: We're back...Chairman Patrick Leahy returns the room to order and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
begins her remarks.
Klobuchar compares Sotomayor to other Supreme Court justices who came from poor and diverse backgrounds.
"Their life experiences shaped their work and what they did on the Supreme Court," Klobuchar says. "This is appropriate and should be unremarkable."2:08
: Klobuchar points out that Sotomayor is only the third female Court nominee. "There are only two women on this committee, Sen. Feinstein and myself," Klobuchar points out, chronicling the discrimination faced by Justices Sandray Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in academic and professional spheres as they rose in their careers.2:17
: Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE)
, Vice President Joe Biden's replacement in the Senate, argues there is an intrinsic value in Sotomayor's gender and ethic background, as it would add diversity to the court.
"I believe a diverse court will function better," he says.2:21
: Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
, despite his long tenure as a Judiciary Committee and his status as its former chairman, then ranking member, speaks second to last. After his switch to the Democratic Party, the Democratic caucus decided to make him the most junior Democrat on his committees (despite an indication that he'd retain his seniority), by virtue of his newness to the party.
Specter raises the recent New York Times story about CIA Director Leon Panetta's disclosure to the intelligence committees that the previous administration instructed the CIA not to tell Congress about a secret CIA program, which reportedly was never fully operational.
"Well, the president didn't follow that law [requiring the CIA to brief Congress on its activities]. Did he have the right to do so under Article II powers? Well, we don't know," Specter says.2:30
: Specter closes by saying, despite Justice David Souter's strong preference to the contrary, he's like to see cameras in the Supreme Court.
"The court decides all the cutting edge questions of the day, a lot of people are fascinated by this hearing. I'd like to see the court televised," Specter said.2:33
: The Senate's newest member, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), is last to speak, marking his first major participation in the business of the Senate.
He took the opportunity to introduce himself to the committee. "I am truly humbled to join the Judiciary Committee," he said. He calls Leahy "sir" in thanking him for the welcome.
Franken is interrupted by another shouting audience member as he begins his remarks.2:40
: Franken concludes his remarks. Highlights:
To Sessions: "I look forward to working over the years with you and my other Republican colleagues in the Senate on improving the lives of all Americans," citing previous Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone as an example of the bipartisanship he'll strive for.
"To all the members of this committee, I have a lot to learn from each of you."
Makes numerous references to Sen. Ted Kennedy: "I have watched at least part of every Supreme Court confirmation hearing since they've been televised, and I would note that this is the first hearing that Sen. Kennedy has not attended since 1965," later says, "We all miss his presence."
Says he's an opponent of "judicial activism," and that the current court has been guilty of such activism over the past 10 years.2:44
: Beginning to administer the oath of testimony to Sotomayor, Schumer catalogues her life history.
"It's exactly what each of us wants for ourselves and our children, and this shared vision is why this moment is historic for all Americans," Schumer says.2:53
: Leahy interrupts Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) during her introduction of Sotomayor, asking that her full remarks be recorded in the record (as opposed to spoken aloud) so Sotomayor can be sworn in.
Gillibrand promises to wrap it up in 20 seconds.
Leahy somewhat reluctantly allows her to continue.2:58
: Sotomayor begins her remarks. Pays tribute to her family, recounts her experiences as a prosecutor.
"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," Sotomayor says.3:00
: Defends her impartiality: "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."
Says it is a judge's job is not to make the law, but to apply the law. Sotomayor says she has been committed "to interpreting the Constitution on its own terms."3:02
: Sotomayor concludes her remarks saying she seeks the honor of a place on the Court:
"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," she says.3:03
: Leahy adjourns the hearing for today, thanking the senators for their opening statements, Schumer and Gillibrand for their introductions, and Sotomayor for her remarks. "We will stand in recess until 9:30 tomorrow morning," he says.See Sotomayor's full remarks
, as prepared for delivery, below (distributed by the White House):
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.