Newly minted U.S. Sen. Al Franken achieved lift-off at the opening day of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. Though it was the Minnesota Democrat’s fifth day in office, it probably was the first time most Americans have seen and heard him as a full-fledged senator. With just four days of service under his belt, Franken is the most junior member of the Judiciary Committee’s majority and thus was the last person on the panel to give an opening statement.
The former television comedian was solemn and business-like. He said he had a lot to learn and takes his constitutional oath seriously. Obviously, he has Stuart Smalley bound and gagged somewhere. Only once did Franken tread into partisan territory, suggesting as had other Democrats before him, that the charge of judicial activism cuts both ways and has been seen in the current court led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. For his opening Senate act — uh, appearance — Franken can feel good about himself.