Franken’s assessment: Judiciary hearing worked well for all

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Much has been made of how the Senate’s newest addition, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., did during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing this week.

But, what did Franken think?

“I thought it went very well for everybody,” said Franken, in a recap interview Thursday after his last round of questions.

“I was very impressed with her [Sonia Sotomayor],” he added. “I felt she was extremely knowledgeable. I think that she established that she has this long, impressive record… [and] she could speak to pretty much anything.”

In this way, Franken said, Sotomayor proved throughout the hearing that she is eminently qualified for the post, whether you agree with all the decisions she has arrived at or not.

“The president is entitled to his choice, as long as that choice is qualified,” he said.

Franken also noted that he was happy with Sotomayor’s response to his question about “net” neutrality, or rules that would require cable companies to give the same Internet access and quality (or speed) to all users.

During his questioning, Franken asked Sotomayor if there wasn’t “a compelling, overriding First Amendment right … for Americans to have access to the Internet.”

Although Sotomayor didn’t directly answer the question, she did say that the Internet’s “importance implicates a lot of different questions: freedom of speech, freedom with respect to property rights, government regulations …”

Franken said that he expected Sotomayor to duck questions — as recent nominees to the Supreme Court have done — about cases or issues that might ultimately come before the court.

But, he reasoned that her relative silence over his questions about judicial activism on the Roberts Court was due more to her “reluctance to say anything too critical about colleagues she is about to join.”

Franken added that he focused a large part of his questions on what he sees as conservative judicial activism to provide a counterargument to the oft-repeated Republican talking point.

“I was sitting there, not as a lawyer obviously, and I had been sworn in less than a week ago,” Franken said. “So, I felt uniquely qualified to be ‘the everybody’ looking in on it. And, it frustrates me that the debate, or political discussion about the judiciary, has been reduced to this talking point.”

Franken said, however, that he thought his Republican colleagues were appropriately respectful to Sotomayor during the hearing.

“They had to satisfy themselves enough to be able to vote for her or not,” Franken said.

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