tv C-SPAN Looks Back at Supreme Court Justices Confirmation Hearings CSPAN March 19, 2017 10:33am-12:41pm EDT
facing a hearing sentence in his cases on appeal and mr. steinberg was convicted but his conviction was then later overturned after an appeals court made a ruling that made it much harder to convict someone for insider trading. on c-span, on "q&a." >> the confirmation hearing for neil gorsuch begins monday at 11 a.m. eastern, you can see it live on c-span two. now, we look back at the opening statements of all eight current supreme court justices at their confirmation hearings. the program includes remarks by senators who introduced the nominees. this is just over two hours. >> as supreme court nominee neil gorsuch prepares to testify before the senate judiciary committee, takes a look at the
current justices. we begin with the longest serving member of the court, anthony kennedy, appointed by ronald reagan after the failed nomination of robert pork. confirmed unanimously in 1988, replacing and nixon appointee, justice lewis powell, and previoly served on the nth ciuit court of appeals. here's a brief portion of the justice kennedy confirmation hearing, beginning with an introduction by 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 ginsburg 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. -- ego. 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 fazio and i are 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 colley. 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. i hardly endorse his nomination to the supreme court. you couldn't make a better selection. justice kennedy: i most appreciate the gracious welcome from the members of the committee this morning and from senator wilson and the distinguished congressman 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. my family share in extending great appreciation for showing his confidence in me.
i wish, also, to thank the members of your committee, mr. chairman, for the most 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 a somewhat casual term for what 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 history and finally my wife, mary who has the love and admiration of her family and also her 30 students in the golden empire school in sacramento. thank you very much. \[inaudible]
>> i certainly don't envy your tuition bill. justice kennedy: 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 john 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 know clarence thomas. 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 that dread disease, federalitis. 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 yet 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 away at him. but it's profound and it forms the person he is and the justice he will become. i hope that some time in the days judge thomas will be before this committee someone will 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 at 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 and black 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 robb 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, we have grown closter and our love for each other has grown stronger and
deeper. i hope these hearings will help to show more clearly who this person clarence thomas is and 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 mmon
bathroom in the back yard which was unworkable and unu 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 work 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 societ didn't. they reinforced the importance of religious beliefs in our personal lives. .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 attorney in the corporate law department 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 nobe 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 pnt, 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. fannie lou hamer, rosa parks and dorothy height, 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 obligation to work hard, to be decent citizens, to be fair and good people and he was right. you see, mr. chairman, my grandparents grew up and lived
their lives in an era of blatant segregation and overdiscrimination. their sense of fairness was molded in a crews balance of -- crucib of unfairness. i watched as my grandfather was called "boy." i 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 gave back to others. they gave produce from the farm,
fuel oil from the fuel oil truck. they bought groceries for those who were without. and they never lost sight of the promise of a better tomorrow. i follow in 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 and 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 ideology and certainly not an agenda. and the judge must get the decision right because when all is said and done, the little guy, the average person, the people of 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. if confirmed by the senate, i pledge that i will preserve and protect our constitution and carry with me the values of my heritage, fairness, integrity, 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 women 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 jurists on the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. i must tell you that senator d'amato 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 daily news" explained a judge -- she will tell 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 finishing at columbia where she could be with her husband, when he began his career. never before than ruth bader ginsburg 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 frankfurter. neither is it surprising that during that time, a time she changed, the justice thought it would be inappropriate to have a woman clerk. she 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 professors in the country and 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 case 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 other members of the committee. may i say first how much i appreciate the time that committee members took to greet me in the weeks immediately following the president's nomination. it was a particularly busy time for you, and i thank you all the more for your courtesy. to senator moynihan who has been at my side every step of the way, a thousand thanks could not begin to convey my appreciation.
despite the heavy demands on his time during trying days of budget reconciliation, he accompanied me on visits to senate members. he gave over his own desk for my youth. he void up my spirit whenever a lift was needed. in all, he served as the kindest, wisest counselor a nominee could have. senator 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 visit with senator d'amato was sheer fun.
senator d'amato: it always is. [laughter] justice ginsburg: my children decided at an early age that a mother's of humor needed improvement. they tried to succeed in keeping a book. the book was called "mommy laughed." my visit with senator d'amato would have three entries for the "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 fairhances 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 proceedings 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. i am, as you know from my there are no words to tell him what is in my heart. i can say simply this. if confirmed, i will try in every way to justify his faith in me. i am, as you know from my
responses to your questionnaire a 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 wanted or believed in. their parents had the foresight to leave the old country when jewish ancestry and faith met exposure and denegation of one's human worth.
