tv C-SPAN Looks Back at Supreme Court Justices Confirmation Hearings CSPAN March 17, 2017 3:19pm-5:27pm EDT
a.m. eastern and throughout the week we'll include your comments and primetime reair. you can also listen to the hearings live on our free c-span radio app. and ahead of the hearings next week, the c-span poll with p.s.b. on attitudes toward the supreme court, one from the washington examinering saying president trump's election, his immediate move to name neil gorsuch to the supreme court and his slam of judges stopping his immigration executive orders has sparked unprecedented attention to the judiciary, according to a new c-span survey with part of that showing that 76% supporting cameras in the supreme court. you can see that conversation from this morning. e'll read the entire poll at c-span.org. >> as supreme court nominee neil gorsuch prepares 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 nominated. he replaced justice lewis powell and previously served on the ninth circuit court of appeals. here's a brief portion of justice kennedy's confirmation hearing, with an introduction by california democratic congressman robert matsui. mr. matsui: it's too bad that two individuals preceded judge kennedy for this nomination. i noticed the editorial in "the new york times" this morning, they made reference to judge bork and judge ginsberg and i say it's a shame because we shouldn't be here today comparing judge kennedy to his two previous nominees. judge kennedy in and of himself is a superb candidate for the
united states supreme court. and comparisons do not do this gentleman justice. he has a deep compassion for the law, as many of you know. he's highly intelligent from his academic record. we can discern that. 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 u.s. supreme court demonstrate. obviously judge kennedy is a conservative, and here we are 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 one million people in sacramento county and not 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 eagle. judge kennedy is a man of humility, he's a man of compassion. he's an individual that really has no ego and is an individual who will understand the plight of the common man when matters come before this court. i would also have to say even though he's a conservative and representative phasio and i a moderates to liberals, we have a great deal of confidence in judge kennedy in terms of what he'll do on the u.s. supreme court. if one looks at his opinions, one will notice he does have
judicial restrain but in 1987 that might make a lot of sense because that means he probably won't be overturning many of the decisions of the 1960's, 1950's, 1970's and 1980's and as a result of that you'll 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 from the gentleman i have a great deal of admiration for in the next few days. the gentleman is from sacramento. his name is nathaniel colly. he is 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 lawyers in the state of california. i'd like to read his testimony when he gives it because it
will give the regard that lawyers, law students, ordinary individuals have for judge kennedy. his nomination to the supreme court. you couldn't make a better selection. >> i most appreciate the gracious welcome from members of the committee this morning and from senator wilson and the two dtinguished congressmen from my district in sacramento, all three of whom i have known for a number of years. this is an appropriate time for me to thank the president for entrusting me with the honor of appearing before you as his nominee, for associate justice of the united states. justice kennedy: my family share in extending great appreciation for showing his confidence in me. i wish, also, to thank the
members of your committee, mr. most n, for the interesting and impressive set of meetings that i had with you and members of the senate as a whole over the last four weeks. these are denominated courtesy calls as i understand it. it seems to me that is perhaps for what casual term is a very important and significant part of the advise and consent process. in a number of these advise and consent discussions, mr. chairman, you, 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.
and you've indicated that reply or response is expected from me. and in every case, mr. chairman, i was profoundly impressed by the deep commitment to constitutional rule and the deep commitment to judicial independence that each member of the united states senate has. i wish your workload were such you could give the experience that i've had to every nominee for appointment to the courts in the article 3 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 a 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, our other son is a senior at stanford and i'm authorized to assure the committee he's taken the lsat test and on his way to young school. our youngest child is kristen who is now a sophomore at stanford, majoring in liberal arts, particularly english and wife, and finally my mary who has the love and admiration of her family and also her 30 students in the olden empire school in sacramento. thank you very much. [inaudible] >> i certainly don't envy your tuition bill. justice keedy: i'd like that part of the record, mr. chairman.
>> it's a sacrifice you're making and i mean that sincerely. i am pleased to move forward, judge, if you'd like. justice kennedy: that concludes my opening remarks, mr. chairman, and i am ready to receive the questions from you and your committee members. >> c-span's program on sitting supreme court justices continues with clarence thomas, nominated in 1991 by president george h.w. bush. justice thomas won confirmation by a narrow margin following hearings that included allegations of sexual harassment by a former colleague, anita hill. justice thomas replaced thurgood marshall on the court. he previously served for less than two years on the district of columbia 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 danforth.
senator danforth: just as clarence thomas will not 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 justices on the court. for two months, i have noted with wonder the certainty of various interest groups as they have predicted how the nominee would vote on an array of issues. they don't kno clarence omas. i do. i cannot predict how he would vote on any issue. he's 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 hat dread disease, federal itis. the obvious strategy of interest groups trying to defeat a supreme court nominee is to suggest that there is something weird about the individual. i concede there is something weird about clarence thomas. it's his laugh. it is the loudest laugh i have ever heard. it comes from deep inside and it shakes his body, and here is something at least as weird in this most uptight of 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 thomas 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 when done well makes everyone mad. it's a career blind alley. he answered simply, i haven't et finished the job. i pondered that statement many times over the past five years. undoubtedly he meant he had not yet finished the job of transforming the eeoc from the administrative basket case he inherited to the first grade agency it is today. but i think he meant more than that. i think he meant that the discrimination he's known in his own life is still too much with us. there is so much more to do if we were 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 at him. but it's profound and it forms the person he is and the justice he will at him. become. i hope that some time in the days judge thomas will be before this committee someone ill ask him not about on enumerated rights or 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 t by some because you're black? everyone in the senate knows something about the legal issues before the supreme court
. not a single member of the senate knows what clarence thomas knows about being poor nd blac in america. justice thomas: members of the committee, i am humbled and honored to be 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, 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. there are 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 not never forgotten the
terms of his offer to me. more work for less pay than anyone in the country could offer. [laughter] believe me, he delivered on his promise, especially the less pay. [laughter] 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 bond, nunn, fowler, warner and rod for taking the time to introduce me today. much has been written about my family and me over the past 10 weeks. through all that has happened throughout our lives and through all adversity, weave grown blowser and our love for each other has grown stronger and deeper. i hope these hearings will help
to show more clearly who this and n clarence thomas is 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 caught minnows in the creeks, crabs in the marshes, we played with pluffers and skipped shells across the water. it was a world so vastly different from all this. in 1955 my brother and i went to live with my mother in savannah. we lived in one room in a tenement. we shared a kitchen with other tenants, and we had a common bathroom in the back yard which
as unworkable and unuseable. it was heard but it was all we had and all we were. our mother 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 later in 1955. imagine, if you will, two little boys with all their belongings in two grocery bags. our grandparents were two great and wonderful people who loved us dearly. i wish they were sitting here today sitting here so they could see that all their efforts, their hard work were not in vain. and so that they could see that hard wk and strong values can make for a better life.
