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tv   Senate Confirmation Hearing for Judicial Nominees  CSPAN  April 28, 2021 10:00am-2:01pm EDT

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a clock you can start watching the address, cease plan -- c-span is the place to do it. we will take you to the senate side, five of the president's judicial nominees are set to testify at a confirmation hearing before the senate judiciary committee and you can along not only on c-span, but if you're interested in judicial politics when it comes to this administration this is the place and the event to watch. we'll take you to that event just about to start. >> good morning. this meeting of the senate judiciary many will come to order. the senate judiciary committee will hold its first traditional
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nominations hearing of the 117th congress. our first panel will include two circuit court nominees with outstanding credentials. candace jackson-akiwumi to be taking an illinois seat on the seventh circuit and judge ketanji brown jackson for the d.c. circuit judge of our second panel will feature three highly qualified district court nominees. julien neals judge zahid quraishi both nominated to the district court of new jersey and regina rodriguez nominative for the district of colorado. other senators will join us to join in introducing the nominees. before i turn over to them and to ranking member grassley i would like to make a few points about this historic day for the biden administration. looking at this late of nominees i am struck that they not only bring qualifications that are
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extraordinary to this next level of achievement, but also jet -- denim -- demographic and professional diversity. we needed on the federal bench. i'm reminded of what president lyndon johnson said when he nominated oregon marshall to the supreme court in 1967. mindful that he just sent up the nomination for the first african-american supreme court justice, president lyndon johnson said that marshall "had a distinguished record as private counsel and government counsel in the courts of the land. i believe he has already earned his place in history. i think it will be greatly enhanced by his service on the court. i believe he earned and deserved that appointment and is best qualified by training and valuable service to the country. i believe it's the right thing to do and the right time to do it and the right man in the right place. importantly he closed with this admonition. i trust that this nomination
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will be promptly considered by the senate. i would say if i could to president johnson, a lot of nominees wish the same thing. surveying these five nominees i believe that they are qualified by training and distinguished records and the right nominees to fill these vacancies and they earned and deserved these appointments. all five of these nominees are people of color. they come from a range of professional backgrounds. all five received well-qualified ratings by the american bar association. both circuit court nominees are former federal public defenders and will as a result that perspective and experience that is far too often missing on the bench. that is not a partisan point of view. scholars at the cato institute, hardly a liberal bastion, have highlighted the critical importance of adding more public defenders to the ranks of the judiciary. today we are on our way to doing
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that. today's district court nominees represent the depth and breadth of experience that will serve them well on the bench. they will in turn serve the people of new jersey and colorado. this district court panel includes julien neals a dedicated public servant who presided over more than 6000 cases in the newark municipal court system. judge zahid quraishi. a decorated military veteran, federal magistrate who if confirmed would be the first american muslim to sit on an article to record. regina rodriguez. a pathbreaking formal chief of the civil division of the colorado u.s. attorney's office whose mother family was interned during world war ii in one of our nation's most shameful moments. while this depth and breadth of experience is important so too is the confidence we can have that all of these nominees once confirmed understand their responsibility as judges.
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it's a welcome change to see nominees who have been selected for their credentials and abilities rather than those who simply checked the box in their political experience. for four years president nominated senate republicans and approved far too many nominees, many of whom never should have been nominated. 10 of the nominees in the trump administration for lifetime appointments in the federal court have been found unanimously unqualified by the american bar association, but that did not deter their nomination or in most cases their selection. thankfully with today's nominees the biden administration has taken an important step towards bringing the courts back towards evenhandedness, fair mindedness, and confidence. the administration has done so with a group of nominees whose qualifications are beyond mention. have the honor and privilege of introducing them candace jackson-akiwumi. nominated to an illinois seat on
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the seventh circuit. she is the daughter of two judges. her father is the federal district court judge in virginia. her mother previously served as a state court judge. their daughter, candace, served -- received her undergraduate degree from princeton, her law degree from yale where she served on the yale law journal. she clerked on the u.s. district court for the northern district of illinois, -- judge roger gregory of the fourth circuit court of appeals. she then practiced at the law firm in chicago and then did something which is highly unusual. she decided to leave the private practice to join the federal public defender's office in the northern district of illinois. working in that office for 10 years, leaving just last fall when she came to d.c. with her husband, pursuing a job opportunity. for the last several months she has practiced at the d.c. office
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of a law firm, but upon confirmation she will return to chicago, good for us, and i want to thank her husband for adjusting his own career for the sake of his wife. it is a sad reality that for years of president trump and a republican senate did not expand diversity on our federal courts. this includes both democrats, diversity, and life experience. president trump appointed 54 judges to the circuit courts, none of them, not one of them was black. currently the seventh circuit has no judges of color. only one judge of color has ever served on the seventh circuit, my friend andrew titled -- retired judge and claire williams who was appointed with my strong support. in 2016 president obama nominated a highly qualified attorney to an indian a seat on
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the seventh circuit. republican senators blocked her nomination for nearly an entire year. the naacp has made it clear that this lack of diversity means something important to the federal bench. in a november letter the naacp president wrote and i quote that the absence of diversity undermines the integrity and legitimacy of the federal judiciary. judges from different racial, ethnic, and other backgrounds in rich traditional decision-making and promote trust and confidence by communities impacted by their rulings. thankfully we have miss jackson-akiwumi highly qualified with a unique perspective and only a tiny fraction on the federal bench has spent the majority of their careers as public defenders or in legal aid. out of 179 current federal circuit court judgeships, there appeared to be only two judges who spent a significant part of
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their career as public defenders, one of them from the state of iowa. the eighth circuit judge and the third circuit judge of pennsylvania. in contrast there are many former federal prosecutors on the federal bench. many are extraordinary jurists, but they do not share the same life experience as these nominees. as a federal defender she represented over 400 federal defendants at all stages of the process. she has tried and argued six appeals before the circuit court and litigated hundreds of contested hearings including -- she knows the criminal justice system inside and out, she is exactly the type of nominee we should look for of -- look forward to. i look forward to seeing her experience. i have that honor of introducing this judge -- judge ketanji
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brown jackson to the d.c. circuit judge her parents were working as public school teachers and when she was three years old the judge and her parents went back to miami to attend law school at the university of miami. they later served as the principal attorney for the dade county school board while her mother served for 14 years as a principal of the leading school in the area. the judge herself attended harvard and harvard law. she then went on to a series of clerkships at the district court of the first circuit and finally a supreme court clerkship for the justice. the breath of her legal career is impressive. from a work in private practice to her service as an attorney on the u.s. sentencing commission to her time as a federal public defender. judge jackson is well known to us on this committee in light of her prior nominations and sentencing at the u.s. district court for the district of columbia.
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she won unanimous support -- there are two aspects of her record i would like to highlight. the first is her tenure on the sentencing commission. the issue of criminal sentencing is deeply important to me and my colleague. as a sentencing commission member and a federal judge that is handing out sentences judge jackson has faced the often difficult question inherent in that responsibility and will bring her experience to bear on the d.c. circuit judge second is more broad -- she has shown time and again that her decisions are guided not by ideology or preferred outcome but by a steadfast belief in approaching every case with fairness or impartiality. we see that reflected not only in her evenhanded record but in the comments of those that have served with her. she has been praised across the ideological spectrum including
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from a d.c. circuit judge who wrote to the committee in support of her nomination. >> -- "although she and i have differed on the outcome of a case i have always respected her agreeable manner." two essential traits. in these times her words rang more important. i look forward to hearing from judge jackson and all five of these nominees. i turn it over to my friend and former colleague in the ranking member, chuck grassley. sen. grassley: for the first three paragraphs of my remarks i would ask the democrats to pay attention. it may sound facetious but i want to make a point. today we are hearing from five nominees to be considered are judgeships including two circuit nominees. because this is the committee's first hearing on judicial nominees of this congress, i
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will be very attentively listening to my democratic friends to see if i catch any apologies from them to justice amy coney barrett. you see, last fall, we heard from them time and time again for weeks that judge barrett was being put on the supreme court for two reasons. one, to steal the election from donald trump and to get rid of obamacare. i just checked, joe biden is president of the united states, and obamacare is still on the books. if my friends don't want to apologize to justice barrett publicly, she is right next door and i bet she would be happy to accept any apologies in person. turning to today's nominees, judge jackson has been nominated to the d.c. circuit court, often called the second highest court in the land.
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judge jackson was appointed by president obama to serve the d.c. district court in 2013 and has been involved in over 500 cases as a judge since then. as someone who has been very interested and invested in criminal justice reform as senator durbin has i appreciate judge jackson's work on the sentencing committee -- commission where she also served. we will also hear from miss jackson-akiwumi nominated for the seventh circuit. she is a nominee who served as a federal public defender for 10 years in the chicago area before moving to d.c. and is represented over 400 criminal defendants, many of whom were charged with crimes involving illegal firearms. i will be interested in hearing her views on the so-called gun pandemic and how violent criminals play into that. my review of her record shows --
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from my review of her record it certainly seems she has been a zealous advocate for clients and criminal defendants are deserving of competent representation in our justice system. i will be asking her today about some of the specific positions she has advocated for. i am sure democrats will complain that we shouldn't hold a nominee responsible for her clients, and perhaps that once was true. the fact is that previous nominees like kyle duncan, howard nielsen, rosie alston, mike park, and countless others were opposed by democrats because of the clients that they represented. at the same time there is a growing hostilities of fair representation on the left with student radicals saying not
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everyone needs representation and liberal activists seeking to penalize law firms representing clients with wrong positions, so-called wrong positions on social or political issues. as a wise man said recently it can't be one set of rules for republicans and another for democrats. i plan to look at candidates records including their legal advocacy on behalf of clients. the far-left group demands justice -- demand justice which seems to be in charge of judicial selections in this administration says that you can tell what kind of judge someone will be by their clients. they strongly support judge jackson and judge jackson-akiwumi because their time as federal defenders were apparently because for them to pursue
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social justice rather than follow along. of course i hope not and it's not an accusatory statement. it does take off on some very fair accusations against nominees of one party versus the nominees of another party. this hearing is our first look at president biden's judicial nominees. i'm hopeful these nominees will engage with all senators and respond to our questions. congratulations to all of you for your nominations. sen. durbin: thank you, senator grassley. a number of senators would like to formally introduce one or more of our nominees. i have a list of those who are available in the first is physically present from the state of new jersey, our colleague, senator cory booker. sen. booker: it is indeed an honor for me to introduce julien the two nominees julien neals ,and judge zahid quraishi.
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they have both been nominated to serve as district court judges for the district of new jersey and we are in a judicial emergency right now. both are highly qualified and experienced people who have served and share an understanding of the impact that our courts will have on the people of our state and across this nation. the first individual i choose to introduce, we have done this before. judge neals. was nominated by the obama administration in 2015 to serve as a federal district judge about the senate failed to bring his nomination up for a vote. display the delay on that confirmation i would like to speak to who he is. the judge and i have worked together for a very long time. we have history. he is someone that i have had the honor of working with in my career and i've worked with extraordinary individuals in the
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u.s. senate ended my career in newark. this judge is among the best people i've had the honor to work alongside. for two years he served as chief judge at the newark municipal's -- municipal court which is the largest court in the state of new jersey. he provided out -- he presided over 6000 cases and ushered in a spate of reforms helping to create the states first veterans corps and the face -- the states first youth court and other innovations that helped newark, new jersey become the national model for court innovation. he joined my mayoral administration and served again as the head of the busiest corporation counsel's office in our state and the newark corporation's counsel's office and he served as business administrator for the city of newark. he served at a time that we were in crisis and the city was going through the great recession along with the rest of the planet earth. i don't think there is any person here who was a former governor or a former county
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executive or former mayor who had to do what julien and i had to do which is to govern down our city size 25% to cut our city's budget and to cut our personnel. days and months and years of painful work of getting our budgets to fit with the massive shortfalls in revenue that we have had, he is a brilliant, skilled administrator who has a balance to keep his head about him when all else are losing theirs. he currently served as a counsel to new jersey's biggest county, county of my birth and where i was raised. if you talk to people in that county they talk about him as if he is a holy, sanctified figure. they say he has more cool than obama. they say he is one person that truly when they would -- when he walks into a room everyone listens.
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bergen county, new jersey is a political place with a lot of different power bases. julian seems to sail above it all with great dignity and a great sense of expertise that trumps all politics. i am so honored to know this human being and when i imagine what a federal judge should be i imagine someone with the qualities, gifts, kindness, decency, and love for others that he possesses. it's an honor for me not only to introduce him, but to have recommended him to the president of the united states and it's so great to see my old friend here today. the second person i would like to introduce is judge zahid quraishi. judge quraishi has had an extraordinary life of commitment to country.
