Jan 09 2006
Wes Hickman (202) 24-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome back, Judge. I'd hate for you to miss my opening statement. (LAUGHTER) It would be a loss for the ages. Welcome to the committee. Welcome to one of the most important events in your life. You've got the people that mean the most here with you today, your family. I know they're proud of you. I'm certainly proud of what you have been able to accomplish. And to say the least, you come to the Senate in interesting political times. There is going to be a lot of talk by the senators of this committee about concepts that are important to Americans. But what I worry the most about -- your time, believe it or not, will come and go. You will not be here forever, it may just seem that way. But I think you're going to be just fine. I don't know what kind of vote you're going to get, but you'll make it through. It's possible you could talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it. So I won't even try to challenge you along those lines. I feel very comfortable with you being on the Supreme Court based on what I know. And the hearings will be helpful to all of us to find out some issues that are important to us. We had a talk recently about executive power. That's very important to me. In a time of war, I want the executive branch to have the tools to protect me, my family and my country. But also I believe even during a time of war, the rule of law applies. And I've got some problems with using a force resolution to the point that future presidents may not be able to get a force resolution from Congress if you interpret it too broadly. We've talked about those things and we'll talk more about it. But I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the points my colleagues have been making. Everybody knows you're a conservative. The question is: Are you a mainstream conservative? Well, the question I have for my colleagues is: Who would you ask to find out? Would you ask Senator Kennedy? Probably not. If you asked me who a mainstream liberal is, I would be the worst person to pick, because I do not hang out over there. (LAUGHTER) I expect that most all of us, if not all of us, will vote for you. I would argue that we represent from the center line to the right ditch in our party and, if all of us vote for you, you've got to be pretty mainstream. So the answer to the question, Are you a mainstream conservative? We’ll soon know. If every Republican member of the Judiciary Committee votes for you, and you're not mainstream, that means we are not mainstream. It is a word that means what you want it to mean. Advise and consent means what? Whatever you want it to be. Advise and consent means the process has got to work to the advantage of people I like and with people I don't want on the court, it is a different process. That is politics. Every senator will have to live within themselves as to what they would like to see happen for the judiciary. My main concern here is not about you, it's about us. What are we going to be doing as a body to the judiciary when it is all said and done? Roe v. Wade and abortion: If I wanted to work for Ronald Reagan, one of the things I would tell the Reagan Administration is I think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. They are likely to hire me because they were trying to prove to the court that the court took away from elected officials a very important right, protecting the unborn. I was on the news program with Senator Feinstein this weekend, who is a terrific person. She made a very emotional, compelling argument that she can remember back alley abortions and women committing suicide when abortion was illegal. I understand that is seared in her memory banks and that is important to her. Let me tell you, there's another side to that story. There are millions of Americans -- a bunch of them in South Carolina -- who are heartsick that millions of unborn children have been sent to a certain death because of what judges have done. It's a two-sided argument and an emotional event in our society. They're talking about maybe filibustering if you don't give the right answer. Well, what could possibly be the right answer about Roe v. Wade? If you acknowledge it's a precedent of the court, well, then you would be right. If you refused to listen to someone who's trying to change the way it's applied or to overturn it and you will say, Here, I will never listen to them, you might talk me out of voting for you. I don't think any American should lose the right to challenge any precedent the Supreme Court has issued because the judge wanted to get on the court. You may be a great fan of Roe v. Wade and you think it should be there forever. There may be a case where someone disagrees with that line of reasoning. What I want from the judge is an understanding that precedent matters but the facts, the brief and the law is what you're going to base your decision on as to whether or not that precedent stands. Not some bargain to get on the court. Because I can tell you, if that ever becomes a reason to filibuster, there are plenty of people that I personally know, if it became fashionable to stand on the floor of the Senate to stop a nominee on the issue of abortion, feel so deeply, so honestly held belief that an abortion is certain death for an unborn child that they would stand on their feet forever. Is that what we want? Is that where we're going as a nation? Are we going to take one case and one issue, and if we don't get the answer we like that represents our political view on that issue, are we going to bring the judiciary to their knees? Are we going to say as a body, It doesn't matter how smart you are, how many cases you decided, how many things you've done in your life as a lawyer, forget about it; it all comes down to this one issue ? If we do, if we go down that road, there will be no going back. Good men and women will be deterred from coming before this body to serve their nation as a judge at the highest levels. What we're saying and what we're doing here is far more important than just whether or not Judge Alito gets through the process. What is the proper role of a senator when it come to advise and consent? I would argue that, if we start taking the one or two cases we cherish the most and make that a litmus test, we've let our country down and we've changed a historical standard. Elections matter. Values debates occur all over this country. They occur in presidential elections. It is no mystery as to what President