i am 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 didn't. they reinforced the importance of religious beliefs in our personal lives. sister mary, my eighth grade teacher, and the other nuns were unyielding in their expectations that reused all of our talents no matter what the rest of the world said or did. after high school, i left savannah and attended immaculate conception seminary. then holy cross college. i attended yale law school.
yale had opened its doors, its heart, its conscience to recruit and admit minority students. i benefited from this effort. my career is as been delineated today. as an assistant attorney general in the state of missouri, i was an attney the corporate lawepartmt of monsanto company. i joined senator danforth's staff here in the senate. i was an assistant secretary in the department of education, chairman of eeoc and since 1990 a judge on the 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, the 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. 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 seemed so hopelessly and permanently sealed. and to knock down barriers that seemed so insurmountable to those of us in the pin point, georgias of the world. the civil rights movement. reverend martin luther king and the scls. roy wilkins and the naacp. whitney young in the urban league. fantie lou hamer, rosa parks
and dorothy hait, they changed society and reached out and affirmatively helped. i have 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 going to have more of a chance than me. and he was right. he felt that if others sacrificed and created opportunities for us we had an to be on to work hard, decent citizens, to be fair and good people and he was right. ou see, mr. chairman, my grandparents grew up and lived their lives in an era of
blatant segregation and overdiscrimination. their sense of fairness was olded in a crews balance of -- crucible of unfairness. was ched as my grandfather called "boy." watched as my grandmother suffered the indignity of being denied the use of a bathroom. but through it all, they remained fair, decent, good people. fair in spite of the terrible contradictions in our country. they were hardworking, productive people who always back to others.
they gave produce from the farm, fuel oil from the fuel oil truck. hey bought groceries for those who were without. and they never lost sight of the promise of a better tomorrow. i follow in their footsteps, and i have always tried to give back. over the years, i have grown and matured. i've learned to listen carefully, carefully to other 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 that i make and the decisions made by others, but i have 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 believed 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, fair person. i believe that the obligations nd responsibilities of a judge in essence involve just such basic values. a judge must be fair and impartial. a judge must not bring to his job, to the court, the baggage of preconceived notions of deology 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 pinpoint, the real people of -- pin point, the real people of america will be affected by not what we judges do but by the way we do our jobs. , i onfirmed by the senate pledge that i will preserve and protect our constitution and carry with me the values of my integrity, rness, open-mindedness, honesty and hard work. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the next justice to be appointed to the supreme court was ruth bader ginsburg in 1993. nominated to fill the seat of kennedy appointee byron white, justice ginsburg was confirmed
86-3. she served on the district of columbia court of appeals and was the second woman nominated. daniel patrick moynihan introduced judge ginsburg at her confirmation hearing. senator moynihan: she raised the issue of equal rights for omen to the level of constitutional principle. she's also distinguished herself in a wide range of legal studies and for the last 13 years has been one of our nation's most respected injuriesists on the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. i must tell you that senator demato and i will take special pride in our nomination. she was born and raised in brooklyn. the day after her nomination, the front page of "the new york aily news" explained a judge
-- she will ll you cornell where she was elected phi beta kappa, later columbia at the top of her class, she was at two law schools. beginning at harvard and nishing at columbia who -- where she could be with her husband, when she began his career. never before than ruth bader ginsburg had been both part of the both harvard and columbia law reviews. with such a record you would think it not surprising that she should be recommended to serve as a law clerk to supreme court justice frankferter. neither is it surprising that during that time, a time she changed, the justice thought it would be inappropriate to have a woman clerk.
e clerked for judge edmond palmieri, 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 and ssors in the country then became the moving force behind the women's rights project of the american civil liberties union. the primary architect of the fight to invalidate discriminatory laws against individuals on the basis of gender. her imprint can be found on virtually every gender which reached the supreme court in the 1970's. she herself argued six of the cases before the court and won five of them.
justice ginsburg: thank you, mr. chairman, senator hatch and ther 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's nomination. it was a particularly busy time for you, and i thank you all he more for your courtesy. to senator moynihan who has of at my side every step 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 to senate members. he gave over his own desk for my youth. e void up my spirit whenever a lift was needed. in all, he served as the kindest, wisest counselor a ominee could have. d'amato with senator moynihan sponsored to nominate me and i am grateful to him. i have had many lightening conversations in senate chambers since june 14, but my amato was senator d'
sheer fun. senator d'amato: it always is. [laughter] justice ginsburg: my children decided at an early age that a ther's of humor needed improvement. succeed in keeping a book. the book was called "mommy laughed." my visit with senator d'amato would have three entries for he "mommy laughed" book. representative norton has been my professional colleague and friend since days when we were still young. as an advocate of human rights and fair 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 eleanor's constituents. most of all, the president's confidence in my capacity to serve as a supreme court justice is responsible for the roceedings about to begin. 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. am, as you know from my
responses to your questionnaire a brooklynite, born and bred. a first generation american on my father's side. barely second generation on my mother's. neither of my parents had the means to attend college but both taught me to love learning, to care about people and to work hard for whatever i .anted or believed in their parents had the forsight to leave the old country when jewish ancestry and faith met exposure and denegation of one's human worth. whatas becomef me could
happen only in america. owe so many others, i uch to the entry this nation yearning to ople breathe free. i had the great good fortune to share life with a partner, truly extraordinary for his generation, a man who believed at age 18 when we met and who believed today that a woman's work, whether at home or on the as a man. important in days when er
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, students at rutgers and columbia, law-teaching colleagues, lawyers with whom i have worked, judges across the men y and many women and who do not know me. that huge spirit-lifting collection shows that while many of our people and individual sex is no longer
remarkable or even unusual with regard to his or her qualifications 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 shaped from the same mold but of different complexions. es, there are miles in front but what a distance we have traveled from the days president thomas jefferson told his secretary of state, the appointment of women to public fice is innovation for which nor, blic is not prepared jefferson added, am i.
