500 judges. those judges wanted to know what words might be right and the constitution? what was the guarantee democracy and freedom? is that they they were asking our two-day meeting. they asked me. they were interesting discussions. very interesting. my own reply was words alone are not sufficient, but the words of our constitution work because of the traditions of our people, because the vast majority of americans believe in democracy. they try to be tolerant and fair to each others and respect the liberty of each other, even those who are unpopular because their protection is our protection, too. you are now considering my appointment to the supreme court
9:38 am
of the united states. that court works within a grand tradition that has made meingful and practice the guarantees of fairness and of freedom that the constitution provides. just as blacks and certainly tradition while. indeed, so have those -- all of those who served in the recent past. justice white, justice brennan, justice marshall. they lead and inspiring legacy that i have correctly called on delay to consider. i promise you and i promise the american people that if i am confirmed to be a member of the supreme court, i will try to be worthy of that great tradition. i will work hard. i will listen.
9:39 am
i will try to interpret the law carefully in accordance with its basic purpose. above all, i will remember the decisions that i helped to make will have enough facts upon the lives of many, many americans. and that fact means that i must do my absolute utmost to see that those decisions reflect both the latter and the spirit of a law that is meant to help them. thank you, mr. chairman. i might add one thing if i might on a slightly different subject. i want to add this if i may. and that is recently i know, and this is important to me, but in recent weeks there have been questions raised about the ethical standard that i applied for an uncertain environmental cases in the first circuit at a
9:40 am
time when i have an investment, insurance investment. i recognize that this question has been raised by people of good faith and there is nothing more important to me than my integrity and my reputation for impartiality. it is obviously a most important thing to preserve total public confidence in the integrity of the judicial branch of government. i have reviewed those cases again and the judicial recusal statute and i personally am confident that my sitting in those cases did not present any conflict of interest. of course my investment was disclosed to the public. there's been absolutely no suggestion that lloyd was involved in the name party many of the cases on which i sat. i know of no such involvement. the judicial recusal statute does require recusal as well if you have one case msn direct and
9:41 am
predictable financial impact on some investment. that is to say that's not speculative over a larger contingent impact, the cases on which i sat has been carefully looked into by independent ethics experts who share my view. mr. chairman, as i said, i recognize the importance of conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts and that standard is essential for judges that the nation's highest court. so i certainly promise i will do all it can to meet it, including but i shall immediately do is ask the people who handle my investments to divest any holdings and insurance companies as soon as possible and with respect to let itself, i resigned in 1988, though because of one syndicate their remains open, i've been a bias that i can leave out together by the
9:42 am
1995, but i intend to ask the people involved to expedite my complete termi of an employee's relationship. i'll be out of that as soon as they possibly can be. finally as i go forward, and i keep in mind the the discussion has arisen over the last few days and i will take in to account revealing on a possible conflict whatsoever. >> thank you very much, judge. >> a supreme court nominee neil gorsuch prepares to testify before the judiciary committee, c-span takes a look at the eight current members.
9:43 am
>> i firmly believe that john roberts shares in the belief that lawyers have an ethical duty to give back to the community by providing free legal services, particularly to those in need. hundreds and hundreds of hours spent working on pro bono cases are testament to that. he didn't have to do any of it. the bar doesn't require it, but he did it out of the graciousness of his heart and obligation. those who know him best and also tested the kind of person he is. throughout his legal career, both in public and private is, his pro bono work with and against hundreds of lawyers, those attorneys who know him well typically speak with one voice when they tell you the dignity, humility and a sense of
9:44 am
fairness are the hallmarks of this nominee. in conclusion, mr. chairman, i take a momento remind all present and those listening and following that this exact week, 218 years ago, our founding fathers finish the final draft of the u.s. constitution after a long hot summer of drafting and debating. when ben franklin fulton emerged from independence hall upon the conclusion of the convention, reporter asked him, mr. franklin, what have you wrought? and he said, a republic if you can keep it. and that is what this advice and consent process is all about. but the constitution says the course of our nation, it is without question that the chief justice of the supreme court who must have his hand firmly on the tiller to keep our great ship
9:45 am
was paid on a course consistent with the constitution. let me begin by thanking senator lugar and warner and senator bayh for their warm and generous introduction and then let me reiterate my thanks to the president are nominating me. i am humbled by his confidence and if confirmed i will do everything i can to be worthy of the high trust is placed in me. let me also thank you, mr. chairman. the many courtesies have extended to me and my family over the past eight weeks. i'm particularly grateful that numbers have been so accommodating and meeting with me personally. i have found those meetings very useful in better understanding concerns of the committee as the committee undertakes its constitutional responsibility of advice and can then. i know that i would not be here today were it not for the sacrifices and help over the years of my family who you met
9:46 am
earlier today. friends, mentors, teachers and colleagues, many whom are here today. last week, one of those mentors and friends, chief justice william rehnquist was laid to rest. i talked last week with the nurses who helped care for him over the past year and i was glad to hear from them that he was not a particularly good patient. he chafed at the limitations he tried to impose. his dedication to duty over the past year was an inspiration to me and i know to many others. i will miss him. my personal appreciation that i only agreed that two others reinforces my view is that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role. judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. judges are like umpires.
