Center for American Progress

: A Policy Address by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
Past Event

A Policy Address by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)

The Role of Judicial Philosophy in the Confirmation Process

12:00 AM - 11:59 PM EDT

July 14, 2005

The Center for American Progress and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy present:

A Policy Address by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)

The Role of Judicial Philosophy in the Confirmation Process

As the president and the Senate prepare to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court, the issue of what consideration should be given to a nominee’s judicial and constitutional philosophy has entered the public debate once again. Some have argued that it is improper for the Senate to consider such factors; others respond that the Senate cannot fulfill its responsibilities unless a nominee’s views are given open and rational consideration. Can such consideration take place without subjecting nominees to “litmus tests” or requiring them to make commitments as to how they might rule on an issue that may come before them? These are among the topics that Senator Schumer and our distinguished panel will address. They will also discuss a letter to be released at the event from over 100 legal scholars to the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposing 10 questions related to judicial and constitutional philosophy which they urge the committee to ask of every judicial nominee.

Video & Transcript
• Highlights: Video
• Mark Agrast: Video
• Sen. Charles Schumer
: Video
• William Marshall: Video
• Jeffrey Blattner: Video
• Beth Nolan: Video
• Transcript: Full text (PDF)

Note: All video provided in QuickTime (MPEG-4)  format.


Senator Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer is the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, and has played a prominent role in issues related to the federal judiciary throughout his 25 years of service in both houses of Congress. In 2001, as Chairman of the Subcommittee, he held hearings entitled “Should Ideology Mater?” and has since written and spoken extensively on this and other questions related to the confirmation process. Senator Schumer has been a leader in the fight against crime, having authored the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994, which put 100,000 policemen on the street, instituted a series of sentencing reforms, and created after school programs for troubled teens. He was a lead sponsor of the Brady Bill, which instituted mandatory background checks for handgun purchases, and of the Assault Weapons Ban, which outlawed the manufacture and importation of 19 types of semi-automatic weapons. He was the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, which was the first federal legislation protecting women against domestic abuse. As Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice, fought to pass the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which made it a federal crime to blockade the entrance to a family clinic. Such achievements led Attorney General Janet Reno to say of him, “I have never met a public official more dedicated to fighting crime than Mr. Schumer.” The senator also serves on the Committees on Finance; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and Rules, and he is the Ranking Member of the Economic Policy Subcommittee. Prior to his election to the Senate, he represented the Ninth Congressional District in Brooklyn and Queens for eighteen years. Before that, he represented the Forty-Fifth Assembly District in Brooklyn for six years.

Mark D. Agrast is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he oversees programs related to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the history of American progressive thought. Before joining the Center, he spent over a decade on Capitol Hill, serving as Counsel and Legislative Director to Congressman William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts (1997-2003), and as a top aide to Massachusetts Congressman Gerry E. Studds (1992-97). From 1985-1991, he practiced international law with the Washington office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. During his years on Capitol Hill, Mr. Agrast played a prominent role in shaping laws on civil and constitutional rights, terrorism and civil liberties, criminal justice, patent and copyright law, antitrust, and other matters within the jurisdiction of the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Jeffrey H. Blattner is President of Legal Policy Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic consulting services to nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies on complex issues of law and public policy. From 1998 through January 2001, Mr. Blattner was deputy assistant attorney general and special counsel for information technology in the Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, where he supervised the United States v. Microsoft Corp. litigation for then-Assistant Attorney General Joel I. Klein, and worked on a number of other matters involving antitrust, technology and intellectual property issues. From 1987 through 1995, Mr. Blattner was on the Senate Judiciary Committee staff of Senator Edward Kennedy, serving as Senator Kennedy’s chief counsel from 1992-95. Mr. Blattner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, in 1975, and from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1980. After graduation from law school, he was a law clerk for the Honorable Robert E. Keeton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (1980-81) and for Associate Justice Potter Stewart (retired) of the U.S. Supreme Court (1982-83).

William P. Marshall joined UNC-Chapel Hill as a permanent member of the faculty in spring 2001.He received his law degree from the University of Chicago and his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Marshall served as Deputy White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States during the Clinton Administration where he worked on issues ranging from freedom of religion to separation of powers. He has published extensively on constitutional law issues and is a nationally recognized first amendment scholar. He is also a leading expert on federal judicial selection matters and on the interrelationship between media, law and politics. He teaches media law, civil procedure, constitutional law, first amendment, federal courts, and the law of the presidency.

Beth Nolan served in the White House as Counsel to the President from 1999-2001, where she oversaw the judicial selection process for President Clinton. She served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General from 1996 to 1999 in the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice, and was in the White House as Associate Counsel to the President from 1993 to 1995. She was an Associate Professor of Law at George Washington Law School from 1985 to 1993 and 1995 to 1996, achieving tenure in 1992, where she taught courses in Constitutional Law, Professional Responsibility and Ethics, Government Ethics, and Government Lawyering. She clerked for the Honorable Collins J. Seitz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Ms. Nolan is a Partner in the Litigation Group of Crowell & Moring LLP, where she has a broad based federal and international practice focusing on strategic counseling, government and legal ethics, federal election law, congressional investigations, constitutional and public policy issues, international claims, and other matters with combined legal, political, and public relations challenges.