Senator Jeff Sessions Will Be Leading Charge for GOP to Replace Justice David Souter

Published May 07, 2009

| FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST, "YOUR WORLD WITH NEIL CAVUTO": All right. Well you might as well get ready for a supreme fight, it's coming to the GOP, waiting to hear who President Obama is picking to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Senator Jeff Sessions is going to be in the middle of it all. He's the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, widely respected on all sides. This is his first interview on the subject.

Senator, good having you.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Senator, we are told that the president could have a choice as early as Friday. Is that true?

SESSIONS: Well, I talked to him yesterday. He did give the impression that he had given thought to this, so I can't say that would not happen. He certainly didn't indicate he was a long way away from that decision.

But he needs to take his time, do the proper vetting, and then submit us a nominee that I think could gain bipartisan support. That is what we would like to see, because it is an important position.

CAVUTO: Now gain bipartisan support for a likely late summer — I'm sorry, a September vote more likely?

SESSIONS: Well, you know, you hear the talk about whether they can force it through before August or whether it would be September, but I suspect it would be — September would probably be more likely.

CAVUTO: Now, if he gets a filibuster-proof majority, which he has all but cementing if Al Franken joins the Democratic majority, not to minimize your fine role, Senator, but it is certainly more of a tough road for Republicans, isn't it?

SESSIONS: Absolutely, in terms of just numbers, because the Democrats have a large majority now, and they should be able to move a nominee through. But who is to say that some of the senators who said they are moderate may not see some of this differently if there is a nominee that is quite controversial.

So we'll just have to see what kind of nominee they submit.

CAVUTO: All right. Senator, you know, when Barack Obama was a senator, he rejected President Bush's two Supreme Court justice picks, Roberts and Alito. And I am wondering whether some of your Republican colleagues are saying, what is fair is fair, we're going to do the same thing?

SESSIONS: Neil, it is possible that some people would say, well, he filibustered Judge Alito, who was a great judge, I thought. And he voted against a fabulous John Roberts, so we don't owe him any favors.

But I think our real obligation is not to play tit for tat. Our real obligation is to make sure that we give serious, rigorous evaluation of any nominee, and find out what they really are committed to, and that should be to the law, not to their personal agenda, their political agenda, their moral or religious views, and they will serve the law, not try to amend or bend it. And that is the key question, and an issue.

CAVUTO: All right. We're showing — we're showing some of the.

SESSIONS: . of confidence and integrity.

CAVUTO: I'm sorry, Senator, some of the women — they are all women who are among the front runners, and I am wondering if for a lot of Republicans, as it did for many Democrats and the prior president, with his Supreme Court picks, whether it comes down to abortion, or, certainly, that is a major issue, will it be? Is there that supposed litmus test to these picks?

SESSIONS: I don't believe in any litmus tests. I think a judge can have a different view on abortion than I would have and still could be — receive my vote. The question is how they legally.

CAVUTO: So, by the way, Senator, does that mean that a pro-choice candidate could receive your vote?

SESSIONS: Yes, but I would like to know how they analyze the logic behind Roe versus Wade and whether or not they feel that they have some sort of power to just amend the language to maybe conduct some other agenda that they would favor.

So the question would be whether they are an activist or not. A person can disagree with me on a lot of things, but if they are faithful to the law, then we can get along pretty well.

CAVUTO: How important is it to you, Senator, that the person have some judgeship experience?

SESSIONS: I like some judgeship experience, but it is not decisive. If someone has no practical legal practice in court, if they have not been a judge but only been a professor, for example, then that raises questions. But I guess it's possible that that could be.

CAVUTO: So Governor Granholm — Governor Granholm in Michigan, with whom I chatted last week, she kind of ruled herself out on that very condition or lack thereof. What do you make of that?

SESSIONS: Well, I think if you haven't practiced law hard, or you haven't served as a judge, or you don't have some other real compensating strength that does qualify you to sit on the highest court in the land.

I mean, John Roberts to me was a perfect nominee. He spent some time in the Department of Justice. He had been the premiere practicing appellate lawyer in America. He had been on the federal bench. He had a record, people could analyze his judgment, his legal skills, the respect he had. And that is the kind of thing you'd like to see in a nominee.

CAVUTO: Got you. Senator Sessions, a real pleasure. Thank you for joining us.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

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