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A Fair and Balanced Look at the Newest Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee

The outcome of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearings are a foregone conclusion. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said as much on Monday, barring "a meltdown" from the "wise Latina" on the 2nd Circuit. So what's the point of watching a week's worth of senatorial grandstanding? Aside from the chance to catch occasional outburst from a protester or three in the gallery -- which, again, follow fairly predictable lines -- it's the opportunity to see the newest member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in action. Just a week into his tenure, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken finds himself one of only five non-lawyers on the committee, in his role as the "people's proxy," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

He may not have a JD, but Franken's no legal naïf. The former "Saturday Night Live" star spent the past eight months in a legal battle for his Senate seat, a journey chronicled in this week's New Yorker by John Colapinto. So he's up to speed on election law, but it doesn't look like he'll quiz Sotomayor on one of the Court's most infamous recent opinions, which came up in his fight against Norm Coleman:

The Election Contest of Coleman v. Franken began on January 26th, in the Minnesota Judicial Center, in St. Paul. Coleman needed to get more votes. The only place to find them was in the still unopened absentee-ballot envelopes that had been rejected on Election Night, in accordance with Minnesota law. To get some of those opened, the Coleman team needed to persuade the judges to relax the state’s legal standards. They settled on a risky strategy to do that: invoking the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the 2000 recount in Florida, in Bush v. Gore -- a ruling so unusual that even the Justices responsible for it suggested at the time that it be limited to “present circumstances” and not taken as precedent.

And despite his more amusing turn on SNL as Sen. Paul Simon during Clarence Thomas' 1991 confirmation hearings, Franken's played it pretty straight so far -- much to the chagrin of the hordes of journalists waiting for something to punch up the event. He's garnered a few chuckles from the audience, according to The BLT, but he's steering clear of the more salacious line of questioning he used to ask of our government's lawyers.

Posted by Product Team on July 15, 2009 at 05:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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