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he said it, mr. chairman. he was in the military, in the jagged core. at the department of homeland security, and most recently worked as an assistant united states attorney in the office of the u.s. attorney for new jersey. he currently is a federal magistrate judge in new jersey. this is someone who believes in this nation and her ideals and is dedicated to serving them. he has honors in just about everything he has done including his military service. the judge is a well-respected person who is also seeing -- seen as a stand out. he is one of the best that new jersey has. his legal skills and experience will serve the people of new jersey in our judicial crisis as a u.s. district court judge. if he is confirmed it has been said that he will be a history maker, as the first muslim
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american article three judge in all of our country's past and because of his example, because of his leadership, because of his character, he will most certainly not be the last. both of these nominees are dedicated to the rule of justice fairness. both of these nominees will help restore integrity and independence and public aid in our courts. both of these nominees are exceptionally, extraordinarily, unequivocally qualified. i thank president biden for recognizing and nominating the judge to serve as the united states district court judges for the district of new jersey and i strongly urge my fellow committee members to support their nominations. thank you. sen. durbin: senator bennet, i believe by remote, are you there? sen. bennet: i am, can you hear
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me? sen. durbin: we can hear you. please proceed. sen. bennet: can you hear me now. sen. durbin: yes. sen. bennet: thank you for inviting me to share a few words about regina rodriguez president biden's nominee for the u.s. district court for the district of colorado. she comes to this committee with broad support in my state. we received a flood of letters on her behalf. all of them testified to her character, hard work, and commitment to justice and the rule of law. she learned all of this from her family who join us today. her mom's family knew in justice firsthand. the chairman mentioned during the second world war they were relocated from california to an internment site in wyoming joining over 10,000 people whose loyalty to america was questioned for no reason but their japanese ancestry. her father was a
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mexican-american who went from living in a railroad boxcar on the south side of chicago to earning a nomination for the nfl hall of fame. her mother became a teacher and administrator in the denver public schools -- education and hardware transformed parents lives and regina has always sought to live up to their example. the ranking member might be interested to know she graduated with honors from the university of iowa and then returned home. after starting at a private firm in denver gina joined the u.s. attorney's office. the department of justice recognized her talent and she went to work for the attorney general on alternative dispute resolution, a new approach to avoid lengthy trials through arbitration and mediation. gina helped with this mainstream
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approach saving the government countless hours and taxpayer dollars. her leadership in washington earned her a promotion in denver where she rose to become chief of the civil division in the u.s. attorney's office. she is one of the most respected trial lawyers in colorado and has received award after award for her work. commitment to the community has been just as impressive. she is a founding board member of the colorado youth at risk on nonprofit that helps kids stay on the right track and she served as one of colorado's higher education commissioners and still serves on the board of denver's highest performing charter school. somehow she finds time to mentor lawyers from underrepresented communities. i can go on and on but the evidence is overwhelming. regina rodriguez is an exceptionally qualified nominee with a distinguished career and commitment to service. she has blaze trails through the sheer force of her intellect,
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hardware, and character are. she has my full and enthusiastic support and i urge the committee to approve her nomination. sen. durbin: thank you, senator bennett. i believe senator duckworth is available remote. senator, can you hear us? please proceed. sen. duckworth: thank you, mr. chairman. it is my honor to appear before this committee to introduce and offer my strong support to miss candace jackson-akiwumi the nominee to be the next united states district debt judge of the seventh circuit. she exemplifies president biden's fulfillment of his promise to hunt nominate highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary to reflect the diversity of our great nation. she possesses an impressive academic background, graduated with honors from princeton and earning her jd from yale law school where she served as the
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senior editor of the yale law journal and was an naacp legal defense fund legal scholar. after graduation she quickly gained experience serving in the federal judiciary. and then for a fourth circuit judge. i was especially struck by her commitment to public service and she has dedicated the majority of her legal career to public service and spent a decade in the city of chicago serving as the staff attorney in the federal defender program. as that public defender she gave immense litigation experience while advocating for those who are also the most vulnerable and underserved in our communities. she represented over 400 defendants, tried seven jury trials, and argued five appears -- five appeals before the seventh circuit. she is a member of the firm's business and white-collar defense group.
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even in the private sector she demonstrated a strong commitment to public service spending a significant portion of her time working on pro bono matters involving adoption, civil rights, criminal law and litigation. she won lawful permanent residency and protection under the violence against women's act for her mother and two children and advocated for better conditions for incarcerated clients and represented a plaintiff in a successful mediation. it is important to recognize the groundbreaking nature of her -- if seated on the bench she would be only the second black women in history to serve on the second circuit and only the second person of color serving on that court today. she would strengthen the seventh circuit by bringing a broad diversity of experience --
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thank you again for allowing me to introduce her -- sen. durbin: of next is our friend and colleague from the state of new jersey, senator menendez, are you with us? [no audio] sen. durbin: we will come back to senator menendez in a minute. currently i believe senator hickenlooper of colorado is waiting period senator, can you hear us? sen. hickenlooper: yes. can you hear me? sen. durbin: please proceed. sen. hickenlooper: yes. thank you, chairman, and ranking member, for letting me share a few words about regina rodriguez president biden's nominee for the district court of colorado. i would like to add to what michael bennet said.
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she comes to the committee with broad support in our state. 30 years of legal experience and accomplishment and has dedicated her career to the people of colorado and fighting for historically disadvantaged communities. she has the enthusiastic support of the colorado lawyers committee, the colorado sanitary bar association. these two organizations consist of attorneys dedicated to providing legal services to children and acknowledging the law to improve our society and our legal system. former united states attorneys appointed by presidents from both political parties note that regina's experience and knowledge, demeanor and work ethic make her an ideal candidate. throughout her career she has managed complex matters that require the coordination of hundreds if not thousands of cases in trials in multiple jurisdictions.
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she understands the importance of a bind a lot evenhandedly based only on the facts. as the latina first foundation put it there is no person better qualified to effectively serve on the u.s. district court than regina rodriguez. i wholeheartedly agree and regina has my full support and i hope this committee will confirm her nomination and that the senate will act swiftly to confirm her. thank you, chairman durbin, and ranking member grassley and all the members on the committee for your consideration of this outstanding nominee. sen. durbin: now the question is whether senator menendez is available. sen. menendez: i am available. thank you to mr. chairman, and ranking member grassley. it's my great privilege to join my colleagues from new jersey in recommending to highly qualified nominees to the united states district court for the district of new jersey.
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julien neals and zahid quraishi . these nominees represent the best of new jersey and reflect our proud and rich diversity and both demonstrators have a steadfast commitment to equal justice under the law. mr. neils served as the county council for bergen county since 2016 prior to taking on that role he served the people of newark and an array of capacities. from 2010 to 2014 he was the business administrator for the city of newark and the highest appointed administrator in new jersey's largest city. he led the city's department of law and served as chief judge of the newark municipal court. he commands a enormous respect in our legal community and serves on the supreme court -- serving as chairman for volunteer lawyers for justice and personifies the meaning of public service.
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his tremendous breath of knowledge and experience and even temperament and exacting judgment make him a superb candidate to serve on the federal bench. also honored to be joined and introducing zahid quraishi prior to his appointment he was a partner at a firm and he chaired the white-collar criminal defense and investigations group and served as the firm's first chief diversity officer. the judge also served as an assistant united states attorney for more than five years in newark. previously he served our country as a military prosecutor with the u.s. army judge advocate general corps where he achieved the rank of captain. he offers impeccable credentials and if confirmed he would also make history as the first muslim american federal judge and the first asian-american to serve on the federal bench in new jersey. the judge has demonstrated
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integrity and intellect throughout his distinguished career in public service and i believe he will bring to this position the wisdom, experience, and demeter that the district court of new jersey deserves. new jersey's district court currently faces six vacancies all of which have been declared judicial emergencies by the judicial conference of the united states. i strongly urge the committee's unanimous support and hope that we can have a speedy confirmation process on these qualified nominees. thank you for bringing up these nominees as quickly as you have. sen. durbin: what our first two nominees stand to be sworn?
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[no audio] >> equipment timeout. sen. durbin: t-square or affirmed the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? let the record reflect both witnesses answered in the affirmative. we will start with judge jackson. you may make an opening statement. judge jackson: good morning, mr. chairman. thank you very much. it is an honor to be here and appear before you all this morning. i would like to start by expressing my sincerest gratitude to you, mr. chairman,
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for scheduling this hearing and introducing me. i would also like to extend my thanks to our ranking member grassley and all of the committee for participating in this hearing today. i have had the great privilege of having been invited to come before this committee twice before this nomination, so i know i have taken up a great deal of your time and i am humbled and grateful to be here once again. i am truly thankful to president biden for giving us the honor of this nomination to the circuit court. i don't have opening remarks, but i would like to introduce you to my family members some of whom who have traveled great distances to be here today. i will refrain from giving individual attributes. i want each of them to know that
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they are loved -- their love and encouragement has meant so much throughout the years and there is no question i would not be who i am or where i am today without their support. i would like to start with my parents who left their permanent home in miami, florida last week for the first time since the start of the pandemic and traveled here by way of west virginia where they partially reside. my parents in law, gardner, and pamela jackson are lifelong boston and cape cod residents and they made the effort to travel here via i-95 to be here with me today. also here are my terrific brother-in-law and sister-in-law who live in maryland and if william looks familiar it's because his identical twin brother is my husband, dr. patrick jackson who is also here.
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he did not have to travel very far. he has been with me all along and has been on this incredible journey by my side for 25 years come this october. finally here is the younger of our two daughters who is a junior in high school and is in the most demanding season of this extraordinary challenging academic year so it's a special treat for me that she is with us today. our older daughter would have made the effort but she is a freshman in college and after spending three quarters of this academic year taking classes from her bedroom she finally got the chance to live on campus just three weeks ago and i didn't have the heart to make her come back again. there are so many other members of our family who could not be here with us at this time they are in wisconsin and florida and
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utah and colorado and massachusetts. some are dearly departed. i am truly grateful for all of them and all of the wonderful friends around the country who are watching these proceedings and cheering me on through this process. with that, mr. chairman, let me reiterate my thanks to you for inviting me here this morning. i am a norma's lead grateful and i look forward to answering the members questions. sen. durbin: mess jackson-akiwumi please proceed. judge jackson-akiwumi: i am deeply thankful to the senator from my adopted home state of illinois, senators durbin and duckworth for their warm introductions. i am grateful to chairman derman and ranking member grassley for convening the hearing today and all of the members here for considering my nomination. i am also grateful to the
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president for the honor of this nomination. my immediate family is here today supporting me. i have struggled to assist simply capture how truly wonderful they are and what a gift they are to me. my parents have traveled from my hometown of norfolk, virginia to be here. they are just over my right shoulder. my father, the honorable raymond a jackson, united states district court judge for the eastern district of virginia. seated next to him is my mother, the honorable gwendolyn jones jackson, a retired judge for the commonwealth of virginia. my siblings are here today as well. my sister is the reverend arlette, estelle jackson.
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she is a longtime resident of the district of columbia. my brother is here, raymond jackson attorney-at-law who has traveled from tampa, florida to support me today. last but not least, my husband. eric akiwumi. he remains the best friend i have ever had and in addition to many other amazing roles he plays in our partnership my husband and i have not invited today our very active 15 month old daughter. we will all be much more productive today without her here. also missing is her big brother, my 14-year-old stepson, isaiah who lives in tampa, florida. he will be watching this hearing later today as an excellent civics lesson in the advise and
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consent role of the united states senate. there are obviously many other family members and loved ones and friends who could not be here today because of the covid restrictions here in the building. i am deeply grateful to them all . my family is the best part of me and i would not be here today without their love and support. thank you, again. sen. durbin: before i turn to questions i want to lay out a few of the standards we are going to follow. at the request of senator grassley, he has asked for these two circuit court nominees that we have seven minutes to ask questions. i asked senator grassley before this hearing how he enforced the time when he announced these things and he came up with the grassley rule and i'm sure i won't stated in its entirety, but it said if you are in the midst of a question as your time
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runs out finish the question but keep the answers short. is that about right? my ruling has been blessed by senator grassley. the second panel on district court nominees will go back to the five-minute standard. let me start my questioning. you both have an extraordinary background in having served in the federal public defender's office representing indigents and people who often struggle in our system of justice. i think we know that we are engaged in a national conversation about justice long overdue and it has raised questions about law enforcement, questions about sentencing and questions about incarceration and calls into question the agenda of this committee on the
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criminal justice side. you have a special perspective that you bring to this that many nominees do not in light of what you have done with your life. i don't want you to address any case or any specific situation, but i would like for your observations, because you spent such a big part of your lives, and that goes back to what langston hughes once said, it's been such a long part of your life for those who can say life for me has not been a crystal stair. folks, black, brown, poor defendants seeking representation in the system that seems to have overwhelmingly and fundamentally unfair in some cases. it what would be your general thoughts without any specific case in mind about justice in america today and how you have seen it and how it has changed in your time? judge jackson?
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judge jackson: thank you, senator. i had the privilege of serving as the federal public defender and assistant public defender in washington, d.c.. i think it was some 16 years ago . as part of that experience i represented people and represented them and the appellate division of my office. all of my clients were convicted. i think that the insights that one gains from that kind of professional experience really can be very helpful in future endeavors especially if you go into the judicial service as i have. when i worked with my clients as a defender, my job was to talk
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with them and try to get their help to identify errors and things that have gone wrong in trial proceedings so i can raise them on appeal. one of the things i noticed that i was really struck by was how little they can help me with that project. most of my clients did not really understand what happened to them, they had just been through the most consequential proceeding in their lives and nobody really per saint -- explain to them what to expect. i learned from that experience when i became a trial judge. one of the things i do now is take extra care to communicate with the defendants who come before me in the courtroom. i speak to them directly and not just to their lawyers.
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they use their names and i explained every stage of the proceedings because i want them to know what is going on. i sentenced more than 100 people and i always tell them, i explained to them that this is why your behavior was so harmful to society that congress thought it had to be made a crime. this is why i as a judge believe that you have to serve these consequences for your decision to engage in criminal behavior. i think that's important for our entire justice system because it's only if people understand what they have done, why it's wrong, and what will happen to them if they do it again they can start to rehabilitate. there is a direct line from my service to what i do on the bench and i think it's beneficial. sen. durbin: miss
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jackson-akiwumi i noted in my introduction that you made the extraordinary career move from private practice to the federal defenders program for 10 years i believe. i would like you to consider the same question i just ask judge jackson, and in the process perhaps you can comment on the demeanor and temperament of judges. judge jackson-akiwumi: certainly, senator. i can think of two observations from my time serving as a federal public defender that i think will bode well for me in serving the public as a judge if confirmed. first is the importance of listening and the importance of being heard. it's actually something i learned well before i went to law school from my mother when she served as a judge. she often talked about the
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importance of letting people make sure they have been heard by the court. it's easier for people to accept even adverse rulings by the court when they at least know they have been heard. that is built into our system of due process which involves an opportunity to be heard. i gained an extraordinary amount of experience listening is a federal public defender and listening to the views of the opposing counsel about their views on where we might negotiate and find common ground and listening to stories of my clients to understand why and how they came to be standing before the court and what their fears and questions were and listening carefully to the questions that pierced trial judges and a fellow at appellate judges. i know that even though those josh -- england jobs as advocate
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and judge are different one skill that should transfer will is compassion because circuit judges must listen to parties before they even attempt to reach a reason -- reasoned decision. the other observation from my time in the criminal justice system as an advocate is the importance of setting aside personal conviction, personal opinion. at the federal defender program we represented whoever walked in the door charged with what it crime so long as they needed an attorney, if they could not afford an attorney. with each and every case i have to put aside any personal opinions i had about my clients and any personal opinions -- and represent them zealously in the court. even though the role of advocate and judge are completely different, that is one similarity.