the increasingly full use of the talent of all of this nation's people holds large promise for the future, but we could not have come to this point, and i surely would not be in this room today without the determined efforts of men and women who kept dreams alive dreams of equal citizenship in the days when few would listen. people like susan b. anthony, elizabeth katy stanton, and harriet tubman come to mind. i stand on the shoulders of . ose brave people supreme court justices are guardians of the great charter that has served as our nation's
fundamental instrumt of government for over 200 years. it is the oldest written constitution still enforced in the world. but the justices do not guard constitutional rights alone. courts share that profound responsibility with congress, the president, the states and the people. constant realization of a more perfect union, the constitution's aspiration, requires the widest, broadest, deepest participation on matters of government and government policy. ne of the world's greatest
jurist, judge hand, said, as senator mosley braun reminded , that the spirit of liberty in our constitution must lie first and foremost in the hearts of the men and women who compose this great nation. judge hand defined that spirit in a way that i fully embrace as one which is not too sure it is 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 hand strived 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 m capable of judicial service. some of you asked me during recent visits why i want to be n the supreme court. it is an opportunity beyond any to r for one of my training serve society. the controversies that come to he supreme court as a last judicial resort touch and concern the health and well-being of our nation and its people. they affect the preservation of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. serving on this court is the highest honor, the most awesome trust that can be placed in a judge.
it means working at my craft, working with and for the law as both o keep our society ordered and free. let me try to state in a nutshell how i view the work of judging. my approach, i believe, is neither liberal nor conservative. rather, it is rooted in the place of the judiciary, of judges in our democratic society. the constitution's preamble speaks first of we the people. and then of their elected representatives. the judiciary is third in line and it is placed apart from the
political fray so that its members can judge fairly, impartially, inaccordance with the law and without fear about the animosity of any pressure group. in alexander hamilton's words, the mission of judges is to secure a steady, upright and impartial administration of the laws. i would add that the judge should carry out that function without fanfare, but with due care. she should decide the case before her without reaching out to cover cases not yet seen. as hould be ever mindful, judge and then justice benjamin said, justice is not to be taken
by storm. she is to be wooed by slow advances. we, this committee and i, are about to embark on many hours of conversation. 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. the record of the constitutional convention shows that the delegates had initially entrusted the power to appoint federal judges, most prominently 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 offices. but, as history bears out, you and senators past have sensibly considered appointments in elate 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 -- justices most notably participate in shaping a lasting body of constitutional decisions . they continuously confront matters on which the framers ort things unsaid, unsettled uncertain. for that reason, when the senate considers the supreme court nomination, the senators are properly concerned about the nominee's capacity to serve the nation not just for the here and now, but over the long term. you have been supplied 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. 10 years of briefs filed when i was a courtroom advocate of the equal stature of men and women before the law. numerous speeches and articles on that same thing. 13 years of opinions touting the unpun litsched together with the be lushed opinions, well over -- with the published opinions, well over of them. all decisions i made with the court of appeals of the district of columbia circuit. several comments on the rolls of judge -- 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. and rd spanning 34 years that you will find in that written record assurance that i am prepared to do the hard work d 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 breefs on the one hand -- briefs on the one hand and oral
arguments on the other in appellatetry bunals. e written -- appellate tribunals. the written record is by far the more important component in an appellate court's decision making. ut the oral argument often elicits helpful clarifications and concentrates the judges' minds on the character of the decisions they are called upon to make. there is, of course, this critical difference. you are well aware that i come o this proceeding to be judged s 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 ay be called upon to decide. were i to rehearse here what i would say and how i would reason such questions, i would act injudiciously. judges in our system are bound to decide concrete cases, not abstract issues. ch case comes to court based the rticular facts and decision on those facts and the governing law stated and explained in light of the particular arguments, the parties or their representatives present.
a judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no orecast, no hints. 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 views on how i would vote on a publicly debated issue were i in your shoes, were i a gislator, are not what you will be closely examining. as justice wendell holmes counseled, one of the most acred duties of a judge is not
to read her convicts into the constitution -- convictions into the constitution. i have tried and i will continue try to follow the model justice holmes set in holding that duty sacred. i see this hearing as i know you once grand opportunity that civility,rm ourtesy and mutual respect properly keynote our exchanges. judges, i am mindful, owe the elected branches, the congress and the president, respectful consideration of how court opinions affect their responsibilities. and i am 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 department, or in the constitution's words, good prize 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 too and consideration for one's colleagues, the legal profession, and the public are
among the greatest attributes a udge 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 white for his 31 years and more of fine service on the supreme court. in acknowledging his colleagues' good wishes on the occasion of his retirement, justice white wrote that he expects to sit on u.s. courts of appeals from 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 that 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 it e opinions that both get right and keep it tight. thank you for your patience. >> thank you very much, judge ginsburg. now what we will do, as i previously announced, we will ecess and reconvene at 3:15.
