The Standing Rules of the Senate are drafted to encourage vigorous public debate on our nation’s most important issues. Indeed, the U.S. Senate is often referred to as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” The Rules allow any Senator to seek recognition from the Chair at any time and, absent a temporary agreement to the contrary, to speak without interruption so long as he or she wishes. Debating important questions before the Senate is one way a Senator can highlight an issue, advocate for a change in policy, or voice his or her opinion on pending legislation.
Senate debate occurs in public, and is televised on CSPAN and transcribed in the Congressional Record. For your convenience, I post transcripts of my Senate floor speeches on this site for your review. I hope you find them informative and useful. My web site also makes available information on my voting record and legislation that I have sponsored in the Senate.
Sessions Expresses Concern on DOJ Nominees
Monday, February 2, 2009
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, Senator Whitehouse and I both served as U.S. attorneys. Eric Holder also served as a Federal judge supervising prosecutions and tried cases in the District of Columbia as a U.S. attorney. He served 4 years as Deputy Attorney General and did many good things during that time. He also made several serious errors, which I think and believe he has understood. He has committed not to make them again. He was influenced by the President, President Clinton, to do the pardons, and he should not have been influenced. I note that he moved away from that area of judge, prosecutor, and was active in the Kerry and Obama presidential campaigns. I have talked to him, and I believe he will be a responsible legal officer and not a politician as the Attorney General. I intend to support him.
I want to take a minute to express a growing concern I have about my beloved Department of Justice, where I spent 15 years as a prosecutor. It is something I respect highly. We do need to eliminate politics from that office. Some of the nominees coming up disturb me, and the pattern of them is disturbing. One is Elena Kagan, nominated for the Solicitor General. While dean of the Harvard Law School, she barred the U.S. military from coming on campus as long as she could successfully get away with it. She actually filed a brief in the Supreme Court when the Congress got so fed up with the idea that American universities would not allow the U.S. military to come on campus to ask students if they would like to be a part of the American military. She led the fight with an appeal all the way to the Supreme Court to reverse the Solomon amendment, which would require colleges and universities to either allow the military on campus or get no Federal funds. She led that battle. It was voted down in the Supreme Court 8 to 0, as well it should have been.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair advises the Senator that 3 minutes has elapsed.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for 1 more minute.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Mr. LEAHY. On the Republican time?
Mr. SESSIONS. Yes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. SESSIONS. Dawn Johnsen, nominated to be assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, was the legal director for NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, one of the most aggressive--probably the most aggressive--pro-abortion group in the country.
David Ogden, nominated for Deputy Attorney General, represented the murder defendants in Roper v. Simmons, which led to the unprincipled decision about defendants and the death penalty.
Thomas Perrelli, who represented Michael Schiavo in the Terry Schiavo case, is nominated for Associate Attorney General, third in command.
D. Anthony West, who is nominated for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Division, represented John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban who has been prosecuted and convicted.
We are heading into problems on some other nominations. We do not need the Department of Justice to become a liberal bastion. It needs to be the cornerstone of defending Americans and our safety.
I yield the floor and reserve the remainder of our time.