Jun 16 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on Inez Tenenbaum’s nomination to serve as Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Graham introduced Tenenbaum at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing this morning in Washington. 

“American consumers will be in good hands with Inez Tenenbaum at the helm of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  She has a wealth of executive experience and has been intimately involved in consumer advocacy issues as an attorney.

“The Chairman of CPSC holds the public trust and I could not think of a better person to hold this position.  Inez is someone everyone respects, whether you agree with her or not.  She will look out for American consumers and provide the agency with the leadership it needs.

“It is a big honor for South Carolina to have her nominated for this position.  President Obama has made an outstanding selection in nominating Inez Tenenbaum and I look forward to seeing her confirmed by the Senate.”

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Jun 09 2009

WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vermont) announcement that the hearings for the Supreme Court vacancy will begin on July 13th.  Graham is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“A nomination to the Supreme Court is one of the most important issues to come before the Senate.  I agree with Senator Sessions’ assessment that Chairman Leahy’s unilateral decision to rush these hearings is inappropriate.  Judge Sotomayor has an extremely long record of around 3,600 cases to review.  John Roberts, by comparison, only had 327 cases to review. 

“Additionally, Chairman Leahy’s schedule would provide the Committee with less time to review Judge Sotomayor’s record than it had for the nominations of Justices Roberts, Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, and Clarence Thomas.  This is a rush schedule and I see no compelling reason for us to rush the process.  The Supreme Court does not meet until the first week of October.”

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Jun 09 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made these statements on published reports House Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are preparing to strip out the Lieberman-Graham amendment from the war supplemental funding bill.  The amendment bolstered the Obama Administration’s legal position to prevent the release of photos of past detainee abuse. 

 

Graham made these statements at a Capitol Hill press conference with Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Connecticut).  (A full transcript of the Graham-Lieberman press conference is available on Senator Graham’s blog.  Audio and video should be available later this afternoon.)

The House is ‘Off-Script’ 

"The Senate has jumped on board with President Obama.  The only body that is off-script, in my opinion, is the House.  If they drop this in conference, it will be one of the most outrageous and irresponsible acts in the history of the Congress.  Why do I say that?  Because it would mean that members of Congress will dismiss advice from commanders in the field at a time of war.  And these are not just any commanders.  These commanders have been at war for years.  They know what they're talking about, Generals Petraeus and Odierno.  They told us without any hesitation that if these photos are released our enemies will use it to incite violence against our troops.  If these photos see the light of day, it will be a death sentence to some serving abroad.”

Empowering our Enemies 

“The United States Congress being told by commanders in the field that if you release these photos, you're going to jeopardize the safety of our troops, who are already in harm's way, unnecessarily.  What good is it to pass a supplemental giving our troops new weapons if also in the supplemental you give a weapon to the enemy to use against our own troops?”

The ‘Fringe’ Element Opposes Lieberman-Graham Amendment 

“I cannot believe that we're about to do this, that we're going to dismiss the advice of our commanders who are leading our troops at the time of war to give into a fringe element in American politics.  And make no doubt about it:  This is a fringe element.”  

‘Nothing new’ Added by Releasing Additional Photos: 

“I think the initial approach we took to Abu Ghraib overall has been helpful.  We had to get this out.  We got it out.  People have been court-martialed. People have lost their jobs.  The public had a chance to understand how badly we mismanaged Abu Ghraib, and quite frankly, the war.  But to release additional photographs I think the commander-in-chief is right, it doesn't add anything to the debate.”

‘Life and death’ 

“This is life and death.  And we're not going to let the fringe of American politics get young men and women killed who have done nothing wrong.  They weren't part of these photos.  They weren't part of this abuse.  They're volunteers serving abroad.  They've done nothing wrong, and we're not going to put them in harm's way unnecessarily because of a fringe element in American politics.”

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Jun 08 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) today issued the following statement on the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill:

“We strongly believe that the first responsibilities of government are the nation's security and the protection of those brave Americans who go into harm's way to defend it.

“The President has said that the release of the photos of detainees in US custody would 'put our troops and civilians serving our nation abroad in greater danger.'  We agree with the Commander in Chief.