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> you're watching a special program on sitting supreme court justices. steven briar was appointed by president bill clinton in 1994 to fill the seat of nixon appointee harry blackman. justice breyer was confirmed by a vote 87-9 and came to the court after serving as chief judge on the first circuit court of appeal. his career in government included a role as assistant special prosecutor during the watergate investigation. at his confirmation hearing, justice breyer was introduced by massachusetts senator ted kennedy. mr. kennedy: in his decisions he's construed the constitution to defend the basic rights of all americans. he has protected the right of women seeking family planning advice to hear about their 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 the right of students belonging to a church group to be recognized by a state university. he has protected the right of every citizen to rent or buy housing free from the threat of discrimination. his opinions on environmental laws have been praised by environmentalists. his opinions in criminal law cases seek to assure public safety while protecting the constitutional rights of defendants. as one of the first members of the sentencing commission, he has s widely credited with developing the guidelines to reduce the disparities in sentences given to defendants committing simar 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
country's 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 day he takes his seat. his most recent book on regulation drew praise from leading experts on all sides of the debate. he has sought to ensure 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 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 manner 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. mr. breyer: at the outset, mr. chairman, i'd like to thank this committee for 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 wie personally. i recognize that you and your staffs have really prepared thoroughly for these hearings and you've read the books and articles and the opinions and these things i've written. it seems to me that's some kind of new form of cruel and unusual punishment. there are many, many other people i'd like to thank today. i'm obviously and 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 thank very much senator kerry and senator
boxer for having come and taken the time to come here along with ingator feinstein for support my nomination. i'm especially grateful to president clinton for nominating me to a position that i said and i do find humbling to think about. if i'm confirmed, i will try to become a justice whose work will justify the confidence that he and you have placed in me. i'd like to begin by telling you a little bit about myself, you've heard quite a lot. maybe a few of the experiences that i think have had an important affect on my life, how i think and what i am. i was born, as you heard, and i grew up in s francisco. i attended public schools. grant grammer schl, lowell high school, my mother was from st. paul, minnesota. her parents were immigrants from east president bushia, 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 enormous influence on me. she was the one who made absolutely clear to me in no uncertain terms that whatever intellectual ability i might won't ns nothing and mean anything unless i can work with other people and use whatever talents i have to help them. so i joined the boy scouts, did i work as a delivery boy, i did dig ditches for the pacific gas and electric company and i mixed salads up in the city's summer camp. at that time you had policemen and firemen and lawyers and 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. she was right. my ideas about people do not come from libraries. my father was born in san francisco. he worked as a lawyer and administrator in the san francisco public school system for 40 yrs. i have his wah, as you said, senator. he was a very kind, very astute and very considerate man. he and san francisco helped me develop something i would call a trust in, almost a love for the possibilities of a democracy. my father always took me as a child with him into the voting booth. i'd pull down ther and he'd always say, we're exercising our prerogative. he'd take me to can dates night. our school used to go up to sacramento to see the legislature in session. it was youth in government day.
all this led me to believe not just that government can help people, but that government is the people. it is created through their active participation. that's really why, despite the increased cynicism about basic government, and we have really seen vast improvements in the fairness of government, i still believe that with trust and cooperation and participation, people can work through their government to improve their lives. in 1957, as you said, i served in the army for a little while. i studied in england. i returned to harvard law school. and then i clerked for justice arthur goldberg, who became a wonderful life-long friend. after two years in the anti-trust division, in the justice department, i went back to harvard to teach and to massachusetts to live and for the last 27 years i have been privileged to live in cambridge and work in boston.
i love teaching. i love my students. if i were to pick out one feature of the academic side of my life that really influence med 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, as holmes pointed out, that whole law reflects not so much logic as history and experience. academic lawyers, practicing lawyers, government lawyers, judges, in my opinion have a special responsibility to try to understand how different parts of that 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 1970's, 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. base aic assumptions about democracy -- basic assumptions about democracy, freedom, fairness and the need to help others. these vast areas of widely shared beliefs are what has shaped the law of america and the lives of all americans. since 1980, i've been a judge on the u.s. court of appeals for the first circuit. that's maine, massachusetts, new hampshire, puerto rico and rhode island. because of my colleagues and the work itself, this job is a great honor. a great privilege. and it's been a great pleasure to have. i've tried to minimize what i think of as some of the less desirable aspects of the job. one that juice gobu really felt strongly about, th judges can become isolated from people whose lives their decisions affect. i've continued to teach and to participate in the community and in other activities.
which are important in connecting me to the world outside the courtroom. i have been helped in this task by my wife and her work at cambridge hospital, which shows me and others some of the sadness in this world. as well as its hopes and its joyce -- joys. i believe that law must work for people. that vast array of constitution, statutes, rules, regulations, practices, procedures, 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 that ultimate purpose in throughps guide a judge the labyrinth of rules and regulations that the law too often becomes. to reach what is there at ttom, the very human goals that underlie the constitutions and the statutes that congress writes. i believe too in the importance of listening to other points of view. as a teacher, i discovered i could learn as much from students as from books. on the staff of this committee, it was easy to see how much senators and staff alike learned from each other, from constituents, from hearings.
