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tv   Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Federal...  CSPAN  November 13, 2018 9:04pm-11:18pm EST

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>> members of congress are back on capitol hill this week after the midterm. the senate judiciary committee met to consider nominations for the third circuit court of appeals in district court vacancies in georgia, louisiana, indiana and pennsylvania. the confirmation hearing was chaired by iowa senator grassley and it's just over two hours.
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>> [inaudible conversations]
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chairman grassley, ranking member leahy and colleagues thanks for being here on a cold wet morning to allow me to voice my support for the louisiana native james came who's been nominated to be united states district judge for the western district of louisiana. a junior at the university of texas and a freshman at smu. he attended the state university in lakstate universityin lake cl
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scholarship where i think this is the most interesting thing he was roommates with future star james dumars. after getting his degree in finance he went on to attend law school at baton rouge where he graduated. he's had an outstanding week in career and clerked for the judge in the third circuit court of appeals and received valuable experience and she's been admitted to practice before the supreme court in the fifth circuit court of appeals as well as the eastern, middle and federal circuit court of louisiana. he has extensive experience
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including product label to become a commercial workers comp and healthcare his exemplary work is preeminent by martindale hubbell and the american bar association he's a member of the bar association and southwest louisiana bar association. he also serves on the board of st. louis or lady queen board, crimestoppers and the alumni association board. he shares his passion for the profession by his involvement in the court where he mentors young attorneys and professionals in practice. he's an excellent choice to fill the vacancy in the district of
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louisiana and they recommend hid to the committee without reservation. thank you, mr. chair. >> i welcome everybody to this hearing to honor the nominees and their families that are so proud of being there. my policy is on the return that wasn't necessarily preclude a hearing unless the white house failed to consult who extended thablue slip courtesies and the chairman ted kennedy and joe biden. only two chairmen have had
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strict policies requiring the return of the positive blue slips before holding a hearing. and obama judges to, and i agree that should have been in my statement. they blocked the slips when the democrats objections today are really about them the fact that the filibuster has been not used since 2015 and 61 votes they believe the senators shouldn't be able to block a nominee with
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majority support. that's why the blue slip shouldn't be abused for political or ideological reaso reasons. they reach out to the senators april and the white house made several extremely generous offers in an attempt to reach an agreement with the senators regarding all federal courts they can use in new jersey that would include circuit and district positions. in the years long consultation. oh, the new jersey senators to not agree to even meet or if they recommend anyone else to the vacancy the only reason the new jersey senators agreed to
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the nomination is that it was too conservative to meaningfully consult but their efforts were not reciprocated. i would now like the ranking member to speak. >> i would yield to senator booker just as we did for senator cassidy. >> i really appreciate that and the opportunity to offer some opening statements in. i listen to you characterize
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because humans can recognize my reasoning on not returning a blue slip and you characterize negotiations because i was never approached by you to ask was there a meaningful negotiation and what was the meaning of the negotiation or what could be better so it's unfortunate your statement holds short of a collegial asking what happened when you characterize the meaningful negotiation that was absolutely not. that didn't happen at our point. but they are characterizing i wish we would have had a conversation. i could have gone point by point about what they did and what they said to me and compare that to the others that have returned blue slips and how much more substantive those negotiations were. what you said it' is trust one-d and not true.
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i wish that you would come to me before this was scheduled. the blue slip process was unfortunate because it is not a reflection of what happened in the past. this is the first time that we've seen such a departure under one president of so many judges coming forward to knock on blue slips. the data doesn't support the actions taking place. from 1979 until the start of the trump administration, though judicial nominees over 100 years the judicial nominees were confirmed when only one home state senator returned a positive blue slip. three times in a century. during that time the senator has never, ever confirm a judicial
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nominee when both senators object. there's never been a judicial nominee confirmed the death without that th the practices he wrote it in several of the nominees for the federal judiciary are pushed through over the objections in the last timinto thelast time the commita nomination hearing with the ranking member, we heard from two nominees. my friend from ohio have been returned his blue slip on either of them at the white house hadn't consulted him on either. today he comes before the committee as president donald trump's nomination. to say that i didn't meet with somebody but there is no meaningful effort to set up the meeting is a mischaracterization of the fact. the white house never, ever even been ginned anyone else for the
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vacancies. they didn't talk about other judges. there are dozens of people that didn't offer in any way to negotiate meaningfully on other alternatives and this isn't just a judge that i frankly have no experience with. he served as a significant role in the hospital and the cornerstone in my city of dark. they had lots of problems and scandals during that time. so to say that my objections are jusorjust because they are conservative, that is just not fair and not accurate. nobody has asked me what my objections might be. i've responded to the white house and limited conversations that we had were any of my colleagues just because they are conservative. there are substantive issues
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that i believe deserve more conversation. tonight there was an appointment arranged with the judge and so i worry that this is another rush job and one of the best indicators had to do with the ratings. the american bar association we have always seen as playing the role but at this point they haven't even returned the rating on the nomination we are holding the hearing not even having heard from the aba says one guard rail of being knocked down in an unprecedented way from several nominees the majority seems to have rushed through the committee so quickly he barely had a chance to give them a rating in the first place. in the past they talked about the importance of the ratings and so this whole process is disappointing and it makes me sad not consulted before the
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judge was put up and not asked to say let's set up a meeting with you in this job and not asked substantively with my concerns might be the judge with a long record of the city that i was a mayor of. all of these things are deeply disappointing to me and insults to the process. i didn't just come as a senator with no experience. i was the largest in new jersey. this judge is someone who played important roles. there's a lot of things i would like to have had the opportunity to discuss and private event ant didn't even get the courtesy of saying let's sit down with this gentle man and make an appointment.
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we could have had a hand off the record conversation. thank you for the time. >> i served on this committee for over four years and devoted myself to the good that it could accomplish during both republican and democratic administrations. they've addressed the most complex issues facing this country often times with the eyes of the nation upon us and in many ways the work has been
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no exception. to protect the unique constitutional role it remained. we realize that is no longer the case today but perhaps most important responsibility to the committee is to provide advice and informed consent to a president nominee for the lifetime appointment. in recent years it has president after president to reshape the judiciary and despite the role i feel this could become an extension of the white house.
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we've heard presidents trump say he wants judges to rule the way that he wants them to come and not independently but to rule as he wants them to. i will never settle that because the courts are not ruling as i want them to.
