Transcript: Sens. Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn

And then, of course, we have what is really the gold standard in judging a judge, an extensive judicial record. She has been on the bench 17 years. More federal experience than -- more federal judicial experience than any judge in a hundred years. And what has been clear throughout her judicial experience is that she puts rule of law first.

And as long as you put rule of law first, of course, it's quite natural to understand that our experiences affect us. I don't think anybody wants nine justices on the Supreme Court who have ice water in their veins. But you can't let that experience supersede rule of law...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But did she...

SCHUMER: ... and she hasn't.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But did she tell you this was a poor choice of words? Or will they stand by that statement?

SCHUMER: I think she'll stand by the entire speech. I think that she will show that the speech, when you read it, says rule of law comes above experience. And no one can ask for more than that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what about the sentence?

SCHUMER: Well, the sentence -- you know, the specific sentence there is simply saying, that people's experiences matter, and we ought to have some diversity of experience on the court. And I think that's accurate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Cornyn, what's your reaction to that?

CORNYN: Well, of course, George, the concern is that above the Supreme Court it says "Equal justice under law." And it's doesn't -- shouldn't make any difference what your ethnicity is, what your sex is, or the like.

We would also hope that judges would be, you know, umpires, impartial umpires. And, you know, the focus shouldn't be on the umpire and what their sex or gender is, or their ethnicity. It ought to be on the game. And here it's on the rule of law, I agree. But it's not just her statements. It's the New Haven firefighter case where she apparently ignored legitimate constitutional claims of a number of firefighters, including an Hispanic who claimed discrimination on -- because of the color of their skin. And now the Supreme Court, I think, is poised to perhaps even reverse that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's take a look at that. Of course, in that case, Judge Sotomayor's court upheld a decision by the New Haven -- the City of New Haven to throw out an employment test which had been -- which a white a firefighter and others had passed, but they were denied the promotion because the City of New Haven threw out the test.

And, Senator Schumer, one of Judge Sotomayor's colleagues on the court, one of her mentors, really, Judge Cabranes, who was appointed by a Democrat, really scolded her in a dissent on that -- in that case.

He said that she didn't deal with the core issues in the case. And he went on to say: "Indeed, the opinion contains no reference whatsoever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case. This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal."

Those are pretty stinging words.

SCHUMER: Well, bottom line is she was doing what Judge Roberts -- or Justice Roberts called be "judicially modest," which is what we want in judges. She was following the precedent of the Second Circuit.

There were two cases, the Hayden case, and the Bushie (ph) case, that made clear what the Second Circuit's opinion was, and she was following it.

And secondly, she was simply implementing, allowing to go forward what the elected officials in New Haven had chosen to do.

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