[Congressional Record: October 2, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S10501-S10503]                       

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to executive session to consider Executive Calendar No. 756, 
that the nomination be confirmed and the motion to reconsider be laid 
upon the table, that no further motions be in order, that any 
statements relating to the nomination be printed in the Record, the 
President be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the 
Senate resume legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The nomination considered and confirmed is as follows:

                         department of justice

       Jeffrey Leigh Sedgwick, of Massachusetts, to be an 
     Assistant Attorney General.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, today, the Senate confirmed five more 
executive nominations that were reported by the Judiciary Committee, 
including the nomination of Greg Garre to be Solicitor General of the 
United States, one of the highest and most prestigious positions at the 
Department of Justice.
  The nominations considered today also include Jeffrey Leigh Sedgwick 
to run the Department's Office of Justice Programs, George W. Venables 
to be United States Marshal for the Southern District of California, 
Brian Albritton to be United States Attorney for the Middle District of 
Florida, and another that I have agreed to discharge from Committee: 
Dennis Michael Klein to be United States Marshal for the Eastern 
District of Kentucky. I thank Senator Kennedy for his expedited 
consideration of Mr. Klein's nomination. He has long been focused on 
maintaining the qualifications of those appointed to be U.S. Marshals.
  We tried as well to move forward with the President's nominations to 
the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the Sentencing 
Commission, but Republican holds prevented us from making progress and 
confirming President Bush's nominees to those important posts.
  After today's confirmations, we have confirmed 40 executive 
nominations this Congress, including the confirmations of 13 U.S. 
attorneys, 9 U.S. marshals, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 
another Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney 
General, and Solicitor General. Eighteen of those nominations will have 
been confirmed this year alone, despite this being a Presidential 
election year.
  Of course, we have considered these executive nominations while 
simultaneously moving forward with the confirmation of dozens of 
President Bush's judicial nominations. I have spoken many times about 
the partisan actions of the Republican-led Senate that created a 
judicial vacancies crisis by not considering circuit court nominees in 
1996, 1997 and 1998. Those years included