what has become of me could happen only in america. like so many others, i owe so much to the entry this nation afforded to people yearning to 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 job, is as important as a man. i became a lawyer in days when
women were not wanted by most members of the legal profession. i became a lawyer because marty and his parents supported that choice unreservedly. i have been deeply moved by the outpouring of good wishes received in recent weeks from family, neighbors, classmates, students at rutgers and columbia, law-teaching colleagues, lawyers with whom i have worked, judges across the country and many women and men who do not know me. that huge spirit-lifting collection shows that 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. yes, 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 office is innovation for which the public is not prepared nor, 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 those brave people. supreme court justices are guardians of the great charter
that has served as our nation's fundamental instrument 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. one of the world's greatest jurist, judge hand, said, as senator mosley braun reminded us, 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 am front of my mind as long as i am capable of judicial service. some of you asked me during recent visits why i want to be on the supreme court. it is an opportunity beyond any other for one of my training to serve society. the controversies that come to the 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 lirty 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 a way to keep our society both 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, in accordance 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. she should be ever mindful, as 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 waningof t days 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 relate to the appointees' task. federal judges may long outlast the president who appoints them.
they may serve as long as they can do the job, as the constitution says, they may remain in office during good behavior. supreme court justices most notably participate in shaping a lasting body of constitutional decisions. they continuously confront matters on which the framers left things unsaid, unsettled or 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 unpublished together 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 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.record spand that you will find in that written record assurance that i am prepared to do the hard work and to exercise the informed independent judgment that supreme court decision making entails. i think of these proceedings much as i do of the division between the written record and briefs on the one hand and oral arguments on the other in
appellate tribunals. the written record is by far the more important component in an appellate court's decision making. but 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 to this proceeding to be judged as a judge, not as an advocate. because i am and hope to continue to be judge, it would be wrong for me to say or to preview in this legislative chamber how i would cast my vote on questions the supreme court may be called upon to decide. were i to rehearse here what i
would say and how i would reason on such questions, i would act injudiciously. judges in our system are bound to decide concrete cases, not abstract issues. each case comes to court based on particular facts and the 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 forecast, no hints. for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display diain 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 legislator, are not what you will be closely
examining. as justice wendell holmes counseled, one of the most sacred duties of a judge is not to read her convictions into the constitution. i have tried and i will continue to try to follow the model justice holmes set in holding that duty sacred. i see this hearing as i know you do as a grand opportunity once again to reaffirm that civility, courtesy 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 order to enable judges to do their job more effectively. as for my own department, or in the constitution's words, good behavior, i 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
judge can have. it is fitting, as i conclude this opening statement, to express my deep respect, my deep respect for and abiding appreciation to justice white for his 31 years and more of fine service on the supreme court. in acknowledging his colleague'' 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 write opinions that both get it 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 recess and reconvene at 3:15. >> you're watching a special >> you're watching a special
program on sitting supreme court justices. steven breyer was appointed by president bill clinton in 1994 to fill the seat of nixon appointee harry blackmun. 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 similar crimes. he has also continued his deon tdicatiteaching and legal scholarship iaddition to his judicial duties he has continued to teach courses at harvard law 10 you to also can publish articles and books
analyzing important issues of law and government. amongst the ranks most thoughtful scholars of the .egulatory process his most recent book on regulation through praise from leading experts on all sides of the debate. he has saw to assure that the public health and safety while avoiding needless waste and inefficiency in government. not everyone agrees with his views. i suspect that his views have contributed immensely to our understanding of these complex issues in our modern society. in addition because of his service to the senate judge breyer has emerged as one of the leading exponents of the view that laws must be consumed as a will add a needed and
well informed perspective to the many important questions of statutory interpretation that come before the supreme court. theuld like to thank committee for the serious attention that you all have paid my nomination. i appreciate the members taking their time to their busy schedules to meet with me personally. i recognize that you and your staff prepare thoroughly for these hearings, and you have read the books and articles and the opinions, these things i have written. that is a new form of cruel and unusuapunishment. there are many, many, other people i would like to thank today. i am deeply grateful to senator kennedy, who has given me so much over the years. i have learned and continue to learn the lessons of great value from him.