Bush would do if he won. He would pick people like John Roberts and Sam Alito. That's what he said he would do. That's exactly what he's done. He's picked solid, strict constructionist conservatives who have long, distinguished legal careers. What did President Clinton do? He picked people left of the center who worked for Democrats. It cannot surprise anybody on the other side that two people we picked worked for Ronald Reagan. We like Ronald Reagan. President Clinton picked Ginsburg and Breyer. Justice Ginsburg was the general counsel for the ACLU. If I'm going to base my decision based on who you represented as a lawyer, how in the world could I ever vote for somebody that represented the ACLU? If I'm going to make my decision based on whether or not I agree with the Princeton faculty and administration policies on ROTC students and quotas and I am bound by that, I'll get killed at home. What the president does with their admission policies and whether or not an ROTC unit should be on a campus is an OK thing to debate. At least I hope it is OK. I think most American are going to be with the group that you're associated with, not the policies of Princeton. The bottom line is you come here as an individual with a life well-lived. Everybody who seems to work with you as a private lawyer, public lawyer, as a judge, admires you, even though they may disagree with you. My biggest concern, members of this committee, is if we don't watch the way we treat people like Judge Alito, we're going to drive good men and women away from wanting to serve. There'll be a Democratic president one day. I do not know when, but that's likely to happen. There'll be another Justice Ginsburg come over. If she came over in this atmosphere, she wouldn't get 96 votes. Justice Scalia wouldn't get 98 votes. And that's sad to me. I hope we'll use this opportunity to not only treat you fairly but not use a double standard. I hope we'll understand this is bigger than you, this is bigger than us. The way we conduct ourselves and what we expect of you, we better be expecting when we're not in power. Thank you.
Jan 04 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Charleston Interfaith Crisis Ministry will receive a $204,539 Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH) grant. The funds will help provide primary health care, mental health, and substance abuse services to the homeless population in the Charleston area. Interfaith Crisis Ministry has been a recipient of this competitive federal grant since 1996. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####
Jan 04 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Business Development Corporation of Clarendon County will receive a $50,000 economic development grant. “South Carolina’s natural resources are some of our most valuable assets,” said Graham. “I hope this grant will prove beneficial to the county’s efforts to bring more tourism dollars to the area.” The funds will be used to support a feasibility study of tourism development in the Santee-Cooper Lakes System. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. ####
Jan 04 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment to the recently enacted defense appropriations bill. “Under no circumstance did I intend, by a change in language, that existing lawsuits filed by enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) would be statutorily preserved. Nor do I believe a reasonable reading of the statute would lead to that conclusion. “The intent of the language contained within the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment is that Courts will decide in accord with their own rules, procedures and precedents whether to proceed in pending cases. “It is my belief Congress has spoken in a bipartisan fashion – loud and clear – that enemy combatant terrorists engaged in hostile acts against the United States do not have the same legal rights as American citizens under Section 2241 of the federal criminal code passed by Congress. “It is clear from the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment federal courts will retain jurisdiction to review military decisions as to whether an individual was properly classified as an enemy combatant. It is my belief the Courts will use the procedures outlined in Graham-Levin-Kyl for judicial review in place of habeas petitions under Section 2241 past, present, and future. The over 160 habeas petitions plus over 200 money damage claims are undermining the effective operation of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “Michael Ratner, a lawyer who has filed lawsuits on behalf of numerous enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, boasts about the fact this litigation has undermined intelligence gathering in the war on terror. Ratner said, “The litigation is brutal for [the United States]. It’s huge. We have over one hundred lawyers now from big and small firms working to represent these detainees. Every time an attorney goes down there, it makes it that much harder [for the U.S. military] to do what they’re doing. You can’t run an interrogation…with attorneys. What are they going to do now that we’re getting court orders to get more lawyers down there?” (Onnesha Roychoudhuri, The Torn Fabric of the Law: An Interview with Michael Ratner, Mother Jones Magazine, March 21, 2005.) “There are now cases filed by enemy combatants requesting better mail delivery, more exercise, judge-supervised interrogation, Internet access, the right to view DVDs and alleging medical malpractice. Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits about their detention. Thousands of Germans and Japanese prisoners during World War II were captured and held by the military. Not one case was allowed in federal court regarding their detention. “The legal review allowed for in Graham-Levin-Kyl is far beyond the requirements of the Geneva Convention but will prevent the unnecessary disruption of the operation of Guantamo Bay to protect our nation’s national security.” ####
