Sen. Sessions' Third Round of Questioning at Judge Sotomayor's Nomination Hearings

CQ Transcriptions
Thursday, July 16, 2009; 1:40 PM

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LEAHY: Senator Sessions, did you want to...

SESSIONS: Well, just briefly, I'd thank you again for your testimony. And I know judges come before these committees, and they make promises, and they mean those things, and then they're lucky. They get a lifetime appointment.

And I think most likely the judicial philosophy will take over as the years go by, the 10, 20, 30 years on the bench. And so it's an important decision for to us reach and to consider. And we'll all do our best.

I hope you've felt that it's been a fairly conducted hearing. That's been my goal.

SOTOMAYOR: Thank you, Senators, to all senators. I have received all the graciousness and fair hearing that I could have asked for.

And I thank you, Senator, for your participation in this process and in ensuring that.

SESSIONS: Thank you. You're very courteous.

I think, for the record, a number of significant articles should be in the record. One...

LEAHY: Without objection.

SESSIONS: ... the Washington Post on July 9th, "Uncommon Detail"; Wall Street Journal, "Defining Activism Down"; July 15th, New York Times, "New Scrutiny of Judge's Most Controversial Case" by Adam Liptak; New York Times, "Nominee's Rulings are Exhaustive but Often Narrow"; Ninth Justice, "How Ricci Almost Disappeared"; the Ninth Justice, "Justices Reject Sotomayor Position 9-0"; and the Wall Street Journal, "The Wise Latina" article of June 15th, which is an important analysis.

Mr. Chairman, for the record, I'd also offer a letter from Sandra Froman, former president of the National Rifle Association, and a series of other people who co-signed that letter making this point. I think it's important, Sandra Froman herself a lawyer.

"Surprisingly, Heller was a 5-4 decision with some justices arguing that the Second Amendment does not apply to private citizens or, if it does, even a total gun ban could be upheld if a legitimate government interest could be found."

"The dissenting justices also found D.C.'s absolute ban on handguns within the home to be a reasonable restriction. In this -- if this had been the majority view, then any gun ban could be upheld and the Second Amendment would be meaningless."

SESSIONS: It goes on to say, "The Second Amendment survives today by a single vote in the Supreme Court. Both its application to the states and whether there will be a meaningful strict standard of review remain to be decided. Justice Sotomayor has revealed her views on these issues, and we believe they are contrary to the intent and purposes of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights. As Second Amendment leaders, we are deeply concerned about preserving all fundamental rights for current and future generations. We strongly oppose this nominee."

I offer that and a letter from Americans United for Life, the 60- Plus Association North Carolina Property Association.

LEAHY: We will hold the record open to the -- to 5 o'clock tonight for any other materials people wish to submit to the record.

SESSIONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your courtesy throughout.

LEAHY: Thank you.

We will also hold the record open until 5 o'clock tomorrow for additional questions that senators wish to ask.

And now, Judge Sotomayor, this hearing has extended over four days. And the first day you listen to our opening statements rather extensively. You shared with us a very concise statement about your own fidelity to the law. I suspect it will be in law school text in years to come.

Over the last three days, you've answered our questions from senators on both sides of the aisle. And I hope I speak for all the senators, both Republican and Democratic, on this committee when I thank you for answering with such intelligence, grace and patience.

I also thank the members of your family for sitting here also for such intelligence, grace, and especially patience.

During the course of this week, almost 2,000 people have attended this hearing in person -- 2,000. Millions more have seen it, heard it, or read about it, thanks to newspapers, blogs, television, cable, webcasting.

I think through these proceedings, the American people have gotten to know you. Even though I sat on two different confirmation hearings for you over the past 17 years, I feel I've gotten to know you even better.

The president told the American people in his Internet address back in May as a justice of the Supreme Court, you would, quote, "bring not only the experience acquired over the course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated over the course of an extraordinary journey, a journey defined by hard work, fierce intelligence and enduring faith in America. All things are possible."

We bore witness of that this week. Experience and wisdom will benefit all Americans. And when you walk under that piece of Vermont marble over the door of the Supreme Court, speaking of equal justice under law, I know that will guide you.

Judge Sotomayor, thank you. Godspeed.

SOTOMAYOR: Thank you all.

(UNKNOWN): Thank you.

LEAHY: We stand recessed for 10 minutes.

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