9:47 am
umpires don't make the rules. they apply them. the role of an umpire and a judge is critical. they make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role. nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the empire. judges have to have a humility to recognize they operate in a system of precedent shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath. judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional prophesies to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench. mr. chairman, when i worked in the department of justice and the office of the solicitor general, it's my job to argue cases for the united states before the supreme court. i always found it very moving to stand before the justices and say i speak for my country. but it was after i left the department and began arguing cases against the united states that i fully appreciated the
9:48 am
importance of the supreme court in our constitutional system. here was the united states, the most powerful entity in the world aligned against my client and yet all i have to do is convince the court that i was right on the law and the government was wrong and all that power and might would recede in deference to the rule of law. that is a remarkable thing. it is what we mean when we say we are a government of laws and not of men. it is that rule of law that protects the rights and liberties of all americans. it is the envy of the world because without the rule of law, and the rights are meaningless. president ronald reagan used because the soviet constitution and he noted that it purported to grant wonderful right of all sorts to people, but those rights were empty promises because that system did not have
9:49 am
an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce those rights. we do because of the wisdom of our founders and the fact i says others here have over the generations to make their vision a reality. mr. chairman, i come before the committee with no agenda. i have no platform. judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes. i have no agenda, but i do have a commitment. if i am confirmed, i will confront every case with an open mind. i will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. i will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench and i will decide every case based on the record according to the rule of law without fear or favor to the best of my ability.
9:50 am
and i will remember that it's my job to call and strikes and not to picture her back. senator lugar and senator bayh touch of my boyhood back home in indiana. i think all of us retain from the days of our youth searching the enduring images. for me, those images are the endless fields of indiana, stretching indiana, stretching to the horizon, punctuated only by an isolated silo or barn. as i grew older, the endless fields came to represent for me the limitless possibilities of our great land. growing up, i never imagined i would be here in this historic room, nominated to be the chief justice. but now that i am here, i recall those endless fields but their promise of infinite possibilities and that memory inspires me a very profound
9:51 am
commitment. if i am confirmed, i will be vigilant to protect the independence and integrity of the supreme court and i will work to ensure that it upholds the rule of law and safeguards those liberties that make this land one of endless possibilities for all americans. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, members of the committee. i look forward to your questions.