Jan 04 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced displaced employees at Weavetex, Inc. in Jonesville are eligible to receive trade adjustment assistance (TAA). The Department of Labor has certified that Weavetex has suffered losses due to increased foreign imports and cheap foreign labor. TAA benefits help provide displaced workers with job retraining, educational advancement, resume writing and relocation assistance. Eligible workers also qualify for alternative trade adjustment assistance, a special program that benefits workers over the age of fifty. “These programs help soften the blow of job losses due to the unfair trade practices,” said Graham. “Our manufacturers and textile companies are simply asking for a fair playing field. American workers are hard-working and when given the chance to compete in a fair market, no one can come close to them.” Graham noted that manufacturing companies in South Carolina have been hard hit by unfair competition much of it coming from China. Employees of Weavetex should visit their local ‘One-Stop Center’ for more information on how to receive TAA benefits. There are ‘One-Stop’ locations in Spartanburg and Union: Upstate One-Stop Career Center 110 Commerce Street Spartanburg, SC 29306 864-562-4168 Spartanburg ESC One-Stop Satellite Center 364 South Church Street Spartanburg, SC 29304 864-573-7525 Union One-Stop Satellite Center 440 Duncan Highway Union, SC 29379 864-427-5672 ####
Jan 04 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Catawba Regional Council of Governments will receive a $55,000 economic development grant. “Regionalism is the key to promoting economic growth and development,” said Graham. “I am pleased to see our local governments working together with the regional councils to improve the economic future of our state.” The funds will be used to support long-term regional economic development planning efforts. The Catawba Regional Council of Governments serves Chester, Lancaster, Union, and York County. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. ####
Dec 22 2005
Graham Helps Secure TRICARE for National Guard and Reserve
Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417WASHINGTON -- The United States Senate last night approved the Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Authorization bill. The legislation improves benefits for military personnel including a provision offered by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to expand TRICARE to all drilling reservists. Graham has worked with other Senators to expand access to health care for members of the National Guard and Reserve who are playing an ever-increasing and historic role in the global War on Terror. He noted that Guardsmen and Reservists now make up approximately 40 percent of American forces in Iraq. “Our work reflects a significant triumph for the Guard, Reserves and their families,” said Graham, chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. “Now, after years of relative neglect, these soldiers’ health care coverage and benefits are more in line with their service to our nation. This year’s bill provides continuous health care coverage for all drilling reservists, an important improvement over what we were able to accomplish last year.” Under the expansion of TRICARE championed by Graham, all members of the Selected Reserve are eligible to enroll in the military health care program for a monthly premium. The premiums are based on categories of eligibility: Category 1: Members of the Selected Reserve who are called to active duty qualify for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS). Under this program, established last year, a reservist would accumulate one year of TRS coverage for every 90 days of active duty service. Monthly premiums during the years of accumulated eligibility are only 28 percent of the program cost. The government picks up the remaining 72 percent. As has always been the case, coverage is free of charge while on active duty. This bill now permits accumulation of earned periods of coverage for frequently deployed personnel. In addition, it authorizes 6 months of transitional coverage for family members following the death of the Reserve member, if the member dies while in an inactive status.
Category 2: Members of the Selected Reserve who are not called to active duty, and who otherwise do not qualify for health insurance due to unemployment or lack of employer-provided coverage, are eligible to enroll in TRICARE for a 50 percent cost-sharing premium. The government will pay the remaining 50 percent.
Category 3: Members of the Selected Reserve who do not fit into either of the above categories but would like to participate in TRICARE are eligible to do so for an 85 percent cost share. Employers are allowed and encouraged to contribute to the reservist’s share. The government contributes 15 percent of the costs. “I will continue to work to improve benefits available to members of the Guard and Reserve,” said Graham. “The nation will continue to need their services, in large numbers, in fighting the War on Terror. I am proud of and appreciate the progress we’ve made this year with the Senate and Bush Administration working together.” “Guardsmen and Reservists are citizen-soldiers,” said Graham. “Increasingly they are being called up, taken away from their work and families, and being sent to far-away lands for long tours of duty. We need to ensure the benefits they are receiving are equal to the sacrifice they are making to protect our country and interests around the world.” The defense bill authorized additional benefits for the men and women serving our nation in uniform. Among these important changes were: * A 3.1 percent pay raise for all military personnel;
* Payment of “matching fund” contributions of up to 5 percent of basic pay for first term enlistees who participate in the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is a 401(k) retirement plan available to all federal employees.
* Increases in maximum amounts of assignment incentive pay and hardship duty pay.
* $60 million increase in child care and family assistance services to active-duty and Reserve military families.
* Critical skills retention bonus of up to $100,000 over a career for members of the Selected Reserve.
* Increases TRICARE benefits for the surviving children of members who die on active duty.
* Increases to $100,000 in the death gratuity allowance payable to survivors of all active duty military decedents, including retroactive payment to October 7, 2001, the date of commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom.
* Directs the establishment of a uniform Department policy on casualty assistance to improve the services provided to survivors and next of kin of military members killed on active duty.
* In addition the bill authorizes increases in the active-duty end strength of 10,000 for the Army and 1,000 for the Marine Corps.
The bill has been passed by the House and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush in the coming days. ####