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like a federal public defender, a judge has to set aside personal opinions and personal convictions in decision-making. thank you. sen. durbin: thank you. senator grassley echo sen. grassley: i will start -- sen. grassley: i will start with jackson-akiwumi during the recent seventh circuit hearing we heard about the supposed link between indiana gun shows and street violence in chicago. for four years you represented a man who during one year had bought nine firearms in the indiana gun stores and proceeded to sell them without a license to people in chicago, including at least one fella. he was investigated when the police in chicago recovered seven firearms he had bought and indiana. you said in the pretrial motion that the case was not about gun
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violence or gangs in chicago. do you stand by the view that a case about illegal firearms trafficked from indiana to chicago is not about guns, violence, or games in chicago? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator, i live in chicago for many years. my formative years as an attorney and a private citizen. i am all too aware of the questions regarding guns that chicago faces and so many other communities have faced. it affects me personally as a citizen. i stand by my commitment and the oath that i took which is to represent zealously everyone who requires representation in our federal courts and that is without regard to their crimes they are charged with and that
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is how our system works best. if you look at the sixth amendment and how the supreme court is interpreting the sixth amendment it talks about the right to counsel and there is no limitation on that based on what someone is charged with. sen. grassley: i think i will accept that answer. on the same case, do you agree that physically prosecuting unlicensed firearms traffickers is the best way to stop pipelines of illegal guns into the city of chicago? that should be easy echo -- that should be easy. judge jackson-akiwumi: thank you for the question. i think there are a number of tools in the tool book who are coming -- for combating an issue like guns and gun violence and prosecution is one tool. i know this body and other legislative bodies, state, federal, and local have to consider these issues and have been working on these issues vigorously.
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sen. grassley: last question on that case. give me a rough idea of how many firearm traffickers you defended in court. a rough number. judge jackson-akiwumi: senator, i appreciate the question. it would be hard to say. i've always described my career over a decade like this. a third of my cases involve fraud, there are so many frauds in the united case code book would blow your mind. a third of my cases involve drugs and firearms, whether it was possession of firearms or trafficking of firearms. about a third of my cases involved a mix of everything else from bank robbery to immigration. it would be difficult to give you an exact number. sen. grassley: second point with you. in your sentencing memoranda you repeatedly highlighted the sentencing differences that exist between black defendants and white defendants charged
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with the same crime. you have gone so far as to argue that your black clients should not receive a sentence higher than any applicable mandatory minimums to avoid further entrenching racial disparities. as a sitting senator i agree with your policy points about racial disparities in the laws we write. i have concern about the courts engaging in those policy arguments. when you made these arguments in court did you expect district judges to let broad social policy concerns govern how they apply the law in the case before them? maybe i can give you a short answer. you would say they should apply the law, not the policy, right? judge jackson-akiwumi: es, because that is the law congress passed. congress passed a statute and
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one of those factors, congress said that judges should consider the disparity, any disparities that might result from the sentence the judge imposes. in those cases like the ones you provided an example of i was asking the court to apply that statutory sentencing factor. >> if district judges should let policies concern governing how they apply the law, would it be right for them to give white defendants longer sentences than the facts require in order to correct racial disparities? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator, every sentencing judge i've ever appeared before has been guided by the same statute i referred you to, 3553 a which says for at least seven sentencing factors including disparity -- everyone in the system including the judge and attorneys are operating within that framework
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that congress provided. if confirmed that's the exact framework i would be looking to to review any sentencing decisions by judges. sen. grassley: i can accept that. as an appellate judge would you have the ability to take social pacts like racial disparities into consideration when reviewing a sentence? judge jackson-akiwumi: what guides for circuit judges and what guides for me is the law. and applying the law to the facts of any given case. that's purely what guides us. sen. grassley: i think i'm going to take -- i'm going to send a question to you for an answer in writing so i can ask judge jackson only one question. you worked on sentencing reform and as someone who has worked hard on the first step act and other issues of criminal justice
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reform i appreciate your work on the sentencing reform. when it comes to more sentencing reform, people like you and judge bill prior agree sentencing needs to be reformed. can you explain how your views differ from judge prior or specifically why you trust judges with more discretion when it comes to sentencing than prior does. judge jackson-akiwumi: thank you for that question and let me say as a former member of the sentencing commission, thank you for your work. i know that the chairman that you, senator lee, and others on this committee are very active in making changes to the sentencing system. partly because the commission did research and pointed out
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some of the disparities in our live and congress has made changes that are very beneficial to the system. have been very beneficial to the system. i did have the privilege of serving with judge breyer. we were on the commission together. he and i both did talk quite a bit in our public statements and in the meetings about the need for reform and, how do we change the system after the supreme court's decision making the guidelines advisory and not binding anymore on judges? i would say, my primary answer is because in my experience most judges really don't like to be outliers when they are sentencing. most judges really do want to do something that is consistent, not only with the law, and also what similarly-situated
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defendants are getting. in my view, instead of more mandatory minimums or prescriptions that actually bind judicial discretion, if we could give judges more information, turning to a repository of information like the sentencing commission that captures every sentence federal judges give and then giving judges access to that information is a way of ensuring that judges are handing out their sentences -- their sentences that are similarly situated to other defendants. judge breyer said that we need to do a little bit more to constrain judicial discretion, but my hope and faith is that judges will constrain themselves to an extent when they get the information they need. sen. durbin: senator feinstein? sen. feinstein: thanks very
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much, mr. chairman. according to the center for american progress, only 1% of sitting circuit judges have sent -- have spent the majority of their career as public defenders or within a legal aid setting. the light of this fact i want you to know that i am very pleased that we are considering two nominees today with extensive service as public defenders. i want to ask you this question. there are some critics who claim wrongly that a public defender can't function as an impartial judge. how do you respond to this question? the judge may go first. judge jackson-akiwumi: thank you, senator. i have been a judge for eight years. as i mentioned, i think actually having defender experience can help, not only the judge, him or
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herself, in considering the facts and circumstances in the case, but also help the system overall, in terms of their interactions with defendants and the way in which they proceed in the courtroom. i would think there would be no difference between defender experience and prosecutorial experience from the standpoint of whether or not someone can do what the law requires. many, many prosecutors have been appointed as judges. when you become a judge, you take an oh two look only at the law in deciding your cases. you set aside your personal views about the circumstances, the defendants, or anything else, and you apply the law.
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i guess i would just say that i would not see any distinction between people with prosecutorial backgrounds and defense backgrounds in their ability to stay true to their oaths. sen. feinstein: thank you. judge jackson, i was impressed to learn that according to the alliance for justice, you have a reversal rate of less than 2% of your more than 550 decisions since assuming the role of u.s. district judge for the district of columbia. what do you credit that 98% affirmative rate on appeal? judge jackson: thank you, senator. i think it might be my methodology, in the way i approach cases. what i will say about that is that when i get a case, if you look at my 550 cases you will
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see there is a consistency in the way in which i am analyzing the issues. i am applying a particular method, as the supreme court has directed, which is that i am looking only at the arguments the parties have made at the facts in the record of the case, and that the law, as i understand it. and i'm sticking very closely to those three inputs. i am also applying the same amount of analytical rigor to my analysis of those inputs. as a result, i think i am not making many errors, although the d.c. circuit judge me that i do occasionally, but i'm doing that because i want to see every case through the same analytical lens , and it does not make a difference whether or not the argument is coming from an inmate or the president of the united states. i'm not injecting my personal
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views. i'm looking at those three things. i think by being very methodical i have been able to produce opinions that the circuit can see my reasoning and they understand that i am evenhandedly applying the law. sen. feinstein: thank you. i would like to ask the other candidate here, since the supreme court held in u.s. v. booker that sentencing guidelines are not finding on judges at sentencing, we have seen a gradual return of discrepancies in the way different judges sentence those before them. how do we ensure fairness and consistency in sentencing while maintaining judicial discretion consistent with the supreme court's ruling in booker? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator feinstein, thank you for what is
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a difficult question that you have rightly recognized. that is, in fact, why the guidelines were invented, created, to avoid disparities. that is why they were moved from mandatory to advisory. to remove disparities and give judges more discretion. sitting here today, what i know is that it would not be my role as a circuit judge, if confirmed, to opine on those issues and sort through those issues in the way that, for example, the sentencing commission would, and this body would. but my role would be to review cases very carefully, review records scrupulously to see if sentencing judges at least
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adhered to the sentencing law and took into account, fairly, all of the factors they were supposed to. if i may address your earlier question about public defenders being able to be fair and neutral judges, i will note that in the northern district of illinois this body has confirmed a few district court judges with public defender experience. those judges have been serving a long time and they are doing so diligently, fairly, and impartially. i will also note that my entire career i have had to work within the framework of the rule of law. every argument i made to a court was grounded in the constitution or a statute. you don't get anywhere with our fine judges in the seventh circuit if you make up arguments that don't have a basis in law. i've had to advise clients when the law is not on their side, when they had an argument they
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hoped we might be able to make and i knew immediately it was no law to support that argument. that happened many times. i am confident that i can serve, if confirmed, as a neutral judge who works within the rule of law. i have had to do it my entire career. sen. feinstein: thank you very much. thanks, mr. chairman. sen. durbin: senator cornyn. sen. cornyn: thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the fact that both of you have trout court extent -- experience. i think that is very important -- is a very important qualification for someone who is going to sit in judgment on an appellate court. that they understand the appropriate standards of review on appeal.
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both of you have a very impressive background. i agree with my colleagues, it is important to have confidence in the judiciary. i think part of that confidence is knowing that people like them can serve on the bench and that we applaud that diversity. i have noticed a difference in the way those issues have been treated in the past when my democratic colleagues blocked, for example, janice rogers-brown , an african-american, miguel estrada. thankfully we have had some great judges in the western district, the northern district of texas. people like ada brown. then asian american judge jim ho.
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since our democratic colleagues seem to be placing so much emphasis on race, i just want to ask this question. none of us can choose our parents. and even if we could, i suspect that most of us would choose the very parents we have. but what role does race play, judge jackson, in the kind of judge you have been and will be? judge jackson: thank you, senator. i don't think that race plays a role in the kind of judge i have been and that i would be, in the way you asked that question. i as i mentioned to senator feinstein, i am doing a certain thing when i get my cases. i am looking at the arguments, the facts, and the law.
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i am methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, any other inappropriate considerations, and i would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject in my evaluation of a case. i would say that my different professional backgrounds, including my district court background, which would be different if i'm confirmed that many of my colleagues, would bring value. it is sort of like the oliver wendell holmes quote that the life of the law is not logic, it is experience. so, i have experienced life, in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues, because of who i am. and that might be valuable. i hope it would be valuable if i was confirmed to the court. sen. cornyn: thank you very much.
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ms. jackson, same question to you, please. judge jackson-akiwumi: i agree with judge jackson that i do not leave race would play a role if confirmed. i do believe that demographic verse of the of all types plays an important role in increasing public confidence in our court and increases the public's ability to accept the legitimacy of court decisions. it is akin to the way in which we guarantee a jury of one's peers and the idea that you walk into the courtroom and 12 people from all kinds of different backgrounds might decide your case. i also think that demographic diversity of all types helps us achieve a role modeling result for young students, law students, young lawyers. it is important for anyone aspiring to public service to know that that path is open to
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all. sen. cornyn: thank you very much for that answer. for what it's worth, i agree with you. that is well said. judge jackson, i just have a few questions for you. in this town there is a lot of people expressing themselves on a variety of topics. i know you are not responsible for what these third parties are saying, what i want to ask you first of all, are you familiar with an organization called demand justice? judge jackson-akiwumi: -- judge jackson: senator, i know of demand justice, yes. sen. cornyn: do you know they are spending money to promote candidates, your nomination to this circuit court? judge jackson: if you mean by advertising or placements in various publications, i am aware of that. sen. cornyn: and on their
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website they say they advocate adding additional seats to the supreme court. do you think congress should add additional seats to the supreme court? judge jackson: senator, as a sitting judge i am found by the supreme court, and i don't think it's appropriate for me to comment on the structure or size of the court anymore than it would be for me to comment on the court's rulings. regardless of the size, i would follow the precedents of the supreme court. sen. cornyn: demand justice claims the supreme court is broken. do you think the supreme court is broken? judge jackson: senator, i have ned -- i have never said anything about the supreme court in broken. again, i am not able to comment on the structure, size, functioning of the supreme court. sen. cornyn: finally, demand
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justice says that the supreme court has been captured bipartisan republican interests, on their website. judge jackson, do you agree with that? or disagree? or do you have no opinion? judge jackson first. judge jackson: again, i'm not able to make any comment about whether or not the supreme court is influenced in the way demand justice apparently, as you say, believes it is. i don't have a comment. sen. cornyn: thank you. ms. jackson? judge jackson-akiwumi: yes, senator. i am not aware of by demand justice or anything they have said. likewise, the code of conduct for united states judges does apply to nominees as well. like judge jackson, it would not be appropriate for me to comment
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on any type of views about the supreme court. the supreme court's rulings would be binding on me as a circuit judge. sen. cornyn: good luck to both of you. sen. durbin: senator whitehouse? sen. whitehouse: thanks, and welcome to you both to the committee. i'm sorry we are so far apart and spread out here. that is the nature of the pandemic. usually it is a setting in which we can see one another better. i wanted to ask you both questions about fact finding at the appellate level. we had an interesting hearing in my subcommittee yesterday on this very question. it was my training in law school
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, my training when meant toward by appellate advocates and my mentoring when i was trying to bring along other appellate advocates to stay the hell away from the facts, because the only two ways an appellate court gets to look at facts is either to be asked to overturn a factual determination by the court low, which is heavily defended by the clearly erroneous standard, therefore not usually a great avenue for appellate advocacy, or facts that are not in dispute. facts which judicial notice can be taken, that christmas fell on a wednesday in a particular year, or whatever.
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what are your thoughts about the role of appellate courts engaging in fact-finding that is outside of the record that is presented to the court either by congress as it put together the statute that is the subject of the challenge, or by the court below as it assembled the record to support its decision? as -- white, as an appellate judge, do you get to do at that point regarding facts? judge jackson: thank you for that question. let me say that my training was similar to yours, in terms of the judges for whom i clerked and the way in which i was taught to think about the role of the appellate court in terms of the facts. i don't as i sit here know what the practice is in the district of columbia.
