Washington (CNN) - The leading senators on the Judiciary Committee signaled a contentious hearing on Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination starting Monday, with ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama saying a GOP filibuster was possible.
"This nominee does have serious deficiencies," Sessions said Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
He cited Kagan's lack of experience as a judge and what he called her liberal leanings.
"I think the first thing we need to decide is, is she committed to the rule of law, even if she doesn't like the law?" Sessions said.
Pressed about a possible Republican filibuster against the nomination, Sessions said: "It's conceivable a filibuster might occur."
Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, responded on the same program by noting that other Supreme Court justices including William Rehnquist and Hugo Black also had no experience as judges before taking their high court seats.
Washington (CNN) - Republicans wasted little time Monday criticizing President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, for trying to block military recruiters from Harvard Law School in protest of the Pentagon's policies preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly.
At the time, Kagan was the dean of the Harvard Law School.
"I think she made a big mistake," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee will be influential in determining GOP support for Kagan. "Was that disqualifying? I don't know, we'll see. But it's a significant issue."
As the law school dean in 2003, she described the military's policy as "a profound wrong – a moral injustice of the first order."
The Court later ruled unanimously against Kagan's position.
Washington (CNN) – Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Monday that Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearings could wrap up by early August, but noted the timing depends on the White House's willingness to work with the GOP.
"The president asked us to try to finish by the August recess," Sessions said in an interview with CNN. "I think that's a good goal and that's achievable. We will do our best to be ready. But if they won't produce documents that should be produced and things get delayed or unexpected developments occur you could need more time. But I would think we should be able to complete it be then."
Sessions also said he doesn't think there is a need for the hearings to begin prior to the July 4 congressional recess.
Washington (CNN) - Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement:
Washington (CNN) - According to the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Obama has had an easier go than his predecessor when it comes to federal bench nominations.
A look at the record indicates that Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is right, by two percent.
Wednesday, Sessions countered Democratic complaints about a slow-moving confirmation process when he said, "I do believe we ought not to unnecessarily delay persons, but I would want to say that the alacrity by which President Obama's nominations are moving far surpasses anything like the difficulties President Bush's nominees had. I've been here. I've seen it. I know that to be a fact."
As of the time he made that speech, 20 out of Obama's 60 nominations had been confirmed, coming out to 33 percent, according to records from the Library of Congress. Looking at the same point in the administration of George W. Bush, April 21, 2002, 45 out of 146 Bush nominees were confirmed, giving Bush a 31 percent batting average.
Washington (CNN) – The Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that racial or ethnic background can be a “positive factor” for the next Supreme Court nominee but it should not be a “primary” consideration.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, met earlier in the day with President Obama and other Senate leaders at the White House to discuss replacing retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Sessions told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that, during the meeting, Obama offered next to no hints about which individuals he was considering for his second high court pick since taking office.
But Sessions said the Senate has an important responsibility to act on the public’s behalf once Obama makes his decision.
“The president gets to appoint [the nominee]. We have to objectively evaluate [the choice],” Sessions said on CNN’s John King, USA. “It’s the only opportunity the American people have to have any real play in the process – when the elected representatives review the president’s choice. It’s a serious responsibility.”
Reacting to the fact that the Supreme Court has no one of Asian descent, the Republican senator said, “I don’t think the ethnicity or background of an individual should be the primary thing when they’re selected to the court.”
Sessions said a suitable candidate should have “good judgment” and “real experience in the legal world.”
“They don’t have to be a judge but I don’t think we want a politician,” the Alabama senator also said.
Asked whether he would consider diversity – a candidate’s race, religion, gender or sexual orientation – in determining whether someone is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, Sessions said diversity “can be a factor, a positive factor.”
The senator told King that he did not object to a president trying to have diversity on the high court. But, he added, he did not think increasing the Supreme Court’s ethnic diversity meant a nominee was not accountable for his or her judicial philosophy, skill or background.
“And I don’t think that’s what any of the nominees would want. I think they would feel that they should be judged by the same rigorous standard anybody else would be judged by.”
A Democratic and Republican senator sparred Sunday over the impending confirmation process for President Obama's second Supreme Court pick. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) - (CNN) - Two leading senators on the Judiciary Committee, which will consider President Barack Obama's upcoming Supreme Court nominee, signaled Sunday that a bruising fight is likely.
Committee chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, called the current conservative-leaning Supreme Court the most activist he had seen, while ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama wouldn't rule out a filibuster if Obama nominates what the GOP perceives to be a liberal activist.
(CNN) - Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement Friday.
Read the statement after the jump:
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Monday that he will not vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.
In an op-ed published in Monday's USA Today, Sessions concedes that Sotomayor "will likely be confirmed." But the Alabama Republican says that "as someone who cares deeply about our great heritage of law, I must withhold my consent."
Sessions says he had decided not to support Sotomayor because of three decisions he finds troubling: a 2006 private property decision, her 2008 New Haven firefighters decision, and a 2009 decision about gun rights.
"These rulings have three things in common," Sessions writes in the newspaper. "Each was contrary to the Constitution. Each was decided in a brief opinion, short on analysis. And each was consistent with liberal political thought."
Sessions is the third Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to announce his opposition to Sotomayor. He joins Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Republican on the committee, has announced he will vote for Sotomayor. The committee is expected to vote Tuesday on Sotomayor's confirmation.