“We will employ all the legislative means available to us including opposing the supplemental war spending bill and attaching this amendment, which was unanimously adopted by the Senate, to every piece of legislation the Senate considers, to be sure the President has the authority he needs not to release these photos and any others that would jeopardize the safety and security of our troops.

“The release of the photos will serve as propaganda and recruiting tool for terrorists who seek to attack American citizens at home and abroad.  We should strive to have as open a government as possible, but the behavior depicted in the photos has been prohibited and is being investigated.  The photos do not depict anything that is not already known.  Transparency, and in this case needless transparency, should not be paid for with the lives of American citizens, let alone the lives of our men and women in uniform fighting on our behalf in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“Let it clearly be understood that without this legislation the photos in question are likely to be released.  Such a release would be tantamount to a death sentence to some who are serving our nation in the most dangerous and difficult spots like Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is this certain knowledge of these consequences of having the photos released that will cause us to vote against the supplemental and continue our push to turn our important amendment into law.”

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Jun 04 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today placed this statement in the Congressional Record on the 20th Anniversary of the brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

"Mr. President, today marks a somber anniversary. Twenty years ago today, months of peaceful protests throughout China culminated with the violent deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Chinese citizens advocating for democratic reforms. It is with sadness that we mark this occasion, but it is also an opportunity to renew our call for political reform in the People's Republic of China.

"One of the first things you see when you walk into my office is a large poster depicting the iconic image of a lone man staring down a line of Chinese tanks. This image has come to symbolize the worldwide struggle for democracy, the rule of law, and the promotion of basic human rights.

"Unfortunately, a generation of students in China can't identify the image or tell you about the events leading up to June 3rd and 4th, 1989. This is because China has failed to acknowledge or account for the actions that led up to this event.

"While the intervening years since the tragedy have seen China grow into a rapidly developing country, economically intertwined with the rest of the world, China's failure to deal with the Tiananmen events prevents the nation from making the political reforms necessary to truly become a respected member of the international community.

"In the years following Tiananmen, leaders of the Communist Party of China including Jiang Zemin, declared, "If we had not taken absolute measures at the time, we would not have the stability we enjoy today. A bad thing has turned out to be good."

"General Chi Haotian, the General in charge of the People's Liberation Army's response to the protest later stated that, "I can tell you in a responsible and serious manner that at that time not a single person lost his life in Tiananmen Square."

"Leaders of the military crackdown such as Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, have never been held accountable for the actions of the People's Liberation Army and there has never been an official acknowledgement of the number of protesters killed or put in prison. Some accounts have claimed that more than 20,000 people were arbitrarily arrested and held without trial. A number of these people remain in prison today.

"Today would have been a landmark occasion for the Chinese government to announce that they were starting an independent and open investigation relating to the events of June 4, 1989. However, other than checkpoints set up in Tiananmen Square and efforts by the Chinese government to prevent international media outlets from filming in the square, there are no signs that today is anything other than an ordinary day in China.

"While the events of twenty years ago by the Chinese government launched a coordinated effort to prevent further unrest, it also helped crystallize a movement that continues today.

"Democracy advocates in China have built upon the legacy of Tiananmen and have led various efforts to force accountability and political reforms. All who watch China applaud the tireless work of Ding Zilin, the leader of Tiananmen Mothers, Liu Xiaobo and the rest of Charter 08, as well as countless others such as Jiang Qisheng who continue to face intimidation and imprisonment, yet persist with their cause.

"They can rest assured that ultimately their efforts will be successful. Today's world is increasingly interconnected. Communication and travel have gotten easier, and with the development of the internet, despite censorship efforts, information is becoming more readily available to the Chinese people.

"Every day it becomes more difficult for the Chinese government to keep its people in the dark. They will find out about Tiananmen, they will find out about how the outside world operates, they will demand changes at home."

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Jun 04 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the South Carolina Supreme Court decision forcing the Governor to apply for the stimulus funding.

"While I have great respect for the Court, I am very concerned this decision has caused great damage to separation of powers within our state government. Separation of powers is a concept that has served our state and nation well.

"While I disagreed with the Governor's decision to not apply for the stimulus funds, I believe it was his decision to make under the federal statute.