9:52 am
>> like other americans, i have read many articles dissect the imposition judge alito has taken throughout his career, how he might decide on issues to appear before the supreme court that he would act as a justice. i too ha examined the record. in the final analysis, my decion to support judge alito for this position is not based on whether i agree with him on a particular issue or set of issues around his conformity with any particular political ideology. in fact, while it may agree on some political issues, i know there are others on which we disagree. nevertheless, once agreement or disagreement on political questions is not a raw ultimately irrelevant to the issue of whether or not judge alito should serve as an associate justice of the supreme court. the court's role is not to go
9:53 am
based on justices personal frustration, rather than persuasive arguments grounded on facts, those facts presented in that particular case and on their interpretation of the constitution. those decisions are of course grounded in the hard reality of this gated fact in the messiness of the real world. but they are also guided by principles of law and justice, which have long been treasured by the people of this country. we should look for justices who understand that it can delay in the very core of their being. i saw this trade on judge alito when he served on the appeals court during my terms as governor and i have every reason in every confidence that we will exhibit the same as a supreme court justice. policy and the united states is defined through the laws crafted by the legislative branches of government and carried out by the executive. judges make decisions based on
9:54 am
their interpretation of the intent of those laws. we don't want justices to the arm their decisions ideologies. we want justices whose opinions are shaped by the facts before them and by their understanding of the constitution. we should also look for justices to protect t qualies of intellect and humility desirable in a separate responsibility and who connects rice are thinking clearly in an understandable language. while we should expect the justices will hold philosophies that will guide our decisions, we should equally expect that they will not hold ideologies that will predetermine their decisions. that is the genius of our system. mr. chairman, some have suggested that judge alito has an ideological agenda. an honest and complete review of
9:55 am
his record as a whole will find that his only agenda is fidelity to his judicial craft. if judge alito has a bias, it's in favor of narrowly drawn opinions that respect precedent and reflect the facts before him. thank you, mr. chairman. i am deeply honored to appear before you. i'm deeply honored to have been nominated for a position on the supreme court and i am humbled to have been nominated for the seat that is now held by justice o'connor. justice o'connor has been a pioneer and her dedicated service on the supreme court will never be forgotten in the people of the country certainly owe her a great debt for the survey she has provided. i am very thankful for the president for nominating me and i'm also thankful to the members of this committee and many other senators who took time from their busy schedules to meet with me. that was a great honor for me and i appreciate all of the
9:56 am
kurdish youth that were extended to me during those visits. i want to thank senator loudon berg and governor whitman for coming here today and for the kind introduction. during the previous week's, an old story about a lawyer who argued a case before the supreme court has come to my mind and i thought it might begin this afternoon by sharing that story. thory goes as follows. this is a lawyer who had never argued a case before the court before and win the argument began, one of the justices said how did you get here, meaning how had his case worked its way up through the court system, but the lawyer was rather nervous and he took the question literally and he said, this is some years ago, he came here on the baltimore and ohio railroad. this story has come to my mind in recent weeks because i have often asked myself how in the world did i get here?
9:57 am
i want to try to answer that today and not by saying that i came here on i-95 or on amtrak. i am polite and in the first place because of my parents and because of the things that they taught me. i know for my own experience as a parent or parents probably teach most powerfully not through their words, but through their deeds. my parents taught me through the stories of their lives and i don't take any credit for that but they did for the things that experience, but they made a great impression on me. my father was brought to this country as an infant. he lost his mother. as a teenager he grew up in poverty other he graduated at the top of his high school class company had no money for college and he was sent to work in a fact array, but at the last minute, a kind person in the trenton area arranged for him to receive a $50 scholarship and
9:58 am
that was enough in those days for him to pay the tuition at a local college and buy one used suit. that made the difference between his working in a factory and going to college. after he graduated from college in 1935 in the midst of the depression, he found that teaching jobs for italian americans were not easy to come by and he had to finother work for a e, but eventually he became a teacher and served in the pacific during world war ii when he mentioned us has been for many years in a nonpartisan position for the new jersey legislature which was an institution he revered. this story is a story typical of a lot of americans both back in his day and today. it is a story as far as i can see about the opportunities that our country offers and also about the need for fairness and about hard work in the and the power of a small good deed.
9:59 am
my mother is a first-generation american. her father worked in the roebling steel mill in trenton, new jersey. her mother came from a culture in which women generally didn't even leave the house alone and yet my mother became the first verse and in her family to get a college degree. she worked for more than a decade before marrying. she went to new york city to get a masters degree and she continued to work as a teacher and a principal intelligent was forced to retire. both she and my father instilled in my sister and me a deep love of learning. i got here in part because of the community in which i grew up. it was definitely an unpretentious, down-to-earth community. most of the adults in the neighborhood were not college graduates. >> we are going to lead this program on supreme court confirmations at this point to fulfill our mission to bring you live coverage of today's senate pro forma session with no legislative work expected.