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i will say we have a little bit of an unusual docket, insofar as so many of our cases come through the administrative process where even at the district court level we are not looking at trials very much and we are not developing a factual record much. it was already an administrative record that travels with the case. sen. whitehouse: whether it is the congressional record or an administrative agency, those are sources that an appellate court can draw from to determine what the facts are in the case and to support or overrule the finding of the district court. what happens when a court goes outside those records and starts finding facts on its own? judge jackson: i frankly don't
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know. i would have to talk with my colleagues and look at the federal rules of appellate procedure and the local rules of our court. i'm not sure the circumstance in which the appellate court would feel at liberty to do that sort of thing. sen. whitehouse: ok. judge jackson-akiwumi: yes, senator. broadly speaking, federal courts are courts of limited power. one duty of circuit court judges -- and i remember this very clearly from my time clerking on the fourth court of appeals -- it is to be restrained. federal judges are to decide the issues before them and no other issues. it extends to fact-finding. it would be, from my experience, both clerking and also litigating before the seventh circuit, quite rare for
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appellate judges to go outside the record. sitting here today, i can't tell you a circumstance where i have seen it in the ion practice, so i can't tell you what exceptions there might be to make that rare thing happen. sen. whitehouse: the case that comes to mind that has enormous impact on those of us in the political line of work is citizens united, which allowed unlimited amounts of money into politics on the etiquette -- on the premise that all of this spending was going to be transparent, and therefore would not contribute to corruption or the appearance of corruption in the political system. of course, it is indisputable that it has been anything but transparent. we are well through $1 billion in anonymous local funding. that fact that justice kennedy
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stood his decision on is simply, provably false. which then raises the question, what do you do about that decision? if that fact was the hinge upon which the decision swung, and the fact is false, when you go? judge jackson: well, senator, for lower court judges we can't go anywhere, really. sen. whitehouse: even when it is fact-finding you were supposed to agree with the legal determinations of the supreme court and follow them, but it is an interesting question, whether a false factual determination by the supreme court merits deference or the difference of the separation of powers puts the legislative and executive branches under with respect to a supreme court decision. it is something to ponder. because it has not been the custom of the court to engage in
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this free-range fact-finding, and particularly false free-range fact-finding that some of the political decisions have stood on false free-range fact-finding, and it raises an interesting set of questions about, what do you do when the supreme court has made a factual determination that is not supported by the record, that is false, that is essential to the logic of their decision? is it true that all of government is powerless to address that error? i have used my time. something for you to ponder as you move toward your seats on our circuit courts of appeal, which i will support. sen. durbin: senator lee. sen. lee: thanks to both of you for being here today. i'm going to dive in. we will start with you, miss
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jackson-akiwumi. president biden met with you in anticipation of your nomination for the seventh circuit. congratulations on that nomination. during that meeting, did you -- where you ask for commitments regarding or did you discuss abortion or roe v. wade, second amendment, efforts to defund the police, illegal immigration? judge jackson-akiwumi: none of the above, senator. sen. lee: judge jackson, what about you? judge jackson: no sir. sen. lee: judge jackson, in your notes for a presentation you gave at columbia law school in 2019, i believe, he said that disparities in additional outcomes can occur when judges consider relevant factors. talk to me about what that meant. judge jackson: thank you,
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senator. that presentation was a symposium i had been invited to to comment on an article being presented. the article itself was about judicial bias. i was critiquing it and making arguments in response to it, paste on my experience. i believe that -- i would have to see exactly the context of the quote that you read, but what i was suggesting was the idea that because the factors in the law concerning something like sentencing are open-ended, that congress says you have to sentence defendants to terms of imprisonment that are sufficient, but not greater than necessary to promote the purposes of punishment and it
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lists the purposes of punishment , and any judge who looks at that has basically those broad parameters within which to think about how they are going to sentence. but the judge then have to decide whether they are thinking about deterrence or retribution or areas purposes in order to determine how they are going to sentence. my idea was that a similarly-situated judge looking at the same set of facts, applying those facts there's, could reach a different result. you were going to have inherent in the nature of judicial exercise of discretion in the world of something like sentencing, asperity -- disparity. sen. lee: that is helpful. you have been a judge for about eight years, if i'm not mistaken. in your experience as a judge
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and prior to that your experience as a lawyer, would you agree or disagree with someone who said that most racial disparities in criminal convictions and sentencings are -- result from an unconscious racial bias of judges, juries, and other judicial decision-makers? would you agree or disagree with that state? -- that statement? judge jackson: as a judge now it is very important for me not to make personal commitments about things like the question you asked. my personal views about anything don't impact my rulings. i am aware of social science research. there is a professor at harvard who has done implicit bias work
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there are studies from the commission when i was back at the commission in the policymaking role that talked about and indicated that all of us human beings can have biases that we are unconsciously operating on and that we have to think about that when we are making decisions, and especially policymakers in the criminal justice system. i am aware of those studies, but i am not a social scientist. sen. lee: i'm just asking for your overall sense as a judge, and certainly not for a commit. in 2019, i think in connection with notes prepared in connection with the same speech he noted that observed inconsistencies are largely attributable to factors other than group-based bias decision-makers. does that ring a bell? judge jackson: in the context of
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the critique i was making, because the article indicated that they saw that there were these demographic disparities, and the article said they were attributable to bias. i was trying to give another perspective. sen. lee: what are some of the leading factors that are other than unconscious bias you see having an impact there? that account for some of the disparities we see in convictions and sentencing? judge jackson: one of the things i was aware of in my time on the sentencing commission, and is something you have worked on, where the differences in statutory penalties for things like crack and powder read -- powder. sen. lee: disparities for what you get sentence with for crack? judge jackson: correct. he was having a demographic effect because research shows the overwhelming number of defendants convicted of crimes
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involving crack were african-american. sen. lee: thank you. that is very helpful. want to make sure i get to one other thing before i run out of time. you have remarked that presidents are not kings. that is a comment i have made a number of times as well. i tend to agree with it. whenever you are sitting in a court from time to time you have to review executive actions. do you think it would be appropriate under the guise of prosecutorial discretion for any president of the united states to tell an agency not to enforce a particular law? judge jackson: senator, i am unfortunately not going to be able to engage in a hypothetical discussion because those kinds of matters might come before me and i don't want to prejudge any case that might involve those facts. i do understand the implications
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of the law related to it, but i cannot tell you whether it would be appropriate or not. sen. lee: i would love to delve more into this. thank you. sen. durbin: thank you. senator klobuchar? sen. klobuchar: thank you very much, mr. chairman, ranking member grassley, and congratulations to both of you for your nominations and for your incredible work. judge jackson, the last time you were here in december 2012, then representative paul ryan introduced you. you remember that? judge jackson: i do. sen. klobuchar: saying our politics made differ, but my praise for her integrity is unequivocal. on march 23, 2013 were confirmed by voice vote and have since presided over many jury trials, bench trials, and written 560 --
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562 opinions. what have you learned during your time during a judge that will inform your service on the d.c. circuit judge go -- d.c. circuit judge. judge jackson: thank you, senator. i have been fortunate to work in a district with terrific colleagues. what i have learned is a lot about agency practice, as has been previously mentioned. i did not do agency work in private practice or my role as a federal public defender. i have learned a lot about how our government works in talking with my colleagues. i am looking forward to, if i am confirmed, being in constant communication with other judges in the looking at some of these very complicated issues concerning our government and its operation.
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i have learned the importance of having a collegial relationship with your colleagues on the bench, and i look forward to continuing that. sen. klobuchar:. good. over the course of your service as a judge you have ruled both for and against the government, including in the center for biological diversity, that case where you rejected a challenge by a group opposing the previous administrations plan to build a wall on -- wall along the southern border. how do you approach the law when approaching a case? how will you apply those principles as a circuit court judge? judge jackson: senator, i try to stick to the same methodology in my rulings. i try to focus -- i do focus on
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the arguments, the facts, and the law, the binding precedents of the supreme court and the circuit. i very methodically work through an analysis of those issues, of those inputs in every case. that helps me to not pay attention to who is involved, whether it is a government that is being run by one administration versus the other. i am focused on the arguments being made. it is funny, because my clerks sometimes say, your opinions are all the same. elemental he, they look the same. i say yes, exactly. that's the point. that's what i'm trying to do to make sure i'm treating everybody equally and i'm not paying attention to who is in the administration when i am ruling. sen. klobuchar: thank you very much for that answer.
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miss jackson-akiwumi, congratulations to you. he spent many years working as an advocate for various clients in both criminal and civil cases, with a breadth of experience. if you are confirmed, which i hope you will be, you will have to impartially apply the law. can you say more -- you talked about your experience, could you talk about how you view the role of a judge and how it first from that of an advocate? do you have reservations about being able to set aside your past advocacy and analyzing a case? judge jackson-akiwumi: thank you. as you indicated, i had a variety of different roles throughout my career. civil litigator at large law firms, federal public defender, law clerk to two federal judges. in each of those roles i have had to get up to speed in a variety of new areas of law and
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represent different types of clients. corporations, nonprofit organizations, individuals. i have enjoyed the challenge and variety, and that is what i expect to encounter on the circuit court, if confirmed. i believe that will be a transition i am up to, and i also am fully confident that i can apply the law neutrally and fairly as a circuit judge. as i indicated in one of my earlier answers, being an advocate requires you to work within existing law. i am prepared to work within the existing framework of seventh circuit precedent, supreme court precedent, in reaching recent decisions. finally, yes, i am aware the role of advocate and judge are different. as an advocate your positions are essentially given to you, because you must create -- or
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coming up with the best documents for your clients, best positions within the framework of the law to advocate for your clients. as a judge she don't come from that perspective at all. you approach each case with an open mind, and you listen to the arguments of both parties without a on the scale. -- without a thumb on the scale. you talk with your colleagues, conference with your colleagues, and you work through the law to get a reasoned result. it is not at all dictated by a position you started with. sen. klobuchar: very good. i think that is a good description when you look at someone who served as a public defender, and people may not agree with some of the things that -- clients you may have represented or with crimes that were committed, but you have a job to represent them under the
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law, and i think it is that confusion of those issues that have sometimes led the senate to not confirm some people. i see it as -- having been in the role of the prosecutor, just seeing that we have to differentiate that or we will never have anyone in these jobs who has been an advocate for clients on the criminal defense side. i would end with that. judge jackson spent years as an assistant counsel, later vice chair and commissioner. has that experience informed your approach as a district court judge for sentencing principles, and how will that inform your work as a circuit court judge? judge jackson: thank you, senator. one thing the assistant special counsel did was to work on the actual drafting of the
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guidelines. so, even apart from the substance, just meticulous work that was necessary to draft the guidelines has been helpful in my drafting opinions. with respect to the substance, understanding sentencing, understanding sentencing policy and practice has really been useful for me as a trial judge, because, as i said, i have sentenced more than 100 people. you use the guidelines manual as the supreme court directs to do that. i came to the job with a sense of what sentencing was about. i think that for appeals, my experience in engaging in sentencing and understanding trial procedures from the trial court perspective would be very
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helpful, because the court of appeals reviews trial court proceedings and sentencings in criminal cases. i think that perspective should be valuable. sen. klobuchar: thank you very much. sen. durbin: thanks, senator klobuchar. senator cotton? >> congratulations to you both. is it judge brown jackson? or judge jackson? judge jackson: judge jackson, thank you. >> have you ever represented a terrorist act guantanamo bay? judge jackson: about 16 years ago when i was a federal public defender. >> was that case assigned to you? judge jackson: it was. >> who was the client you had? judge jackson: senator, i don't remember the name. >> could we get that for the record, please? judge jackson: sure. >> miss jackson-akiwumi. judge jackson: jackson-akiwumi.
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>> have you ever represented a terrorist act guantanamo bay? judge jackson-akiwumi: no, senator. >> i want to speak about race discrimination. does the constitution allow the government to treat americans differently because of their race? judge jackson: no, senator. judge jackson? judge jackson-akiwumi: no, senator. >> let's turn to religious liberty. the first amendment protects the freedom of religion. this also means the government cannot institute blanket policies that treat ledges organizations worse than they treat secular organizations, such as restaurants or casinos. is that right? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator, the first amendment protects religious liberty, religious freedom, exercise of religion, and all of those issues are being actively litigated,
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including at the supreme court. >> but the government cannot treat a religious organization worse than they would a secular organism -- secular business like a restaurant or casino, is that correct? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator, you are referring to the principal about neutral laws, and there is a principal there that if a law is neutral as to everyone, a religious organization can be included. it is my view that the supreme court is testing the areas of that. for example, the supreme court granted an injunction out of california that involved one of those issues. i wanted to be sure to reflect nuance there, and the fact the supreme court is working through those issues. i will also add that first amendment litigation has not been my area of practice the last 10 years, or even 16 years. that is my broad understanding
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of what is happening with the clause at the supreme court. sen. cotton: thank you. judge jackson? judge jackson: i too have not had many cases involving religious liberty issues. i have one right now that might involve some of these issues, that i am aware that the supreme court has rightly viewed the first amendment right to religious liberty as foundational, fundamental. it is in the first amendment. the supreme court is working through the doctrine there has been a series of cases in the last few years as the court determines what it means to treat religious organizations differently. >> thank you. as turn to the second amendment. do you believe the second amendment protects an individual's right to keep and
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bear arms for self-defense? judge jackson-akiwumi: the supreme court has said that very clearly. the supreme court protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms. sen. cotton: which has been extended through mcdonald's, correct? judge jackson-akiwumi: that is correct. sen. cotton: what do you believe are the limits to that right? judge jackson-akiwumi: that is the very thing that courts are figuring out right now. sen. cotton: do you have any personal views on that? judge jackson-akiwumi: if i had any personal views they certainly would not be relevant to decision-making that i would engage in as a circuit judge, if confirmed. i would be bound by the supreme court's resident -- president. sen. cotton: judge jackson? judge jackson: i agree wholeheartedly with what judge jackson-akiwumi said. in a views regarding the fundamental right to bear arms would have no bearing on my
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decision-making concerning those issues, and i would be bound by the supreme court and d.c. circuit judge to precedence. sen. cotton: in the heller and mcdonald? judge jackson: in heller and mcdonald. sen. cotton: do you agree with justice breyer and ginsburg that the supreme court should have nine justices and justices should not be added? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator, i will have to admit i am not familiar with their particular views on that issue. i don't think it would be appropriate, as i indicated, for me to opine upon the composition of the supreme court or what should and should not happen. it is a question that this body must sort through. it is a question left to the legislative ranch and executive branch. judge jackson: i am currently -- sen. cotton: i won't even ask. thank you both for your testimony today. congratulations, again.
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sen. durbin: senator cowan's. >> thank you, chairman durbin. welcome to our two nominees. both of the nominees before us are highly qualified and impressive candidates. both have demonstrated a commitment to justice and fairness. judge jackson, some critics have pointed to cases where you ruled against the trump administration and somehow suggest that is evidence you advised. a review of your actual record shows you ruled for and against administrations of both parties. even on some pressing and important legal matters with political overtones. could you speak about some of these examples and how it is a mischaracterization of your judicial record to look at your record in the last four years? judge jackson: thank you, senator. i tend to leave it to others to characterize my record.
