Tales from the Trail

Funnyman Franken turns serious on Senate stage

The Senate’s newest member, former comedian Al Franken, is making clear that he is taking the new job seriously and it’s no longer funny business for him.

Sworn in as a senator less than a week ago, there were no jokes when Franken faced a packed house in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room and expounded on the loftiest of government institutions – the U.S. Supreme Court — and President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.USA-COURTS/SOTOMAYOR

It was a life-immitating-art moment. Franken had played a senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee on television comedy show Saturday Night Live during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

But there were no jokes this time, barely a smile.

“Last Tuesday, I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to bear true faith and allegiance to it,” Franken said.

“I take this oath very seriously as we consider your nomination, Judge Sotomayor.”

Sotomayor hearings begin, lines drawn

The political lines are drawn.

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee wasted no time in setting the battle plans for the debate over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

After all is said and done,  she is expected to be confirmed to the highest court in the United States — a lifetime appointment.

But to get there, she must listen to senator after senator talk about whether she is qualified for the job, with her family sitting behind her in the hearing room, and in full public view on televised proceedings. USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

The First Draft: The judge faces her questioners

Confirmation hearings begin for Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic USA-COURT/SOTOMAYORwoman to be nominated for the Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama ‘s pick to fill his first high court vacancy will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday at 10 a.m. EDT/1400 GMT, with hearings expected to last most of the week.

After returning from a weeklong overseas trip, Obama called Sotomayor to wish her luck as she headed to Capitol Hill to face her questioners.