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that worries me. i've tried a lot of cases in different teneintobritannic walh different judges. it is the same way for every single the way they should only prosecute democrats and moderate republicans president obama worked diligently to find mutually acceptable nominees and as a result he nominated many
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individuals who may not have been his first choice. 22 federal judges overall and then they did something he had never done before in the history of this country they failed to consider the qualified nominee to the supreme court. i want to compare what it was. the chairman of the committee during the last few years of the bush administration we could have done the same thing but
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during the last years of the administration we confirmed 68 judges to the federal court. during the last two years they allowed only 22 judges and a member had blue slips. but for the first time in the history of the nation they blocked the supreme court justice from even having a hearing interval. now 68 judges in two years when republicans were in charge of the democratic process. this congress, senate republicans already confirmed
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the judges and includes a record 26 nominees to the circuit court i voted for some of them but i'm not inclined to vote for those that rushed through without any reliance on the attitude of senators from their state. you. they support president shrub saying he wants a federal
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judiciary and the white house in this committee including the disregard of the very process used to identify the blue slip. the democrats or republicans, you care about the good consultation when it comes from the nominees in our own states. they ought to talk to the iowa judges and new jersey judges and the reasons are principled and pragmatic. we know the state better than anybody in the white house. we know who's qualified and had recommended the two well-known republicans to go to the second
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court of appeals because they were by far the most qualified people being considered and we know the majority today may be the minority tomorrow. i mention that becaus mentionede been here many times as the majority and the minority and i've known that blue slips are the only mechanism to ensure that states voices are heard in this process you for other bipartisan traditions. in most cases, blue slips are the only mechanism to ensure they even have ties to the state. without them, there's nothing to stop a democratic president from nominating a new york lawyer to a texas court or republican
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doing just the opposite. if we want to make it clear they are not an arm of the white house, they are an branch of government notwithstanding. as my chair man changes the blue slip policy not all of it concerns me.
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the circuit court nominees are packed onto one panel nominations were held. with each of the norms the constitutional obligation to provide has taken a backseat and ignore the. it's been talked about in the circuit court even though both have been returned.
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and they didn't seek the input on the nomination after the fact he didn't raise between both senators. my concern the fundamental rights of the senators republicans and democrats are
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failing on the constitutional duty to provide the advice and consent to conclude one thing i'd learned it is a fleeting advantage on the u.s. senate. i urge all senators to ensure they are afforded the same courtesy during the trump administration. it's going to be incumbent upon us to rebuild the norms in the d traditions that make the senate
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and. >> mr. chairman. >> i would like to respond to senator poker this is an attempt to stop disappearing from taking place. we've been able to get blue slips back from the following democratic senators in this congress or the circuit court nominees. senator schumer, klobuchar, gillibrand, stabenow, donnelly, then it, casey, heitkamp and there might be others but clearly the white house regularly consults with all state senators. he.
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they are describing the white house version of the event and then also received the senators responses come at the new jersey senators responses and i think that shows the white house consulted in good faith without objection i will enter those into the record and i think it is unfair to say that this is a job when the nominee has been here on april and. without one positive blue slip for example we find such hearings under the chairman for the nominees for the sixth and ninth circuit. with the colleagues do not mention is the way the senators used to block nominees and they
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opposed the filibuster at six votes. my democratic colleagues abolished the lesser. now it seems like they are asking for the right to block a nominee from getting a hearing before the judiciary committee. i told my democratic colleagues at the time november 2013 abolishing the worcester used to be that 41 senators can block the nominee coming forward. one senator ought to be able to block a person from coming before the united states senate and getting a hearing.
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senator harris. i would like to see old -- yield. >> the staff is overburdened and so busy and i can only imagine that your staff as a chair man staff is beyond my imagination. asking for some deference the first communication that came from your staff and running us about the scheduling of the hearing happened about a week ago and it was telling us about your understanding that we were consulted and they know your staff is probably telling you
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the dates now it was wednesday of last week when you sent us this letter after this hearing has already been scheduled. if you or anybody from the staff had come and alerted i would have asked to meet with this judge and. is it too much for an individual to ask, i'm sorry i was waiting for your staff because they know they are distracting you. having a meeting with the justice i know five or ten minutes may seem like a lot but there's so little things i feel
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like senator menendez should have the chance to have a conversation with the justice before they come to the committee and the order i'm not sure if you know it this was scheduled to which we responded right away. any judge from your great state that you would want at least the courtesy of having a meeting so right now i will do with the nominee, sit with them in an office to have the courtesy conversation. menendez i don't want to speak with my colleagues but i imagine that if he would want that courtesy if it was a member of your committee would want them
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for a nominee that has served in my city that i was a mayor of as a matter of grace, i'm asking you to extend the db for we have this hearing to have a more substantive conversation with the nominee. i will meet with him now in my office. >> if you want to keep this going, remember what you were putting the families and nominees at stake if you want to belabor the hearing they spent a lot of money to be here a bit of time to get here. sometimes we would have to schedule these two or three times. let's go to hoodoo you want. >> to make sure that we listen to our nominees for the ranking member and senator volker had made some very important points
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about how this committee handles the nominees and the concerns i voiced over the last several. to focus on the naming of the attorney general at the department of justice there are serious questions about the constitutionality and the legality of the appointment about whether the appointee will see about whether he will follow the advice of the department ethics officials. the acting attorney general against the walls an laws and ps and to slow or stop the investigation. he's hardly classified for the job, and there is nothing in his record or his recent history to suggest he would demonstrate the necessary independent to do the
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job. he. i would ask the committee to testify and explain to us under oath thi his plans for the department of justice. as far as so many of us can be this was just another action by president trump to protect himself. he. there are serious concerns to whether it is ethical to hold the position and we have no idea how long it will hold the position you.
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>> i will end by asking -- in their willingness and desire to work in a bipartisan and a cooperative way and i find their comments to be reasonable and fair and with that i have nothing else to say. the senior vice president and counsel before that he served as the deputy chief counsel to the governor and as the assistant
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u.s. attorney for the district he also clerked on the third circuit and the u.s. district court for the district of new jersey, received his law degree where he was editor in chief at the mall review. nominated to serve as a district judge he is a graduate of the university of georgia school of law and as a judge of the county superior court before the distinguished career in private practice he served as the u.s. army's office of staff judge advocate into the judge which he has been nominated.
