Sen. Patty Murray is backing Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court. That comes as no surprise, considering Murray is a Democrat, and all the Ds are backing Obama’s first court pick.
And considering that Murray has made no secret of her general support for the appeals court judge.
This morning, however, she took to the floor of the Senate to memorialize that support. Want to read her speech? It’s inside the blog.
“M. President, I am here today to speak in support of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.
“The United States Supreme Court is the final arbiter of many our nation’s most important disputes.
“And as the Constitution provides for a lifetime appointment to the Court, a Supreme Court Justice has an opportunity to have a profound effect on the future of the law in America. That is why the Constitution directs that the Senate is responsible for providing advice and consent on judicial nominees.
“Naturally, I take my responsibilities in the nomination and confirmation process very seriously. But M. President, I take a special, personal interest in Supreme Court nominations.
“It was watching Supreme Court confirmation hearings many years ago that inspired me to challenge the status quo and run for the Senate.
“I was deeply frustrated by the confirmation hearings of then-nominee Clarence Thomas. I believed that average Americans did not have a voice in the process.
“There were important questions – questions that needed to be answered – that were never even raised to the nominee.
“So, I have worked for years to be a voice for those average Americans when it comes to judicial appointments – and make sure those questions are asked.
“I have had the opportunity to meet in person with Judge Sotomayor and ask her the questions that will most affect all Americans – including working families in Washington State.
“I have examined her personal and professional history, and studied her 17-year record on the federal bench. I have followed her progress through the Senate Judiciary Committee and watched her answer a number of difficult questions.
“And with all of this information and her answers in mind, I am pleased to support her nomination.
“By now, many Americans have heard the remarkable life story of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Judge Sotomayor is truly the embodiment of the American Dream.
“Though many Americans by now have heard Judge Sotomayor’s story, some points bear repeating.
“Judge Sotomayor is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. Her father died when she was nine, and she and her brother were raised by her mother in a public housing project in the Bronx.
“Sotomayor’s mother, a nurse, worked extra hours so that she could pay for schooling and a set of encyclopedias for her children.
“After graduating from high school, Judge Sotomayor attended college at Princeton and law school at Yale.
“She spent five years prosecuting criminal cases in New York, seven years in private law practice, and 17 years as a federal judge on the United States District Court and Court of Appeals.
“Judge Sotomayor’s story is an inspiring reminder of what is achievable with hard work and the support of family and community.
“Of course, a compelling personal story of triumph in tough circumstances is not itself enough.
“M. President, I have long used several criteria to evaluate nominees for judicial appointments are they ethical, honest, and qualified? Will they be fair, independent, and even-handed in administering justice? And will they protect the rights and liberties of all Americans?
“I am confident that Judge Sotomayor meets these criteria.
“She has 17 years of federal judicial experience and unanimously received the highest rating of the American Bar Association – which called her “well qualified” based on a comprehensive evaluation of her record and integrity.
“And she has directly answered questions about her personal beliefs – and prior statements.
“She has been clear with me, the Judiciary Committee and the American people that her own biases and personal opinions never play a role in deciding cases. More importantly, her 17 years on the bench stand as the testament to this fact.
“Judge Sotomayor has demonstrated her independence.
“She was nominated to the federal District Court by President George H.W. Bush, and appointed to the United States Court of Appeals by President Clinton.
“Judge Sotomayor has received rave reviews from her fellow judges on the Second Circuit – both Republicans and Democrats – as well as strong support from a diverse cross-section of people and organizations from across the political spectrum.
“Finally, M. President, it is clear to me that Judge Sotomayor is committed to protecting the rights and liberties of all Americans.
“She understands the struggles of working families and the importance of civil rights. And her record shows a strong respect for the rule of law and that she evaluates each case based on its particular facts.
“Having followed the criteria by which I measure all judicial nominees, I am confident that Judge Sotomayor will be a smart, fair, impartial and qualified member of the Supreme Court.
“I believe that any individual or group from my home state could stand before her and receive fair treatment and that she will well serve the interests of justice and the public as our next Supreme Court Justice.
“So M. President, I wanted to come to the floor and let the Senate and people in Washington State know that after reviewing her qualifications, her record and reviewing her testimony, I am proud to support this historic nomination.”