10:00 am
we will come back to our program on supreme court nominations in just a second. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until >> the senate wrapping up its pro forma session. lawmakers return for legislative work at 10:30 a.m. eastern. back now to our program on supreme court confirmations. >> and i saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly as i couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what i saw on campus
10:01 am
and the good sense in the decency of the people back in my own community. i am here in part because of my experiences as a lawyer. you have the good fortune to begin my legal career as a law clerk for a judge to really epitomized open-mindedness and fairness. he read the record in detail in every case that came before me, and this event scrupulously following precedents, but the precedent of the supreme court and the decisions of his own court, the third circuit. he tied all his law clerks that every case has to be decided on an individual basis and he really didn't have much use for any great series. after my clerkship finished, i worked for more than a decade as an attorney in the department of justice and i can still remember the day as an assistant u.s. attorney when i stood up in
10:02 am
court for the first time and i probably said my name is samuel alito and i represent the united dates in this court. it was a great honor for me to have the united states as my client during all of those years. i have been shaped by the experiences of the people who are closest to me. by the things i've learned from martha, by my hopes and my concern for my children, philip and laura, by the experiences that the members of my family who are getting older. by my sister's experiences as a trial lawyer and a profession that has traditionally been dominated by men. and of course i have been shaped for the last 15 years by my ex. says is the judge of the court of appeals. during that time, i have sat on dozens of cases.
10:03 am
somebody mentioned the exact figure this morning. i don't know what it is, but way up in the thousands and i've written hundreds of opinions. the members of this committee and their staff who up the job of reviewing all of these opinions really have my sympathy. that may have constituted cruel and unusual punishment. i learned a lot during my years on the third circuit, particularly about the way in which a judge should go about the work of judging. i've learned by doing, by sitting on all of these cases and i've also learned for the example is a really remarkable colleagues. when i became a judge, i stopped being a practicing attorney and that was a big change in role. the role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in a particular case at hand. but a judge can't think that way. a judge can't have any agenda.
10:04 am
a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case and a judge certainly doesn't have the client. the judges only obligation and it's a solemn obligation is to the rule of law. what that means is that in every single case, the judge has the do what the law requires. good judges develop certain habits of mind. one of those habits of mind is the habit of delaying, reaching conclusions until everything has been considered. good judges are always open to the possibility of changing their minds, based on the next brief that they read or the next argument made by an attorney who's appearing before them or a comment that is made by a colleague during a conference on the case from the judges privately discuss the case. it has been a great honor for me to spend my career in public service. it has been a particular honor for me to serve on the court of
10:05 am
appeals for these past 15 years because it has given me the opportunity to use whatever talent i have two serve my country by upholding the rule of law and there is nothing that is more important to our republic than the rule of law. no person in this country, no matter how high or powerful is above the law and no person in this country is beneath the law. 15 years ago, when i was sworn in as a judge of the court of appeals, i took a nose. i put my hand on the bible and i swore that i would administer justice without respect to persons, that i would do what people write to the poor and rich and carry out my duties under the constitution and the laws of the united states.
10:06 am
and that is what i've tried to do to the very best of my ability for the past 15 years and if i am confirmed, i pledge to you that that is what i would do on the supreme court. thank you. >> our program on justices of the supreme court continues to president barack obama's first appointee, sonya sotomayor who was confirmed in 2000 night facing justice david souter who was appointed by george h.w. bush. judge sotomayor previously served on the second circuit court of appeals. she's the first hispanic to serve on the supreme court. we will show you a brief portion of justice sotomayor's hearing including an introduction by new york senator charles schumer and her opening statement. >> judge sotomayor embodies what we all strive for is american citizens. her life and career are not about race or class or gender,
10:07 am
although as for all of us, these are important part of who she is. her stories about how race and class at the end of the day are not supposed to predetermined anything in america. what matters is hard work and education and those things will pay off no matter who you are or where you come from. that is exactly what each of us wants for ourselves and for our children and this shared vision is alive this moment is historic for all americans. judge sotomayor was born to parents who moved to new york from puerto rico during world war ii. her father was a factory worker with a third grade education. he died when she was nine. her mother worked in raised sotomayor and her brother, want, now a doctor practicing in syracuse on her own. transfer graduated first in her high school class from cardinal
10:08 am
spellman high school in 1971. she has returned to cardinal spellman to speak therein to encourage future alumni to work hard, get an education and pursue their dream the same way she did. when sotomayor was growing up, said nancy drew stories inspired her sensitive venture, developed her sense of justice and showed her that women could and should be outspoken and bold. now, in 2009, during many more role models for a young student to choose from. with judge sotomayor foremost among them. judge sotomayor went on to employ her enormous talent that princeton where she graduated summa cum laude, received the highest honor bestowed on a princeton student. this is an award given not just
10:09 am
to the smartest student in the class, but to the most exceptionally smart student who's also given the most in her community. she graduated from yale law school where she was a law review editor. because we have such an extensive judicial record before us, i believe that the series will matter less than the several previous nominees weren't the least, that these hearings will bear out this obvious about it, that she is modest and humble in her approach to judging. thank you, mr. chairman. i also want to thank senator schumer and senator joe legrand for their kind introductions. in recent weeks, i've had the privilege and pleasure of meeting 89 senators, including all the members of this committee. each of you has been gracious to me and i've so much enjoyed meeting you.
