Date: January 12, 2006
FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much for your service. Have you heard anything in these hearings that would cause you any concern or reason to change any of your views?
PAYTON: Well, the hearings are still going and I'm still listening.
But to the moment, Senator, I have been looking for any kind of material or discordant statement that would have been inconsistent with anything that we have learned or heard either through our interviews or our meeting with the nominee.
And to the moment, I'm still comfortable that we understood the judicial and legal profile of Judge Alito when we reached our rating.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SPECTER: Thank you very much, Senator Feinstein.
KYL: Mr. Chairman, I don't have any questions, but I would like to thank the panel and the Bar Association for its -- I wonder how many hours of work put into verifying the qualifications of the nominees, not just for the Supreme Court but the other nominations, and particularly, Mr. Payton, your explanation of the matters that you testified to here.
Thank you very, very much.
SPECTER: Senator DeWine?
DEWINE: No questions, Mr. Chairman.
SPECTER: Senator Sessions?
SESSIONS: Mr. Tober, you have 15 members of your committee that goes out and they divide up the work and interview now 300 individuals, is that what you...
TOBER: As it turned out, Senator, the chair just gets to do a lot of marshalling. And the 3rd Circuit representative had to recuse herself because she had argued a case before a panel that Judge Alito served on before he'd been nominated. And the decision had yet to come down.
So she, by our standards, removed herself. So I had 13 people out in the field interviewing well over 200 people, contacting over 2,000 people, putting together their own written reports, marshaling the information from every corner and putting in what turned out to be an 11-pound report.
And when I first received it, as I told Ms. Tucker, I didn't know whether to read it or send out birth announcements.
SESSIONS: Well, we're glad you don't have to do background work on senators.
PAYTON: We're pleased it's done for the moment.
SESSIONS: Well, one of the things, you know, some of us say -- we've complained about the ABA ratings. But there's so much value to it, it strikes me, because isn't it true that sometimes when you're interviewing a lawyer that's been before the judge who's lost case, a lawyer who's litigated against him, they'll tell you things they may not come forward and say publicly, and that you can get a good -- you feel like you get a better perspective on a nominee's professional qualifications than you can get from reading the newspaper, perhaps?
TOBER: Thank you for that question. Let me try and answer it.
The answer is yes. We have had the experience since 1948, when we started reporting our ratings to this committee, of being able to get comprehensive, confidential information from people who know the nominee directly in the trenches, whether it be a judge, a lawyer, other people in the community.
And we are able to ask them with respect to integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament with the full and complete understanding that there will be no attribution, there will be no embarrassment, that if it's important we need to know. And people indeed give us that kind of information.
So, yes, it is a remarkable process. And if I have the moment, I'd like to say it's a remarkable group of people that I've had the privilege to work with.
SESSIONS: And, Mr. Payton, you used the word, phrase, that they held him in incredibly high regard. I think you are a premier litigator, you've argued before the Supreme Court. I'm sure you used those words carefully.
PAYTON: I did.
SESSIONS: I thank you for your service. And I think it has provided valuable insight to the committee, because you see these things out there, and it's important for the American people to know, what do the people who really know and work with this judge think about him. And we value your comments.
SPECTER: Thank you, Senator Sessions.