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nominated to serve as the district judge of indiana a graduate of the indiana university school of law who spent his legal career with barnes and thornburg llp and he handles a broad range of civil litigation matters and served as a clerk for judge robert miller on the northern district of indiana and is also an adjunct professor at notre dame law school. nicholas is a graduate of the university law school and he earned a fellowship in the office of ohio inspector general and then clerked for judge deborah cook sixth circuit court of appeals since 2005 he has practiced at the law firm in pittsburgh specialis specializin
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maintaining a robust pro bono practice. i would like to have mr.. do you swear that this will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? you can now introduce your family and can't make any opening statements you want to make and then we will have five-minute rounds of questions. >> thank you mr. chairman and good morning i would like to thank you and as well as presiding over the committee
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today. i would like to think the presidenthank thepresident for o serve the nation. the men as of the committee for the opportunity to testify and it has a senator menendez and booker who represent my state of new jersey. i don't have an opening statement, but i would like to introduce several members of my family that i'm so pleased to have with me today beginning with my wife amy. she is without question my greatest supporter. amy is also a attorney but more importantly the mother to our 2-year-old son, michael. i can think of no higher honor and no greater privilege than serving as michael's father. it was our hope that he could join us today for this great
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occasion. we watch him -- through the aisles of the church in supermarket, pretty much everywhere you and we know his passion for dance and singing and all things exuberant so out of the work michael is at home watching daddy or more likely watching elmo, but either way his parents left for him is unending and i'm happy to have another a lifelong new jersey and herself who gave up the second most challenging career of an elementary school teacher for raising her two sons. i am who i am today because of my mother and her endless and assist on simplicity, hard work and honesty you. i am indebted to her old ways for her love and support. my brother scott and his wife and my uncle had traveled from their home of north carolina. they are three of the best people in the best parents i am
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privileged to know and with them is their daughter and my god daughter, and about. although not able to be here today i'd like to thank my extended family at home particularly my mother and father he who are selflessly caring for our son and also the immeasurable support of my colleagues and countless friends for whom i have learned the meaning of service. i am particularly thankful for the guidance and counsel of my role models for whom i was privileged to serve as a young attorney he. i learned there were words for the work of the enduring commitment to the rule of law over personal preference. it's a privilege to be confirmed and need look no further for inspiration and courage.
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finally i think governor chris christie gave me the chance to represent the people of my state and whose leadership has inspired me to always do more. once again thank you for the privilege and honor of being here today and i look forward to answering the committee's question. >> tell me what you believe are the most important qualities of a judge. >> in my nearly two decades of practice i would say there are three essential qualities i have routinely seen i've been honored to appear before. the question is integrity. the idea that it's sacrosanct in the constitution and that judges must decide without fear based only on the wall that is given by this body and a president that guides them from the superior court. second is humility a judge must always remember that her or his job is to do justice under the
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law not to act out of personal preference or partisan interest they should be prepared for the sacrifice and commitment that the duty requires. you come across cases it seems to compel the result that you disagree with words they seem unfair to you and in the circumstances how do you see the role he. it governs the cases and it's never personal preference witnoh a sense of what the law should be and it will neither force the
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role of the judiciary to say what it is and is given by the bodies of congress. it's what i've always seen in my practice and a standard i would be honored to uphold as i understand the supreme cour it t and the guidance on this issue it can be appropriate to consider the materials in the determination of the meaning of the law itself and of history as with all matters outside of the law is not an occasion for the judge to in part his or her preference to how the case should be decided but it can be an opportunity if there is the ambiguity and the plain text of the statute to consult how the
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words were used in context and ordinary meaning in performing that interpretive task. >> tell us about any pro bono experiences you've had and whatever you think you've done as a person and a lawyer to the legal system. i've been privileged to spend the vast majority nearly the entirety of my career working on behalf of public entities and is the cause of the public some of those positions have strained my ability to take on outside clients i've been honored the work i've been able to do as well as the individuals i've touched i can think of a few examples. the united states attorney. these were cases whose facts and circumstances were often
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unimaginable it was a privilege to represent those victims on behalf of the causes and issues. the matters which was a constitutional amendment that provides the standards resulting in the end to the system of monetary that often confine individuals for the low-end minor offenses he hadn't considered to be outside of the responsibility that part of my role as an officer of the court
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and a representative of the legal standards the administration was plagued by scandals as you served as the governor's chief ethics officer. it is egregious and the senior officials and the administration you as retaliation against because he declined to endorse the governor for re- election.
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you. involved in the scandal they stated they never attemptestated to separate politics from their jobs. to you believe that it provides sufficient legal of bias.
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>> i think the events that were ultimately the subject of the federal inquiry was criminal prosecution you the legality was followed in the office inevitably that didn't appear to have been. that had been going on as a year prior and if you make any effort to monitor the politics of the service. it is in the governor's office in the case of the public
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records as well as the charges brought by the united states attorneattorney for the districw jersey. that is the basis on which the convictions were obtained. basically in a campaign ad is paying for $23 million federal disaster relief funds. it is to the potential misuse. did you advise them in any way,
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shape or manner in the use of $23 million worth of federal disasters for the. i don't recall specifically being involved in providing guidance on that matter. in the political retaliation were you aware of this and in any way? >> i don't recall providing any guidance on that specific issue. >> before or after? >> at any time. >> and then prosecutors who is a
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close ally of governor christie shortly afterward governor christie had the attorney general take over the case and of course the indictments were then drawn. did you give any advice? >> i have nothing to do with that event and certainly no participation in anything that was alleged. >> when the governor used a $12.5 million helicopter to go to his son's baseball game did you discuss that at all? you >> my job was to provide guidance on all matters of legislation that might come. there were a number of matters that were coming before you.
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i don't recall providing counsel or guidance on that. >> you. >> the chief justice is recognized the judicial branch is not immune from the widespread problem of sexual harassment and assault and he has taken steps to adjust this issue. i ask all nominees the following two questions which i will ask you. since he became a legal adult have you ever made a wanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?