10:10 am
our meetings have been given me and the woman made into her at the 50 states and invaluable insights into the american people. there are countless family members and france would've done so much over the years to make this day possible. i am deeply appreciative for their love and support. i want to make one special note of thanks to my mother. i am here as many of you have noted because of her aspirations and sacrifices for both my brother want and be. i am very grateful to the president and humble to be here today as a nominee to the united states to bring court. the progression of my life has been uniquely american. my parents let puerto rico during world war ii.
10:11 am
i grew up in modest circumstances in a bronx housing project. my father, a factory worker with a third-grade education passed away when i was nine years old. on her round, my mother raised my brother and me. she taught us that the key to success in america is a good education. and she sat the example, studying alongside my brother and me in our kitchen table so she could become a registered nurse. we were tired. i poured myself into my studies at cardinal spellman high school, earning scholarships to print in university and then to law school while my brother went on to medical school. our achievements are due to the values that we learned as children and they have continued to guide highlights the diverse. i try to pass on this legacy by serving as a mentor and friend
10:12 am
to my many godchildren. into students of all backgrounds over the past three decades, i have seen our judicial system from a number of different areas as a big-city prosecutor, as a corporate litigator, as a trial judge and as an appellate judge. my first job after law school with as an assistant district attorney in new york. there i saw children exploited and abused. i felt the pain and suffering of famies torn apart by the needless deaths of loved ones. i saw and learned a tough job law enforcement has been in the public. in my next legal job, i focus on commercial instead of criminal
10:13 am
matters. i litigated issues on behalf of national and international businesses and advise them on matters ranging contracts to trademarks. my career as an advocate and began my career as a judge began when i was appointed by president george h.w. bush for the united states district court for the southern district of new york. as a trial judge, i did decide over 450 cases and presided over dozens of trials but perhaps my most famous case being the major league baseball strike in 1995. after six extraordinary years on the district court, i was appointed by president clinton to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit. on that court, i have enjoyed the benefit of sharing ideas and present us with wonderful colleagues. as we have worked together to resolve the issues before us, i
10:14 am
have now served as an appellate judge for over a decade, deciding a wide range of constitutional statutory and other legal questions. throughout my 17 years on the bench, i have witnessed the human consequences of my decisions. those decisions have not been made to serve the interest of any one litigant, but always to serve the larger interest of impartial justice. in the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. simple. fidelity to the law. the task of the judges not to make law. it is to apply the law. and it is clear i believe that my record in courts reflects my rigorous permit it to interpreting the constitution
10:15 am
according to its terms, interpreting statutes according to their terms and congress' intent in doing faithfully to precedents established by the supreme court and by my circuit court. in each case i have heard, i've applied the law to the facts at hand. the process of judging when the arguments and concerns of the parties of the litigation are understood and acknowledged. that is why a genuine structure my opinions by setting out what the law requires and then explaining why a contrary position, sympathetic or not is accepted or rejected. that is how i seek to string them both the rule of law and faith in the impartiality of the judicial system. my personal and professional experiences helped me to listen and understand what the law always commanding the result in
10:16 am
every case. since president obama announced by nomination in may, i have received letters from people all over this country. many tell the unique story of hope in spite of struggles. each letter has deeply touched me. each reflects a dream, i believe senator and that led my parents to come to new york all those years ago. it is our constitution that makes that dream possible and i now seek the honor of upholding the constitution as a justice on the supreme court. senators, look forward in the next few days to ansring your questions, for having the american people learn more about the into being part of a process that reflects the greatness of our constitution and of our
10:17 am
nation. thank you all. >> her life has really been characterized to her passion for public service and her awareness of what it means to be a good public citizen. a close friend from her desk working for justice marshall
10:18 am
remembers elaina interviewing at a big law firm in new york, and meeting with a young partner who with no family to support was pulling him close to a million dollars a year. so she asked him, would you do with all of that money? he replied i buy art. delay now shook her head in the conviction that there really were better ways to expand her life's work and she continued to pursue efforts to more directly impact the lives of those around her. her skills and intellect very quickly came to the attention of the clinton white house, which is when i first got to know her. i have been asked by the chairman of the commerce committee, senator hollings, hurled friend, to break through a stalemate, bipartisan tobacco bill. a difficult issue for both caucuses. elaine i became the administration's point person. when we started out, no one gave us any hope of being close to or
10:19 am
getting close to passage. the elena camped out in the vice president's office thought the senate floor, shuttling back and forth to the white house. she worked day and night, equally with both sides of the, working every angle, thinking through every single approach. on the eve of the commerce committee's markup, things appear to be falling apart, something we are all too familiar with here. the elena simply wasn't going to let that happen. that was an unacceptable outcome. she got together with republican senators and staff and she listened carefully and she helped all of us meet the last-minute objections. it was classic elena. she sighed path forward when most people saw nothing but deadlock in the leg to a 19-1 vote to pass a bill out of committee, a mark of bipartisanship, consensus building that few believe is possible.