"With today's ruling it appears our courts have substituted the General Assembly's discretion for that of the Governor. One could easily see it, in a legal sense, as an assault on the highest office in our state. This decision will erode the power of the governor to make discretionary decisions conferred upon him by the federal government.

"If the governor is unable to perform the task set forward in the federal law, I fear that the governorship has, in many ways, been reduced to a ministerial job.

"The office of the Governor is the highest elected position in the state and one in which every eligible voter has the opportunity to have a say on. Long after the $700 million in stimulus funds is exhausted the impact of this ruling will continue to be felt. I fear today's decision will haunt our state for decades to come."

#####

Jun 03 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) met today with Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor in his Washington office.  Graham is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

After the 35-minute meeting, Graham answered questions from the media. 

Video and a transcript of the press availability are provided below.

Senator Graham Media Availability after Meeting with Supreme Court Nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor
June 3, 2009

GRAHAM:
Thanks for coming. Good meeting, very nice person. I was as direct as I knew how to be. A lot of the questions about case law and judicial temperament will be covered in more detail when we get more information and I've had time to study. This was sort of a get-to-know-you meeting.

She is a impressive person. She's accomplished a lot in her life. And I was very direct. I said that, I've got to decide how to play this game, quite frankly. And I indicated to the -- to her and the White House, if I used President Obama's standard, Senator Obama's standard, I would never vote for her.

He voted against Alito and Roberts, and he basically said - and you can look it up for yourself -- that some people believe that, once the president wins the election, they should have complete authority to appoint the nominee and the only thing you look for is whether they're intellectually capable and they're a nice guy.

He went on to say that you have to do more. You have to look at the judge's philosophy, ideology, and record. "And when I examined the philosophy, ideology and record of Sam Alito, I'm deeply troubled." Well, when I look at her ideology, record, and philosophy, I'm deeply troubled, if that's my standard.

Talented person, but there's no way, as a conservative Republican, I would have ever picked her to be on the Supreme Court. And I think that's what Senator Obama was trying to basically say. My base doesn't like Alito and Roberts, and I'm thinking about running for higher office, so I'm not going to vote for him, because the people I'm trying to please here don't like the nominee.

He used a standard that would make it impossible, I think, for a person of the opposite party to be able to confirm a nominee of someone of the other party.

There was a different day when we didn't do it that way. Justice Ginsburg, 96-3, the general counsel executive director, I believe, of the ACLU, 96-3. Justice Scalia, pretty conservative, 98-0. What happened to those days? That's not the Senate I've been part of. I would like to go back to that, but I live in a world where it may be very difficult to do that.

If I use the Ginsburg-Scalia standard, she has a chance of getting my vote. If I use the Senator Obama standard, there's no way she will get my vote.

The hurdle that she would have to overcome if I used the Scalia-Ginsburg standard, is this temperament problem overstated, overblown, or is it fundamental to who she is? And is she more than just a liberal judge? Is she an activist advocate wearing a robe and has used the bench as a way to advocate her causes, rather than decide the law?

She said all of the things that I would like to hear. She said the things that Alito and Roberts said, that I'm bound by the law. Well, there are some cases that I'm going to look at as to - to challenge her a bit as to whether or not that withstands scrutiny.

The end of the day, the president has chosen someone who's
accomplished a lot, is very educated, and has a long judicial record. At the end of the day, he's asking me to do something he couldn't do himself, and that is to look at the complete person and understand that elections matter.

Quite frankly, I think, when Senator Obama voted against Alito and Roberts, he lost sight that elections really do matter. And now he's in a different spot. I'm in a different spot. So we'll see what
happens.

Any questions?

QUESTION:
Yes, Senator. Can I just make clear (OFF-MIKE) want to look at her ideology and her record, and I'm troubled, were you saying that on behalf of Lindsey Graham or were you quoting Senator Obama?

GRAHAM:
I'm saying that, if I applied the Obama standard - and let me just be direct -- "I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology and record. And when I examined the philosophy, ideology and record of Sam Alito, I'm deeply troubled."

Well, if I apply that standard to her, I am deeply troubled, because she doesn't share my judicial philosophy. She doesn't share my ideology. And her case decisions, the judge I would appoint would probably come out differently. Does that mean she's not qualified to be on the Supreme Court?