i think the system works that way. it works better than any other system. and our task is to keep trying to improve it. my law school diploma refers to law simply as those wise restrainlts that make men free -- restraints that make men free. women too. all of us. believe that too. i really felt the particular importance of all this when two years ago i had the good fortune to attend a meeting of 500 judges in the new russia. those judges wanted to know what words, what words might they write in a constitution, what words would guarantee democracy and freedom? that's what they were asking over a two-day meeting. they asked me. i mean, they were interesting discussions. very interesting. my own reply was that words alone are not sufficient. that 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 others. and to respect the liberty of ea other. even those who are unpopular. because their protection is our protection too. you are now considering my appointment to the supreme court of the united states. that court works within a grand tradition that has made meaningful in practice the guarantees of fairness and of freedom that the constitution provides. justice blackmun certainly served that tradition well. indeed, so has all of those who served in the recent past. justice white, justice brennan
and justice marshall. they leave an inspiring legacy that i have correctly called humbling to consider. i promise you, and i promise the american people, that if i am a confirm -- 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, i will try to interpret the law carefully in accordance with its basic purposes. above all, i will remember that the decisions i help to make will have an effect upon the lives of many, many americans. and that fact means that i must do my absolute utmost to see at those decisions reflect both the letter and the spirit
of a law that is meant to help them. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i might add one thing on a slightly different subject. i want to add this, if i may. and that is, recently i know that, and this is important to me, that in recent weeks there have been questions raised about the ethical standard that i applied in sitting on certain environmental cases in the first circuit. at a time when i an investment, an insurance investment, in lloyd's. 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's was involved as a name party in any 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 that has some kind of direct and predictable financial impact on some investment. that is to say, if it's not a speculative or remote or contingent impact, the cases on which i sat did not violate this standard either. that issue has been carefully looked into by independent ethics experts who share my view . mr. chairman, as i said, i recognize the importance of avoiding conicts of interest or even the appearance of such conflicts. and that standard is essential for all judges.
especially essential for judges of the nation's highest court. so i certainly promise i will do all i can to meet it. including what i shall immediately do, ask the people who handled my investments to divest any holdings in insurance companies as soon as possible. and with respect to lloyd's itself, i resigned in 1988. because it's one syndicate that remains open, i have been advised that i can leave altogether by the end of 1995, but i intend to ask the people involved to expedite my complete termination of any lloyd's relationship. i'll be out of that as soon as i pobbling can be -- possibly can be. finally, as i go forward i will keep in mind the discussion that has arisen over the last few days and i will take it into account in reviewing any possible conflict whatsoever. >> thank you very much, judge. >> as supreme court nominee neil gorsuch prepares to testify before the senate judiciary
committee, c-span takes a look at the court's eight current members. president george w. bush initially nominated john roberts to take the seat of retiring justice sandra day o'connor. he was put forward as a nominee for chief justice following the death of william rehnquist. and was confirmed by a vote of 78-22. judge roberts was unanimously confirmed to his previous post, a seat on the d.c. circuit court of appeals. he also served as principal deputy solicitor general during the george h.w. bush administration. at his confirmation g, john roberts was introduced by virginia senator, john warner. mr. warner: i firmly believe that john roberts shares in the belief that lawyers have uneth -- an ethical duty to give back to the community by providing free legal services, particularly to those in need. the hundreds and hundreds of hours he spent on pro bono cases
are a 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 can also attest to the kind of person he is. throughout his legal career, both in public and private practice, his pro bono work, roberts has worked with and against hundreds of lawyers. those that turn -- attorneys who know him well typically speak with one voice when they tell that you dignity, humility and a sense of fairness are the hallmarks of this nominee. in conclusion, mr. chairman, i take a moment to remind all present and those listening and following that this exact week, 218 years ago, our founding fathers finished the final draft of the u.s. constitution. after a long, hot summer of drafting and debating. when ben franklin ultimately emerged from independence hall
upon the conclusion of the convention, a reporter asked him, mr. franklin, what have you wrought? and he said, a republic, if you can keep it. and that is ultimately what this advice and consent process is all about. while the constitution sets the course of our nation, it is without question that chief justice of the supreme court, who must have his hand firmly on the tiller to keep our great ship of state on a course consistent with the constitution . mr. roberts: let me begin by thanking senators lugar and warner and bye for their warm and generous introductions. and let me reiterate my thanks to the president for nominating me. i'm humbled by his confidence and if confirmed, i will do everything i can to be worthy of the high trust he has placed in me. let me also thank you, mr. chairman, and the members of the committee, for the many
courtesies you have extended to mend my family over the st eight weeks. m particularly grateful that members have been so accommodating in meeting with me personally. i have found those meetings very useful in better understanding the concerns of the committee as the committee undertakes its constitutional responsibility of advice and consent. 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 earlier today, friends, mentors, teachers and colleagues. many of 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 they 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 owe a great debt to others reinforces my view 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 empires -- umpires. 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. . t it is a limited role nobodyver we to gaa ball to see the umpire. judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within 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 process, to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench. mr. chairman, when i worked in the department of justice, in the office of the solicitor general, it was 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 can country. but it was -- 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 importance of the supreme court and our constitutional system. here was the united states, the most powerful entity in the world, aligned against my client . and yet all i had to do was 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
that 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, any rights are meaningless. president ronald reagan used to speak of the soviet constitution and he noted that it purported to grant wonderful rights of all sorts to people. but those rights were empty promises. because that stem did not have an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce those rights. we do. because of the wisdom of our founders and the sacrifices of our heroes 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 do i 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. and i will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat. senators lugar and bye talked of my boyhood back home in indiana. i think all of us retain from the days of our youth certain enduring images. to for me, those images are of the endless fields of indiana. stretching to the horizon. punctuated only by an isolated silo or a barn.
as i grew older, those endless field as came to represent for me the limitless possibilities of our great land. growing up, i never imagined that 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 with their promise of infinite possibilities and that memory inspires in me a very profound 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 makes this -- 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. >> president george w. bush's second nominee to the supreme court was judge samuel alito.
