TPM News

TPMDC's round up of the biggest initiatives on Capitol Hill:

  • Health Care: House leaders delayed the release of their health care legislation for yet another day as they paper over differences with more conservative members of the Democratic party. Meanwhile, with President Obama back from abroad, the White House is wading in to the debate on the Hill like never before.


  • Nominations: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the first day of her week-long confirmation hearing. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said her nomination could send the court down a "dangerous path". And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) lashed out at those who would dare criticize one of the New Haven firefighter's who's been recruited to testify against her. Read TPM's live blog of the hearings, where Andrew Pincus is cataloging and analyzing just about every key moment.

The drip-drip of the John Ensign sex scandal continues...

Today the Washington Post editorial board calls, in its well-mannered way, for investigations by the Senate Ethnics committee and the Federal Election Committee into the payments, totaling $96,000, that, according to a statement from Ensign's lawyer, were made last year by the Nevada senator's parents to the Hampton family.

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If you ask most people whether politicians should be in the business of providing Americans better services at lower costs they'd probably say yes. But Rep. John Kline (R-MN)--ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee--seems to believe just the opposite.

"There are some things in this legislation that I find particularly troublesome," Kline told Minnesota Public Radio. Specifically, he was thinking of the public option. "[O]ur fear is that if you actually get in there looking at the legislation that it's set up in a way that employers would increasingly opt to letting their employees move over to the public, to the public option. And because it is cheaper, it's designed to save money, which the government-run program has some very clear advantages, and the claims that it's gotta pay for itself that through the first three years of this there would be government subsidies."

Ummmmm...yeah. Sounds terrible. You can listen to the whole thing here, but the key moment begins at about 3:35.



Early indications suggest that the public option will much more than pay for itself. But no matter. I assume that public opinion polling must show overwhelmingly that Americans want to pay more for health care so that insurance companies don't have to contend with a superior, cheaper competitor. Otherwise it's hard to understand Kline's statements anything other than a call to subsidize insurance companies--and no elected official would ever stand for that.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) isn't generally considered a friend of organized labor. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be trying to fence her in anyhow.



Lincoln has opposed EFCA in the past, and has said she could not support it now without significant concessions, and the Chamber--pleased with her position--seems to be trying to make a "no" vote on robust worker protections legislation a fait accompli. That's not how her Arkansas opponents see things, though. When he saw the ad, Arkansas Rep. Davy Carter--a one-time potential Lincoln opponent--took to twitter.

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Earlier today, we raised a few questions about the notion that the secret CIA program that Dick Cheney reportedly withheld from Congress concerned an effort to kill or capture al Qaeda leaders. And now a top counter-terror expert is doing the same.

Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, told TPMmuckraker that because we've been in a state of war against al Qaeda since just after September 11, there would have been no need for a secret CIA program that received special legal authorization.

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OPENING STATEMENT ON JUDGE SOTOMAYOR'S NOMINATION HEARING Senator Al Franken

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is an incredible honor to be here. Less than a week into my term as a United States Senator, my first major responsibility is here, at this historic confirmation hearing.

I am truly humbled to join the Judiciary Committee, which has played, and will continue to play, such an important role in overseeing our nation's system of justice. Chairman Leahy, for several years now I have admired your strength and integrity in leading this Committee. I'm grateful for the warm welcome and consideration you have given me, and I am honored to serve alongside you.

Ranking Member Sessions, I want you to know that I plan to follow the example of my good friend and predecessor, Paul Wellstone, who was willing and ready to partner with his colleagues across the aisle to do the work of the American people. I look forward to working over the years with you and my other Republican colleagues in the Senate to improve the lives of all Americans.

To all the members of this committee, I know that I have a lot to learn from each of you. Like so many private citizens, I have watched at least part of each and every Supreme Court confirmation hearing since they have been televised. And I would note that this is the first confirmation hearing that Senator Kennedy has not attended since 1965. We miss his presence.

These televised hearings have taught Americans a lot about our Constitution - and the role that the courts play in upholding and defending it. I look forward to listening to your questions and to the issues that you and your constituents care about.

To Judge Sotomayor, welcome. For the next few days, I expert to learn from you as well. You are the most experienced nominee to the Supreme Court in 100 years. And after meeting with you in my office last week, I know that aside from being a fine jurist, you are also an exceptional individual. Your story is inspiring and one in which all Americans should take pride.

As most of you know, this is my fifth day in office. That may mean that I am the most junior Senator, but it also means that I am the Senator who has most recently taken the oath of office. Last Tuesday, I swore to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States" and to "bear true faith and allegiance" to it. I take this oath very seriously as we consider Judge Sotomayor's nomination.