i want to thank very much senator boxer for having to take a time to come here, along with senator feinstein for supporting my nomination. i am especially grateful to president clinton for nominating that i said and i do find humbling to think about. if i am confirmed i will try to become a justice whose work will justify the confidence that he and you have placed in me. to begin by telling you a little bit about myself. few of the experiences that i think have had an important effect on my life, how i think and who i am. i was born and i grew up in san francisco. i attended public schools, grant grammar school, my mother was from st. paul, minnesota. her parents were immigrants.
from a part of poland. my mother was a very intelligent, very practical public spirited kind of persons and she had an enormous influence on me. me was one who made clear to that whatever intellectual ability i might have, means nothing and won't mean anything, unless i can work with other people and use whatever talent i help them.e them -- so i joined the boy scouts, i -- work as a delivery point delivery boy. at that time you had policemen and firemen and lawyers and doctors and businessmen. they were all there together at the city can for two weeks in the summer. it was great.
did not want me to spend too much time with my books and she was right. my ideas about people do not come from libraries. my father was born in san francisco. and aned as a lawyer administrator in the san francisco public school system for 40 years. very kind, very astute and very considerate man. helped me francisco to develop something i would call a trust in a love for the .ossibilities of a democracy my father always took me as a child he would take me into the voting booth and i were pulled on the lever and he would say we are exercising our prerogative. he would take me to candidates nights. to sacramento to
see the legislature session. to the government to help people, but the government is the people. it is created through their active participation. that is why despite the increased cynicism in believe that still with trust and cooperation and participation people can work through their government to improve their lives. in 1957, i served in the army for a little while. i read turned to harvard law for justice clerked goldberg. after two years in the antitrust division i went back to harvard to teach and to massachusetts to live. 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 teacher of the academic side of influenced me especially, i think it would be this. the opportunity to study law as a whole help me to understand that everything in the law is related to any other thing. reflects not so much .ogic as history and experience academic lawyers, practicing lawyers, government lawyers, dges, in my opinion, have a special responsibility to try to derstand how the different parts of the law interact with each other and how legal decisions will work in practice to help people. 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 ground rules. basic assumptions about democracy, freedom, fairness, and the need to help others. of vast areas of widely shared a belief are what has shaped the law of america and the lives of all americans. since 1980, i have been a judge on the court of appeals for the .irst circuit because of my colleagues and the work itself, this job is a great honor, a privilege and it has been a great pleasure to have. i try to minimize what i think of as some of the less desirable aspects of the job. can become isolated from the people whose lives their decisions affect. i have continued to teach and
participate in the community and in other activities which are important and connecting me to the world outside of the courtroom. i have been helped by my wife and her work at dana barker and at cambridge hospital which shows me and others some of the sadness in this world as well as as its hopes and its joy. believe that law must work for people. constitution,y of statutes, rules, regulations, practices and procedures, that huge of vast web as a single a .ick purpose that purpose is to help the many different individuals who make from so many different backgrounds and circumstances, with so many , itsrent needs and hopes
purpose is to help them live together productively, harmoniously, and in freedom. keeping that ultimate purpose in threwhelps guide a judge the labyrinth of rules and regulations that the law to often becomes, to reach what is the very bottom, the very human goals that underlie the constitutions and the statutes that congress rights. -- rights. i believe in the importance of listening to other points of view. , i discovered i could learn as much from students as from books. on the staff of this committee, among easy to see senators and staff alike learn from each other, from
constituents, from hearing, i think the system works that way. it works better than any other system. our task is to keep trying to improve it. my loss goal diploma refers to loss of blood as, those wise restraints that make men free. women, too. all of us. i believe that, too. felt the particular importance of all this went two years ago i had the good fortune to attend a meeting of 500 judges in the new russia. what judges wanted to know words might be right in a constitution. what words would guarantee democracy and freedom, that's what they were asking over a two-day meeting. they asked me. interested in the discussion. my own reply were that words
