Franken to Replace Lawyer on Senate Judiciary Committee
Posted Jul 7, 2009 4:00 PM CDT
By Sarah Mui
Al Franken, who was sworn in this morning as the junior senator from Minnesota, will be replacing Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who is a lawyer, on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Wyden told the Portland Oregonian that he was assigned to the committee in January with the understanding that he would step down if Franken won the contested election. That did not happen until last week, when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Franken's favor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct next week's nomination hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who is a judge on the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary today sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a letter stating that it has given Sotomayor a "well-qualified" rating.
Wyden is a lawyer: He graduated from the Oregon School of Law in 1974. There are now 13 lawyers on the judiciary committee; Franken is one of six nonlawyers. The other five nonlawyers are Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif; Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa; Herb Kohl, D-Wis.; and Ted Kaufman, D-Del. (although Kaufman is actually a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University Law School).
Politico reports: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended his decision to allow Franken—a nonlawyer—to take a spot on the Judiciary Committee, calling Franken 'extremely smart.' "