TAPPER: Good morning, everyone. We start this morning with the announcement that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring. The longest sitting justice on the court, Stevens is firmly in the liberal block, and now the president has his second Supreme Court appointment. And coming in this polarized atmosphere and an election year, the nation's capital will likely have a long, hot summer.
Joining me this morning, two senators who will play key roles in the confirmation battle, Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Jon Kyl, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators, thanks so much for joining me.
KYL: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Senator Kyl, we just heard you say that you are concerned about President Obama nominating what you call an overly ideological person. We know four people on the short list include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Judge Merrick Garland, Judge Diane Wood, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Are any of them overly ideological?
KYL: It will depend upon the analysis of what they have written, what they have said, judicial decisions they've made, and what they say in hearings is when my colleagues and I, I think, would reach that conclusion. They are all nominally qualified, and again, the question I think to present is, do judges like this or candidates like this approach judging on the basis of each case presenting its unique facts and law and being decided strictly on that basis, rather than with a judge coming to the bench with an ideological position. For example, I've heard colleagues say, we want somebody who will be tough on executive powers. I've heard somebody else say, we need somebody to be tough on large corporations. No, you need somebody that will decide the case. Whether the big corporation or the executive should win a particular case depends upon the facts of the case and the law, not on the judge's ideology before that person even gets to the bench.
TAPPER: Well, let me just follow up with you for a second, Senator Kyl, because Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on Judiciary, and other colleagues of yours, have talked about the importance of this nomination because the Supreme Court will likely hear from the states who are trying to block the federal government from requirement individual citizens to get health insurance. What will you be asking the nominee when it comes to that issue?
KYL: Well, first of all, you don't ask the nominee how he or she would rule on a case that's likely to come to the court. But you try to discern their attitudes.
I was just in a small town in Arizona. As I drove into town, I saw a sign for the reelection of a judge, reelect Judge so-and-so. He's fair. That's all you ask for, in addition to the qualifications, which I'm sure the candidate will have.
What I object to and I think my colleagues would object to is somebody that comes in with preconceived notions about how particular cases should be decided. For example, on the case of the required -- requirement that you buy insurance under the health care bill. Just decide that case based upon the reading of the law, what the precedents are and what the specific wording of the statute is. Nothing more.