were 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 to respect the liberty of each other. even those who are unpopular, because their protection is our protection also. 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 fairss -- freedom that the constitution provides. black certainly served that tradition well. those who all of those who have served in the
recent asked, justice white, justice drennan, justice -- justice brennan, justice marshall. they leave a legend that i called humbly to consider. i promise you, and i promised the american people that if i am confirmed to be a member of the supreme court, i will try to be worthy of that great tradition. listen,ork hard, i will 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 that those decisions reflect both the letter and the spirit
of a law that is meant to help them. thank you, mr. chairman. i want to add this, if i may. know -- and this is important to me -- in recent weeks, there have been questions about the ethical standard that i applied in the on certain environmental cases, at a time when i had an insurance investment. i recognize that this question has been raised by people of good faith, and there is nothing more important to me than my integrity, and my reputation for impartiality. it is obviously a most important thing to preserve total public confidence in the integrity of
the judicial branch of government. i have reviewed those cases judicial recusal statute, and i personally am confident that my sitting in --se cases did not present present any conflict of interest. my investment was disclosed to the public, there has been those suggestions -- i know of no such involvement. does requiretatute recusal if you have one case that has some kind of direct and predictable financial impact on an investment, that is to say, either remote or contingent impact. the cases on which i sat did not violate the standard. that issue has been looked into by independent ethics experts that share my view. i recognize the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest or even the appearance of such
conflict. that standard is essential for l judges, and especially essential for judges of the nations highest court. i promise i will do all i can to i shall including what immediately do is guess the people who handle my investments to divest any holdings and insurance companies as soon as with respect to lloyds itself, i resigned in that i have been advised can leave altogether by the end of 1995, but i intend to as the people involved to expedite my complete termination of any relationship. 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. nominee neil court gorsuch prepares to testify
committee,judiciary we take a look at the eight current members, president george w. bush nominated john roberts to take the seat of retiring justice sandra day o'connor. he was put forward as a nominee for tuesday 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, i seat on the d.c. court of circuit appeals. at his confirmation hearing, john roberts was introduced by virginia senator john warner. i firmly believe that john roberts shares in the belief that lawyers have a duty to get back to the community by providing free legal services, to those in need. of hundreds and hundreds
hours he spent working on pro bono cases are a testament to that. he did not have to do any of it, the bar does not require it, but he did it out of the graciousness of his heart. those who know him best can also attest to the kind of person he is. throughout his career, both in frolic and private practice, his with and against hundreds of lawyers. opponents said no man well speak with one voice when they tell you that dignity, humility, and a sense of fairness are the hallmarks of this nominee. in conclusion, 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 drafting and debating. emerged fromklin
independence hall upon the conclusion of the convention, a reporter asked him, sir franklin, what have you wrought? said, a republic, if you can keep it. that is ultimately what this advise and consent process is about. the constitution sets the course of our nation, it is without question the 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. let me begin by thanking senators lugar and warner and by for their one generous introduction and let me iterate the nomination. i humble by their confidence and is confirmed, i will do everything i can to be worthy of a high trustee has place in may.
let me also thank you, mr. chairman, and members of the committee for the courtesies you have extended to me and my family over the past eight weeks. i am grateful that members have been so accommodating and meeting with the personally. i have found those meetings very useful in a better understanding they committee as they undertake their responsibility of advise 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 to care for him over the past year. 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 too many others. i will miss him. appreciation that i open 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 umpires, they 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. it is a limited role here but he ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire. judges have to have the humility to recognize that the operate within a system of president shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oldoath.
-oath. 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 t supreme court. i found it very moving to stand before the justices and say i speak for my country. 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 in 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 would recede in deference to the rule of law. that is a remarkable thing.