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>> no, senator. .. . >> 5 million of the 30 million rules they had been pursuing. did you know, about this incident at the end of 2009 so that would've been after my
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service to make you knew nothing about this incident you did not advise the governor to take an action to settle $5 million extra mac i had no involvement in that matter. >> but you did learn about the incident after it occurred? to make it do recall reading about in public reports, senators. >> since you had no responsibility you took no action. let me go on when you are serving as legal counsel he was alleged to have used his official powers to retaliate with a university professor and to serve as the tie-breaking member of the commissioner with the legislative districts. and to vote for the republican map but he chose the democrats plan "the new york times" reported soon after mister
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christy gave a blind item veto to cut $159,000 from two programs so this is during a period when you were in did you know, about this incident? . >> i recall some of those events during the redistricting effort and and we were one - - the governor was charged with appropriation and we don't have recollection of providing guidance on the overall arc of that matter. >> you knew the governor was using the line item veto to clearly as "the new york times" reported to retaliate. that's what it looks like from
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those programs that he had would you have advised the governor not to take such an action because of the allegation of improper action? to make absolutely am not aware of any use of the line item vet veto. >> so when he puts this as a line item veto did he ever talk to you about how he would use that line item veto? were you in those discussions? . >> absolutely there was an annual budget task for the roughly six years i was there unquestionably i would have had conversations with the governor regarding that. >> but not as to the. >> now. >> if you had known about it you would have advised him not to do it quick. >> my guidance as counsel for the governor is clear the laws of the state of new jersey and the laws of the nation that is the standard that i observed every day and follow that.
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>> she would have advised him not to do it because even though the appearance of conflict. >> what i would have done is follow the law. to the government conduct of the office and to use his official powers to benefit the donor. according to the article in the wake of hurricane sandy he awarded 150 million contract to a florida-based firm just days after the deal was done he donated 50000 to the republican governor association that christie was then vice chairman did you know, about this incident? . >> i did work on that matter with counsel. >> what did you advise the governor to do? . >> this treads upon an area of privilege so for me to work on
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this particular matter it would be under the privilege standard civic you are asserting attorney client privilege? mimic the attorney-client privilege always rest with the client and not what the attorney does the job of counsel to be mindful. >> i understand that. you are asserting attorney-client privilege on behalf of your client. thank you. i will have further questions for the record. >> senator booker. >> thank you mister senator. just want to say thank you for being here today i see the two most important women in your life that are here today especially come from jersey. if the requested inner i requested it quick. >> thank you for the partnership you and your staff only showed to me at
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university hospital to improve the outcomes of patients. i was honored by the ongoing relationship under the canons of judicial conduct and to keep myself out of that political process but mindful of policy interest. >> the simple question you would meet with the white house staff if asked? mimic would follow whatever guidance given to me. >> to the white house ever asked me to have a meeting with you? . >> i don't know that. >> you have no knowledge quick. >> i don't know that request was made. >> i appreciate you being candid with that response. we have known each other for years? . >> i have met him. >> he never represented to you there was a request for a meeting or anything like that? . >> you don't recall having any conversations with members of the administration.
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>> this is just two guys from jersey would understand that that a judge coming from their state they would probably want to meet with a person that is not limited at five minutes. >> senator i have gray and unyielding respect for this body and the work you do on behalf of our state absolutely. and that the hospital was troubled many years financially with a lot of the governor put people he trusted in positions of authority to to help the hospital that is such an important in our state. correct. >> one of the most critical aspects of our city. yes. >> there are a lot of aspects i wish we could have discussed
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in private. but perhaps i could just say we have a lot more time to discuss but and and to nosedive to be specific with the hospital safety records and it earned a c grade but in 2016 it fell to the d level but yet just this year it fell to the f grade. can you characterize the tanking of that at all? mimic certainly senator.
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it did fall one grade level that goes to those ongoing efforts but and the health care industry is a challenging environment to maintain and to have a greater calibration of resources to the most fundamental questions. that is working outside of my area but without question it is something we were always focused on as the hospital administrator to improve to the best of our ability. >> that you don't see and you know, there are a lot of legal actions that resulted from the level of the steaks that were taken and only 22
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hospitals if they receive the d grade that is at the bottom and legal actions always arise from that you take any responsibility at all? . >> and then to be very concerned with those rankings so absolutely. because that deals with the technical issues but there is no question that i felt personally in the outcome of every patient. >> so as legal counsel you were to mitigate risk quick. >> certainly. wherever possible. >> so that seemed a great decline over your time of those lawsuits what action did you take quick. >> i don't recall there were lawsuits that arose but it is
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important to find a pathway to improve those quality outcomes. that is a full level grade higher that is a hard work of the physicians and the professionals but it was something that we were all focused on. . >> there are considerable issues going on in our state relating to this nominee that these are discussions that should have happened before this moment i don't know how many more rounds will have a clearly my time is expired. >> senator leahy has one short question. i will give you another five minutes after senator leahy is done to make this nominee
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shirley word talk to you anytime and in front of you as well. see? . >> my question is a legal one. you say the role of the judges and you reference marbury versus madison if not in the first month but the acting attorney general marbury versus madison was a bad ruling. do you agree with that quick. >> sticking with the canons of judicial conduct that is outside of my ability to conduct - - comment on that. >> do you think marbury versus madison is a bad ruling? mimic it is a landmark decision from the supreme
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court binding fully on the courts of the united states and it would be enforced safely if i was confirmed. >> do you believe the federal judiciary is the independent coequal branch of government quick. >> the principle of the independence of our united states supreme court one - - of the courts that is created under article three. >> that is not subordinate. >> the coequal branches as i understand it are charged with different responsibilities as well as create the law to execute those decisions it is the sole ability of the controversy.
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>> that doesn't make it subordinate. >> one that cannot decide matters but only to the law. >> your answer is careful but a lot better than mister wood occurs. thank you. >> if you like to have a fellow iowan to tell another iowan of mister whitaker, i know him well that he ought to forget that. i'm not a lawyer but marbury versus madison is the basis of the judicial branch checking the other two as far as i'm concerned. senator booker do you want five more minutes. >> i will take whatever you will give me. >> go ahead. >> when i asked when mister
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christy was governor you said you were no longer at the us attorney's office but in 2011 when you were with governor christie so that earlier response made it seem like you had nothing to do with any of this but you were there with governor christie at that time when this occurred. are you not? to make those responses that i made, first i have no knowledge about this matter other than perhaps i have read it in public news accounts i am very limited of the specifics of recollection was never involved as a prosecutor or attorney. >> were you his counsel at this time? . >> i would be serving as a
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deputy chief counsel in 2011. >> but you had no discussion of the settlement over 5 million over 30 million? . >> that's correct senator. >> that seems odd does the government have a lot of attorneys he was discussing matters with to have no knowledge or awareness of this large settlement that he did with mister trump? . >> is not that i'm not familiar with the facts and circumstances of this particular matter it is hard for me to answer how he would have received counsel to that but i can tell you i was honored to work with a few dozen attorneys working in the counsel's office during this time. >> the governor had a few dozen attorneys.
