Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:  Edward Kennedy, Sr.
Date: Aug. 6, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - August 06, 2009)


Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I strongly support the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. She will be the most experienced jurist to be placed on the Supreme Court in a century, and she will be the first Latina Justice in our Nation's history.

With her extensive career in public service and her lifelong commitment to equal justice, Judge Sotomayor will bring a remarkable perspective to the Court. Given her extraordinary and far-ranging experience, she has already distinguished herself as one of the most able and hardworking Federal judges in the Nation, and I am confident that she will bring the same high ability and dedication to all issues before the Supreme Court.

Judge Sotomayor has already spent 17 years as a Federal judge. She was first nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush. Six years later, she was nominated by President Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She received bipartisan support in the Senate each time, and it is a special privilege for me to support her for the third time.

Judge Sotomayor has a deep understanding of our legal system as a result of the experience she has had as an attorney and a judge. She has more judicial experience at both the appellate and district court level than any Supreme Court nominee in the past 70 years. In addition, in her earlier legal career, she served as an assistant district attorney in New York City and worked as a civil litigator in private practice. Her experience in the criminal and civil systems and as a district judge and an appellate court judge give her a unique perspective that will be invaluable as a Justice of the Supreme Court.

During her years as a Federal judge, she has participated in over 3,000 decisions, including over 400 Second Circuit decisions by panels that included at least one judge appointed by a Republican President. In those cases, she has agreed with the result favored by the Republican appointee over 95 percent of the time. Some have sought to portray Judge Sotomayor as a judicial activist, but her record clearly shows that she is a mainstream jurist who does not let personal ideology dictate the outcome of the cases she is deciding.

Not only is Judge Sotomayor eminently qualified by her experience to serve on the Supreme Court, but her nomination is historic. I, like many Americans, welcome the insight and perspective that Judge Sotomayor will bring to the Court, and she will serve as a role model for millions of our people.

Judge Sotomayor's compelling life story is an impressive example of the best of our country. She was born in the Bronx and raised in New York City by hardworking parents. Through the strong support of her family and her own hard work and dedication and extraordinary achievement, she has been nominated to be the Nation's 111th Supreme Court Justice.

I commend President Obama for selecting her. With her intelligence, insight, and experience, she is an excellent choice to serve in this distinguished role, and I am sure she will do an outstanding job protecting the rule of law and the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans. Judge Sotomayor has worked hard to achieve success, and I commend her for her life's accomplishments. I wish her well in this new role, and I urge my colleagues to support her confirmation.

On the day soon to come, when she walks up the steps of the Supreme Court and passes under those famous and inspiring words, ``Equal Justice Under Law,'' inscribed in the marble over the entrance, millions of our fellow citizens and communities across the Nation will be able to say, ``Yes, the American dream is alive and well in America today."


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