it is what we mean when we say we are a government of laws and not of men. that that rule of law protects the rights and liberties of all americans. ,t is the envy of the world because without the rule of law in -- law everything is meaningless. he noted that in for purchase to grant rights of all sorts to people. those rights were empty promises because that system did not have an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce his 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. whoes are not politicians
can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes. i have no agenda, but i do have a commitment. if i am confirmed, i will confront every case with an open mind. i will fully and fairly analyze thlegal arguments that are presented. and will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench, and i will decide every case ace on the record according to the rule of law without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. i will remember that it is my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat. talked ofugar and by my boyhood in indiana. i think all of us retain from the days of our youth certain images. for me, those images are the endless fields of indiana, stretching to the horizon, though she waited by and
isolated shiloh -- silo or bar. they came to resent -- represent a limited -- unlimited possibilities of our land. i never imagined that i would be here in this historic room nominated to be the chief justice. now that i am here, i recall those endless fields with their promise of infinite possibilities. that memory inspired to me a very profound commitment. if i am confirmed, i will be vigilant to protect the independence and integrity of the supreme court, and iil work to ensure that it upholds the rule ofaw and the safeguards those liberties that make up this land one of endless possibilities for all americans. thank you, mr. chama, thank you members of the committee. i look forward to your questions. president 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 for months after the confirmation of chief justice john roberts. judge alito had been previously confirmed to the third circuit court of appeals. he had served as u.s. attorney in new jersey. hearing, permission justice alito was introduced by >>mer new jersey republican governor christie todd whitman. >>like other americans i have read many articles dissecting judge alito has taken throughout his career, train to discern on .ow he might judge on issues i have examined the record. mythe final analysis, decision to support judge alito for this position is not based
on whether i agree with him on a particular issue or set of conformity tohis any political ideology. in fact, while we may agree on some issues i know there others in which we disagree. nevertheless, once agreement or disagreement of 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 courts role is not to rule based on justices personal persuasions. rather persuasive argument grounded o fact, those facts resented in that particular case and on their project -- interpretation of the constitution. this is grounded in the hard the messiness of the world. 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 and the very poor -- core of their being. i saw this trait in judge alito when he sold -- when he served an eye have every confidence we will exhibit the same. policy in the u.s. is defined through the laws crafted by the legislative branches of government and carried out by the executive. our judges make decisions based on their interpretation of the intent of those lost. we don't want justices to form their decisions on their ideologies. we do want justices whose opinions are shaped by the facts before them by their understanding of the constitution. we should also look for justices who present the nass -- the qualities of intellect and
, and you canired .sk rise their thinking clearly while we should expect the 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 the judge has an ideological agenda. i believe that a complete review of his record as a will find that his only agenda is fidelity to his judicial craft. if judge alito has a bias it is in favor of narrowly drawn opinions that the president and reflect the facts before him. >> thank you very much. i am deeply honored to appear before you, i am honored to have been nominated for the 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 separate court will never be forgotten and the people of the country i'm very grateful for the president for nominating me and i'm also thankful to the members of this committee and many other senators who took time from their busy schedules to meet with me. that was a great honor for me. and i appreciate all of the courtesies that were extended to me. during those visits. i want to thank senator lautenberg and governor whitman 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 has come 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 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 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 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 trenton 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 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, both back in his 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 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 which i grew up. it was warm but definitely unpretentious, 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 would not have felt fully coortable a college like princeton. by the time i graduated from
high school, things had changed. 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 who 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 have my sympathy. [laughter] i think that may have constituted cruel and unusual 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 i'a sole obligation, is to the rule of law. what that means is that in every 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 has been a great honor for me to spend my career in public service. it has been a particular honor for me to serve on the court of 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 that 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 whatld i wou 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. sen. schumer: judge sotomayor embodies what we all strive for as american citizens. 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 nine. 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 cardinal spellman high school in 1971. she's returned to cardinal spellman to speak there and to encourage future alumni 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 cardinal spellman student to choose from. with judge sotomayor foremost among them. judge sotomayor went on to employ her enormous talents at princeton where she graduated su laude, and 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 has also given the most to her community. she graduated from yale law school, where she was a lull 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 weeks i have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting 89 senators, including all of the members of this committee. each of you has been gracious to me and i've so much 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 circumstances in a bronx housing project. my father, a factory worker with a third grade education, passed away when i was nine years old. on her 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 godchildren and to students of all backgrounds. over the past three decades, i have seen our judicial 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 criminal matters. i litigated issues and advised on everything from copyrights to trademarks. 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 united states district court for the southern district of new york. as a trial judge, i did decide over450 cases and presided
dozens of trials, with perhaps my most famous case being the major league baseball strike in 1995. after six extraordinary years on the district court, i was appointed by president clinton to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit. on that court i have enjoyed the benefit of sharing ideas and 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, deciding a wide range of constitutional, statutory, and other legal questions. throughout my 17 years on the bench, i have witnessed the human consequences of my decisions. those decisions have not been made to serve the 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 congr' 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 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 learn more 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. kerry: 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 pulling in close to $1 million a year. so elena 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 dust chairman -- i've been asked by the chairman 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, no one give us any hope of being close to or getting close to passage. but 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. -- but deadlocked. 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 and tenacious in argument when necessary. but she also knew when it was necessary to strike a compromise. she had a knack for knowing how to win people ov. an ability to make people see the wisdom of an argument. i remember lots of late nights in a very quiet capital building, 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 instinct 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 brandeis. i might add she brought the same knack for
consensus 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 again 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 congressional 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, 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 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 with the passing of senator nation -- 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 many 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, -- determination, courage, and commitment to learning. my parents lived the american dream could they grew up in immigrant communities. my mother did not speak a word of english until she went to school. but she became a legendary teacher, and my father a valued lawyer. they taught me and my two brothers, both high school teachers, that this is the greatest of all countries, because of the freedoms and opportunities it offers its people. i know that they would have felt that today. i pray that they would have been proud of what they did in raising me and my brothers.
