Just got off the phone with U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who had a one-hour sit-down today with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
The Republican expressed some specific qualms about the nominee, but was surprisingly positive in his assessment — though “cordial” is probably the better word.
Sotomayor meets with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson tomorrow.
Chambliss also expressed some concern about President Barack Obama’s subdued response to the post-election protests in Iran. All is below in a quick Q&A:
Insider: So what did you think of her?
Chambliss: In preparation for sitting down with her, I sat down and read a lot of her opinions, and read some of her speeches, and talked to some lawyers that had dealt with her.
There are some issues out there. We talked about some concerns I had regarding the Second Amendment, regarding some concerns I had on where she might come down on social issues — not abortion.
But frankly, what I had heard from people, from what I had read of her decisions, she obviously is very competent, very qualified. I did not detect any judicial temperament issues from any lawyers who had been practicing before her. In fact, they were all complimentary of her.
So I expected it to be a good conversation, and it was. We still have some concerns — particularly on Second Amendment issues.
Insider: What in particular?
Chambliss: In the Heller decision that the Supreme Court decided last year on the D.C. gun rights issue, the question that they left unanswered is whether or not the Second Amendment provides for a fundamental right of an individual to own and possess guns. And that fundamental right is key. And they didn’t decide that.
She had, in the Second Circuit, an opportunity to decide that issue, and decided to skirt it. That issue’s ultimately going to have to be decided by the next Supreme Court.
Insider: Are we past the “Latina woman” phase of the debate?
Chambliss: She was very direct, and said, ‘Look, if you read my whole speech, you’d see that a few lines later, I talked about the fact that eight white guys decided Brown v. Board of Education. So it’s not like I’m saying I’m better prepared or in a better position to decide any discrimination case or whatever.’ But she said, ‘I probably should have said it a little differently.’
She took about an hour with me, and that was more than generous. The only thing I didn’t get to her with was the issue of voter ID. Obviously that’s of much concern in Georgia right now. I’m likely to talk to her about that before I make my decision about what I’m going to do.
Insider: What do you think about what’s going on in Iran?
Chambliss: From an intel standpoint, we don’t know a lot about what’s going on over there. Our ability to collect intelligence in there has not been good over the last two decades.
Insider: You have to watch Twitter.
Chambliss: That’s exactly right. I made the comment yesterday that I thought the President was probably doing the right thing, then all the sudden the thing really escalates. And yet the president continues to be silent even though people are being killed.
Insider: You’d like to see Obama saying a little bit more about this?
Chambliss: I think it’s time, because the violence has escalated. It’s probably time that he stepped up the rhetoric a little bit. These guys are entitled to a free and fair election, and you need to go out of your way to make sure that’s what you had, or go back and re-do it and make sure that it is free and fair.
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.