(CNN) - Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement Friday.
Read the statement after the jump:
“It is important for us to recognize the long and historic role that Justice Stevens has played on the Supreme Court, and to thank him for his lifelong service to his country. He is a tireless worker and a historic figure in America’s legal system, and we wish him only the best during his retirement from the Court.
“Justice Stevens’ approaching retirement sets in motion an important constitutional process to nominate and confirm the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In exercising its ‘advise and consent’ role, the Senate must act on behalf of the American people to carefully scrutinize the nominee’s qualifications, prior speeches and writings, and record. Senate hearings are the public’s best opportunity to become involved in this process, and it is critical that the Judiciary Committee conduct a fair and thorough evaluation of whomever President Obama nominates for this extraordinary lifetime appointment.
“We know from the nomination of Justice Sotomayor last spring that the public is rightly concerned about the future of our judiciary. The product of her confirmation hearing was a near-universal rejection of President Obama’s empathy standard, the flawed notion that judges should allow personal feelings, political opinions, and social views to guide judicial decision-making. Senators on both sides of the aisle—and the nominee herself—disavowed the president’s standard because it lies contrary to the traditional role of a judge in our legal system. Such an approach opens the door to an anti-democratic abuse of power where unaccountable federal judges set national policy according to their own views and political agendas. That approach is deeply unpopular with the American people, and any nominee who subscribes to it should expect bipartisan opposition.
“The courtroom is a place reserved for the search for truth and the fair adjudication of disputes, free from politics. The American people want judges of the utmost integrity who have demonstrated a commitment to the Constitution and a willingness to impartially apply the law to the facts to reach a just outcome, without regard to the parties involved. There is a growing movement that is calling for more fidelity to our constitutional order, not less.
“The public is deeply concerned about the future of our country, and I expect that the American people will watch these proceedings more closely than ever before. There is much at stake, as the court’s interpretation of the Constitution in the coming years could significantly affect the implementation of domestic polices approved by the president and Congress over the past year.
“I hope I will be able to support the individual selected by the president, as I have a majority of his judicial nominees. But, as I have said before, I cannot and will not vote for a nominee with a record that fails to demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the oath of a judge.
“I look forward to learning of the president’s choice, and commencing this important constitutional process.”