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>> i am estimating the counsel had numerous attorneys. >> you were not one of those? . >> so working with him as an assistant us attorney he struck a deal that he agreed not to charge for security fraud in exchange for the professorship which is also your elmo matter. and 5 million that was so uneasy that the justice department issued new rules in may 2008 limiting discretion to such deals did you know, about this incident quick. >> i am aware of it yes. . >> you are aware of it. did you have a role to play? . >> i did not.
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i believe that deferred prosecution agreement was entered into prior me joining the office. i did in those matters after but not that specific issue. >> if you had known about this would you have advised the attorney not to engage in this? because it's so clear. >> my work as the assistant united states attorney was to follow the law as applying the statutes as well as prosecution that's how i conducted myself and how i would have with any matter. >> turning to another matter while assistant us attorney reported the increase the financial impropriety by
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letting them have independent monitors they were appointed by the attorney and receive millions of dollars in fees paid by the companies the bush administration was so uncomfortable with seven agreements mister christy had signed because he appointed political allies and one infamous deal involving christie the former attorney general ashcroft said the company zimmer holdings the firm was estimated to receive million between 52 billion in fees as an independent monitor the reason was so controversial that justice department issued new rules requiring any such deals to be approved by the deputy attorney general. did you know, about this incident quick. >> i had no involvement in those matters. i am aware of them from the reports publicly discussed.
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>> so why you are the assistant attorney but these were all swirling around us attorney christie you had no knowledge these ethical concerns were surrounding mister christy as his attorney? . >> certainly. the individuals who worked with the united states attorneys handled their matters independently through a hierarchy of advisories so it's just simply a matter i was involved in the investigations we are discussing but my time serving as a federal prosecutor i was not aware of or had any issues regarding ethics i'm certainly not aware of any that i was involved in i considered representing the united states department of justice on behalf of the cases to be one of the greatest privileges of my life. >> senator booker. >> when i was mayor of new
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york one - - that we had 4000 employees and 3500 outstanding workmen compensation claims you can understand my reaction so we put a strategy to mitigate risk to drive the rates down everyone put together practices for that crisis because you can imagine when i took over for the mayor there a lot of and issues that i had to address. but the safety issues with the hospital were so extreme, this is the director of operations describing this we see that they had a very high rate of foreign objects live left in after surgery. i don't want to read the whole statement that just describing things that would shock the consciousness of anybody in our community in the jersey community.
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did you have that s.w.a.t. team pull together or can you describe what you would do knowing that lives were put at risk? as you watch that rating go down not just opinions but the data coming out. >> absolutely senator. i had similar experiences to you upon taking my role as general counsel dealing with statistics of outstanding claims. >> so can you detail the actions that you have took for public safety? . >> if i recall the entire focus of the administration. >> i understand but what actions did you take knowing that human lives were at risk? . >> one of the things that i recall we worked on was increasing protocols and policies that govern procedures to be taking place at the hospital so accidents
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happened less obviously surgeries are complicated but to systemize the process you can increase the outcomes i certainly don't want to take credit but it is those steps that allowed the hospital to move up a whole letter grade. >> but when you were there it was going consistently down was that the number one priority? i'm not giving you that many specifics again, has similar frightening experiences with human lives at risk i could tell you details what specific actions i took can you give me more specific things you did to mitigate those risks quick. >> one of the specific things was create a more systemized process for surgical and related procedures to take out the element of discretion it was only a protocol to result in the checklist to deal with those problems that you mentioned.
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the second to emphasize basic best practices like handwashing and hygiene you can imagine in the course. >> no disrespect i don't know how much leeway that chairman will give me but shifting gear gears, i know of your work as governor christie was a friend and the incredible work you did on some horrific cases so i'm not questioning that all new jersey's ou respect for your service to public offices but i just want to know your time in private practice i'm very familiar with your firm the very foundation is because of the pro bono work it is surprising that you could not list pro bono activities right now the
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american bar association code of professional responsibility calls for every lawyer regardless of prominence or workload to find time to participate to serve the disadvantaged and we share a community with tremendous disadvantage and you are in a firm that i work with them on incredible pro bono cases are you right now in private practice or your time at the hospital were you doing independent pro bono activities on behalf of the disadvantaged in our community? . >> i agree this is important and something i tried to honor most recently at the university hospital. two things i would point to first is the program of reentry for those that were previously incarcerated finding a pathway to bring them out of the nation's jails and second there were occasions i had to represent the hospital with significant
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patient interest not just as an advocate. >> but your time right now are you involved in any pro bono activities quick. >> i am not currently providing any guidance as pro bono counsel i am continuing my work on behalf of public matters including fraud against public institutions. >> so in your questionnaire would you detail this. >> with your pro bono work i'm sorry. >> i am over my time there are number of other areas i would like to go into can i be awarded another five minutes?
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[inaudible conversations] . >> thank you mister chairman. if other people, i will administer the oath before you sit down if you want to wait. [inaudible conversations]
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. >> do you all affirm the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? . >> i do. >> answered in the affirmative we will start for any opening statements. before you start go ahead. >> mister chairman i just ask consent the statement by senator casey in support to be
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put in the record. >> without objection also i have received numerous letters in support of nominees today without objection those will also be put in the record so now back to you. any opening statement you want to make an introduction of family and friends and that will be the same for the three remaining and go across the table. >> chairman grassley and ranking member lay he we want to thank you and ranking member feinstein and the rest of the senate judiciary committee for having me here today i greatly appreciate the opportunity for quite also like to thank president trump for nominating me senators isaacson and purdue for recommending me to the president and their continued
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support. iowa debt not only to them but also to the members of george's federal screening committee for recommending me to the senators. although i don't have a formal opening statement i would like to take just a minute to introduce my family to you. my daughter who is six and a half as is my son who is five and a half. he is sporting that winston churchill tie this morning he loves to listen to and tell stories preferably from half way up the magnolia tree in our front yard he plays a mean ukulele and has since he was two or three in self-taught. is currently in negotiations for an electric guitar, banjo or drum set or is he would tell you all of the above. the most kind and generous
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they are that way not because of influence i have had on them but because they have learned that from my amazing wife julie. julie is a painter and also an art teacher when we first met. at present she is the hummingbird homeschool she is the teacher and i cannot in words explain how much she means to me. i love her beyond measure. my mother is here with me today as well. mom is retired from teaching them as a single mother i credit her from my work ethic my father passed away several years ago first is a farmer in illinois than a high school shop teacher. dad taught me there is some good in everyone and he is with me here today as well. my sister could not be here. she is in georgia teaching.
