Sen. Russ Feingold Questioning at Judge Sotomayor Confirmation Hearing
Tuesday, July 14, 2009; 2:58 PM
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SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: Judge, let me first say I don't mind telling how much I'm enjoying listening to you, both your manner and your obvious, tremendous knowledge and understanding of the law. In fact, I'm enjoying it so much that I hope when you go into these deliberations about cameras in the courtroom, that you consider the possibility that I and other Americans would like the opportunity to observe your skills for many years to come in the comfort of our family rooms and living rooms.
JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: You were a very good lawyer, weren't you, Senator?
FEINGOLD: But I'm not going to ask you about that one now. Others have covered it.
Let me get into a topic that I discussed at length with -- with two most recent Supreme Court nominees, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, and that's the issue of executive power.
In 2003, you spoke at a law school class about some of the legal issues that have arisen since 9/11. You started your remarks with a moving description of how Americans stood together in the days after those horrific events and how people from small, Midwestern towns and people from New York City found their common threads as Americans, you said.
As you said in that speech, while it's hard to imagine that something positive could ever result from such a tragedy, that there was a sense in those early days of coming together as one community, that we would all help each other get through this.
And it was, of course, something that none of us had ever experienced before and something I've often discussed, as well. But what I have to also say is that, in the weeks and months that followed, I was gravely disappointed that the events of that awful day, the events that had brought us so close together as one nation, were sometimes used, Judge, to justify policies that departed so far from what America stands for.
So I'm going to ask you some questions that I asked now-Chief Justice Roberts at his hearing. Did that day, 9/11, change your view of the importance of individual rights and civil liberties and how they can be protected?
SOTOMAYOR: September 11th was a horrific tragedy for all of the victims of that tragedy and for the nation. I was in New York. My home is very close to the World Trade Center. I spent days not being able to drive a car into my neighborhood because my neighborhood was used as a staging area for emergency trucks.
The issue of the country's safety and the consequences of that great tragedy are the subject of continuing discussion among not just senators, but the whole nation.