Well, there was a day where, no, it didn't mean that, because no Republican could have voted for Justice Ginsburg believing that she shared their philosophy. And there could be no mystery as to where she's going to come out on these cases.

Every now and then, there is a mystery. Souter is one of those cases, probably was a bit of a mystery. But not with her, and not with Scalia. No Democrat could have ever doubted one bit as to where Justice Scalia would come out in the 5 percent of the cases. And how did he vote against Roberts, one of the most qualified people in the history of the United States?

Senator Obama said judicial experience, following the case law, understanding the law, character, temperament, intellect get you 25 miles of a 26-mile marathon. That last mile is how you'll decide that 5 percent of the cases, the cases where Scalia and Ginsburg differ.

And here's what he said: That "last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspective on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy." Now, if I use that standard, she's not going to get my vote.

QUESTION:
Senator GRAHAM (OFF-MIKE) think about (OFF-MIKE) Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed today (OFF-MIKE) explicitly saying that he's backing off (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
I think it speaks well of Newt, because my criticism about her comments in the speech that she gave wasn't that I think that this lady is a racist. I don't. And the reason I don't is because all the people who've worked with here throughout her life, all of the people who agree with her and disagree with her, no one's ever said that about her. There is no evidence of that.

But this statement is troubling. And I did tell her this. If I had said that, it would be over for me. No matter how well intentioned I was and no matter how much I tried to put it in context, that would be it. And you all know that, and America knows that.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
I think she was somewhat moved. You need to ask her about this. I'm not going to put words in her mouth. But I do believe that it's not fair to call her a racist based on that statement. I do think she needs to explain herself. I do think she needs to understand she has offended some people. And I'll let her speak as to what the appropriate response is.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
And I'm glad Newt has -- has taken...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, I think any time that you get -- words like that really do hit hard. And she didn't deserve that. I think she deserves to be challenged. I think she needs to prove to me and others, not just me, but anybody out there who's looking for an independent judge that, if they found themselves in litigation with a Latina woman, you fill in the blanks, that she would give you a fair shake.

That's up to her. It is fair to make her address that question and prove it. It is not fair to say that she's a racist.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE) that she would (OFF-MIKE) you're concerned that she might discriminate against somebody who's not a Latino and calling her a racist (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, I think the way you live your life. I mean, she made a statement. She was trying to articulate that all the things I've gone through in life as a Latino woman, of which I'm very proud, I've come a long way, and I've had a hard struggle. I think that makes me a little better than the average, everyday white guy.

Well, being an average, everyday white guy, does it make her better than Roberts or Alito? That's not exactly -- makes me feel good to hear a sitting judge say that. But do I think in her heart that she hates white people? No. I think it was a -- a misspoken statement. I think it was offensive. I think it needs to be corrected.

But I'm looking at who she is, and there's no doubt in my mind she's a good person.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, I'll leave that up to her. It's for her to correct it, not me.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
I'll not put words in her mouth about this whole line of inquiry.

QUESTION:
Did she apologize?

GRAHAM:
You need to ask her.

QUESTION:
Did you ask for an apology?

GRAHAM:
You need to ask her.

QUESTION:
But did you ask for an apology? You said (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
No, I didn't ask for an apology. You need to ask her.

QUESTION:
Senator (OFF-MIKE) conversations are like now between yourself and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee on how to proceed?

GRAHAM:
We haven't had any yet. I think you know what I'm going to do.

I mean, what I've got to decide is, what standard am I going to apply? And I think I've laid out pretty clearly where I'm going.

QUESTION:
Senator, is there any chance you could vote for her at this point?

GRAHAM:
Well, if I adopt the Ginsburg-Scalia standard, yes. But she's still got some mountains to climb.

QUESTION:
What do (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, one, like looking at her cases and having five minutes to think about her record. You know, she's been in this for a win (ph). So have I. This is a big deal.

I mean, the only reason you wouldn't vote for someone appointed by a president that you lost to is that they put someone who was not qualified, just doesn't have the intellectual capacity. I don't believe that about her at all. I think she does have the intellectual capacity to do the job.

