On the July 16 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that "[r]ather than use his time to question" Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "on her judicial philosophy," Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) "instead ... decided to talk about" the television series Perry Mason. In fact, Franken asked Sotomayor numerous questions during the July 15 hearing pertaining to her "judicial philosophy," including questions regarding "the Supreme Court's 2005 Brand X decision"; Sotomayor's "definition of judicial activism"; the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act, Gross v. FBL Financial Services; and whether "the Constitution contains a fundamental right to privacy."
Additionally, after airing a clip of Franken talking about Perry Mason, Hannity commented, "Now what a proud moment for Minnesota. Now this could be why the most junior member of the entire U.S. Senate is generally not invited to be a part of the Judiciary Committee." But according to the Senate Judiciary Committee's list of the "Committee Membership In Previous Congresses," the following current members of the Judiciary Committee also joined as freshmen senators: ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward Kaufman (D-DE), and Arlen Specter (D-PA). Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are the only current members who did not serve on the Judiciary Committee in their first year as senators.
In addition to referencing Perry Mason, here are some of the other questions that Franken asked Sotomayor during the July 15 hearing:
•"[The] Brand X [decision] deregulated Internet access services, allowing service providers to act as gatekeepers to the Internet, even though the Internet was originally government funded and built on the notion of common carriage and openness. ... Doesn't the American public have a compelling First Amendment interest in ensuring that this can't happen and that the Internet stays open and accessible? In other words, that the Internet stays the Internet?"
•"Judge, what is your definition of judicial activism?"
•"[I]t is my understanding that the 15th Amendment contains a very strong, very explicit and unambiguous grant of power to the Congress. And because of that, the courts should pay greater deference to it. And my question is is that your view?"
•"Do you believe that the Constitution contains a fundamental right to privacy?"
•"Do you believe that this right to privacy includes the right to have an abortion?"
From the July 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: Now, many people have asked what qualifies Al Franken to be a United States senator. And during the Sonia Sotomayor hearings yesterday, that question was not answered. Rather than use his time to question the nominee on her judicial philosophy, the Saturday Night Live alum and failed radio talk show host -- instead, he decided to talk about a fictional defense attorney from a TV show.
This is brilliant. Take a look.
FRANKEN [video clip]: You mentioned Perry Mason. I was a big fan of Perry Mason. I watched Perry Mason every week with my dad and my mom and my brother. We'd watch the clock, and when we knew when it was two minutes to the half-hour that the real murderer would stand up. It was a great show.
HANNITY: Now, what a proud moment for Minnesota. Now, this could be why the most junior member of the entire U.S. Senate is generally not invited to be a part of the Judiciary Committee.
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