I may not be a lawyer, but neither are the overwhelming majority of Americans. Yet all of us, regardless of our backgrounds or professions, have a huge stake in who sits on the Supreme Court and are profoundly affected by its decisions.

I hope to use my time over the next few days to raise issues that concern people in Minnesota and around the country. This hearing will help folks sitting in living rooms and offices in Winona or Duluth or the Twin Cities to get a better idea of what the court is, what it does and what it is supposed to do, and most importantly, how its actions affect the everyday lives of all Americans.

Justice Souter, whom you will replace if you're confirmed, once said: "The first lesson, simple as it is, is that whatever court we're in, whatever we are doing, at the end of our task some human being is going to be affected. Some human life is going to be changed by what we do. And so we had better use every power of our minds and our hearts and our beings to get those rulings right." I believe he had it right.

In the past months, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the court's impact on the lives of Americans and reading and consulting with some of Minnesota's top legal minds. And I believe that the rights of Americans, as citizens and voters, are facing challenges on two separate fronts.

First, I believe the position of Congress with respect to the Courts and the Executive is in jeopardy. Even before I aspired to represent the people of Minnesota in the United States Senate, I believed that the Framers made Congress the first branch of government for a reason. It answers most directly to the people and has the legitimacy to speak for the people in crafting laws to be carried out by the executive branch.

I am wary of judicial activism and I believe in judicial restraint. Except under the most exceptional circumstances, the judicial branch is designed to show deep deference to Congress and not make policy by itself.

Yet looking at recent decisions on voting rights, campaign finance reform, and a number of other topics, it appears that appropriate deference may not have been shown in the past few years - and there are ominous signs that judicial activism is on the rise in these areas.

I agree with Senator Feingold and Senator Whitehouse that we hear a lot about judicial activism when politicians talk about what kind of judge they want in the Supreme Court. But it seems that their definition of an activist judge is one who votes differently than they would like. Because during the Rehnquist Court, Justice Clarence Thomas voted to overturn federal laws more than Justices Stevens and Breyer combined.

Second, I am concerned that Americans are facing new barriers to defending their individual rights. The Supreme Court is the last court in the land where an individual is promised a level playing field and can seek to right a wrong:

• It is the last place an employee can go if he or she is discriminated against because of age, gender, or color. • It is the last place a small business owner can go to ensure free and fair competition in the market. • It is the last place an investor can go to try to recover losses from securities fraud. • It is the last place a person can go to protect the free flow of information on the internet. • It is the last place a citizen can go to protect his or her vote. • It is the last place where a woman can go to protect her reproductive health and rights.

Yet from what I see, on each of those fronts, for each of those rights, the past decade has made it a little bit harder for American citizens to defend themselves.

As I said before, Judge, I'm here to learn from you. I want to learn what you think is the proper relationship between Congress and the Courts, between Congress and the Executive. I want to learn how you go about weighing the rights of the individual, the small consumer or business-owner, and more powerful interests. And I want to hear your views on judicial restraint and activism in the context of important issues like voting rights, open access to the Internet, and campaign finance reform.

We're going to have a lot of time together, so I'm going to start listening. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Kaufman Opening Statement at Supreme Court Nomination Hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Welcome, Judge Sotomayor, and welcome also to your family and friends. Like my colleagues, I want to congratulate you on your nomination.

We are now beginning the end of an extraordinarily important process. Short of voting to go to war, the Senate's constitutional obligation to "advise and consent" on Supreme Court nominees is probably our most important responsibility.

Supreme Court justices serve for life, and once the Senate confirms a nominee, she is likely to be affecting the law and American lives much longer than many of the Senators who confirmed her.

The "advise and consent" process for this nomination began after Justice Souter announced his intent to resign and President Obama consulted with members of both parties before making his selection. It has continued since then, with help from an extensive public debate amongst analysts and commentators, scholars and activists, both in the traditional press and in the blogosphere.

This public vetting process, while not always accurate or temperate, is extremely valuable both to the Senate and to the public. One of the great benefits of a free society is our ability, collectively, to delve deeply into an extensive public record. We've seen a wide-ranging discussion of the issues, in which anyone can help dissect and debate even the most minute legal issue and personal expressions of opinion.

In another, less public part of the process, Judge Sotomayor has met with close to 90 percent of the Senate. Those meetings, too, are extremely useful. I know I learned a great deal in my meeting, and I'm confident that my colleagues did as well.

For me, the critical criteria for judging a Supreme Court nominee are the following: A first-rate intellect, significant experience, unquestioned integrity, absolute commitment to the rule of law, unwavering dedication to being fair and open-minded, and the ability to appreciate the impact of court decisions on the lives of ordinary people. Based on what we've learned so far, this is an impressive nominee.