he was confirmed 58-42 to fill the seat of retiring justice sandra day o'connor, just four months after the confirmation of chief justice john roberts. judge alito had previously been unanimously confirmed to the third circuit court of appeals. he had also served as u.s. attorney in new england. at his confirmation hearing, justice alito was introduced by former new jersey republican governor, christine todd wittman. ms. wittman: like other americans, i have read many articles dissecting positions judge alito has taken throughout his career, trying to discern how he might decide on issues likely to appear before the supreme court, that he wou confront as a justice. tie have examined the record. ms. whitman: in the final analysis, my decision to support judge alito for this position is not based on whether i agree with him on a particular issue
or set of issues, or on his conformity with any political, particular political ideology. in fact, while we may agree on some political issues, i know there are others on which we disagree. nevertheless, one's agreement or disagreement on political questions is, after all, 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 rule based on justices' personal persuasions. rather, on persuasive arguments grounded on fact, 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 disputed fact and 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 instinctively, in the very core of their being. i saw this trait on judge alito, when he served on the appeals court during my terms as governor, and i have every reason and every confidence that we will -- he will exhibit the same as a supreme court justice. policy in the united states is defined through the laws crafted by the legislative branch as of government and carried out by the executive. our judges make decisions based on their interpretation of the intent of those laws. we don't want justices to conform their decisions to ideologies. we do want justices whose opinions are shaped by the facts before them and by their understanding of the constitution. we should also look for justices who possess the necessary qualities of intellect and humility desirable in those with great responsibility and who can express their thinking clearly.
and in understandable language. while we should expect that justices will hold philosophies that will guide their 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. i believe that an honest and complete review of 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. mr. alito: thank you very much, mr. chairman i am deeply honored to before -- chairman. i am deeply honored to appear before you. i am 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 and the people of the country certainly oher a great debt for the service that she's provided -- owe her a great debt for the service that she's provided. i'm very grateful for the president for nominating me and i'll 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 courtesies that were extended to me. during those visits. i want to thank senator lawsuitenberg and governor wittman for coming here today and for their kind introductions. during the previous weeks, an old story about a lawyer who argued a case before the supreme court came to my amend -- to my mind. i thought i might begin this afternoon by sharing that story. the story goes as follows. this was a lawyer who had never argued a case before the court
before. and when the argument began, one of the justices said, how did you get here? meaning hour had his case worked its way up -- 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, and this was some years ago, he said, i 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. and i want to try to answer that today. and not by saying that i came here on i-95 or on amtrak. i am who who i am in the first place because of my parents and because of the things that they taught me. i know from my own experience as a parent that parents probably teach most powerfully not through their words but through their deeds. and my parents taught me, through the stories of their -- their lives, and i don't take
any credit for the things that they did or the things that they experienced, 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. although he graduated at the top of his high school class, he had no money for college. and he was set to work in a factory. but at the last minute, a kind person in the tnton area arranged for him to receive a $50 scholarship and 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 find other work for a while. but eventually he became a teacher. and he served in the pacific during world war irving i, when he worked as -- world war ii,
when he worked, as has been mentioned, in a nonpartisan position for the new jersey legislature, which was an institution that he revered. his story is a story that is typical of a lot of americans, day and here, and today. and it is a story, as far as i can see it, about the opportunities that our country offers. and also about the need for fairness and about, and today. and it is a hard work and perseverance and the power of a small good deed. my mother is a first generation american. her father worked in the 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 person 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 master's degree. and she continued to work as a teacher and a principal until she 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 wch i grew up. it was warm but definitely unpretension, down to earth community. most of the adults in the neighborhood were not college graduates. i attended the public schools. in my spare time i played baseball and other sports with my friends. and i have happy memories and strong memories of those days. and good memories of the good sense and the decency of my friends and my neighbors. after i graduated from high school, i went a full 12 miles down the road, but really to a different world. when i entered princeton university. a generation earlier, i think that somebody from my background probably boo whoa not have felt fully -- would would not have felt fully comfortable at a college like princeton.
this was a time of great intellectual excitement for me. both college and law school opened up new worlds of ideas. but this was back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. it was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. and i saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. i couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what i saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community. i'm here in part because of my experiences as a lawyer. i had the good fortune to begin my legal career as a law clerk for a judge w really epitomized open-mindedness and fairness. he read the record in detail on every single case that came before me. he insisted on scrupulously following precedence, both the
precedence of the supreme court and the decisions of his own court, the third circuit. he taught all of his law clerks that every case has to be decided on an individual basis. and he really didn't have much use for any grand theories. 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 court for the first time and i proudly said, my name is samuel alito, and i represent the united states 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 concerns for my children,
phillip and laura, by the experiences of members of my family who are getting older. by my sister's experiences as a trial lawyer in a profession that has traditionally been dominated by men. and of course i have been shaped for the last 15 years by my experiences as a judge of the court of appeals. during that time, i have sat on thousands of cases. somebody mentioned the exact figure this morning. i don't know what the exact figure is. but it is way up in the thousands. and i have written hundreds of opinions. the members of this committee and the members of their staff who have had the job of reviewing all of those opinions really had my sympathy. [laughter] i think that may have constituted cruel and unusual punishmentment -- punishment. i learned a lot during my years on the third circuit. particularly i think 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 think i've also learned from the examples of some really remarkable colleagues. when i became a judge, i stopped being a practicing attorney. and that was the big change in role. the role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand. but a judge can't think that way. a judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case. and a judge certainly doesn't have a client. the judge's only obligation, and it's a solemn obligation, is to the rule of law. what that means is that in eve single case, the judge has to 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 that's made by an attorney. or a comment that is made by a colleague during the conference on the case. when the judges privately discuss the case. it's been a greater for me to spend my career in public service. it has been a particular honor for me to serve on the court of appeals for these past 15 years. because it has given me the opportunity to use whatever talent i have to serve my country by upholding the rule of law. and there is nothing that is more important for 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 an oath. i put my hands on the bible and i swore that i would administer justice without respect to persons. that i would do equal right to the poor and to the rich and th i would carry out my duties under the constitution and the laws of the united states. and that is what i have 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 with president barack obama's first appointee, sonia sotomayor. she was confirmed 68-31 in 2009. replacing justice david souter, who was appointed by george h.w.