But there's a character problem. There's a temperament problem that they -- during the time they've had to be a judge, that they were more of an advocate than an impartial decider of the law. And I've got to find out, in my own mind, am I comfortable saying that she -- her temperament problem is not a basic, it's not who she is, that these evaluations by the people that were in front of her court represent a small slice of the pie?

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE) how much stock do you put in those evaluations? Do you think that...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM:
Well, I mean...

QUESTION:
... ratings are credible?

GRAHAM:
Yes, generally speaking. I mean, it's (ph) six or eight people. But the fact that they all said the same thing, there are other judges on that court, too. And no one seemed to come out from a lawyer's perspective.

I just don't like bully judges. I don't mind being challenged. And if I screw up in court, the judge can hammer me, nobody to blame but me. But there are some judges that have an edge, that do not wear the robe well. I don't like that.

From what I can tell, her temperament and demeanor, she seems to be a very nice person. Scalia is no shrinking violet. He's tough. There's a difference between tough and a bully. And I don't know what those evaluations mean and her entire context (ph) of her entire legal career. And that's part of the process here.

What do other people say who've been on the other side of her as an advocate? What do the people say that work in the office with her? What do the other judges say who served on the bench?

QUESTION:
Senator, if you vote no (OFF-MIKE) essentially (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
I'm not doing the country any good of looking back and trying to play a game for tit for tat, but I am not going to put my party at a disadvantage. If this is the way the game's going to be played, if this is the way we're going to do it, then this is going to be the way you go forward, then I'll have to -- I'll have to consider that.

I mean, this is a -- you know, he's basically asking me to do something he didn't do himself. The vice president didn't vote, I think, for either one of these people. And I'm just really astonished that we've come from Scalia and Ginsburg getting 96 and 98 votes to Alito and Roberts would -- would lose a lot of votes.

In Alito's case, he only got 58, and he actually got filibustered for a while. And we haven't even started talking about Miguel Estrada.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE) hearing from other people, do you hope at her confirmation hearing there are people who QUESTIONed her temperament (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, yes, I would -- we know what the almanac says, but I'd like to hear the other side, too. I mean, just meeting her, I mean, obviously, she's going to be nice to me. I mean, she's not going to come in here and give me a hard time.

But you could -- you know, from what I can tell, from the people that I know that know her, that she seems to be a very, very decent person. But I just wonder why all the lawyers said the same thing.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, the one thing I can tell you, this is going to be a big deal. This is more about than just her confirmation. We've got some big issues to resolve here.

This comment she made, this speech she gave, that needs to -- that needs to come to a conclusion in a way that makes us a better country, that maybe this is sort of what Eric Holder was talking about, that we need to -- just need to put these things on the table.

It's not fair to say that that one speech would end her hopes and dreams of being on the Supreme Court. But is it true that it would end in someone else's? I think so. And she's got an opportunity here now to explain that. And maybe actually we can come out of this thing stronger as a nation.

QUESTION:
So does that mean the hearings need to happen in July?

GRAHAM:
That means that I think the hearings ought to happen in September, and she ought to be voted upon, if everybody feels that there's no extraordinary circumstance here justifying a filibuster, and I can't find one right now.

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Huh?

QUESTION:
(OFF-MIKE) September (OFF-MIKE)

GRAHAM:
Well, all I can tell you is that there's a lot to look at. There's 3,000, almost 4,000 cases. You get one shot at this. Justice Roberts was voted on September the 29th. And if you used Alito-Roberts timetable, that puts us at September.

I have no desire to make this hard for the sake of making it hard. I have no desire to make it quick for the sake of making it quick. And she deserves to be challenged firmly and fairly so, and she also needs people like me to acknowledge that she's come a long way and got a lot to be proud of.

Thank you all.

 

Jun 01 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement on General Motors filing for bankruptcy.

“It is a sad day for America to see General Motors have to resort to bankruptcy.  Unfortunately, their current business model was doomed to failure in the global economy.

“I believe the government bailouts of General Motors should have stopped a long time ago.  It is unfair to other car companies who manufacture in the United States to have to compete against auto companies owned by the federal government.  The Obama Administration has made a serious mistake with its massive intervention into our economy as a whole and particularly with the domestic auto industry.

