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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, the two nominees today are nominees who came out of the Judiciary Committee with substantial negative votes. Mr. Martinez is a long-time member of the American Civil Liberties Union. He has refused, when asked at the hearing, by myself and in written questions, to state whether he believes the Constitution of the United States prohibits the death penalty--not whether he believed in it. That is his prerogative. He hid behind the answer that the Supreme Court says it is. But the ACLU holds to the view that the cruel and unusual punishment provision of the Constitution prohibits the imposition of the death penalty and, therefore, it is unconstitutional.

He refused to answer that question, and I believe that is an untenable view. There are four references, at least, in the Constitution to the death penalty, and I do not know how somebody could take the cruel and unusual clause to override specific references to the death penalty which was provided for in every Colony and the Federal Government when the Constitution passed.

With regard to the other nominee, Mrs. Benita Pearson, she has some very extreme views on animal rights. When asked by Senator Coburn whether it would be in the best interests of a steer to be slaughtered--she was asked that in the committee--she said probably not in the best interests of the steer, sir. But then you have to look beyond that. I mean, the steer is going to lose its life. It is a painful situation. And steers, evidence has shown, may have some idea or apprehension about the slaughter that is impending. But the next step is, is it necessary to slaughter the steer in order to provide food for those who might otherwise go hungry or perhaps be malnourished without the sustenance that this steer's flesh and hide could provide in terms of clothing and matters necessary for the well-being of animals.

Basically, what I understand this to be is that she is suggesting a court should enter into some sort of balancing test on whether it is legitimate to slaughter a steer, and also she is a member of the ALDF, the defense of animals group, that is very extreme in its views.

For that reason, the National Cattleman's Beef Association and the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition strongly oppose the nomination. I think her views on this issue are out of the mainstream.

I yield the floor and reserve the remainder of my time.

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Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, Mr. Martinez, I know, has a lot of good supporters and friends, as I have noted. But he did refuse to answer a simple question of whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits the death penalty, which I believe the ACLU, of which he was a member and a member of the legal panel, definitely favored.

I do believe Judge Pearson's view that somehow there should be a balancing test about whether we should actually slaughter a steer based on the need for food or hide is an extreme view also.

We have had about 15 members of the ACLU confirmed by this administration. But we expect this President to submit mainstream judges. The ACLU is not mainstream in its positions. I do believe the administration needs to understand that this is going to be a more contentious matter if we keep seeing the ACLU chromosome as part of this process.

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