bush. judge sotomayor previously served on the second circuit court of appeals. she is the first hispanic to serve on the supreme court. we'll show you a brief portion of justice sotomayor's confirmation hearing, including an introduction by new york senator, charles schumer, and her opening statement. mr. schumer: judge sotomayor embodies what we all strive for as american citizen. her life and her career are not about race or class or gender. although, as for all of us, these are important parts of who she is. her story is about how race and class at the end of the day are not supposed to predetermine anything in america. what matters is hard work and education, and those things will pay off no matter who you are or where you have come from. it's exactly what each of us wants for ourselves and for our children. and this shared vision is why
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 9. her mother worked and raised sotomayor and her brother, juan, now a doctor practicing in syracuse, on her own. sonia sotomayor graduated first in her high school class from high school in 1971. she's returned to that school to speak there. nyeto encourage future alum to work hard, get an education, and pursue their dreams the same way she did. when sonia sotomayor was growing up, the nancy drew stories inspired her sense of adventure, developed her sense of justice, and showed her that women could and should be outspoken and bold.
now, in 2009, there are many more role models for a young tudent to choose from. with judge sotomayor foremost among them. judge sotomayor went on to employ her enormous talents at princeton where she graduated, received the highest honor on a princeton student. this is an award that is given not just to the smartest student in the class, but to the most exceptionally smart student who is also given the most to -- has also given the most to her community she graduated from yale law school where she was a law review editor and because we have such an extensive judicial record before us, i believe that these hearings will matter less than for the several previous nominees, or at the least, that these hearings will bear out what is obvious about her. that she is modest and humble in
her approach to judging. ms. sotomayor: thank you, mr. chairman. i also want to thank senator schumer and gillibrand for their kind introductions. in recent week in the past few weeks i have had thprivilege of mting 9 senators, includingach of those in this this committee. each of you has been gracious to me and i have so enjoyed meeting you. our meetings have given me an illuminating tour of the 50 states and invaluable insight into the american people. there are countless family members and friends who have 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 juan and me. mom, thank you. i am very grateful to the president and humbled to be here today. as a nominee to the united states supreme court. the progression of my life has been uniquely american. my parents left puerto rico during world war ii. i grew up in modest sirblings in a bronx housing project. my father, a factory work we are a third grade education, passed away when i was 9 years old. on her own, my mother raised my brother and me. she taught us that the key to success in america is as a good education. and she set the example, studying alongside my brother and me at our kitchen table so that she could become a
registered nurse. we worked hard. i poured myself into my studies at cardinal spellman high school, earning scholarships to princeton university and then yale 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 my life's endeavors. i try to pass on this legacy by serving as a mentor and friend to my many god children. and to students of all backgrounds. overhe past three decades, i have seen our jicial system from a number of different perspectives. as a big city prosecutor, as a corporate litigator, as a trial judge, and as an appellate judge. my first job after law school was as an assistant district attorney in new york.
there, i saw children exploited and abused. i felt the pain and suffering of families torn apart by the needless deaths of loves ones. i saw and learned the tough job law enforcement has in protecting the public. in my next legal job, i focused on commercial instead of riminal matters. i litigated issues and advised copyrights to copyrights to trademark my career as an advocate ended and my career as a judge began when i was appointed by president george h.w. bush to the court for the southern district of judge. as a trial judge i preside over dozens of trials. with perhaps my most famous case
being the major league baseball trike in 1995. after six extraordinary year 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 he enjoyed the benefit of sharing ideas and perspectives with wonderful colleagues. as we have worked together to resolve the issues before us. i have now served as an appellate judge for over a decade, the siding 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 interests 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 a judge is not to make law, it is to apply the law. and it is clear, i believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the constitution according to its terms, interpreting statutes according to their terms, and congress' intent, and huing faithfully to precedents established by the supreme court and by my circuit court. in each case i have heard, i have applied the law to the facts at hand. the process of judging is enhanced when the arguments and concerns of the parties to the litigation are understood and acknowledged. that is why i generally
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 see -- seek to strengthen both the rule of law and faith in the impartiality of our judicial system. my personal and professional experiences help me to listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case. since president obama announced my nomination in may, i have received letters from people all over this country. many tell a unique story of hope in spite of struggles. each letter has deeply touched me. each reflects a dream, a belief in the dream 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, i look forward in the next few days to answering your questions, to having the american people arn re about me, and to being part of a process that reflects the greatness of our constitution and of our nation. thank you all. >> our program on sitting supreme court justices concludes with elena kagan. nominated by president obama to fill the seat vacated by john paul stevens, she was confirmed in 2010 by a vote of 63-37. she had never been a judge before but had served as solicitor general in the obama administration and as dean at
harvard law school. at her confirmation hearing, she was introduced by massachusetts senator john kerry. a reminder that you can watch confirmation hearings for all the current supreme court justices on our video library at c-span.org. >> her life has been characterized by her passion for public service and her awareness of what it means to be a good public citizen. a close friend from her days clerking for justice marshall remains elena interviewing at a big law firm in new york, meeting with a young partner who with no family to support was 3ul8ing in close to $1 million a year. she asked him, what do you do with that money? he replied, i buy art. elena shook her head in the conviction that there really were better ways to expend 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 had been asked by the chame of the commerce committee, senator hollings, our old friend, to help break through a stalemate on a bipartisan tobacco bill. it was a difficult issue for both caucuses. elena became the administration's point person. when we started out new york one gave us any hope of being close to or getting close to passage. but elee -- elena camped out in the vice president's office off the senate floor, shuttling back and forth to the white house. she worked day and night equally with both sides of the aisle, working every angle, thinking through every single approach. and on the eve of the commerce committee's markup, things appeared to be falling apart, something we're all too familiar with here. but elena simply wasn't going to
let that happen. that was an unacceptable outcome. she got together with the republican senators and staff and she listened carefully and she helped all of us to meet the last-minute objections. it was classic elena. she saw a path forward when most people saw nothing but deadlines. and it led to a 19-1 vote to pass the bill out of committee. a mark of bipartisanship and consensus building that few believed was possible. that's what i believe elena kagan will bring to the court. she was tough. tenacious in argument when necessary. but she also knew whent was necessary to strike a compromise. she had a knack for knowing how to win people other. an ability to make people see the wisdom of an argument. i remember lots of late nights in a very quiet capitol build, walking off the senate floor to meet with my staff and elena and