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i'm doing the work of analyzing the arguments and facts in the law in every case. sen. coons: can i reframe that? would that be helpful? if we try to assess a judge's record on a scorekeeping of which administration either they were confirmed under or they will for or against, what does that miss about a judge's judicial philosophy and qualifications, and is that an adequate way to assess how you would approach a case? judge jackson: i do think it misses quite a bit, because, i am applying a methodology and it involves fastidiously looking only at the arguments that the parties are making in the facts and law. sometimes those arguments are
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being made by one party or another in a government case, but that doesn't matter because i'm testing out the merits of the claims being made and how the law, the binding law of the supreme court and d.c. circuit judge applies to those claims in light of the facts. if you look at a judge's body of work you will see that the claims and law and facts don't vary -- vary based on party. sometimes you're going to find cases in which the judge may rule in favor of one administration. sometimes you may find that is not the driving force behind the judge's ruling. i have had cases -- many cases, in fact, in which i ruled
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partially for one party or the other, a party meaning a party in the case, not a political party. so that it is a split decision and both parties are upset at the end of the day, but it is because that is what i believe the law required. if the judge is going to do their duty, they are not focused on the same political dynamics you are talking about that other people tried to find in their rulings. sen. coons: can you both -- and i will ask you to go first, judge jackson -- speak to the value of an independent judiciary? judge jackson: senator, i think it is one of the bed rocks of the rule of law, which, as you know, is a foundational constitutional principle. it is what everything and our government is really erected around. if you don't have judges who are
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able to do their duty, marbury v madison, then we have lost that important check that the founders wanted us to have read it is the way our government was constructed. the independence of the judicial branch is crucial. sen. coons: thank you. miss jackson-akiwumi, you also care to comment on the importance of a federal judiciary independent from the whims of politics. judge jackson-akiwumi: it is hard to improve upon the answer judge jackson gave. i will also add that i have clerked for two federal judges, and every judge i have ever appeared in front of c and to understand this foundational principle. it does not seem to be in dispute among the judges i have appeared in front of and worked for. sen. coons: my understanding is
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both of your parents were also judges. could you fill me in briefly on what motivated you to pursue a career in service, and particular the law? judge jackson-akiwumi: thank you. i grew up in a family that valued public service. i always knew that the bulk of my career would be spent working in the public interest. i am honored to have this opportunity, and the faith of the president in our community and make returning to public service. it is simply an honor. my parents have taught me a lot throughout my life. in terms of their judicial careers, i witnessed my father do the very thing you finished discussing, rule without fear or favor, and understand his independence. i watched my mother put
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litigants first, even at risk of her own body. she sat for hours on the bench because she knew that litigants had taken time off of work to come to court. police officers were away from their beat. caregivers were away from their families. she did not want to delay the administration of justice, so she sat for hours without taking a break. i learned a lot about service for my parents, and judicial service, long before the thought of serving this country ever came to me, long before i was presented with this opportunity. sen. coons: last question. you would bring some badly needed diversity to the seventh circuit, of several kinds. cato institute had a study that showed there were nine times as many prosecutors as -- in terms of background,
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upbringing, racial, gender background, having a broadly diverse federal judiciary is a goal of this administration, and one i support. could you speak briefly to what difference does that make and why is that a value? judge jackson-akiwumi: as i indicated earlier, demographic diversity and professional diversity certainly increase confidence in our court system. people can accept decisions as more fair, knowing that a broad array of judges have considered the matter and the courts are not restricted to just some. there is an important role modeling function so young students, law students, lawyers know the path to public service on the bench is open to everyone, not just those who have taken a certain career path. then, i hope to be able to bring something to discussions with my judicial colleagues, if
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confirmed, because of my experience. just in the way -- i am aware of the collegial nature of our circuit court. i am aware that judges conference after arguments to discuss their impressions about any particular case. just like a colleague with a background as a state court judge i recognize one fact in the record, or a colleague with a background in mergers and acquisitions recognize another, or a prosecutor another fact, i hope i too can bring something to our discussion because of my experience as a federal public defender, and thereby enhance our collective discussion and decision-making. sen. coons: thank you both. i look forward to supporting your nominations. sen. durbin: thank you. senator hawley? >> thank you, mr. chairman. congratulations on your nominations. miss jackson-akiwumi, i want to
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ask you again about the reginald taylor case, in which i think you served as a defense attorney. this was an armed robbery case. when i ask you about your sentencing memorandum, you argue that the defendant should not be subject to the 15 year mandatory minimum for the armed career criminal. should not apply to this defendant. it was a mandatory minimum, so walk me through this. what was your argument about not applying a mandatory minimum sentence? is it your view that judges should be free to depart from those minimums? judge jackson: thank you for the question. that argument was based on the career criminal act, which stated -- congress stated that defendants should only be subject to the mandatory minimum if they have certain offenses in their criminal history. the predicate defense the government relied on in mr.
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taylor's criminal history was residential burglary. the supreme court, seventh circuit, and circuits around the country were working through the issue of whether residential burglary qualified as a predicate offense. we took the position that residential burglary did not qualify. and if it did not, that meant the mandatory minimum of the armed criminal career act would not apply in mr. taylor's case. sen. hawley: that make sense to me. let me ask you about something you wrote in that same memorandum. wrote that this departure from the mandatory minimum was appropriate because when black defendants continue to receive longer defendants for the same crime, no additional time should be added to further entrench this disparity. is it your view that the armed career criminal act, or mandatory minimum sentences in
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general, are racist, inherently? judge jackson: in queue for question as well. -- thank you for that question as well. there has been researched by the sentencing commission and other agencies in our government that have shown the racial impact of mandatory minimum sentences. it is an issue that this body and this very committee has considered. what i was referring to in the portion of my sentencing memorandum you quoted is the supreme court law -- there is supreme court case law that says above and beyond a mandatory minimum a judge does not have to impose any additional time. if the judge, in her discretion, feels that the mandatory minimum will impose what congress has stated the standard is -- a sentence which is sufficient but not greater than necessary --
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then a judge does not have to add time on top of that. the argument i was making to the judge was, if you feel the mandatory minimum imposes a sufficient but not greater than necessary sentence on mr. taylor, please do not add additional time on top. sen. hawley: let me ask you a question i have asked other nominees who have come before this committee. do you believe the criminal justice system is systemically racist or infected with systemic racism and bias? judge jackson: those are not terms i use. in the law, when we look at issues of race, we look at discrimination, which has very specific standards under supreme court and statutory law in terms of making findings. so, courts will be generally looking for attorneys to prove discriminatory intent, discriminatory impact, in some cases retaliation.
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there is no supreme court doctrine that speaks to systemic racism, and it is certainly not -- those certainly are not words i have ever used in a court of law to make claims based under the, to make claims under the constitution or statute. sen. hawley: those are not words you would use for our criminal justice system. judge jackson: that is not the weight of an advocate. i would be hesitant to push any case involving race. sen. hawley: let me ask about the child protection safety act. you stated that the law includes a new mandatory condition of electronic monitoring for all persons charged with child sexual abuse or pornography crimes including register as a sexual offender under the appropriate attitude.
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in your presentation you noted a number of district court had found this unconstitutional as due to a process -- a commandment, due process clause, i want to ask about this since you are advocating -- making these arguments as defense counsel. do you believe the adam walsh safety and protection act is unconstitutional on eighth amendment grounds? judge jackson: i cannot remember that presentation or anything that i said in that presentation, if confirmed as a judge i am bound by the statutes of this body, i would be called upon to apply them to the facts of any case that is before the seventh circuit. sen. hawley: i wanted to ask the same question about the statute being unconstitutional on the
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fifth amendment grounds or separation of powers grounds. is your answer the same? judge jackson: yes, i am sorry, i do not remember the presentation. sen. hawley: i will give this to you as a question for the record, your king look at your notes get back to us. in my final moments i wanted to say judge jackson, i think i am correct about this that you served on the board of montrose christian school. is that right? judge jackson: about a year. i mention it because like noted in the statement of faith of the time that it said we should speak on behalf of the unborn and contempt for the sanctity of all human life, it went on to say that children from the moment of conception are a blessing. the school took the position that urges the uniting of one man and one woman in a commitment for a lifetime interstate has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind.
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those are positions i agree with, which is beside the point, i raise them because i recall that justice amy barrett was attacked for serving on the board of trinity schools which took similar positions. i defended her at that time, i would defend your right to religious liberty and to serve on this board, whatever opinions may be, from your service, that you believe in the principle -- at the constitutional rights of religious liberty, is that fair question mark -- is that fair? >> i believe in judicial -- religious liberty. the supreme court has made clear through its case law that governments cannot infringe on religious rights. those ideas -- that concept comes from my duty to serve
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supreme court precedent, follow its tenants. not from any personal views that i might have and any personal views about religion would never come into my service as a judge. i served on many boards and i do not necessarily agree with all of the statements of all of the things those boards might have in their materials. the statement is that you read i am not sure the that was something that was in the circumstances at the time. i was not aware that. in any event. i do believe in religious liberty. sen. hawley: thank you very much. sen. cruz: senator blumenthal.
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sen. blumenthal: thank you to you both for your willingness to serve, thank you to your families which are undoubtably very proud of you. i am proud to be here as a member of the judiciary committee to be involved in your confirmation. i will support you because you are both provably well qualified by your academic background, service to our nation and your families. i want to begin by saying you both have backgrounds as public defenders. i served for 4.5 years as the united states attorney in connecticut. the federal prosecutor i was then attorney general of our state for 20 years. and involved in law enforcement.
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i welcome the emphasis on elevating and showing that public defenders are as diverse -- deserving by virtue of their background to appointments as a federal judge, prosecutor anybody else. under the positions are competitive now. -- i know the positions are competitive now. public defenders bring a perspective to judging, that prosecutors might not. just as people who come from private practice bring a different perspective. i congratulate and thank you for your background. diversity is important on both the circuits that you will join. the seventh circuit presides over 7.5 million people of color
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including chicago, milwaukee, indianapolis across -- including other cities. yet all of the judges sitting on the court are white in 2021. i am dumbstruck, it is breathtaking that a federal circuit court in any part of our country is all white, i have remarked on this before. just to say it again, thank you to the president, you. for helping to correct this injustice which undermines the public. the reason that we are as strong and resilient as we are as a democracy is because of the independent judiciary. that has had courage to stand up
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to the potential abuse in our democracy that we have seen. the contempt for the rule of law that we have seen in the highest places in the previous administration. i want to avoid going into politics but i think that we are at a moment when we need to think the judiciary as an independent branch of government. most especially district courts, court of appeal for standing for democracy. i am proud to support you. i went to ask each of you, roughly the same question i asked eight years ago as the nominee for the district court about your positions on
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sentencing discretion. this is important as we approach the justice in policing act and revisions to our law to make it fairer and more just. sentencing is an enormous power, you will not have it as circuit court judges but i would be interested in your views as to when departures from the sentencing guidelines are justified and the common reasons there are two beat for departing from those guidelines. if you could give us the benefit of your experience on that point. jackson-akiwumi: thank you for that question, the sentencing system --judge jackson: the
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sentencing system has gone through different phases, not only do we have the guidelines, manual and departures in the manual but as a result of the supreme court decision in booker , judges can use the guidelines as a starting point for their analysis and they can determine if the guideline and departures are sufficient penalty for the case. what is that meant is in some districts, judges do not depart in the same way. departures are grounds within the guidelines manual. for imposing a sentence that is different that comes out from the initial calculation. in the guidelines manual, there
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is room for judges to take into account certain factors concerning the circumstances of the individual in departing. in my district, judges tend to vary from the guidelines in circumstances in which the age of the person may mean that the guideline penalty is too much. there are lots of different reasons, mental health reasons are in the guidelines but they tend to be factors that have to do with the individual. there is also the most prevalent departure which is the one that prosecutors recommend in a situation in which a person is cooperating. all of those factors enable judges to impose sentences that are sufficient but not greater
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than necessary, but congress has to continue to evaluate whether changes need to be made. sen. blumenthal: thank you. jackson-akiwumi: this is my second time setting up but it is hard to improve upon the competence of answer. she explained that the sentencing regime i litigated under for one decade. in almost every case where judges departed from the guidelines and i was representing a client it was because of the presence or absence of mitigating or aggravating factors. there would be aggravating factors that warranted a higher guideline sentence in the rare case and in the more common case, mitigating factors that warrand a sentence or lower than the guideline range. the judges were operating under the statutory framework.
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that this body laid out about how they should sentence. only one of those many factors was the sentencing guidelines. there are many other things that judges needed to look to. sen. blumenthal: thank you both of you. sen. cruz: is -- sen. durbin: is senator tillis available remote? sen. tillis: i am. sen. durbin: proceed. sen. tillis: congratulations on your nomination, i am sure that your family and friends are proud of you and rightfully so. mr. chairman, i think it is important to highlight one of the reasons why we have these nominees before us. the group demand justice, a group i have spoken about in this committee before and i spoke about it with senator whitehouse -- senator whitehouse on the dark money.
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that group is behind the nominations before spirit demand justice is a dark many groups, whose first priority is getting left-wing judges that will follow a liberal agenda instead of the constitution. demand justice is spending millions of dollars advocating for the expansion and packing of the supreme court. they have been pushing for liberal judges since before president biden was elected. like many of us last year, demand justice called on president biden to release a potential list of supreme court nominees but he refused. however, they released a list of their preferred nominees, the first list was released in october 15, 2019. without objection, i would like to submit to documents that were on the website for the first and
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second list i will talk about. the first contained 32 names of progressive leaders who would help rebalance the supreme court. the list included lawyers who had champ and progressive values as public defenders, public interest lawyers, scholars, length of lawyers and elected officials. the nominees before us were not on the first list. but in april of 2020, demand justice released a second shortlist of their supreme court nominees for soon-to-be president biden. both judge jackson and miss jackson-akiwumi were on this list. now they are sitting in front of this committee as nominees for circuit court positions. what changed between the first list and the second? in judge jackson's case, one month after the first demand justice supreme court shortlist
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came in, miss jackson -- judge jackson issued a ruling in a case brought by house democrats who wanted to compel former white house counsel to testify. we can debate the conclusions of judge jackson, one thing is clear, the 120 page ruling had a purpose. i think rachel maddow explained the purpose of the ruling well. if the production crew can run the video clip, do so now. [video clip] >> the judge in this case, has ruled against the president and ruled that in this instance, the officials that the official instructed to defy the subpoena, the judge says that he must comply with the subpoena and turn up to congress to testify. this is a long ruling.
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it is interesting, it seems to meet like it is written with a broad audience in mind. it is not super legalistic, it is not a mechanistic order that he has to show up and here's the president -- precedent. this is the kind of ruling that if it was an indictment, you would call it a speaking indictment. it is designed to be read by people outside of the case. sen. tillis: it was written with a broad audience in mind, it was not just at legalistic thing. if this were to be read this will be a speaking indictment. this is one month after the supreme court shortlist came out.
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the demand justice released their second supreme court shortlist in 2020 and judge jackson was added how is this any different from what democrats have accused republicans of? or is it archaic when it is liberal dark money picking the nominees for the highest courts? mr. chairman i would like to seek unanimous consent to add the shortlist from the demand justice website. sen. cruz: with -- sen. durbin: without objection they will be, do you have any further comments or questions? sen. tillis: i am done. sen. durbin: i will ask if joe jackson wants to respond to your comment. judge jackson: thank you mr. chairman. i have been a federal judge for eight years.