“Let’s be clear, much of the government’s actions leading up to the bankruptcy proceedings have been driven by union politics.  The Obama Administration has put the interests of the unions first, even ahead of the American taxpayer.  I strongly disagree with their decisions on this matter.  I also recognize the unfortunate burden this places on the many family-owned car dealers and auto parts suppliers who will be forced to close their doors through no fault of their own.

“I have no desire for the government to own and operate a car company.  I will work to put Members of Congress on record as to whether or not they support the Obama Administration’s intervention in the domestic car manufacturing industry.” 

#####

Jun 01 2009

Senator Graham was a guest on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to discuss the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.  Graham is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Video of the interview is available here.

The transcript is below:

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
May 31, 2009

Chris Wallace, Host
Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator (R-South Carolina)
Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator (D-Pennsylvania)

WALLACE:
I'm Chris Wallace, and this is FOX News Sunday.A Supreme Court nominee is announced, and battle lines start taking shape. Will Judge Sonia Sotomayor be confirmed? We'll ask two leading members of the Senate committee that will decide her fate, Republican Lindsey Graham and recent Democratic convert Arlen Specter.

Then, our new series on the future of the GOP, Right Now -- how do Republicans rebuild and challenge President Obama? We'll kick off the conversation with Mitt Romney, only on FOX News Sunday.

Also, North Korea shows off its military might. We'll ask our Sunday regulars what the U.S. can do about it.

And our Power Players of the Week offer life lessons to the class of '09, all right now on FOX News Sunday.

And hello again from Fox News in Washington. With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, we have brought in two leading members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who she will face during confirmation.
From Philadelphia, Arlen Specter -- a veteran of many hearings as a Republican. He's to a Democrat.

And here in studio, Lindsey Graham, who was and is a Republican.

Senators, welcome back to FOX News Sunday.

GRAHAM:
Good morning.

SPECTER:
Good to be with you.

WALLACE:
Thank you.

GRAHAM:
Good morning, Arlen.

WALLACE:
Let's start with Judge Sotomayor's controversial speech back in 2001 in which she said she hoped that a wise Latina woman judge would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male judge.

On Friday President Obama tried to walk that back. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:
I'm sure she would have restated it, but if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through. That will make her a good judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:
Senator Graham, does that clear it up for you?

GRAHAM:
No, she didn't say that at all. What she said is that based on her life experiences, that she felt a Latina woman, somebody with her background, would be a better judge than a guy like me, a white guy from South Carolina.

And it is troubling, and it's inappropriate, and I hope she'll apologize. And if I had said something like that or someone with my background and profile, we wouldn't be talking about this nomination going forward.

But we'll listen to what she has to say. But she's got to prove to me that if I found myself in court with a Latina woman in front of her I'd get a fair shake, and that's up to her to do.

WALLACE:
Well, let me follow up. Newt Gingrich says that she's a racist. Rush Limbaugh compares her to former Klansman David Duke. Are they right?

GRAHAM:
No. They interject themselves in the debate. They've got an audience to entertain, and Newt's a political commentator. I'm a United States senator.

But I do know this, that statement is not about talking abut her life experiences. It's getting from her life experiences a superiority based on those experiences versus somebody else in society. And I don't want that kind of person being a judge in my case. But I don't think she's a racist.

I think she's -- she should be proud of what she's accomplished in life. But to lead to the conclusion that all the hardship she has gone through makes her better than me is inappropriate.

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, are you troubled by Judge Sotomayor's comments and also about President Obama's empathy remarks? What happened to the idea that justice should be blind and not favoring one side over another?

SPECTER:
Well, when President Obama said that, I think he's looking for diversity, and I think Judge Sotomayor brings that.

But let's put her comment in context with the whole speech, and it didn't stand out all that much in context. And further, put it in context with her whole record. She has an extraordinary academic record -- Princeton and Yale, a prosecutor, have experience in international trade matters, on the district court, trial court experience, circuit court of appeals.

So she has an extraordinary record. And I believe that it's fair to ask her about the question, but she has a long solid record to show that she's fair and not biased.