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she is an art teacher but i am joined by my brother-in-law jay cooper also to those people who have been helpful to me in my career. first the judge who i clerked for judge evans was the first woman to serve and appointed in 1979 by president carter. a good judge makes decisions on their own personal opinions and instead based on the law. and colonel robertson both of whom i worked with the 101st airborne division prosecutor and operational advisor and it worked with colonel robertson as a public defender. general talk to me when - - tell me to get to the point
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quickly infantry officers don't have unlimited time to hear from their jag he taught me there are two sides to every story next they never once you said no to me and i came to them with another criminal pro bono case handling those cases help me find my true calling back into the public sector. finally georgia governor who put me on the superior court bench and saw confidence in me and the voters who have kept me there. into my fellow judges and top-notch staff, casey, tatyan staff, casey, tatyana, keish staff, casey, tatyana, keisha, d deputy medicine mister chairman i appreciate very much you giving me the opportunity to introduce my family and to think some of the people who have been important to me in my career i'm happy to answer any questions you and the
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committee have of m me. >> chairman grassley i would like to think ranking member feinstein and senator leahy as well as the committee as a whole for the opportunity to be here today for your consideration of my nomination particularly like to thank my us senator cassidy and his staff for all of their support throughout this process also my other us senator kennedy for his support and it means a lot to me i have the support of both of my home state senators throughout the process. also president trump for the honor of the nomination it is a great honor to be here in consideration of this committee for his nomination. i would like to introduce my beautiful and loving wife angie who was with me today. licensed professional counselor dedicating her life to helping others we celebrate
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our 25th wedding anniversary in a few weeks and truly the rock of our family and the love of my life. we are blessed to have two wonderful daughters who unfortunately could not be here today because of college obligations our oldest daughter is a junior at the university of texas at austin she is majoring in nursing. my youngest daughter of fresh at smu in dallas majoring in dance performance and getting the prerequisites for occupational therapy also my entire family my parents and my sister unfortunately could not be here but have always been supportive of me throughout my career and my law partners at my law firm,
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firm, and very supportive as i have gone through the process and finally mister chairman you and the committee i look forward to answering any questions the committee may have. >> thank you chairman grassley to you and ranking member feinstein for scheduling this hearing and think you to the ranking member for presiding over this hearing. allow me to thank the president for the honor and privilege of this nomination with the opportunity to be serving the nation in this capacity and for their kind words and tremendous support throughout this process i am a proud hoosier and having support of my two home state senators and bipartisan spirit means a great deal to me. the opening statement i would like to make a few introductions as well. with me today seated directly behind me first is my wife
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working at notre dame and suffice it to say i would not be here without her love and support over 23 years if you were to look in the dictionary the word remarkable you would see her picture. my beautiful daughter mckenna is a junior at adams high school a true hoosier playing for the basketball team and this will be covering for ap history class my son wyatt is a fourth grader, he is smart and kind and also a fierce player. when i asked him today what i should tell the committee about him he told me to say we are buddies forever. i am so very proud. my dad and mom also seated directly behind me my father ron retired elementary educator of 40 years, my teacher for longer than that.
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my mother sharon once a registered nurse devotes her time to grandkids and farmers in genealogy married 54 years and have always been loving parents. in addition is brian a steadfast friend over the past 32 years of much as anyone i am truly blessed to have my family here there are many other family members including two sisters and many friends who i know are here in spirit and always offer their love and prayers which i deeply cherish. my colleagues in various mentors those from the indiana bar having gracious to me with their talents over the years and through this process and they wish to acknowledge that a special thank you goes to judge robert miller junior who taught me what it means to be a federal judge last my students at university of notre dame i promise to
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acknowledge your talent and i fully expect it to be on display in class. think you chairman grassley for the privilege of being here. >> good morning mister chairman also ranking member feinstein for scheduling the hearing and also mister leahy to preside over the hearing it is an honor and humbling experience to be before this committee like to start by thanking god through his grace only i am here also all the individuals who have assisted in supporting me from a nomination initially senators to me and casey my home state senators for supporting and advancing my nomination senator leahy i appreciate you entering into the record i apologize to senator casey for missing his phone call i was tying my daughter's shoe. like to thank those bipartisan
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commission back home in pittsburgh that worked tirelessly on this process and also president trump for the honor of the nomination. also some of my family that are here today and others watching at home my wife of 15 years is here with me today she was a speech language pathologist working with veterans who suffered strokes and traumatic brain injuries serving our family as a more difficult job is a stay-at-home mother caring for three kids i am thankful for her love and support she is a wonderful wife, mother, best friend she were beautiful black and gold dress which is a shout out to pittsburgh. my oldest daughter is here today she is seven years old when the kindest and sweetest kids you will meet always with a smile her so this is extra
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special for her to be here today we have twin sons they are three years old and her staying with my in-laws in ohio we were tempted to bring them but were not too prepared to bear witness on the damage they would inflict other than jumping off the furniture they are great boys judah loves to hike in justice likes to complain they are a good match. my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law are here they have come with my nieces and nephews. i appreciate their support i'm glad all the kids can get a great civics lesson i would like to thank my parents and my sister who are here with me today my father could not make it that watching back home in texas. my parents are immigrants to this country i cannot even
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imagine moving to a new country away from all family and friends the risks that they shook over 40 years ago provided me with the opportunity to be here today to give back to this country that taught me important lessons including faith in god, caring for those in need and hard work. finally it would like to thank my friends and mentors and teachers, clients, coworkers, fs that came today. i appreciate them being here supporting me and specifically the support of my colleague which is the only law firm i have been with since law school they give opportunities to have the most challenging cases and at the same time they gave me the ability and
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the support has been overwhelming for the management to the workers in the mailroom that were the first to congratulate me upon my nomination i only do so for the rare opportunity of public service. think you. >> maybe this will be the only question because it is pretty important to me for each of you. we will go across but you do not have to repeat each other but you heard me asked the nominee will come across the cases where it compels a result you personally disagree with or seems unfair how do you see your role as a judge in the application of the law? . >> and in your testimony you
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remembered this from the person that you clerked for. >> exactly i was about to say i had before being i became a judge theoretically about the separation of powers and the proper role of the judiciary. that you along with your colleagues in the house make the law and the judges whether state or federal courts, apply the law. not until i was on the bench that i realize how important that is. it doesn't happen all that often but periodically there are instances in which the law demands one result. but my personal opinion might be different. i'm happy to report to you mister chairman that i have never been tempted or have given into that temptation if i am fortunate enough to be confirmed to the us court for