10:20 am
that is what i believe elena kagan will bring to the court. she was tough and tenacious but also knew when it was necessary to strike a compromise future do not knowing how to win people over, and ability to make people see the wisdom of an argument. remember lots of late nights in the capitol building block in the senate floor to meet with my staff and invariably, elena would be the one to have a new idea, a fresh approach. so is a tutorial and consensus building from someone who it was pure instinct and it won the respect of republicans and democrats alike. no doubt her hands-on experience working in the governance process is actually in this day and age and in this moment that the court probably an enormous asset.
10:21 am
frankly i think it's a critical component of what makes for a terrific choice. someone who really understands how laws are created and the real-world effects of their implementation. it is a reminder of why some of the greatest justice is in history were not judges before they sat on the court and among those are names like frankfurter and brandeis. i might add that she brought the same pragmatic knack for consensus building to her stewardship at harvard law school. there she found but was affectionately acknowledged, i emphasize affectionately acknowledged as a dysfunctional and divided campus and she transformed it again into a cohesive institution, winning praise from students and apathy across the ideological spectrum. elizabeth warren, elena's colleague crently overseen our
10:22 am
economic relief effort says simply, she changed morale around here. trials for you, the former solicitor general under president reagan and renowned conservative constitutional expert says of her prospect as a justice on the supreme court, quote, i think transfer would be terrific if it's frankly the court a start. the great and if there is a freshness about her that promises some possibility of getting away from the formulas that are wheeled out today on both sides. i have no reservations about her whatsoever. john manning, the first higher under kagan steamship. a conservative and expert on textual instrument separation of powers since i think one of the things you see and kagan as dean was she tried to hire folks at different approaches to law and different ideological perspectives. she was equally as strong in her
10:23 am
praise for scalia ashy was in her praise for breyer. she celebrated both. it's a good predictor of how she will be as a judge. should be fair and impartial, the sort of judge he would consider briefing and argument in every case. this sort of judge i would want if i didn't know which side of the case i was arguing. thank you, mr. chairman. senator sessions, members of the committee, i would like to thank senator kerry and brown for this generous introductions. i also want to thank the president again for nominating me to this position. i am honored and humbled by his confidence. let me also thank all the members of the committee as well as many other senators for meeting with me in these last several weeks. i have discovered that they called theseourtesy visits for a reason.