invariably, elena would be the one to have a new idea, a fresh approach. it was a tutorial in consensus building from someone in whom it was pure enstinth and it won elena the respect of republicans and democrats alike. no doubt her hands on experience working the governance process is actually in this day and age and in this moment of the court probably an enormous asset. frankly, i think it's a critical component of what makes her a terrific choice. someone who really understands how laws are created. and the real world effects of their implementation. it's a reminder of why some of the greatest justices in our history were not judges before they sat on the court. among those are names like frankfurter and bran dice. i might add -- and brandeis. i might add she brought the same
ability for census building to harvard law school. there she found what was affectionately acknowledged, i emphasized affectionately acknowledged, as a dysfunctional and divided campus and transformed it geffen into a cohesive institution, winning praise from students and faculty across the ideological spectrum. elizabeth warren, elena's colleague at harvard and chair of the panel currently overseing our economic relief effort, says simply, she changed morale around here. charles free, the former solicitor general under president reagan and renowned conservative, constitutional expert, says of her prospects as a justice on the supreme court, quote, i think elena would be terrific because frankly the court is stuck. the great thing about elena is there's 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 hire under kagan's deanship, a conservative and expert on textulism and separation of powers, says, i think one of the things you see in kagan's dean was -- as dean was that she tried to hire folks with different approaches to law and different ideological perspectives. she was equally as strong in her praise for scalia as she was in her praise for breyer. she celebrated both. it's a good predictor of how she'll be as a judge. she would be fair and impartial. the sort of judge who would carefully consider briefing and argument in every case. the sort of judge i would want if i didn't know what side of the case i was arguing. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. ms. kagan: senator sessions and
members of the committee. i'd like to thank senators kerry and brown for those generous introductions. i also want to thank the president again for nominating me to this position. i'm honor 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 discovered that they call these courtesy visits for a reason. each of you has been 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 of his great love for this institution, his faithful service to the people of his
state, and his abiding reverence for our constitution. a copy of which he carried with him every day. a moving reminder to each of us who serves in government of 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 thanking my family, friends, 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's really wonderful to have so any of them behind me. i said when the president nominated me that the two people missing were my parents. and i feel that deeply again today.
my father was as generous and public-spirited a person as i've ever known and my mother set the standard for determineation, 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 gl until she wt school. but she became a legendary teacher and my father a valued lawyer. and they taught me and my two brothers, both high school teachers, that this is the greatest of all countries because -- because of the freedoms and opportunities it offers its people. i know that they would have felt that today. and i pray that they would have been proud of what they did in aising me and my brothers. to be nominated to the supreme
court is the honor of a lifetime. i'm only sorry that if con filmed, i won't have the privilege of serving there with justice john paul stevens. his integrity, humility, and independence is -- his deep devotion to the court, and his profound commitment to the rule of law, all these qualities are modeled for everyone who wears or hopes to wear a judge's robe. if fwiven this honor, i hope i will approach each case with his 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 to render impartial justice. i owe a debt of gratitude to two other living justices. san rah -- sandra day o'connor
and ruth bader gins bugg paved the way for me and so many other women in my generation. their pioneering lives 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. and my heart goes out to justice ginsburg and her family today. everyone who ever met marty ginsburg was enriched by his incredible warmth and humor and generosity and i'm deeply saddened by his passing. mr. chairman, the -- at law school -- the law school i had the good fortune to lead has a motto spoken each year at graduation. we tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to those wise restraints that make us free.
that phrase has always captured for me the way law and the rule ofaw matters. what 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 free toms that promise -- rights and freedoms that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding and what the supreme court does is to safeguard the rule of law. through a commitment to evenhandedness, principle, and restraint. my first real exposure to the court 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 his great struggle for racial justice, the supreme court stood as the part of government that was most open to every american. and 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 building. equal justice under the law. it 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 up close during my tenure as solicitor general. in that job, i serve 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 strength of a person's position so tested and the quality of a person's analysis so deeply probed. no matter who the lawyer or who the client, the court relentlessly hones in on the merits of every claim and its support in law an precedent. and because this is so, i always come away from my arguments 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. for these reasons, the supreme court is a wondrous institution. the time i spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one. properly deferential to the decisions of the american people and their elected representatives. what i most took away from those experiences was simple admiration for the democratic process. that process is often messy and frustrating. but the people of this country have great wisdom and their representatives work hard to protect their 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 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 ogss b listening to each other. across every apparent political or ideological divide. i've learned that we come
closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. and and i've learned the value of a habit justice stevens wrote about more than 50 years ago. of understanding before disagreeing. i will make no pledge this is week other than this one, that if confirmed, i will remember and abide by all these lessons. i will listen hard. to every party before the court and to each of my colleagues. i will work hard. and i will do my best to ,onsider every case impartially modestly, with commitment to principle 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 big triand oppression, to work ship -- bigotry and oppression, to worship as they please and work as hard as they were able. they found in this country, and they passed on to their children and their children's children, the blessings of liberty. those blessings are rooted in this country's constitution and its historic commitment to the rule of law. i know that to sit on our nation's highest court is to be a trustee of that inheritance and if i had the honor to be -- 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. thank you, members of the committee. >> the supreme court confirmation hearing for neil gorsuch gets under way monday. it's expected last three or four days before the senate judiciary committee. we'll have it live on c-span2 starting at 11:00 a.m. eastern. you can also watch online and listen on the free c-span radio app. c-span caught up with members of the judiciary committee on their approach to the hearing. >> how are you preparing for the upcoming confirm case hear for judge gorsuch. >> it's on the 20th, so we're getting ready. i want him to talk about some of the things he talked about in my office, the difference between being a legislator and being a judge. when he puts on the robe he said he realize he's not