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i have a duty of independence. i clerked for three federal judges before i became a judge. they were models of judicial independence. what that has meant is that i know very well what my obligations are, what my duties are, not to rule with partisan advantage in mind. not to tailor or craft my decisions to try to game influence or anything of the sort. i have no control over what outside groups say about my rulings. i have no control over what reporters saying about to bite rulings. and to some extent all of my 560 opinions are written for people outside of the case.
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they are written for the public, for the appeals court and the parties. my statement is that i have always been an independent judge in the belief that is one of the reasons why the president has honored me with this nomination. sen. tillis: i said from the onset it was one of the factors, i am sure that your jurisprudence weighed in. your response would read almost identically to dozens of judges who came before the judiciary and they were rejected out of hand. dark money is influencing, demand justice is trying to expand the supreme court. you can understand after four years of hearing how the federalist society and other organizations were a dark money
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group with malign intentions, i group that is supporting you, why we would draw the same conclusion. thank you mr. chairman. sen. durbin: thank you senator. let me add another element, i do not want to incorrectly infer this but i want to make it clear about this hearing is scheduled today cannot because of a plea by any special interest group at all. the nominees go through an extensive background check, all of them do. it takes some period of time before that is completed and submitted to the committee, both sides of the committee. we have scheduled the five nominees today as soon as that process had been completed. i am looking through your questionnaire spent agenda not know how human is to accumulate all of this information in response but it was a good faith effort to comply with everything under the law as soon as it was ready, we set this hearing.
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no outside group's demands or plays had to do with the timing of this hearing. senator hirono are you available by remote? sen. hirono: imp aren't democrats have long criticized the role of dark money in politics and judicial nominees, if what i am hearing is that our republican colleagues are now on the same page with us and criticizing dark money then we should be voting for legislation to require disclosure of dark money sources. i welcome that from the republicans. i congratulate our nominees. you are eminently qualified emma that is why the president nominated to you. i congratulate both of you. i have their questions for every nominee before any committees on which i said.
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first question, since he became a legal adult have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed verbal or sexual harassment? judge jackson: no senator. jackson-akiwumi: no senator. sen. hirono: have you ever face discipline or entered into a settlement related to this? judge jackson: no senator. jackson-akiwumi: no senator. sen. hirono: you have both served as public defenders and you answered questions about that. for miss jackson-akiwumi you gave an interview in which you described the burden you carry as a black woman attorney like when a prosecutor accused you of being overly aggressive because you forcefully made a point. you describe the benefits, sometimes my clients families are very grateful to see me, a
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young black woman in a position of power, i can inspire a child without no. you are nominated to fill a seat on the seventh circuit making it the first black person -- person of color on that bench. what is the significance of that to you? ms. jackson-akiwumi: i want you to know i would be the second person nominated, judge and wilson retired in 2017. i indicated earlier that there is the same role modeling functions that i played when i was an advocate. that i was referring to in that interview. often times you can inspire a child without knowing it because it might be the first time they have seen a black woman standing up in court.
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the same would be true if i were confirmed as a judge. i could serve as a role model for an eighty -- any number of people behind me. that is not just for the people of the same race or gender, i would hope to do that through my service if confirmed. sen. hirono: i appreciate you noting the importance of demographic diversity and professional diversity, such as being a public defender to achieve role modeling. this modeling should reflect the diversity of our country. i appreciate you saying that. getting back to both of you serving as public defenders, these are highly competitive and difficult jobs. you could have gone to a prosecutor's office. we have rarely considered public defender nominees in the committee, can you talk each of
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you white you sought out these positions -- why you sought out these positions? judge jackson: my service as a public defender was a white logo -- while ago. i am trying to think back. i came from a staff position on the sentencing commission and was working on sentencing policy. i remember thinking clearly that i felt like i did not have enough of an idea of what really happened in criminal cases. i wanted to understand the system, if for no other reason than to be a better policymaker. otherwise did not end up doing that -- although i did not end
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up doing that. i thought it would be a good opportunity to help people as well. i come from a background of public service. my parents were in public service, my brother was a police officer in the military, being in the public defender's office felt like the opportunity to help with my skills and talents. sen. hirono: it sounds as though it is kind of an experiential diversity, the people came for you and whose lives you can impact with your decisions. would you like to respond ms. jackson-akiwumi? ms. jackson-akiwumi: what i initially applied, i was looking for a job where i could help protect constitutional rights and work in that realm.
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i was looking forward to being a trial litigator and public litigator outside of federal -- at the federal level. we represented clients from arrest through appeals even when they wanted to petition in the u.s. supreme court which i did in two cases. i was looking to represent individual clients, i had been a civil litigator for three years and most of my clients were corporations, nonprofit organizations. i was only representing individuals through my extensive pro bono work. i wanted to do it full-time. now with the benefit of 10 times -- 10 years of service, i was correct about the reward that comes from helping our country to live up to its constitutional ideals in the sixth amendment. that everybody should have
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assistance of counsel. what i did not appreciate when i began but learned was how gratifying it was to walk with someone through the toughest days and nights of their lives when they were being judged for the worst moments in their lives. to serve as a guide, counselor, investigator, social worker, strategist, negotiator, there were so many hats in addition to a trial litigator, appellate litigator, oral and written advocate. there was no end to the variety of ways i was called upon to help people and communities and victims. because the system works when everybody is ably represented. many of my clients were clients when they put victims of day before. it was a robust way for us to live up to our constitutional values. sen. hirono: thank you.
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sen. durbin: thank you senator hirono. is senator blackburn available by remote? sen. blackburn: yes i am. i am so pleased we have these nominees in front of us. judge brown i want to come to you first if i may. i know you are aware that you are discussed regularly as a future supreme court nominee, many of our supreme court nominees come from the circuit that you would be serving on. we have some that are advocating to pack the court, expand the court, that has been discussed, senator cornyn talked with you about it. i see this as a dangerous proposal. it would set up a judicial arms race, if somebody adds, someone
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else will. it is said that even president roosevelt's threat and unsuccessful attempt to pack the court was enough to intimidate justices. do you believe that deliberately expending the court to about one president two packet with their nominees what undermined confidence in our laws and undermine the separation of powers? if they were to expand the court, if president biden did that, would you accept a supreme court nomination under those circumstances? judge jackson: i am a sitting judge in the lower courts. as such i am bound by supreme court precedent and rulings.
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i do not think it is appropriate for me to comment on proposals without the structure -- about the structure of the court, expending the court or anything of the sort just as it would not appropriate for me to talk about or critique supreme court precedent. i am unable to answer your question. sen. blackburn: you are aware the groups advocating for you, support that. judge jackson: there are a lot of people that have -- for me and i am gratified but i am focused on this nomination. i am hoping to be confirmed to the d.c. circuit. sen. blackburn: ms. jackson-akiwumi i appreciate the
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comments about diversity. having good relationships with individuals who are different from being, who have different points of view from me is something that is important. to help me in public policy and to do a better job in representing all tennesseans. i appreciate the comments you have made there. i noted as i looked through your record that you represented many different clients during your tenure, you have been a zealous advocate for those clients. i want to draw attention to a case where you defended a man who preyed on women for sex, prostituted them, his victims accused him of physically restraining them with a firearm.
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despite believing all women, you called these women lies to cast doubt on their testimonies and climbed there was no evidence from the testimony. in your sentencing memorandum, you shamed the victims alleged prior prostitution work to support a more lenient sentence for your client. do you support to believing the believing survivors of sexual violence? ms. jackson-akiwumi: thank you senator blackburn for the question. i am not sure which case you are referring to, i have represented more than 400 clients with sex offense cases. what i can say is calling a victim a liar is not something i have done in court or written record. it is my job as an attorney to
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examine the evidence and present questions about the evidence to the courts where appropriate and necessary. sen. blackburn: let me give you the specific case and you can submit in writing. your sentencing memo causes me concern. we have been through time where a previous supreme court justice , we have an issue with governor cuomo, knowing where you stand on that is important. i will get that to you. ms. jackson-akiwumi: thank you senator. pres. biden: -- sen. blackburn: judge jackson i want to come back to you. in 2019 you granted a preliminary injunction against
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the dhs rule expending the use of the statutory authority to use expedited removal procedures. the d.c. circuit judge reversed your injunction and found that congress granted the dhs secretary soul and unreviewable discretion on expedited determination to enforce immigration law. since beginning of resident biden's term, the amount of illegal border crossings has skyrocketed and it appears that we will exceed everything we had at the border in 2019. last month, border agents took over 170,000 migrants into custody at the southern border. including 19,000 unaccompanied children. these apprehensions have hit a 15 year high. the biden administration's
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flawed policy has encouraged more and more migrants coming to the country illegally. the administration is failing to properly handle the surge in crossings and has allowed our borders to be overwhelmed. they have failed to acknowledge the crisis exist. the administration's failures have caused massive suffering and endangered communities and anybody who is not been to the border it needs to go. i was astounded. do our homeland security officials lacked sufficient authority to act decisively and timely to keep us safe? judge jackson: thank you senator. i had a number of immigration cases. in those cases, like the one you mentioned, what i am doing is evaluating the law, the
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immigration law is very complex, the facts in the case and the claims that are being made, the arguments of the parties. i am not assessing the policy. i'm not making a determination in a general sense of whether or not dhs officials have enough authority or any other policy consideration. given what i do and what is in my purview, i cannot say whether they have enough authority. what i can tell you and that the case you reference, that i worked on, there was a disagreement, the d.c. circuit judge disagreed with the way i analyzed the statute and that sometimes happens. judges disagree on statutory interpretations.
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they made the ruling that they made and that is binding precedent. sen. blackburn: i have one other i will submit you for writing, and that has to do with the number of reversals. i see senator booker and i thank you for the time. sen. durbin: i think you very much for -- i think you very much. senator booker are you ready? sen. booker: i was having trouble admitting myself. i am grateful for that. i would like to make the case, it was said earlier in an equivalency that was stunning to me about the outside groups influence on the picking of judges for the circuit and the supreme court. joe biden has said no such
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thing, he has directly refuted questions about outside groups governing his decision. he understands this is one of the civic glee sacred p owers given to the president. i am sure that he would feel that it would be a betrayal of that power too far out responsibility for making choices to an organization, especially one that does not necessarily aligned with these principles, values. that is dramatically different than what president donald trump -- former president donald trump did. he promised that his nominees would all be picked up by the federalist society, he also said that he turned to the federalist people and heritage foundation to assemble his initial list of 21 potential nominees. which is think that -- saying
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that power was turned over to organizations -- that should bring up questions for every senator. who are these organizations? what is the money and interest behind them? is it dark money, folks with agendas that cut across the concerns that should be held in a bipartisan manner by members of congress? this is a stunning departure from our national history. farming out should be abhorrent to everyone. i wanted to make that distinction. to both of our nominees, it is an extraordinary honor to be sitting before you. this is the date that is worthy of celebration given your background, the uniqueness of your careers and i want to thank you both. i talk often about issues of race and diversity, those have
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been brought up by members on both sides. i want to ask one question and it is about another type of diversity that is not talked about enough, which is diversity we do not see many on the higher courts. once not having prosecutorial background or time working as public defenders -- but time working as public defenders. this is an ideal that goes back to adams representing the british involved in the boston massacre. this belief that everybody deserves defense. it is noble work. it brings diversity to our system. an urgent silly -- urgently needed level diversity. i will take my answers back on mute and turn it over to the
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chairman. could each of the explain -- of you explain why it is important to have diversity on the federal bench when appellate judges are deliberating? how does that help inform the decisions in your opinion and how each of your experiences affect your opinions? with that i will go on mute and think the nominees in advance -- thank the nominees in advance. judge jackson: thank you senator , i had the pleasure of working as a law clerk for two appellate judges. i do not know yet and i hope to be confirmed and see firsthand
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what the deliberation process is. i know that the judges meet and discuss cases, in that context it seems to be quite typical for judges from all different backgrounds, prosecutors, people who have worked in private practice, other areas to be able to contribute to the discussions about the cases. i look at it from the oliver wendell holmes of view that the life of the law is not logic, it is experience. the more experiences brought to bear on our complex legal problem is, the better. i know from my experience as a district judge that there have been changes in my own way of
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practicing, interacting with defendants that are based on insights from representing clients 16 years ago when i was an assistant federal public defender. you learn things. from experiences that relate to what you are doing. they can be useful. i told the story about the way in which i communicate and forecast and layout for defendants what is happening in cases. i was aware as a defender, how many of my clients did not understand the process and that was detrimental to their rehabilitation. i work on that aspect based on my insights from my time i was a
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defender. ms. jackson-akiwumi: i would only add that the seventh circuit has judges from many different backgrounds. there are state court judges who are sitting on the seventh circuit, law professors, judges who have been prosecutors, attorneys for the executive branch, i hope that i would and to that mix. as i reflected earlier and judge jackson referred to, it is a collegial environment and judges spend time discussing their impressions of the cases. in their effort to reach individual opinions in a case. i hope my background as a federal public defender and as a civil litigator as well will help bring something to the table in the way i know that my colleagues background already do. sen. durbin: thank you senator
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booker, senator cruz. sen. cruz: thank you mr. chairman and congratulations to both of the nominees. judge jackson, you and i attended lawsuit -- law school together. judge jackson: good to see you. sen. cruz: congratulations. let me start with a general question which is how would you find judicial activism -- define judicial activism? judge jackson: when a judge is unwilling to separate out their own personal views of a circumstance or case and they rule consistent with those views rather than the law as they are required. ms. jackson-akiwumi: i would give the same answer and out other judicial activism means many things to different people, for me it suggests a judge who
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goes beyond the issues presented to the court. judges are limited. they have a restraint rule in that they only decide the issues presented to them. one form of activism is going beyond. sen. cruz: what should a principled judge do if the law requires one outcome into your own personal, political policy views are to the contrary? how does the judge resolve that? judge jackson: the judge is duty-bound to follow the law, the binding and simple -- binding principal that guides the case. judges need to sort out their personal views. when i rule in my cases, i look at the facts, the law and the arguments in the same way. i methodically apply only those inputs.