10:24 am
each of you have spent unfailingly gracious and considerate. i know that we gather here on a day of sorrow for all of you, for this body and for our nation with the passing of senator byrd. i did not know him personally as all of you did, but i certainly knew that his great love for this institution, his faithful service to the people of his state and his abiding reverence for comment to tuition, a copy of which he carried with him every day, a moving reminder for each of us who serves in government that the ideals we must seek to fulfill. all of you and all of senator byrd's family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers at this time. i would like to begin by thinking that family, friends
10:25 am
and students who are here with me today. i thank them for all the support they've given me during this process and throughout my life. it is really wonderful to have so many of them behind me. i said when the president nominated me that the two people missing where my parents and i feel that deeply again today. my father was as generous and public. if a person as i've ever known and my mother sat the standard for determination, courage and commitment to learning. my parents lived the american dream. they grew up in immigrant communities. my mother didn't speak a word of english until she went to school, but she became a legendary teacher and my father, a valued lawyer. and they taught me and my two
10:26 am
brothers, both high school teachers, that this is t greatest of all countries because of the freedoms and opportunities it offers his people. i know that they would've felt that today and i pray that they would have been proud of what they did in raising me and my brothers. to be nominated to the supreme court is the honor of a lifetime. i'm only sorry that if confirmed i won't have the privilege of serving there was justice john paul stevens. his integrity, humility and independent, his deep devotion to the court and his profound commitment to the rule of law, all of these qualities are models for everyone who wears her hopes to where a judge's robe. it is given this honor -- if
10:27 am
given this honor, you'll approach the trademark care and consideration. that means listening to each party with a mind as open as his to learning and persuasion and striving as conscientiously as he has two render impartial justice. i owe a debt of gratitude to two other living justices. sandra day o'connor and ruth bader ginsburg paved the way for me and so many other women in my generation. their pioneering minds have created boundless possibilities for women in the law. i thank them for their inspiration and also for the personal kindnesses they have shown me. my heart goes out to justice ginsburg and her family today. everyone who ever met marty ginsberg was enriched by his
10:28 am
incredible warmth and humor and generosity and i'm deeply saddened by his psing. mr. chairman, the law school i had the good fortune to lead as the kind of motto spoke in each ear at graduation. we tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter the profession, devoted to those wise restraints that make us very. that phrase has always captured for me the way law and the rule of law matters. but 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
10:29 am
is to safeguard the rule of law through a commitment to evenhandedness, principal and restraint. my first real exposure to the courts came almost a quarter century ago when i began my clerkship with justice thurgood marshall. justice marshall revered the court and for a simple reason in his life, in this great struggle for racial justice, the supreme court stood at the heart of government that was most open to every american in that most often fulfilled our constitution's promise of treating all persons with equal respect, equal care and equal attention. the idea is engraved on the very face of the supreme court of
10:30 am
the. equal justice under law. that 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 evenhandedness and impartiality. what it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every american. i've seen that promise a close during my tenure as solicitor general. in that job, i served as our government's chief lawyer before the supreme court, arguing cases on issues ranging from campaign finance to criminal law to national security. and i do mean argue. in no other place i know is the
10:31 am
strength of a person's position so tested and the quality of the person's analysis of deeply probed. no matter who the lawyer or who the client, the court relentlessly honed in on the merits of every claim and its support in law and precedent. and because this is so, i always come away from that argument at the court with a renewed appreciation of the commitment of each justice to reason and principle, a commitment that defines what it means to live in a nation under law. ..
10:32 am
but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect eir interests. the supreme court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. but the court must also recognize the limits on itself, and respect the choices made by the american people. i am grateful, i am grateful beyond measure for the time i spent in public service. but the joy of my life has been to teach thousands of students about the law, and to have had the sense to realize that they
10:33 am
had much to teach me. i've led a school whose faculty and students examine and discuss and debate every aspect of our law and legal system. and what i've learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. i've learned that we make progress by listening to each other across every apparent political or ideological divide. i've learned that we come closer to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. and i've learned the value of a habit justice stevens wrote about more than 50 years ago, of understanding before disagreei disagreeing. i will make no pledges this week other than this one. that if confirmed, i will
10:34 am
remember and abide by all these lessons. i will listen hard to every party before the court and each of my colleagues. i will work hard and i will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitments to principal and in accordance with law. that is what i owe to the legacy i share with so many americans. my grandparents came to this country in search of a freer and better life for themselves and their families. they wanted to escape bigotry and oppression, to worship as they pleased, and work as hard as they were able. they found in this country, and they passed on to their children
10:35 am
and their children's children the blessings of liberty. those blessings are rooted in this country his constitution and its historic commitment to the rule of law. i know that to sit on our nations highest court is to be a trustee of that inheritance. and if i have the honor to be confirmed, i will do all i can to help preserve it for future generations. thank you, mr. chairman. thanthank you, members of the committee. >> the ninth seat on the supreme court has been vacant since the death of judge antonin scalia on paper 13, 2016, just about a year ago, march 2016 president obama nominate merrick garland to fill that seat. se


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on