to be nominated to the supreme court is the honor of a lifetime. , if only sorry that confirmed, i will not have the privilege of serving their with justice stevens. his integrity, humility, and independence, his deep devotion to the court in his profound conviction -- commitment to the rule of law, all of these qualities are models for those who wear a judges rope. if given this honor, i hope i will approach each cage best -- ase with his trademark care and consideration. that means listening to each party with a mind as open as his. to strive as conti -- as conscientiously as he has to issue impartial justice. i owe a debt of gratitude to two other living justices.
sandra day o'connor and ruth bader ginsburg paved the way for me and so many other women in my generation. their pioneering lives have created boundless possibilities for women in law. i think them for their inspiration and also for the personal kindness they have shown me. my heart goes out to justice ginsburg and her family today. everyone who ever met marty by hisg was enriched incredible warmth, humor, and generosity. i am deeply saddened by his passing. mr. chairman, at law school, i had the good fortune to lead as a kind of motto spoken each year at graduation. we tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a thosesion devoted to
restraints that make us free. that phrase has always captured for me the way law and the rule of law matters. what the rule of law does is nothing less than secure for each of us what our constitution calls "the blessings of liberty." those rights and freedoms. the promise of equality that defines this nation since its founding. what the supreme court does is to safeguard the rule of law. through a commitment to andhandedness, principal, restraint. my first real exposure to the courts came almost a quarter-century ago when i began my clerkship with justice thurgood marshall. justice marshall revered the court.
for a simple reason. in his life, in his great struggle for racial justice, the supreme court stirred at the heart of government that was most open to every american. that most often fulfilled our constitution's promise of treating all persons with equal respect and care and attention. the idea is engraved on the very face of the supreme court building. equal justice under law. it means that everyone who comes before the court, regardless of ,ealth or power or station receives the same process and the same protections. commands of judges is evenhandedness and impartiality. what it promises is nothing less
than a fair shake for every american. i have seen that promisef close during my tenure at a --s -- tenure as solicitor general. in that position, i have served as defender on cases from criminal law to national security. i do mean argue. in no other place i know is the strength of a person's position so tested. the quality of a person's analysis so deeply probed. no matter the lawyer for the client, the court hones in on the merits of each claim. havese 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 reminded me that it is also a modest one. properly deferential to the decisions of the american people and their elected representatives. what i most took away from those experiences with 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. court, of course,
has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. the court must also recognize the limits on its self and respect the choices made by the american people. measure forl beyond the time i spent in public service. the majority of my life has been to teach housings of students about law, and to have had the sense to realize that they have much to teach me. i have led a school whose faculty and students examine, discuss, debate every aspect of our law and legal system. what i have learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. i learned that we make progress by listening to each other. politicalry a parent
or ideological divide. i learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. ofave learned the value habit that justice stevens wrote about more than 50 years ago of understanding before disagreeing. weekl make no pledges this other than this 1 -- if confirmed, i will remember and abide by all of these lessons. i will listen hard to every party before the court into each to eachlleagues -- and of my colleagues. i will work hard, and i will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in
accordance with law. owe to the legacy i share with so many americans. my grandparents came to this country in search of a free and better life for themselves and their families. they wanted to escape bigotry and oppression, to worship as they pleased, and to work as hard as they were able. country, and this they passed on to their children and their children's children, the blessings of liberty. those lessons 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. 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. >> tomorrow, live coverage of the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee neil gorsuch begins at 11:00 a.m. eastern time on c-span2. it is expected to last three days. you can also find it online at www.c-span.org, listen to the hearing on the c-span radio app, and we will re-air monday night on c-span2. now, a senate judiciary subcommittee hearing on russia's attempts to influence diplomatic -- democratic countries around the world including propaganda, cyber attacks, and money laundering. this is two hours.