WALLACE:
But, Senator, when she said -- and those were her words -- that I would think that more often than not -- I would hope that a wise Latina woman judge would reach better conclusions than a white male judge, what do you think she meant?

SPECTER:
Well, I think she meant that somebody with her experience has something to add.

Look, we live in a very diverse society, and it is really surprising that it took until 1967 to have an African American, Thurgood Marshall, on the court, or that it took until 1981 to have a woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, on the court. And still, there are only two women.

And that in this kind of a diverse society, if you go back to the Supreme Court discussion room, very small room, small table, nine people sit around and decide monumental questions, and of -- the diversity and the point of view of Latina woman is significant. It adds to the mix.

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, the issue of identity politics has been raised specifically in the Ricci case, a case that she decided as part of a three-judge panel earlier this year, in which she sided with the city of New Haven, throwing out a promotion exam in which 20 white and Hispanic firefighters would have been eligible for a promotion but no African Americans.

One, do you think that she was right on Ricci? And does it raise concerns that she made a decision based on race?

SPECTER:
I think she was well within the ambit of discretion of a judge. Different judges see issues differently. And you have Supreme Court deciding cases 5-4.

But I think her judgment there was very sound. Is race a factor? Well, it really is in our society. There's no hiding from it, notwithstanding all of the progress which has been made.

And the New Haven firefighters case is like so many tough ones. You want to be sure that the white applicants get a fair shot, and you want to be sure that the minority applicants get a fair shot. And a very tough call, but she made a justifiable call, in my legal opinion.

WALLACE:
Senator Graham, do you have a problem with Ricci? And what about the comparison that some of her supporters make to what Justice Alito said during his confirmation hearing? Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE ALITO:
When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that in to account.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:
Senator Graham, what's the difference?

GRAHAM:
Well, I think the difference is that we're talking about a comment she made about her life experiences basically making her superior to someone, not that I would add something new to the court, that the people on the other side basically have less to offer than I do.

How this case turns out, I don't know. It's a difficult fact pattern. But the judicial temperament of this judge is in question, her philosophy.

I know this, that if I use the Obama standard for confirmation, she would never get my vote, because Obama -- President Obama as senator voted against Alito and Roberts, two highly qualified people, saying that you need to look at the philosophy, ideology and legal record.

If I do that, if I look at her philosophy, her legal philosophy, which I think is very activist in nature -- this empathy word is just a code word for activism. If I look at her ideology that's being expressed in some of these cases and that one comment, I could never vote for her as a Republican.

And President Obama better hope that Republicans treat her better than he treated President Bush's nominee.

WALLACE:
Let me bring you another case which may raise the issue of activism and trying to make policy from the bench. This year, Judge Sotomayor joined a ruling that it is settled law that the Second Amendment applies to federal restrictions on guns or weapons, the right to bear arms, but not on state laws.

And she based this on an 1886 Supreme Court ruling rather than the ruling that the Supreme Court made just last year upholding an individual right to bear arms.
Senator Graham, do you see pattern or do you see that as an instance of Judge Sotomayor making policy from the bench?

GRAHAM:
If the -- if the legislative law doesn't sit with her, she finds a way as a judge to get around it, in my opinion.

When the Congress or the legislature comes up with a law that she doesn't like or feel comfortable with, she's looking for a way to get around that law rather than living within the confines of the way the law is written.

That's activism at its core, and that case that you just mentioned expresses that. But having said that, she is going to get firmly treated and fairly treated. Miguel Estrada was Hispanic, nominated to one of the highest courts in the land. He didn't get very well treated.

WALLACE:
This was an appeals court judge nominee from George W. Bush.

GRAHAM:

Yes. I intend to do better than our Democratic colleagues did with Ms. Sotomayor.

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, in voting for John Roberts to be a Supreme Court justice, you said the following. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPECTER:
He emphasized the point that judges are not politicians and that judges really ought to be having a view of the law which does not inject their own personal views into the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, can you honestly say that judge Sotomayor's statements and rulings live up to that standard?

SPECTER:
Well, Chris, yes, I can. Let's evaluate her in the context of the hundreds of opinions which she has written. You take one statement she made many years ago, you take a couple of cases -- and they ought to be scrutinized, and I'm going to participate in asking firm questions, probing questions. That's the job of a senator under the Constitution.