Judge Sotomayor, I am confident that this hearing will give this committee, and the rest of the Senate, the information we need to complete our constitutional duty. As senators, I believe we each owe you a decision based upon your record and your answers to our questions. That decision should not turn on empty code words like "judicial activist," or on charges of guilt by association, or on any litmus test. Instead, we should focus on your record and your responses, and determine whether you have the qualities that will enable you to serve well all Americans, and the rule of law, on our nation's highest court.

As my colleagues already have noted, your rise from humble beginnings to extraordinary academic and legal achievement is an inspiration to us all. And I note that you would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in over 100 years.

You also have incredibly valuable practice experience, not only as a prosecutor but also as a commercial litigator. In terms of your judicial record, you appear to have been careful, thoughtful, and open-minded. In fact, what strikes me most about your record is that it seems to reveal no biases. You appear to take each case as it comes, without predilection, giving full consideration to the arguments of both sides before reaching a decision.

When Justice Souter announced his retirement in May, I suggested that the Court would benefit from a broader range of experience among its members. My concern at the time wasn't the relative lack of women or racial or ethnic minorities on the Court, though that deficit is glaring. I was pointing to the fact that most of the current Justices, whether they be black or white, women or men, share roughly the same life experiences.

I am heartened by what you would bring to the Court, based on your upbringing, your story of achievement in the face of adversity, your professional experience as a prosecutor and commercial litigator, and, yes, the prospect of your being the first Latina to sit on the high court.

Though the Supreme Court is not a representative body, we should hold as an ideal that it broadly reflect the citizens it serves. Diversity serves many goals. Outside the courtroom, it better equips our institutions to understand more of the viewpoints and backgrounds that comprise our pluralistic society. Moreover, a growing body of social research suggests that groups with diverse experiences and backgrounds simply come to the right outcome more often than do non-diverse groups that may be just as talented. I believe a diverse Court will function better as well.

Another concern I have about the current Supreme Court is its handling of business cases. Too often it seems to disregard settled law and congressional policy choices.

Based on my education, experience, and inclination, I am not anti-business. But whether it's preempting state consumer protection laws, striking down punitive damages awards, restricting access to the courts, or overruling 96 years of pro-consumer antitrust law, today's court gives me the impression that in business cases the working majority is outcome-oriented and therefore too one-sided.

Given our current economic crisis, and the failures of regulation and enforcement that led to that crisis, that bias is particularly troubling. Congress can and will enact a dramatically improved regulatory system.

The President can and will make sure that the relevant enforcement agencies are populated with smart, motivated, and effective agents. But a Supreme Court resistant to federal government involvement in and regulation of markets could undermine those efforts.

A judge, or a court, has to call the game the same way for all sides. Fundamental fairness requires that in the courtroom, everyone comes to the plate with the same count of no balls and no strikes.

One of the aspirations of the American judicial system is that it is a place where the powerless have a chance for justice on a level playing field with the powerful. We need Justices on the Supreme Court who not only understand that aspiration, but also are committed to making it a reality.

Because of the importance of business cases before the Supreme Court, I plan to spend some time asking you about your experience as a commercial litigator, your handling of business cases as a trial judge and on the court of appeals, and your approach to business cases generally. From what I've seen in your record, you seem to call these cases right down the middle, without any bias or agenda. That is very important to me.

Very soon, those of us up here will be done talking, and you'll have the chance to testify, and then to answer our questions.

I look forward to your testimony.

The health care debate on Capitol Hill is moving so fast, and in so many different direction, that sometimes it can be difficult--maybe impossible--to keep track of all the myriad moving parts. But to get a sense of where things stand more broadly, there are a handful of leading indicators to watch out for if you're trying to keep abreast of major developments.

First, and foremost are the deadlines. Democratic leaders--and President Obama--want both the House and the Senate to pass their separate bills before they break for August recess. The House breaks on August 3rd and the Senate on August 10. For the first time today, the White House said it might ask Congress to push those dates back a bit if the deadline isn't met.

But assuming for the moment that Obama doesn't hold Congress' feet to the fire, that leaves precious little time for both chambers to complete a great deal of work--or to become overwhelmed and leave town for a month with a big embarrassment, and major complications, hanging over their heads. If that happens--and many think it will--then meeting the other deadline may be impossible. Obama wants to sign a bill in October, and between nominations and appropriations bills and early work on major energy legislation, it's hard to imagine the Senate squeezing what will likely be a two week floor debate on health care reform into the month of September. Tack on to that the fact that vulnerable members become less and less willing to vote for controversial legislation as election season kicks into high gear, and you can see why party leaders and reformers are getting worried.