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the northern district of georgia i will never give into those temptations and apply the law. >> i concur with my colleague at no time should our personal beliefs enter into our decision-making. we are charged under article three to apply the law with fax to the case before us and the result is what the law will lead us to. i don't believe ever personally should ever enter into that decision-making process. >> our duty is to apply the law to the constitution of the united states personal opinions don't play a role in that process. i know there is a long-standing tradition
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following that obligation to the letter and if confirmed i would go in with the endeavor. >> senator our system only works if judges follow the law. i believe if fortunate enough i would set aside any personal preferences or views in order to faithfully uphold the laws of the united states that is a critical aspect of the judicial philosophy and i commit to that. >> tell us what are the most important qualities of a judge. >> this isn't necessarily an order priority but it just as an allocation, one important issue is to work hard and move
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cases. i am proud of the fact my stave one - - my staff and i have reduce the caseload of over 40 percent since i took the bench and the time i was in private practice obviously my clients would win but sometimes they just needed a decision the judge needs to move cases second a judge needs to be prepared when they get to court. they need to read the briefs and they with their staff do independent research to make sure they understand the law going into the hearing. judge ass - - at the hearing needs to be respectful to the parties. respectful to the lawyers. out on - - also as to fairness a judge is to make sure he or she enters into each case with no bias and no prejudice. mister chairman you know, where i will end by saying
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finally a judge needs to apply the law not let their personal preferences dictate their decisions. >> thank you mister chairman. there are many crucial elements to being a judge but diligence fairness and temperament are the most important and in the courtroom, to be prepared and in fairness everybody should be treated with dignity and respect in the courtroom and i have had this in my experience as a trial attorney usually the one and only time they will ever be in the courtroom and they need to be treated fairly and justly and temperament to handle the situation and treat the attorneys as well as the litigants with respect to discharge that responsibility. >> i agree with my colleagues
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on the panel who have it right and in my words senato senator, impartiality is a key quality of any judge with the ability to hear the arguments of all parties, research and understand the law and apply that faithfully and impartially to the matter at hand is an essential element to being a judge. second, a judge needs to have integrity not only protecting the independence and dignity of the federal bench, but it also ensures the processes employed are done in the right way. and third any judge needs to have a blend of intellect and industry there will be a heavy docket for all of us if
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confirmed when we go to the bench that will require a great deal of hard work and industry to ensure opinions and decisions are made on a timely basis and in the right way. last, but not least a judge needs to be civil and they need to lead by example in that respect with the lawyers in the bar and the parties that come before the court. >> i agree with my panelist i would only add that partner said a good lawyer also to good judges that the three characteristics availabilit availability, affability and ability and in that order so availability that judges are accessible to the parties and
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the lawyers that appear before them if affable they have good humor and common sense and respectful to the litigants and finally, knowledgeable about the law and should always strive to outwork the lawyers that appear before them. >> i have tried a lot of cases in state and federal court and also at the state and federal appellate level. does anybody disagree with the statement? if any of that again no matter which side should look at the judge sitting there and assume they will be treated fairly irrespective of political background. do you agree with that quick. >> i do. >> absolutely senator. >> s senator. they should know that. >> yes senator. >> and a 2011 interview
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justice scalia was a friend of mine although we disagreed often he argue the equal protection clause does not extend to women so does the constitution permit discrimination against women question if it prohibits discrimination against women the answer is yes. >> do you agree equal protection does not extend to women quick. >> i am not familiar of the context of justice scalia's statement regarding equal protection but i can tell you that as a judicial nominee i would follow the precedent of the supreme court of the united states and the illinois circuit faithfully. >> does the constitution permit discrimination against
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women? mimic i do not believe it does under the fifth or 14th amendment. >> and the equal protection clause does not extend to women quick. >> i don't know the context of those comments. >> but do you agree with the statement equal protection does not extend to women? mimic my understanding of the constitution equal protection is afforded to all under the constitution. >> would you agree equal protection clause does extend to women? . >> it extends to all senator and i believe the supreme court precedent teaches us that very fact that i would safely apply that law senator i agree the supreme court has
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spoken to the equal protection clause certainly protects women and applying the test as it has been laid out the statutes that are subject to scrutiny. >> during the presidential campaign calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states. the supreme court has now resolve this in litigation with his third attempt at the travel ban. generally speaking does the first amendment allow the use of a religious litmus test for entry into the united states? . >> senator as i understand your question about a religious litmus test under the first amendment obviously the first amendment as to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and you referenced
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the trump case that was decided recently as i see her as a judicial nominee would not be appropriate for me to comment. >> let me ask you this does the first amendment allow for a religious litmus test quick. >> again i believe what you were asking about a religious litmus test i see her before you as a judicial nominee it would be inappropriate for me under the canon of ethics to preview how i would rule in a case regarding a religious litmus test respectfully senator. >> would you allow the use to enter into the united states? . >> again i sit before you as a nominee. >> i see your answer. >> the first amendment is a prohibition under the
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establishment clause to establish any religion but in terms of context of your question that is a policy decision for congress and the executive branch i do not believe under canon five it is appropriate for me to comment. >> see you are suggesting of congress wants to impose a religious litmus test it can quick. >> it's not that. i think it is a policy decision what legislation congress chooses to enact under article one is within their purview it is not appropriate for me as a judicial nominee to comment on that. >> senator leahy and i think the constitution is resistive to that litmus test but this is a political matter and one that is likely before the
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federal judiciary so given that it would be inappropriate for me to provide predictions or comment on the matter any further than that. >> i will echo up my fettle when his fellow panelists have said i cannot comment but with respect to the first amendment generally congress is limited by the first amendment as applied by the supreme court and those limitations concern the establishment clause as well as impinging on free exercise rights or violation of statutes that is the precedent how congress can act with respect to the first amendment. >> so you go a little stronger than saying it's a policy question for congress if they are going to do it as a policy it must limit itself to what the constitution says? . >> i think the presumption is
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congress acts constitutionally and follows the constitution to enact laws and if it violates the constitution that litigants can bring claims before the courts to adjudicate. >> what is the constitution say if the receives affordable unit? . >> senator i've been practicing for 22 years first as a prosecutor in the jagged court than public defender after that i was in private practice 14 years doing civil litigation mostly defense for plaintiffs as well the last several years i've been on the bench i have to concede that is not an issue i've been presented in my practice but if i were presented that a fortunate enough to be confirmed what would i do with faced with an issue i would
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read the briefs and research the issue and respectfully listen to the arguments at the hearing and then after the hearing. >> but you know, offhand what the constitution says. >> that is in the constitution correct? mimic that as i stay in my 22 years of practice. >> asking you to interpret but it is in the constitution the issue is that not? . >> yes but i cannot speak in detail of practice i have not encountered that issue. >> most people have not. >> yes the emoluments clauses in the constitution extends i have not read it in a while but the president and members of congress and certain instances. but yes it is in the constitution.