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i am trying very hard to not look at this through anything but the prism of the binding precedent of the supreme court and d.c. circuit judge. there is no question that a judge has to set aside their personal views about how a case comes out and rule consistent with the law. ms. jackson-akiwumi: that is absolutely correct. the roles of advocate and judge are different. in the semi as an advocate i set aside my personal opinions about my clients and what they were accused of or guilty of, i would also set aside if confirmed my personal views, convictions if any. the law is what guides and should guide judicial decision-making. sen. cruz: what are your views on the notion of a living constitution and whether we have
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a living constitution? judge jackson: i have not had any cases that have required me to develop a view on constitutional interpretation and the way the supreme court has to do and thought about, the tools of interpretation. i am aware that the supreme court with respect to certain provisions of the constitution, that it has interpreted has looked at history and focused on the original meaning of the text , say in the second amendment context in the heller case. i have not had any opportunity to do that. i have worked with those materials when i was in private practice, i filed an amicus brief in which we argued using
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english common law about whether or not the english courts would have accepted evidence that had been extracted by torture. sen. cruz: was this in the booting case? judge jackson: that was. i represented 20 federal judges that wanted to make that point. sen. cruz: pro bono representation usually reflect your own views, which is frequently why lawyers take that on. what led you to take that? judge jackson: i was out working alone, i was at a big law firm, it was a client, it was a group of judges i was assigned to work with as part of my employment. sen. cruz: did you agree with the position you are advocating? judge jackson: i was focused on my clients interests, i was
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doing what advocates do. i do not have a personal view of the issue that to make sure thought i was making the most convincing argument i could make on behalf of my client. sen. cruz: let me go back to the original question, do you believe that we have a living constitution? judge jackson: the constitution is an enduring document, the supreme court has set affixed meaning to look to the original words in the constitution and interpret and as a lower court judges interpret positions of the supreme court does, that look out the text and original meaning. if i ever had one of those cases that is how i would approach it.
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ms. jackson-akiwumi: thank you for the question. i did not find these phrases useful. as a lawyer, a living constitution is somewhere to meet like judicial activism, it means so many things to different people. under the supreme court has not use those terms. i know that chief justice marshall said that we have a constitution that was meant to endure, which it has and be adopted to the crises of human affairs. i think that is what has happened with our constitution. beyond that, it is the supreme law of the land and if confirmed, i would be bound by the supreme court interpretations of the constitution. it would not be my job to make law. sen. cruz: if you could both tell me your view of the importance of the first amendment and the protections of
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free speech and religious liberty. judge jackson: my view comports with the supreme court because as a judge i have to apply the doctrines of the supreme court. it is clear from the recent rulings -- the recent covid cases, trinity lutheran, a masterpiece cake shop that the court is looking into restrictions on first amendment. as they should because the first amendment religious liberty as a core constitutional right. my views comports with what the supreme court has held. i would have to apply the supreme court principles. sen. cruz: ms. jackson-akiwumi.
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ms. jackson-akiwumi: i agree it is fundamental, all of the freedoms there, assembly, petition for redress and religion. sen. cruz: thank you. sen. durbin: thank you senator cruz. >> thank you mr. chair. before i begin, i want to take a moment to remark on the significance of this hearing. as chairman durbin reminds us and tells us, for the past four years, the prior administration appointed 226 judges to the federal courts. almost 30% of the current federal judiciary. an overwhelming majority of those appointees were white.
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nearly as many, 171 were men. over the course of the prior administration, our judiciary came markedly less diverse -- became markedly less diverse. this is an important step in reversing that trajectory and creating a judiciary that reflects america that it serves. this committee has heard and will hear testimony from five nominees, all persons of color and three women. they have experience in public defense, prosecution, civil litigation, municipal law and military service. the diversity of backgrounds and professional experience they offer to the judiciary in addition to their impressive qualifications is remarkable and
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important. i hope mr. chair and expect that this will be only the first of many such nominations this congress. now to my question. the first for ms. jackson, if confirmed you will be one of the few former public defenders to serve in this capacity. can you take a minute to speak to the role and importance of public defenders to our criminal justice system? >> did you mean ms. jackson-akiwumi? sen. padilla: i did. ms. jackson-akiwumi: the sixth amendment gives the right to counsel, the has been
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interpreted to mean counsel in criminal cases went one cannot afford an attorney. judges make the best decisions when they are presented with the best arguments from both sides. due process guarantees that people beat represented and have the opportunity to be heard, regardless of their ability to pay. it was my honor and privilege to work on that system for one decade to ensure that might clients were competently represented, regardless of their ability to pay and regardless of what they were accused of. and to help our country to live up to its values. sen. padilla: follow-on, earlier in your career, you spent years working at a corporate law firm. with i am sure very nice offices and resources and high salaries. you chose to leave that comfortable path to spend the
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next decade of your career as a public defender. just for a moment, what would prompt you to make such a change? ms. jackson-akiwumi: i am grateful for the three years i spent litigating there, it was a term in this experience representing our client which ranged from corporations to nonprofit organizations, individuals. i get a lot of experience, tried my first jury trial, argued my first case before the seventh circuit court of appeals. for which i appeared many times after as a federal public defender. i always knew that i wanted to return to public service. i began my legal career serving to federal judges and i wanted to spend the bulk of my career that way. this nomination has given me an opportunity to serve the public if this committee and the senate decides. sen. padilla: next question for
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ms. brown jackson. judge jackson: thank you. sen. padilla: you have presided over hundreds of cases. in that time, you have ruled for both prosecutors and criminal defendants, for workers and employers, for the government and those challenging governmental decisions. is there an ideology or philosophy that guides your approach? how do you view that not really a philosophy, more of a methodology, the idea that it is only appropriate for the judge to take into account the arguments of the parties, the facts of the case, and the law that applies. i have found that if you do
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that, you can be consistent in the way you are analyzing issues, and you can set aside any thoughts about who is making the argument, what advantages any side might take away from your opinions. if you have a fidelity to the rule of law that is grounded in looking at only those inputs, then i think you can rule without fear of favor, which is what i attempted to do. sen. padilla: thank you both for your willingness to serve and thank your families for supporting your service, because i know it is not easy. in the last minute i have, i would ask you both to briefly comment on what this means to you personally for you and your family for you to be here with this opportunity before you?
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judge jackson: i am fortunate enough to have an office now just a few blocks away from the national archive. sometimes i go there and i reflect on the moment -- momentousness of my duties and the fact i have had an opportunity that my grandparents would not have been able to fathom. it is the beauty and majesty of this country that someone who comes from a background like mine could find herself in this position. i am enormously grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the law in this way, and i am truly thankful for the president giving me the honor of this nomination.
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>> i also grew up with a preset of to whom much is given much is required. despite those humble beginnings, my family has always been one that valued education. i have been given a top-notch education. and top-notch experiences that i am so grateful for. i recall attorney general garland telling you all it was the highest and best use of his skill to serve his country in this way now. although i am certainly not attorney general come i agree with attorney general garland. in this moment now, to serve as a circuit judge at the request of our president, would be the highest and best use of the skills that i have in such a way
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to think my family and this country -- thank my family in this country for the opportunities i have been given. sen. padilla: is a proud son of immigrants, a work ethic the little 40 years of working as a short order cook and domestic worker, who had an opportunity to study at the massachusetts institute of technology, and years later get to sit on this side of the dais, i hank you both. -- i think you both. sen. kennedy: thank you. council, let me start with just a few general questions for can you give me your thoughts about the meaning and importance, if you think it is important, of the adequate and independent
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state ground doctrine? which you will probably see a lot. judge jackson-akiwumi: it is actually a doctrine of the supreme court that governs. when a case presents federal ground. but, if there is also independent and adequate state court ground that supports the decision, the supreme court will not choose to take the case. so, the supreme court is a body that has the ability to exercise that doctrine. the seventh circuit court of appeals would not have that opportunity. as you know, the court of appeals takes every case that is appealed to it. it does not have the ability like the supreme court does to pick and choose which cases it will hear. sen. kennedy: so you are saying the seventh circuit can't decide a case, or invoke adequate
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independent state ground doctrine? judge jackson-akiwumi: there are other doctrines that would govern if the seventh circuit -- if a panel fell there were state court questions that needed to be resolved, so the federal case should hold off, or if there was independent state court ground for the case that necessitated -- assisted tainted a particular type of ruling, but that doctrine would not cause the seventh circuit to not take the case to begin with. the seventh circuit has to consider the appeal, then issue a decision. sen. kennedy: right. but you are not saying that the adequate and independent state ground doctrine is not applicable to the seventh circuit? judge jackson-akiwumi: that is a doctrine of the supreme court. the seventh circuit has other doctrines. sen. kennedy: it is a doctrine of the circuit court of appeals, isn't it? judge jackson-akiwumi: this is
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not an area i have been litigating in the past 16 years, but this is my broad understanding that it is a doctrine of the supreme court. sen. kennedy: ok. what is your definition of justice? judge jackson-akiwumi: thank you for the question. emblazoned on the supreme court is "equal justice under law." i am mary that with the ethical canons and codes of conduct that apply to judges. one of them includes treating all parties fairly and impartially, and acting with diligence and upholding the independence of the court. i think when you marry those
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concepts together, you arrive at what hopefully is justice for the parties who come before a court. sen. kennedy: do you believe that crime is a disease that needs a chore -- cure, or an antisocial behavior that deserves punishment? judge jackson-akiwumi: senator kennedy, neither of those options are words i have ever used to describe crime, which has been my province for the last 10 years representing people accused of crimes. if there's anything that might decades have taught me is how gray everything is.
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there is often a faint line, an indescribable line from when someone goes from law-abiding to breaking law and all of the reasons that happens are all the different ways society can address that. i hope to bring that nuanced understanding with me to the circuit court if confirmed. i will be guided by the law and have to apply the law and would willingly do that to the facts in any case, but that nuanced understanding will enhance my ability to understand the facts in any given case. sen. kennedy: ok. are you a textual list, or propose to this -- judge jackson-akiwumi: one of the things i expressed to your
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colleague who asked a question about a living constitution, there was another western about activism, i do not find these labels particularly helpful. they mean different things to different people. sen. kennedy: i think they are pretty standard definitions. could you tell me which way you lean? judge jackson-akiwumi: no, senator. the supreme court has that -- has instructed that one must first look to the text of the constitution, the plain meaning there, also the plain meaning of the text of the statute. that method the supreme court has instructed judges what to do -- sen. kennedy: i am sorry to interrupt, but my chairman is
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strict that i want to get the asked -- get to ask the judge a question. i'm sorry to interrupt. judge, you have been on the bench and you have seen the federal judicial system up close and, i agree, america is a remarkable country. do you think the federal judicial system is systemically racist? judge jackson: thank you for that question. i am aware of social science research. sen. kennedy: i'm sorry? judge jackson: i am aware of social science research. in particular, my former area of expertise, which is sentencing.
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[gavel] sen. durbin: can i ask to take their seats? i am actually going to swear them in first peter to forgive me. you all are right in standing up.
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it has been a long time since i had julien neals telling me what to do every day. i am usually swearing at him, now i will swear him in. please raise your right hand and answer this question. do you affirm that the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth or help you god? you may take your seat. when we proceed? we will start with the honorable julien neals.
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>> we seem to be having -- oh, thank you. first off, i would like to thank chairman durbin and ranking member grassley and the committee for today's hearing. thank you to you and senator menendez for that more than generous introduction. thank you also to both of you for submitting my names to president biden. and, my thanks to president biden for this nomination. i offer congratulations to micah nominees. it is an honor to share this experience with both of them. i owe a debt of gratitude for even reaching this point in the process, and also to those who are with me today. my father. world war ii veteran and retired administrative law judge, felix neils. my mother, retired teacher, poet and actor betty neil -- neals.
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their encouragement and support have carried me to this point in my life and career. my sister is also with me. college professor, world traveler, felice neils whose fearless spirit has always been an inch -- inspiration to me. my wife has been a grounding loving force in my wife since my second year of law school. our son julian keith could not be here, but he brings us love and perspective and he is finishing up finals at king university and unfortunately had to spend his senior year remote. also in attendance is -- a tremendous judge and corporation counsel colleague.
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my brother felix, who was watching from washington state, has been the best big brother anyone could ask for. i send warm greetings and thanks to the family and the firm where i worked, the great city of new work and to the many friends and professionals who have wished me luck. finally, a special 21-year-old birthday west to julia -- thank you sir sen. booker: thank you. we will now move on to -- who may also make opening remarks. judge quraishi: i would also like to thank chairman durbin and chenier -- ranking member grassley, and the members of this committee for taking the time to consider my nomination. i would also like to thank the president for nominating me and also my home state senatorss --
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senators booker and menendez for their recognition and support. i share judge neils -- comment. i have a few folks with me i would like to introduce. first, my mother is here. i don't -- i do not have time to properly introduce my number -- my mother, when asked if she would like to attend today's hearing she said she would walk from new jersey if needed. [laughter] i hope that gives you context for the love i have with my mother. unfortunately, i would like to mention my father, fort lee my father cannot be here today. he tragically passed away last year to the covid-19 virus. i know he would have been proud to be here sitting aside my
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mother and i feel his presence in this room. i would also like to introduce two individuals very close to me who are supportive of my nomination throughout this process to accompany me and my mother here today and i'm grateful to have them. lastly, i would like to -- my children back home in new jersey, hopefully in class but i have a feeling they are trying to log into the video playing today's hearing. my doctors though he and son aiden, who i love very much. i have said this before publicly and privately, i have held many titles and roles in my life. the one that means the most to me in my life is being their father. i'm grateful for the two of them , although they could not be here today. thank you for indulging me. it has been an honor to appear before this committee with my
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friends. and i honor the opportunity to answer any questions. sen. booker: thank you very much. ms. rodriguez? ms. rodriguez thank you senator. it is my pleasure to be here with you today i also wish to extend my thanks to chairman durbin, ranking member grassley on members of the committee. i appreciate you holding this hearing to consider our nomination and i congratulate my fellow nominees today. thank you to president biden for the honor of this nomination, and a very warm thank you to senators bennett and hickenlooper for the confidence they have placed in me. i would also think former president obama and senator garner.
