Alaska Senator Mark Begich met for about 45 minutes in the Capitol today with Judge Sonia Sotomayor to discuss her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The senator issued this statement following the meeting:
"Judge Sotomayor and I had a pleasant and focused discussion about a number of issues, including Alaskans' strong belief in the Second Amendment, the prominent role of Alaska Native people and corporations in our state and the careful balance between development and environmental protection.
"I told her that Alaskans and many western Americans believe strongly in the right to bear arms, which she said she appreciated. I also briefed her about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and its significance for Alaska Native people. And I reminded her that of the balance that Alaskans achieve between protecting our state's unmatched beauty and environmental values and the need to develop our enormous natural resources.
"I expressed frustration with the lengthy time for the courts to deal with the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Judge Sotomayor said the federal court system learned a lesson from that experience and is working to ensure that those long delays don't happen again.
"I found Judge Sotomayor extremely intelligent, willing to learn and very grounded in the law. I am increasingly confident she will not be an activist judge who will legislate from the bench. Judge Sotomayor said that while she has never been to Alaska, visiting our state is a life-long dream which she had hoped to fulfill this summer - but something came up.
"I look forward to hearings in the Senate next month and our debate on the floor before making a final decision on my vote for Judge Sotomayor. Approving a member of the United States Supreme Court is one of the most important roles of a U.S. senator and I take it seriously."