Kennedy: "Why don't I have a right in the privacy of my home with my spouse to take cocaine? I'm not talking about buying it, that's illegal. I'm talking about I walk into my living room and the cocaine is there."
Altman: "Under the government of Louisiana —"
Kennedy: "Well, in Louisiana they'd shoot you."
Altman: "Then under the government of Florida, since the founding, the states have had police powers to regulate even intrahome conduct. And if it were the federal government, then the conduct would have to have some effect on interstate commerce."
That exchange wasn't covered in this article about the hearings:
Roy Altman, who is up for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, served as a federal prosecutor in Miami from 2008 to 2014, before becoming a partner at the Miami firm Podhurst Orseck.
Altman told senators his experience working on a violence reduction program while serving as a federal prosecutor has prepared him for a seat on the federal bench by helping him better understand the people who will come before him in court. As part of the program, Altman gave speeches and participated in career days at public schools in the Miami area.
The program also offered job fairs and other services to people re-entering the community from prison, seeking to cut down on recidivism rates.
“A good judge understands that but for the grace of God, there go I,” Altman said. “That whether it’s a small-time plaintiff, a victim in a case or a criminal defendant, everybody deserves a fair shake. People make mistakes, people take the wrong turn, that doesn’t mean everybody’s evil and I think a district court judge needs to recognize that every single day.”
The committee also heard from Judge Rodolfo Ruiz, who is nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Ruiz has served as a Florida state court judge since 2012, first as a county court judge for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida and later as a circuit court judge.
A Federalist Society member, Ruiz previously worked as a state prosecutor and as an associate at the Miami firm White & Case.
Ruiz told Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the committee, that his lengthy experience both as a lawyer and a judge will serve him well on the federal court.
He also spoke highly of his experience training judges on implicit bias while on the state court, telling Sen. Mazie Hirono he thinks all judges could benefit from similar lessons.
“I can tell you personally, for me, it has been extremely important, especially in matters of sentencing,” Ruiz said. “And as we always say, it does not mean you have a racial problem, you just need to be aware when you’re sentencing that you take the time to pause and make sure you’re not sentencing based on factors, for instance, that have no bearing on the crime at issue.”