But evaluate Judge Sotomayor's record in the totality of her cases, not just picking a snatch here and a snatch there.

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, given the fact that you just switch parties and just became a Democrat, don't you, as matter of practical politics, have to vote for President Obama's nominee?

SPECTER:
No. No. I am duty-bound under the Constitution to exercise independent judgment under separation of powers. Look here, one of the most highly touted Republican nominees for the Supreme Court ever by a Republican president was Judge Bork. And he was of my own party.

And I thought it was my duty to analyze what Judge Bork had to say about original intent and to make an independent judgment under separation of powers. And my record is pretty obvious in having voted on an independent basis, and that's a senator's responsibility. And, Chris, you can be sure I'm going to discharge it.

WALLACE:
Let me ask you both about the question of schedule.

Senator Graham, President Obama -- the White House is pushing for this all to be decided, a confirmation vote, not just by the Judiciary Committee but by the full Senate before you go on August recess about the 7th of August. Are you going to do that?

GRAHAM:
I don't think that's practical. I don't think that's appropriate. Chief Justice Roberts was voted on September the 29th. We've got a lot to do. We don't really know much about her. The FBI report is not done yet. If you use the Alito-Roberts standard, we're looking at September. And I'm not going to cut this sort. She is somebody that has accomplished a lot in America, but my question is does she really understand what America is about. To come as far as she has is a great compliment to her.

But we don't need to take those experiences and say somebody else is smaller because they're different. And I hope she will apologize for the comment we're all talking about.

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, can you get it done and should you get it done before the August recess? I can remember when you were on the Republican side you used to jealously guard your discretion to hold hearings and schedule votes when you wanted to.

SPECTER:
I think it can be done by the end of the July session. Let's take a look at the record and evaluate all of the extent of the paperwork. But from this perspective, I think it's do-able. And I think it's important to have her on the bench when the court starts to consider in September the applications for certiorari, what cases they're going to hear.

We might have to work Mondays and Fridays to do it, but we can get it done.

WALLACE:
Senator Specter, I'm -- can you hear me still, sir?

SPECTER:
Sure do.

WALLACE:
Oh, good. OK, because we wondered -- we thought there might be a technical problem. I've got about a minute left and I want to ask you two quick questions.

You admit -- and you were very open about it -- that you switched parties because, in large measure, you faced a very tough Republican primary. Now Congressman Joe Sestak says that you're more concerned about your job than you are about your state and that he may oppose you in the Democratic primary.

First question: Are you certain that you can beat Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary?

SPECTER:
Chris, in a political campaign there's no such thing as certainty. Listen, it's a free society. I didn't ask that the field be cleared. There was no discussion of that.
Everybody ought to run if he or she wants to run. And I'm ready to take on all comers.

WALLACE:
And finally, as the newest and most junior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, instead of having that position right next to the chairman, you're going to be all the way down at the end of the table and probably questioning Judge Sotomayor at 1:00 in the morning.

How do you feel about your loss of status, sir?

SPECTER:
I feel that I can handle it. Listen, it wasn't next to the chairman. I was the chairman during the Roberts and Alito confirmation hearings. I was way down the line when Judge Bork was up for confirmation, and my voice was heard loudly and clearly.

WALLACE:
Well, it always is.

Senator Specter, Senator Graham, I want to thank you both so much for joining us today.

GRAHAM:
Thank you.

WALLACE:
It should be an interesting summer.

SPECTER:
Nice to be with you. Thank you.

WALLACE:
Thank you.

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May 26 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the United States Supreme Court.  Graham is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I do not know Judge Sotomayor.  I look forward to meeting with her and discussing the important issues confronting the court. 

“As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I intend to be fair and firm in my questioning of the nominee.  The hearings can be a valuable public service as they give us a window into the nominee’s judicial philosophy and disposition.  I hope we will have a meaningful opportunity to explore the qualifications, judicial temperament and judicial philosophy of Judge Sotomayor.

“I was fortunate to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings of both John Roberts and Samuel Alito.  Under intense questioning in private and public settings, both nominees advanced clear and concise understandings of the law.  I was proud to vote for their confirmation.”

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