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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. As Senators, we have few responsibilities that have greater lasting impact on our country than providing advice and consent on the confirmation of nominees to serve on the high Court. In my 10 years in the House of Representatives, I witnessed the Senate consider just two Supreme Court confirmations, and now after serving only 19 months in the Senate, I have already had the distinct honor of considering two nominations. The historic importance of these appointments has not been lost on me, as we now consider confirming General Kagan to become the third female Justice on the current court, and only the fourth woman ever to serve on a court that was exclusively male for almost 200 years.

I take my advice and consent responsibilities seriously, and as I consider each Supreme Court nominee, I focus on their judicial temperament, experience, pragmatism and demonstrated ability to view the law in ways that go beyond ideology. When I met with Solicitor General Kagan 2 months ago, I was impressed with her thoughtfulness and her knowledge of constitutional law. After reviewing her testimony before the Judiciary Committee, studying her record and hearing from a wide range of Coloradans, I am convinced that General Kagan possesses the qualities and attributes of a nominee who is eminently qualified and will be an effective member of the highest Court in our land. I am confident that she is not a rigid ideologue and that her judicial approach will serve our country well.

I have not come to this decision lightly. I know that the judgments made by the Supreme Court have a real impact on the lives of Coloradans. From the right to equal pay to the freedom to keep and bear arms to so many other issues, the Supreme Court makes decisions that profoundly impact our rights and freedoms every year. I believe that General Kagan will provide a voice on the Court that will ensure fairness and adherence to judicial restraint and the rule of law.

As I told General Kagan when I met with her, I am particularly interested in ensuring that the Justices understand the weight and impact of issues uniquely important in the West, including water rights, natural resources and Federal lands. And I am convinced that she understands the complexity and unique importance of these issues to Colorado.

While I am comfortable with General Kagan's sensitivity to Western issues, I would be remiss if I did not add that I hope that after this confirmation process is complete, the White House will seriously consider the importance of geographic and educational diversity on the Supreme Court. Many of my colleagues have talked in the past about how a judge's personal background can help shape his or her understanding of the practical side of the issues that come before them. Similarly, I believe that the Court would be enhanced by the addition of Justices who come from west of the Mississippi.

But today we are considering the nominee that the President chose, and she is an excellent choice. This week, I plan to cast my vote to confirm Solicitor General Kagan to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and I would encourage my colleagues to support her confirmation as well.


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