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Sen. Sessions decries the Bush-nominated judge, former colleague that he once championed

by Jeremy Hooper

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Conservative U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is all kinds of ticked off at Judge Callie Granade for bringing marriage equality to his home state. The four-term member of the upper chamber tells CQ Roll Call:

“I think it’s an unhealthy trend that judges feel that they’re somehow reflecting popular opinion when first of all, it’s not popular opinion, and secondly, who are they to be ruling on cases based on how they feel,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told CQ Roll Call.
“The attorney general of the state of Alabama has appealed, which I support. And while a number of courts have held the way [the] Alabama court has, others have not, and to me this line of cases … represents an activist judiciary,” Sessions said. “No Congress has ever passed a law or a constitutional amendment that would ever would ever have been thought to have this result.”

“So, I think the proper role of the federal courts is to follow the law as it is, not as they wish it, might wish it to be,” Sessions said.

FULL: Sessions Blasts ‘Activist Judiciary’ on Gay Marriage in Alabama [Roll Call]

Which is fascinating, frankly. Because you see, when Judge Callie Granade was confirmed by the United State Senate, after having been nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, she found a close ally in Sessions. Citing his longtime association with Granade, Sessions praised her "good judgement" and insisted that she is " levelheaded, fair minded, trustworthy, and very smart." Here are his remarks, in full:

Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Senator from Nevada for his courtesy. I
will speak about Callie--known as Ginny--Granade, who will be voted on
shortly for the U.S. district judgeship for the southern district of
Alabama. Ginny Granade is a nominee of the highest order. President
Bush has nominated her to be the judge in the southern district of
Alabama. She has the temperament, integrity, legal knowledge, and
experience that will make her an outstanding jurist on the Federal
bench. I know this from firsthand experience.
She served as assistant U.S. attorney when I was U.S. attorney for 12
years. She had been originally appointed assistant U.S. attorney by my
predecessor in the late 1970s. She served with great skill and
distinction. I was there when she was named one of the first senior
litigation counsels in the Department of Justice, a position that
recognized her extraordinary skill and integrity in prosecuting
throughout the country.
Later, she became the chief of the criminal section of the U.S.
Attorney's Office under my tenure, and then she became the acting U.S.
attorney, until recently, when the new U.S. attorney was confirmed by
the Senate.
Ginny is levelheaded, fair minded, trustworthy, and very smart. She
has tremendous capabilities. She graduated from the University of Texas
School of Law. After graduation she served as a law clerk to the
Honorable John Godbold for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit. Judge Godbold was chief judge of the Fifth Circuit. When the
Fifth Circuit split, he became chief judge of the Eleventh Circuit. He
was one of the great jurists in America. This old Fifth Circuit is the
same circuit in which her grandfather served, one of the grand judges
of the old Fifth Circuit. He is widely credited as being part of a
group of judges on that court who wrestled with and moved the South out
of its days of segregation into a new day of race relations. He
certainly is a champion of those causes.
As Senator Durbin recognized in the hearings, his was a contribution
to harmony and integration in the South.
Her experience has been particularly valuable for her to serve on the
bench. She served for 20 years in the U.S. Attorney's Office where she
practiced on a regular basis, in the very same district court for which
she has been nominated, as well as her experience in appellate work in
the Eleventh Circuit where she always wrote her briefs and argued her
cases. The cases she tried have given her extraordinary exposure to
understand how a Federal district court works, and more importantly,
how a Federal district judge should conduct herself.
Since Ginny joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1977 as the first
female assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of Alabama, she
has proven her merit as an extraordinary prosecutor and leader. Her
abilities in the courtroom have been demonstrated time and again in her
prosecution of complex white-collar fraud cases, tax cases, public
corruption cases, cases of every kind--cases she not only tried but
I remember one case very distinctly. It was the longest criminal case
to my knowledge ever tried in the district, 11 weeks. She was the lead
attorney. It was a very intense case, with prominent attorneys on the
defense side representing prominent defendants. It was well and
intensely litigated.
At the end of the case, she made, without a doubt in my mind, the
finest closing argument I have ever heard. It was down to earth,
simple, not emotional, but logical. She took every allegation, every
contention of the Government's case and explained patiently and in
detail, with that incredibly bright mind of hers, why the allegations
in the indictment were true, and obtained a conviction in that case.
To me, that is an unusual skill. It is an unusual ability she
possesses. I have never in my many years of practice seen anything
The American Bar Association has unanimously rated her well
qualified, the highest rating one can receive. I thought that was a
great testament to her reputation with the attorneys in the southern
district of Alabama. They know her. They know her reputation. They are
the ones to whom the Bar Association talks. It was a tremendous
affirmation of the excellence of her career and the integrity she
displayed year after year after year.
Former Senator Howard Heflin of Alabama, who also was chief justice
of the State of Alabama, and a Democrat, is a fan of Ginny Granade and
has supported her and stated he knows of no opposition to her
appointment. Her litigation skills, as well as a command of the complex
issues, has won her respect and admiration and overwhelming support
throughout her area of practice.
I am glad we are moving on this nomination. We have a judicial crisis
in the southern district of Alabama where I practiced for many years. I
received a letter from our chief district judge, Judge Charles Butler,
who underscored the need to get this position filled.
He is the only active judge who is serving now in that district. The
district is authorized three judges with a fourth approved by the
Judicial Conference of the United States. One of these vacancies--the
one being filled today--will be the longest district court emergency
vacancy in the country, one that is a crisis because we have so few
judges and such a heavy caseload. So I really appreciate the
willingness of the Senate to move this nomination forward today.
One of the things I think is most valuable as a judicial
characteristic is that a judge should have good judgment at the basic
You can tell people who have good judgment. When people have good
judgment, people ask them for their opinion. They seek out their
judgment. When I was U.S. attorney and I had a tough question and a
difficult matter to wrestle with, and I often did, I went to Ginny
Granade's office and asked her opinion, as did every other lawyer in
the office. In fact, judges were even aware of that. Young lawyers also
sought her opinion before they went to court, to ask how they should
handle a case or what she thought was the legal answer to this, or is
this evidence admissible, or is that evidence going to be excluded.
They would get her opinion first.
The story is often told that young assistant U.S. attorneys who
appeared before Federal judges in the district, who were cornered about
the way the Federal judge thought about the law, would say, ``Well,
Ginny told me that is what it was.'' That was generally enough to get
at least a respectful hearing by the judge.
I suggest in the filling of this vacancy with Ginny Granade as a
Federal judge, we are going to have done a good day's work. The
district will have a person of integrity and ability, a person who has
never been politically engaged in any way but who always has loved the
law, has been a person of absolute integrity, a person who worked
exceedingly hard, who I know respects the position of a Federal judge,
who will work to master it in every conceivable way, and once that is
done will preside with the most wonderful temperament but in charge at
all times. She has had the experience to do this.
I am excited for her. I am excited for the attorneys in the Southern
District of Alabama who will have the honor to practice before her.
In my view, a highly important characteristic of a judge is he or she
is a judge you look forward to appearing before. Some judges, will give
a lawyer a headache just thinking of going into their court. Other
judges make the practice of law a delight. Her experience and practice
make me confident that the lawyers and the litigants in the Southern
District of Alabama will enjoy and appreciate their opportunity to be
in the courtroom she will control and preside over. She will represent
the Federal Government and the laws of the United States in an
exemplary manner. I am delighted her nomination will be before this
body shortly. I am confident she will receive the same unanimous vote
that the ABA gave her, with their highest recommendation.
I yield the floor.
Congressional Record, 2/4/2002

Oh, but now she's "activist"? Now she's lost that judgement and good sense that Sessions once praised? After knowing and working closely with this judge for over a decade, the senator is now using this one decision with which he personally and politically disagrees to essentially disregard Judge Granade's judicial temperament?

I know it's the conservative way to look for scapegoats. But dude, Senator: if you're pissed at Judge Granade's ruling, you only have yourself to blame. You shouldn't be pissed because she ruled the way she should have ruled. But if you're going go after anyone, look in the mirror and then go call up your old pal George W. Bush. You built this.

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