That means that the key committees--particularly those committees' Democrats--are working over time to resolve remaining differences and move legislation closer to a vote. And if they're going to get it done, they'll have to make huge strides this week.

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SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR OPENING STATEMENT SUPREME COURT CONFIRMATION HEARING FOR JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR

Welcome, Judge Sotomayor.

It's a pleasure to see you again today, and I enjoyed the meeting we had in my office a few weeks ago. We had a good conversation - although you did confess to me that when you once visited Minnesota in June, you felt the need to bring a winter parka. I'll try not to hold that against you this week! I know you have lots of family and friends with you today, supporting you during this important hearing, and we welcome them too. In particular, it's been an honor for me to see your mom here.

When President Obama first announced your nomination, I loved the story about how your mom had saved up money to buy you and your brother the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood. It reminded me of when my parents bought a set of Encyclopedia Britannicas in the seventies that always occupied a hallowed place in our hallway. For me, those encyclopedias were a window on the world and a gateway to learning, as they clearly were for you.

From the time you were nine years old, your mom raised you and your brother on her own. She struggled to buy those encyclopedias on her nurse's salary, but she did it because she believed deeply in the value of education.

You went on to be the valedictorian of your high school class, to graduate at the top of your class in college and to attend law school.

After that - and this is an experience we have in common - you became a local prosecutor. Most of my questions during this hearing will be about opinions you've authored and work you've done in the criminal area. I believe having judges with real world, frontline experience as a prosecutor is a good thing.

When I think about the inspiring journey of your life, I'm reminded of other Supreme Court Justices who came from - and I'll use your own words here, Judge - "very modest and challenging circumstances."

I think about Justice O'Connor, who lived the first years of her life on a ranch in rural Arizona with no running water, no indoor plumbing, and no electricity. By sheer necessity, she learned to mend fences, ride horses, brand cattle, fire a rifle and drive a truck before she turned thirteen.

I also think about Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was the great-grandson of a slave.

His mother was a teacher; while his father worked as a Pullman car waiter before becoming a steward at an all-white country club. Justice Marshall waited tables to help put himself through college, and his mother had to pawn her wedding and engagement rings to pay his entrance fees at Howard University Law School here in Washington.

And then there's Justice Blackmun, who grew up in a St. Paul working-class neighborhood in my home state of Minnesota.

He was able to attend Harvard College only because he received a scholarship at the last minute from the Harvard Club of Minnesota. Once there, he worked as a tutor and as a janitor to help pay expenses.

Through four years of college and three years of law school, his family never had enough money to bring him home to Minnesota for Christmas.

Each of these very different Justices grew up with their own, very different "challenging circumstances."

No one can doubt that, for each one of these Justices, their life experiences shaped the work they did on the Supreme Court.

This should be unremarkable. And, in fact it's completely appropriate. After all, our own Committee demonstrates the value that comes from members who have different backgrounds and perspectives.

For instance, at the same time my accomplished colleague Senator Whitehouse, who was the son of a renowned diplomat, grew up in Laos and Cambodia during the time of the Vietnam War - I was working as a carhop at the A&W Root Beer stand in the suburbs in Minnesota.

And while Senator Hatch is a famed gospel music songwriter, Senator Leahy is such a devoted fan of the Grateful Dead that he once had trouble taking a call from the President of the United States because in fact the Chairman was onstage at a Grateful Dead concert.

We've been tremendously blessed on this Committee with the gift of having members with different backgrounds and different experiences - just as different experiences are a gift for any court in this land. So when one of my colleagues questioned whether you, Judge Sotomayor, would be a justice "for all of us, or just for some of us," I couldn't help but remember something that Hubert Humphrey once said: America is "all the richer for the many different and distinctive strands of which it is woven."

Along those lines, Judge Sotomayor, you are only the third woman in history to come before this Committee as a Supreme Court nominee. And as you can see there are currently only two women, my distinguished colleague Senator Feinstein and myself, on this Committee.

So, I think it's worth remembering that when Justice O'Connor graduated from law school, the only offers she got from law firms were for legal secretary positions. Justice O'Connor - who graduated third in her class at Stanford Law School - saw her accomplishments reduced to one question: "Can she type?"

Justice Ginsburg faced similar obstacles.

When she entered Harvard Law School, she was one of only nine women in a class of more than 500. One professor actually demanded that she justify why she deserved a seat that could have gone to a man. Later, she was passed over for a prestigious clerkship despite her impressive credentials.

Nonetheless, both of them persevered - and they certainly prevailed. Their undeniable merits triumphed over those who sought to deny them opportunity.