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>> senator leahy there is the emoluments clause there is some historical underpinning to that provision john j as i recall the king of spain at one point which may have been a reason for its inclusion i have not read it in some time i must confess that my recollection there is a proviso that while officers of the governments cannot accept emoluments but they may do so under certain circumstances where congress is permitted. . . .
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a senior member of the republican party you and i'm the member of the senate. what happens if a president or any other executive. as does secretary of the
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interior to do something. when we are talking about article one or article to disagreements you think about the youngstown steel decision that's what comes to mind first with me when he's acting with congress president is that her or his lowest when he or she is acting against congress when congress has enacted the case calls the zone of twilight with
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the actions. further you think about the marbury versus madison case. every one of us had to either write papers or answer questio questions. if a president or any other executive official refuses to comply with a federal court order to do this, the official refuses what is the recourse of
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the court? >> i would cite first off a case that comes to mind but as far as the question you're asking that may well be something that's part of our current public debate that as a nominee for the federal district court judgeship it would be inappropriate to discuss an issue that the president he. >> the supreme court of the united states. states. >> presidents nixon and two respond to it, correct? >> i was going to say a supreme coursupremecourt precedent of td states is one of the court's landmark decisions if i were fortunate enough to be confirmed, i would follow u.s. mixing and other precedents in the supreme court as well as the
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11th circuit. >> but you're not willing to take a position as a judge would a court can do if an official ie official refuses to follow the court order. >> i would look to some of the other folks that have sat here. you can look at what the justice said. she said we shouldn't give any hint. no thumbno thumbs-up and no thun and respectfully your question would be inappropriate for me to answer. >> i would have to concur with my panelist. the hypothetical situation is one that could come before the courts and icourt and it would e inappropriate to respond. >> i have a tremendous respect
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for the separation of powers but this is a question that 20 years i've ever had to encounter. i've never been in the role of the judge to hear someone say in response to the order i would refuse to comply and that is such an issue in that it potentially pitches to the branches of government against each other that i think it requires a great deal of research and very studious before the answer is given. i would need to do that in order to respond to the question in their execution of judges and the contempt of authority those are typically the powers that would come into play seeking to enforce a judgment but with
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respect to that particular sitting presidents now that would bear on a political question. >> you the judicial branch of the constitutional duthas aconst unconstitutional exercises of power is that correct? >> if you have a case before you do you look at the judicial branches are there cases you can look at the branches and the constitutional duty to prevent these exercises of power as a possibility that there's been such a case? >> i want to speak to what u. mau. may bespeaking about.
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>> i'm just asking you as an abstract legal question. >> i think members of all branches take an oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states. yes, senator. >> if i understand your question, senator is as if you are asking if the court can give an advisory opinion in advance of the issue. >> there could be the case before them. whether they have the ability to order or give an order to prevent an unconstitutional exercise to power. >> i believe the court has the power of facts presented a while
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for an injunction and any type of remedy like that, the court could enter if the case so presented itself. >> having sought out injunctions i hear your answer. >> it's a difficult question in the abstract, but i do think given the authority under article three of the constitution and the federal judiciary has the authority to declare the constitutionality of certain statutes for instance and that certainly is laid down by the united states supreme court upon which we may rely. of course that is hinged and dependent on the conduct by the federal bench. >> i agree with my panelist said this in the power of the judiciary if there is a specific
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case brought before the courts to adjudicate constitutional issues that make sense in things like granting injunctive relief to join the constitutional conduct. >> depending on where you are dealing with who's exercising the power, obviously we all know if it is a major level or executive level things are going to eventually end up before the supreme court. i'm speaking as a lawyer being pragmatic about it. are there cases where the court has to balance the president's expertise in national security matters with the constitution?
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do you want to weigh in on that or talk to the question asked >> i would think everyone in the government in executive and legislative has to always be cognitive if the constitution and constitutionality of their actions if that's what you're going to. under article two the president has enforcement powers and the united states citizens thinks he or she has done more to citizen has the right to bring a case.
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>> it is as a general matter. >> as part as the enforcement power we always start with the constitution as a judge i always start with the constitution issue and then we have obviously to think about how that's been informed by the president. >> they've articulated the position quite right and i don't have anything else to add to that. >> the constitution speaks for all of us ultimately and i realize it can interpret the constitution, but we do have the
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first stone in the constitution do we not? >> we do and that is all branches of government and congress, the federal judiciary they are all obligated to follow. >> senator, i agree. the constitution is our lone star and i think we are guided by the constitutional branches and as citizens we look to the constitution for the rights and if i'm fortunate enough to be confirmed, certainly if people have constitutional issues brought before the court, i will do my best to apply those that deal with that issue. >> if you are confirmed, you take the oath, look at that oath. the something with close to 400 senators to take the oath to
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uphold the constitution and that protects us all whether you are republican, democrat, anything else. we are fortunate enough to have a constitution constitution, and uphold it. >> think each of you for your testimony. i expect the members will have written questions for you, which you can expect within a week. so obviously the record will be kept open for one week. the meeting is adjourned. >> thank you.
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[inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations]
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for joining us to talk about the lame-duck session this morning. how long is the lame-duck session expected to go for and what are the most on the schedule? >> thanks for having me. the congress is scheduled to be in until mid-december,


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