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the congressional session in the 1996 Presidential election year, when 
the Republican Senate majority confirmed only 17 judicial nominations 
and refused to allow the Senate to confirm even one circuit court 
judge. That same presidential election year the Republicans confirmed 
just four of President Clinton's executive nominees. By comparison, 
with today's confirmations, we have confirmed 18 of President Bush's.
  As we prepare to close this Congress, I thank the members of the 
Judiciary Committee for the tireless work that resulted in the 
confirmation of 68 of President Bush's nominees to lifetime 
appointments to the Federal bench. This work was all the more 
impressive because of the time and effort we devoted to rebuilding and 
restoring the Department of Justice after years of scandals led to the 
resignations of the Department's entire senior leadership.
  At the beginning of this Congress, the Judiciary Committee began its 
oversight efforts. Those efforts revealed a Department of Justice gone 
awry. The leadership crisis came more and more into view as I led a 
bipartisan group of concerned Senators to consider the U.S. attorney 
firing scandal, a confrontation over the legality of the 
administration's warrantless wiretapping program, the untoward 
political influence of the White House at the Department of Justice, 
and the secret legal memos excusing all manner of excess and subverting 
the rule of law.
  What our efforts exposed was a crisis of leadership that took a heavy 
toll on the tradition of independence that has long guided the Justice 
Department and provided it with safe harbor from political 
interference. It shook the confidence of the American people. Through 
bipartisan efforts among those from both sides of the aisle who care 
about Federal law enforcement and the Department of Justice, we joined 
together to press for accountability.
  After we exposed and uncovered the abuses at the Department, we 
referred a number of matters to the Department's Inspector General, 
OIG, and Office of Professional Responsibility, OPR, for further 
investigation. The three reports we have now received from those 
internal investigations have confirmed the worst of our findings and 
our fears.
  The first two reports confirmed what the Judiciary Committee 
uncovered about the politicization of hiring practices at the 
Department. They confirmed that the same senior Department officials 
involved with the firing of United States Attorneys were injecting 
improper political motives into the process of hiring attorneys for 
career positions throughout the Department, from career prosecutors, to 
immigration judges, to young attorneys through the Department's 
prestigious honors program.
  Just this week, OIG and OPR issued a third report, this one 
validating our findings about the improper and unprecedented firing of 
U.S. Attorneys for political reasons. These findings add up to another 
disturbing report card on the conduct of the Gonzales Justice 
Department. This report confirms that the two most senior officials at 
the Department of Justice--Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy 
Attorney General Paul McNulty--``abdicated their responsibility to 
safeguard the integrity and independence of the Department by failing 
to ensure that the removal of U.S. Attorneys was not based on improper 
political considerations.'' It confirms what I have said all along--the 
responsibility for this debacle was not the work of a few bad apples, 
as Attorney General Mukasey, former Attorney General Gonzales have 
suggested. Responsibility rests at the top, and at the White House.
  This report might have told us even more if the investigation had not 
been impeded by the Bush administration's refusal to cooperate and 
provide documents and witnesses. In this debacle as in others, the Bush 
administration's self-serving secrecy has shrouded many of their most 
controversial policies--from torture, to investigating the causes of 9/
11, to wiretapping. The evidence in our investigation and in reports 
from the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility 
shows that Karl Rove and others from the highest ranks of the White 
House were involved in the firings and focused on the political impact 
of Federal prosecutions. The White House should not be allowed to hide 
from accountability.
  Even though it has been clear for a long time that Attorney General 
Gonzales allowed politics to permeate the Department's ranks, he 
continues to try to avoid accountability. He has provided the Inspector 
General the same response he gave so frequently to Congress: I don't 
recall. The threads of secrecy of this administration--from the White 
House to the Executive agencies--will continue to unravel for years to 
  When this investigation was handed over to a Federal criminal 
prosecutor recently to determine whether there was criminal wrongdoing, 
I warned the President that the American people will see any use of the 
pardon power or any grant of clemency or immunity to those from his 
administration involved in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal as an 
admission of wrongdoing and another misuse of power. His administration 
has stonewalled the Congress and the inspector general. They should 
come clean. They should have testified and given us the information we 
were forced to subpoena. We do not want to see another repeat of the 
Scooter Libby misuse of power where the President's people misled 
investigators and then he excused them from their lies and evasiveness. 
There should be accountability and consequences.
  Our oversight efforts did not complete our work. In the last year 
alone we have held eight hearings to replenish the leadership ranks at 
the Department. We confirmed the new Attorney General last November. 
Today, in confirming Mr. Garre's nomination to be Solicitor General, we 
complete that work.
  The position of Solicitor General is a critical post that encompasses 
duties quite different than any other lawyer in the Government. The 
Solicitor General is not only one of the highest ranking officials at 
the Justice Department and the chief advocate on behalf of the United 
States Government, but also holds a unique position as an officer of 
the court, with a duty to bring forward aspects of cases that the 
Supreme Court might not otherwise know. Because of this critical role, 
the Solicitor General is often called ``the Tenth Justice.''
  I remain concerned about many of the positions he has advocated while 
serving in the Solicitor General's office and more recently as Acting 
Solicitor General. For example, I strongly disagree with the 
administration's position last year in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and 
Rubber Co., a case in which the Supreme Court stuck a severe blow to 
the rights of working women to equal pay for equal work and to all 
working Americans. The amicus brief filed by the government, which Mr. 
Garre signed as Principle Deputy Solicitor General, helped bring about 
that wrong decision. I strongly believe it was contrary to the purpose 
and intent of Congress' bipartisan efforts to root out discrimination 
against working women.
  For nearly two decades, Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at Goodyear 
Tire, was paid significantly less than her male counterparts. 
Nevertheless, the brief Mr. Garre signed contended that she was not 
eligible for title VII protection against discriminatory pay because 
she did not file her claim within 180 days of Goodyear's discriminatory 
pay decision. That view contradicted the position of the Equal 
Employment Opportunity Commission, which had stated that each paycheck 
could separately provide a cause of action. The administration's 
position was wrong and provided cover for the Court to throw out a jury 
verdict and compound the harm from the discrimination against Ms. 
Ledbetter. I hope that, once confirmed, Mr. Garre will take seriously 
the intent of Congress and the need for equal justice for all in 
advocating the position of the United States before the Federal courts.
  I also disagree strongly with the position taken in an amicus brief 
this year signed by Mr. Garre in Crawford v. Marion County Election 
Board. In this Supreme Court case Mr. Garre argued that Indiana's 
requirement of a photo identification for voting was ``reasonable'' and 
furthered the State's interest in combating vote fraud. He made this 
argument even though in-person voter fraud has proven time and time 
again to be a myth, and evidence shows that photo ID laws have already 

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to disenfranchise some of the most vulnerable American voters. In 
several instances elderly nuns who were not able to vote as a result of 
Indiana's laws. Although the Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Garre's 
position, 6-3, the Court left the door open for ``as applied'' 
challenges and statutory challenges to laws that burden voters' 
fundamental right to participate in the electoral process by mandating 
a photo ID. If confirmed, I hope Mr. Garre will act as he said in his 
hearing he would to enforce the Voting Rights Act's antidiscrimination 
provisions against State photo ID laws that deter minority voter 
  I hope Mr. Garre shares my view that it is vital that we ensure that 
we have a functioning, independent Justice Department, and that we 
ensure that this sad era in the history of the Department is not 
repeated. We have seen what happens when the rule of law plays second 
fiddle to a President's agenda and the partisan desires of political 
operatives and it is a disaster for the American people. Both the 
President and the Nation are best served by a Justice Department that 
provides sound advice and takes responsible action, without regard to 
political considerations--not one that develops legalistic loopholes 
and ideological litmus tests to serve the ends of a particular 
  Jeff Sedgwick will also have an important role to play in the few 
months remaining in this administration. The Office of Justice Programs 
plays a vital role in developing the Nation's capacity to prevent and 
control crime and compensating and assisting crime victims. Crime, 
including violent crime, has been on the rise, particularly in rural 
areas and smaller cities. Many of us think it is in part the 
consequence of this administration's failure to provide financial 
assistance to our state and local law enforcement partners. Despite our 
repeated warnings, the Bush administration has systematically tried to 
dismantle Federal support for local and state law enforcement that was 
being provided through our successful Community-Oriented Policing 
Services, COPS, program, Byrne grants and other programs. Under 
President Bush, billions have been cut from our state and local law 
enforcement efforts while we continue writing blank checks for police 
in Iraq. I hope that Mr. Sedgwick helps us reverse this trend and turn 
the tide back against crime in rural areas and smaller cities where it 
has been on the rise.
  I congratulate the nominees and their families on their confirmations