President of the Fraternal Order of Police Chuck Canterbury Testifies at Sonia Sotomayor's Confirmation Hearings

CQ Transcriptions
Thursday, July 16, 2009; 6:34 PM

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much. Thank you for your testimony.

Next we have Chuck Canterbury, is the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, one of the nation's largest and most prominent voices for law enforcement officers.

Mr. Canterbury has served in numerous capacities in the organization, including national vice president and national second vice president. He has 25 years of experience in law enforcement where he worked as a police officer in Horry County, South Carolina.

Maybe you know Lindsey Graham, one of our members here. In only the best ways, I'm sure.

We look very much forward to your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Canterbury.

Thank you, Mr. Canterbury.

CANTERBURY: Thank you, Madam Chair, Ranking Member Sessions, Senator Hatch.

It's a pleasure to be here today to offer the support of 327,000 rank-and-file police officers, my members in the Fraternal Order of Police. It's my pleasure to testify in support of the nomination of Judge Sonia M. Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

You know, speaking as a law enforcement officer, I think it says a lot about the character of a young person who graduated from Yale and then accepted her first job as a poorly paid prosecutor in the district of Manhattan, yet that is exactly what Judge Sotomayor did, as my members do in every city in America.

She spent five years with that office, prosecuted many criminal cases, including a triple homicide. And she forged an excellent working relationship with the men and women working the beat in Manhattan. She earned their respect and reputation as being tough, which in my profession is a compliment.

As an appellate judge, she has participated in over 3,000 panel decisions and authored roughly 400 opinions, handling difficult issues of constitutional law, complex procedural matters, and lawsuits involving complicated business organizations.

Some of her critics have pounced on a few of those decisions, as well as some of the comments made during speaking engagements, and have engaged in some pretty wild speculation as to what she would do as a Supreme Court justice. As a law enforcement officer, I prefer to rely on evidence and fact and not speculation to reach those conclusions.

One such area of speculation is on her feelings towards our right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. I want no mistake to be made: I take a back seat to no one in my reverence for the Second Amendment. In fact, if I thought that Judge Sotomayor's presence on the court posed a threat to my Second Amendment right, I would not be supporting here her today.

The facts, as some have already pointed out, reflect a brilliant and thoughtful jurist, respectful of the law, and committed to its appropriate enforcement. Over the course of her career, she has analyzed each case on its merits. To me, that's evidence of strong commitment to duty and to the law, two characteristics that we should expect from all of our judges.

I want to cite a few cases which I'm familiar with, because they deal with issues that every beat cop in the United States has dealt with. In the United States v. Falso, an offender indicted on 242 counts relating to child pornography sought to have evidence against him thrown out because the search warrant that was thrown out lacked probable cause. Judge Sotomayor's ruling held that the error was committed by the district court in issuing the warrant, not the officers who executed it. The conviction was upheld.

In the United States v. Santa (ph), she ruled that law enforcement officers executing a search of a suspect based on an arrest warrant they believed to be active and valid should not result in the suppression of evidence, even if that warrant had expired.

In the United States v. Howard, she overturned the district court's decision to suppress evidence of drug trafficking by finding warrantless automobile searches to be constitutional.

In the United States v. Clarke, she held that the law enforcement officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment by asking to see the VIN pin under the hood of a vehicle after discovering that the VIN plate on the dashboard was missing.

All of these rulings show that Judge Sotomayor got at least as much of her legal education from her five years as a prosecutor as she did at Yale Law School. These five years, in my view, reflect the same kind of commitment to the law that I have seen in the officers that I represent.

She's clearly demonstrated that she understands the fine line that police officers must walk and, in her rulings, reflect a working knowledge, not a theoretical knowledge, of the everyday realities of law enforcement work.

After reviewing her record, I can say that Judge Sotomayor is a jurist in whom any beat cop could have confidence. And it's for that reason that the national executive board of the FOP voted unanimously to support her nomination, and we urge you to do so, as well.

Thank you very much.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much, Mr. Canterbury.

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