22JUL09 Begich's people respond day of....

....of course, its mostly form and tells me nothing. But I get the general impression that he's going to vote "Yes" on her confirmation based on the email back. This was in response to my email sent today (and can be read on this post). A simple answer would be better, but then maybe my email will be part of the breeze that blows his vote to "NO"...

Dear Mr. Sutherland:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. As a United States Senator, I take my constitutional role to advise and consent to nominees of a President very seriously. In particular, the decision to confirm men and women to life-tenured position on our federal courts is not one I take lightly.

Unlike appointees to federal agencies who serve at the pleasure of the President, federal judges cannot be removed from office except for cause, and then only by impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial by the Senate. Although this rule applies even to federal trial level judges, nominees to be Supreme Court justices, because their decisions can have such widespread impact, require the highest level of scrutiny.

Whomever fills the position vacated by the retirement of Justice David Souter should have his or her education, legal training, and work experience closely examined. It is incumbent on the Senate to determine whether the nominee displays the appropriate judicial temperament for the job. The nominee must consistently and fairly apply the law, and must show him or herself capable of approaching decisions without any particular ideology or agenda.

Judge Sotomayor has nearly three decades of legal experience as a prosecutor, private attorney and federal judge at the trial and appellate levels. Her nomination has broad support from Americans of varied judicial and political philosophies. Judge Sotomayor was first appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush, in 1992. Subsequently, she was nominated to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by a Democrat, President Bill Clinton, in 1998. Judge Sotomayor's decisions have shown her to be a moderate, judicious jurist, and she has repeatedly upheld property, personal privacy and free speech rights.

I had a productive discussion with Judge Sotomayor last month which provided an opportunity to raise some of the issues of concern to the state including Alaskans' strong belief in the Second Amendment, the prominent role of Alaska Natives and native corporations in our state, and the careful balance between development and environmental protection. I found Judge Sotomayor extremely intelligent, willing to learn and very grounded in the law. I am following her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee closely, as well as reviewing her full record to understand more fully her experience and judicial philosophy, although from what I have learned so far, it is obvious that Judge Sotomayor has demonstrated an impressive intellectual capacity and an appreciation for how the law impacts the lives of American families.

In addition to her extensive legal experience, Judge Sotomayor has a compelling personal story. Growing up in New York City public housing, Judge Sotomayor lost her father at an early age, and was raised and educated by her mother, who often worked two jobs to pay for her children's parochial school tuition. Despite modest beginnings, Judge Sotomayor went on to excel academically at two of the nation's top universities, a testament to her exceptional dedication, impressive intellect, and hard work.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, and please do not hesitate to contact my office in the future.

Mark Begich
U.S. Senator

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