The women who came before you to be considered by this Committee helped blaze a trail, and although your record stands on its own, you are also standing on their shoulders - another woman with an opportunity to be a Justice "for all of us."

And as Justice Ginsburg's recent comments regarding the strip search of a 13-year-old girl indicate - as well as her dissent in Lilly Ledbetter's equal pay case - being a Justice "for all of us" may mean bringing some real world practical experience into the courthouse.

As we consider your nomination, we know that you are more than the sum of your professional experiences. Still, you bring one of the most wide-ranging legal resumes to this position: local prosecutor, civil litigator, trial judge and appellate judge.

Straight out of law school, you went to work as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office - and you ended up staying there for five years.

When you're a prosecutor, the law ceases to be an abstract subject and becomes all too real. It's not just a dusty book in your basement.

You see firsthand, every day, how the law has a very real impact on the lives of real people - whether it's crime victims and their families, or defendants and their families, or the neighborhoods where people live.

It also has a big impact on the individual prosecutor.

No matter how many years may pass, you never forget some of the very difficult cases. For you, Judge, we know this includes the case of a serial burglar-turned-killer (the "Tarzan Murderer").

For me, there will always be the case of Tyesha Edwards, an 11-year-old girl with an unforgettable smile who was at home doing her homework at the kitchen table when she was struck and killed by a stray bullet from a gang shooting out on the street.

As a prosecutor, you don't just have to know the law . . . you have to know people.

So, Judge, I'm interested in talking to you more about what you learned from that job, and how that job shaped your legal career and your approach to judging.

I'm also interested in learning more about your views on some criminal law issues. I want to explore your views on the Fourth Amendment, the meaning of the Confrontation Clause, and sentencing law and policy.

I'd like to know in criminal cases as well as civil cases how you would balance the text of statutes and the Constitution with pragmatic considerations based on your real-world experience. It seems to me, in cases like Falso, Santa, and Howard, that you had a keen understanding of the real-world implications of your decisions. I often get concerned that those pragmatic experiences are missing in judicial decision-making, especially when I look at the recent Supreme Court case in which the majority broadly interpreted the Confrontation Clause to include crime lab workers. I agree with the four dissenting Justices that the ruling "has vast potential to disrupt criminal procedures that already give ample protections against the misuse of scientific evidence."

Your old boss, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, called you a "fearless and effective" prosecutor.

This is how he put it once in an interview:

"We want people with good judgment, because a lot of the job of a [prosecutor] is making decisions. . . . I also want to see some signs of humility in anybody that I hire. We're giving young lawyers a lot of power, and we want to make sure that they're going to use that power with good sense and without arrogance."

These are among the very same qualities that I'm looking for in a Supreme Court Justice.

I, too, am looking for a person with good judgment -someone with intellectual curiosity and independence, but who also understands that her judicial decisions affect real people.

With that, I think, comes a second essential quality: Humility.

I'm looking for a Justice who appreciates the awesome responsibility that she will be given, if confirmed. A Justice who understands the gravity of the office and who respects the very different roles that the Constitution provides for each of the three branches of government.

Finally, a good prosecutor knows that her job is to enforce the law without fear or favor. Likewise, a Supreme Court Justice must interpret the laws without fear or favor.

And I believe your background and experiences, including your understanding of law enforcement, will help you to always remember that the cases you hear involve real people - with real problems - looking for real remedies. With excellent judgment and a sense of humility, I believe you can be a Justice "for all of us." Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for that kind introduction.

In recent weeks, I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting eighty-nine gracious Senators, including all the members of this Committee. I thank you for the time you have spent with me. Our meetings have given me an illuminating tour of the fifty states and invaluable insights into the American people.

There are countless family members, friends, mentors, colleagues, and clerks 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 mom. I am here today because of her aspirations and sacrifices for both my brother Juan and me. Mom, I love that we are sharing this together. 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 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 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 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, a corporate litigator, a trial judge and 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 suffering of victims' families torn apart by a loved one's needless death. And I learned the tough job law enforcement has protecting the public safety. In my next legal job, I focused on commercial, instead of criminal, matters. I litigated issues on behalf of national and international businesses and advised them on matters ranging from contracts 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 decided over four hundred and fifty cases, and presided over dozens of trials, with perhaps my best known case involving the Major League Baseball strike in 1995.

After six extraordinary years on the district court, I was appointed by President William Jefferson 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 seventeen years on the bench, I have witnessed the human consequences of my decisions. Those decisions have been made not 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. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the 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's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and 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 by 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 justice system. My personal and professional experiences help me 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 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

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.

TPMLivewire