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i want to introduce you now the colorado contingent, also known as my family. i am very proud to have them here with me today. my husband and partner arnold, in what will be 20 years of marriage in the next couple of days. neither of us imagined that our journey would lead us here, but we are grateful to be here. my daughter, a high school senior. her resilience and fortitude in this unusual year has been inspiring. my son miles, who always makes us proud in his feats in the classroom and the football field. my mother linda rodriguez, her story is a journey in and of itself. my sister marla, and her husband
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no bless -- there are many people who have supported and championed me to bring me to this moment. too many to mention my name, but you know who you are and i thank you so much. thank you again for this honor and i look forward to the member's questions. sen. booker: you all got me a little verklempt. what a journey to this moment. it is a tribute to the nation we all love. you're sitting before the judiciary committee of the united states of america and it is a wonderful opportunity even though you do not see a full cavalcade of senators on both sides of the aisle. i want you to know that this part of the process is spelled out by the constitution. it is a sacred part of the process. as you sit before us, i'm sure
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there will be questions for the record that you all ask, but for now until the chairman comes back, and i have the gavel, let's have some fun. [laughter] i will first turn my questioning towards julien neals and ask him , would he please go over in detail my finer points as a leader? [laughter] in all seriousness come i would like to direct the first question to judge quraishi. you have dedicated the majority of your professional life to serving your country. that's is a lot. you worked in the jag corps, the u.s. district attorneys office, now a magistrate judge. you have a lot of lucrative opportunities before you. i was wondering if you can tell us why you're so passionate about public public service and why you believe these
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experiences have prepared you for your role as an article three district court judge? judge quraishi: as you may recall, we refer in new jersey to the folks that practice in federal court as our federal family. that involves not only the judges in the court staff, it involves prosecutors, public defenders, civil practitioners in the federal bar. for me in my career i have felt a part of being a member of that federal family before i knew it was. i think that stemmed early in my career in the military when i was honorably discharged and was returning home to new jersey after service, i was looking to find some civilian equivalent of what i felt when i was serving in the army, being a part of something larger than myself.
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that to me was public service in the federal government. even in the private sector, supporting programs like the reentry course and the -- the judicial con -- as far as my collective experience, it will be useful as a district judge i think having been being both prosecutor and offender, a veteran, a practitioner, a private lawyer, and currently sitting as magistrate judge where i handling civil cases and some of the criminal duties of a magistrate judge. i think collectively all of that will benefit me, if i was so fortunate to be confirmed. sen. booker: i am grateful for that i can't help but mark the significance of your face. -- faith.
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you would be the first muslim to be confirmed as an article three judge. in my opinion, this should have happened a very long time ago. there were muslim americans here at the founding of our country that played a role in everything from the yard, business -- the arts, business, invention and so many areas of american life, but not at the bench on the federal level. i am wondering, as we see us break through this milestone, i wonder if you might tell us what you are thinking and how it feels to be a trailblazer and a history maker. judge quraishi: thank you senator. i have thought a little bit about that only because i do not identify myself in any way through this process, but i have obviously read i would be the first muslim american article
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three judge of confirmed. candidly, i would have preferred to have been the one hundredths or the 1000th. i was the first asian-american to set on the court in our state's history. i understand what that means to the community. i could tell you that if confirmed i would approach this historical nomination the way i approached being the first asian-american on the new jersey district court and that would be to put my head down, do the work to help my colleagues and the article three judges that are overwhelmed with significant caseloads and six vacancies and to serve by example. i think you said it better than i could, if i am so fortunate to be confirmed, the goal is for me to not be the last. that is how i'm going to approach it.
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sen. booker: i'm grateful i have -- back down to being junior senator from new jersey. my time has expired even though i have more questions for julien neals, perhaps on the second round if the chairman would allow it, but i would yield to the senator from illinois and the chairman of this committee. sen. durbin: thank you very much. i hurried back because i wanted to see if mr. neil's -- mr. neals had -- [indiscernible] he has given you santa fe qualities. i thank you for being here. it is a refreshing experience to have candidates for lifetime appointments who have actually been in the courtroom.
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in the last four years, we have had nominees who may have watched the first part of ncis on television, but that was the closest they came to courtroom experience. so i don't have to ask you, in terms of 6000 cases -- was that the number you were involved in? mr. neals: yes senator. sen. durbin: what kind of cases? judge quraishi: -- mr. neals: the new york municipal court is composed of 11 full-time judges and a staff of 104. it hears half a million cases a year from this -- from disorderly persons to landlord-tenant cases, truancy, and other regulatory code violations. traffic is a significant portion of that. while i was sitting as chief come i would cover the courts for other judges in their absence, so i had the
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opportunity to sit on all of those different types of cases during my tenure. sen. durbin: that is real courtroom experience, no question. mr. qureshi, i am going to follow up with a question i am almost embarrassed to ask but only because i've heard it from other members of this committee from time to time. it is likely to come up at some point, what do you know about sharia law? judge quraishi: i don't know anything about that. if the question is if i would applaud allies united states, i could tell you in 21 years of practicing law, as a military officer and federal prosecutor, as a defense attorney and united states magistrate judge, i have never be -- never even been
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asked the question. that being said, i probably know less about it than you do. sen. durbin: good. not good, but certainly we are anticipating criticism which has no basis in fact. your answer is solid. ms. rodriguez, what a journey your family has taken over the years. it is amazing to hear the story. i don't know if i am repeating something that was raised earlier, but you are going out knocking on doors trying to find a lawyer. have you told that story before the committee? ms. rodriguez i have not. sen. durbin: would you? ms. rodriguez certainly. i was a senior in high school living in macon, illinois and i had the idea might be a lawyer one day but i did not know any lawyers. i didn't really know what all
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that involved. so in my rather naive way, i put on my best suit and i started going from door-to-door to lawyers offices in our town. most did not see me, many people seemed very surprised that this young woman would show up on their doorsteps. most explained that you must have at least one year in law school before you get a job in a lawyer's office. i found one person, a civil rights lawyer and criminal defense lawyer, he said to me, you want to do what? i said i thought i should work in an -- in a law office to fear our lawyers do. he hired me and i served the summer serving shy spent the summer serving subpoenas and helping him in the ways that young person could do in his law
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office. that really was the start that i got. sen. durbin: is he still around? ms. rodriguez: unfortunately he passed away. i did try to find him. sen. durbin: that is a great story about you and about him. i am glad it happened in illinois, it makes me feel good about it. it has been a long time since i've been in a federal courtroom practicing law. the temperament of the judge had as much to do with my experience in that courtroom is any law or fact. i want to say a word about temperament of a judge before people who come searching for justice. ms. rodriguez: thank you for that question. i too share the belief that the temperament of a judge is very important. it certainly has shaped my experience and the many courtrooms i have been in, but more importantly it has shaped the experience of the people who appear before those judges seeking justice.
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fundamentally, that is what all of our jobs are when we enter into a federal courtroom or any courtroom for that matter. it is critical that the judge listened intently and provide every person that appears before him or her with a fair opportunity to be heard. i believe we heard the nominees for the circuit court talk about the importance of listening and hearing what parties have to present, and then having the experience of being heard. i agree with that wholeheartedly and that would be my goal. should i be honored with the confirmation to this position. sen. durbin: thank you. mr. quraishi, what is your experience? judge quraishi: i do not know if this is a popular answer, but i like lawyers. i was a practicing lawyer for most of my career. many of my friends and mentors i
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have looked up to in my career before serving on the bench are also asked that appear in our district court of new jersey. for me, it is seeing a reflection of myself when some but he walks into a courtroom to appear before me as a magistrate judge. i think they are me. i would hope i would bring that same thoughtful notes -- thoughtfulness and mutual respect that i brought as a magistrate judge, i would hope to bring that were i to be confirmed. sen. durbin: sanctified -- mr. neals: i have to say that in my time as practice, i had a very deep understanding and appreciation of judicial temperament just in terms of being able to get your case heard and get your case processed. i time as chief judge with new
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york municipal court gave me a different appreciation of judicial temperament. for most people, their experience in court is a very intimidating one. it became clear to me that especially from the litigant's perspective, it is important they feel their case is going to be heard. they are going to have the opportunity to tell their story. they are going to understand the proceedings and they are going to understand the results. the judge is the one who sets that tone. i think it is important to have calm demeanor, open mind, and show your appreciation for the fact that this is such an important event in people's lives and i also think that temperament also has to be reflected in how you deal with the attorneys, your court staff and the public in general. sen. durbin: i have no further questions.
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sen. booker: may i continue? everything you say here is for the record and her neurosis. -- for the record and under oath. i imagine your testimony here could be looked at by future generations and i would imagine that perhaps one day somebody from your lineage will look back and listen to what you had to say today. mr. quraishi, your father died of covid recently. i remember how i felt when i came to this institution days after my dad died. i was wondering, for the record, could you tell us about your father's influence on you? judge quraishi: sure. difficult question. i have been prepared many questions today, but not this one. my father and i were very close.
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he was a significant influence in my life. i remember speaking to a room of maybe 400 lawyers two years ago and told them that in a room full of federal judges in the best practitioners in the state, my first advisor would be my father. that was true. he grew to be a close friend and also a counselor to me. candidly, he was my first influence and how i went to law school. like many pakistani fathers, i think my father early on thought i would go to medical school. it was not in the cards for me. i was not into science or medicine. when i was considering a career in law enforcement, my father suggested, why not law school? get your degree, and after you're done you can consider what you want to do next. if it is a career in law enforcement, that won't have escaped you because you would to school for another three years. it was my father's initial
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advice along with my mother that supported me going to law school. as far as who i am today, i will tell you frankly, if i am half the man my father was, i will have been a success. his loss was tragic to my family, to my mother, and what i strive to do for my children who are very fond of their grandfather as well is do the best i can to treat everybody with respect, be kind and hope that he will be proud of the man that i am, which he was before he passed. and the man i will continue to be. sen. booker: i appreciate that. just one more question, then this will come to a conclusion. ms. rodriguez come i did not plan to ask this question, but you piqued my curiosity. again, with the same caveat you
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are speaking to the future behind you as an extraordinary woman, could you tell us more about your mother and her influence on you being here today? ms. rodriguez: thank you for that. -- generation of women my family starting with my grandmother. my daughter is named after her. they have a business, they have life in california, when the internment order came, they were ordered together their longings -- gather their belongings into suitcases and they did not know where they were going to my mother was very young and her brother as well.
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i think is a our families, how much we love our children, and what it would be like to be told all of a sudden you are going to leave your home and carry only what you could carry with you. for your children. they were put on a train to wyoming and that is where there remain for a number of years. what is interesting to me is that my family never really talked about the internment. and the hardships they endured, which were many, but they talked about the friends they made, the people they knew and the opportunities that now this country has given. after the internment, my grandmother had heard there was still discrimination against japanese in california. she heard the governor in colorado was welcoming, so they moved the family to colorado and
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denver. that has been the beginning of the legacy there. my parents met in gunderson, colorado. i appreciate the moment to also mention my father who passed away a few years ago. he did grow up in a boxcar in what he calls the -- elevated from where he was but he grew up without running water or electricity. both my parents made their way through school. that is really what has given them their start and given me my start. ime turn league grateful for that. it means now it is my opportunity to once again return to public service get back. sen. booker: i am grateful for that.
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what an incredible american story these witnesses have. it is a testimony to what i think so many of us love about this country that we are this nation with the highest ideals of humanity that bring together all humanity in this diverse tapestry that makes us all better. i want to end with julien neals come i will say to my colleague that if there is any sanctification i was doing, trust me it was earned. some of the travis -- toughest years of my life trying to guide a city in a global recession. i had these moments that i cherish when i first made mr. neil's my -- my family gather together with incredible pride. then he became the leader of the city, really. the person that did the day-to-day work. trying to get our city out of a deep ditch. he managed to do it in a way that note only fixed fiscal
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strength, but the biggest parts of expansion in our city and a century. our first supermarkets and hotels in a decade. the production of affordable housing, this man found ways to make a way out of no way and take a city that many wanted to cast aside and looked down upon, he made us stand out with pride. but there is nothing like the pride of his family. i hope you get a chance mr. chairman to go over there because his father is one of the more dapper men i have met and reflects the dignity that his son hasn't his mom is an extraordinary woman that beams light. i just want to end by saying julian, we have gone through this a lot, never before on a national stage on a federal level, and i want to tell you that i know you are the man that you are because of the parents that you had. would you please say for the record and for eternity some words about them, and then i am
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done. mr. neals: the influence that my parents have had is immeasurable. my father was born in 1929 in florida, and imagining the experiences that he has gone through to have matriculated here to eventually become an attorney and judge is remarkable. my mother, the pride she has had in being a newarker, and her words that would resound how it -- how important it was that her children have the same routing relationship with the substance of that cultural experience and what that city fought to overcome. honestly, when it was my distinct honor to serve with you and newark, it was hearing words
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of what your vision was of newark that resounded against what my mother had told me and i knew that public service was the right direction for me. with both of them being retired, i realize the value and the sacrifices they have made in raising three children, often through many difficult times, putting through private school and supporting them to this day. i appreciate the opportunity, senator, to have given that recognition to my parents. i thank you as well for this opportunity. sen. booker: thank you. sen. durbin: thank you. i have come to know senator booker in his senate career, and i would say that if you could
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cover him with glory your age -- you are a talented man. i hank you for being here, especially for your family continuing to back you up. mr. quraishi, the story you told about your father was touching. i want to thank you as well for being a person to make history in america. that is saying something. it is something i'm sure you will be proud of. ms. rodriguez, i am glad you stopped in illinois for some inspiration as part of your life stringy. what a remarkable story -- your life path journey. what a remarkable story. i want to make a few logistical notes, we have received letters of support. the letter i referenced from judge thomas griffith who supported judge jackson, a letter and supportive judge quraishi, four federal u.s.
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attorneys. many letters in support of our exceptional district court nominees. i will read all of these into the record for future generations. questions for the record will be due to the nominees by 5:00 on once in may 5 the record will remain open at that time to submit letters and similar materials per with that, the hearings adjourned. that hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019]
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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c-span as well as these other providers to give you a front row seat to democracy. >> -- and i took out president biden will give his first address to a joint session of congress tonight. our live coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern with the president's address at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, online at, or listen live on the c-span radio app. ♪
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>> our first guest is with -- is brian fallon. >> it is going to be with you and the c-span audience. >> what has your organization done and who financially backs it? >> we were founded in 2018 in response to donald trump and mitch mcconnell's maneuverings to confirm more than 200 judges to federal courts.
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we support fair and balanced courts. we are encouraging the biden administration to nominate professionally diverse young judges that have backgrounds as public defenders and civil rights lawyers to restore balance to the courts. we are supported by an array of foundations that fund our work on the 501(c)(3) side and the 501(c) four side where we do grassroots lobbying. we have thousands of grassroots supporters on a monthly basis. >> when it comes to the topic of expanding the number of justices, where do you and your organization fall? >> since 2018 our group have supported structural room forms -- reforms including adding to the supreme court. public polls show that the
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supreme court is broken. its legitimacy has been called into question. that has happened for two reasons. in the last five years we have seen republicans in the senate engage in a lot of maneuvering in order to shift the court right and ensure the six/three republican super majority. everybody will remember 2016 after antonin scalia had died and republicans refused to consider any nominee from barack obama. last year we had a supreme court nominee confirmed closer to a presidential election than has ever happened before. rulings by the supreme court have shown the body to be rather partisan. it is increasingly cannot be trusted to call balls and strikes as john rogers famously


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