U.S. Sen. Dr. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, held a conference call Thursday from the cloak room of the United States Senate.

Coburn visited with several reporters from newspapers across the state concerning several issues in the Senate including a vote pertaining to his practice of medicine while serving in the Senate.

“Right now I have 55 votes that would allow me to continue practice and in all actuality I need 60 votes for it to pass through the Senate,” said Coburn. “If it fails I will be trying it again in January and will continue to practice as I have been doing up until now. It is not unlawful for me to practice, I just can’t accept any money for my medical practice. I am paying all of my mal-practice insurance along with all other expenses for my practice out of my own pocket and will continue to do so. My expenses for my practice usually range between $100,000 to $120,000 each year. I have four partners in my practice who have worked very well with me while I serve Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate.”

The Senate did vote on the issue late Thursday and Coburn received 51 votes, though he needed 60 votes to get the approval.

Coburn, who appeared on Meet the Press earlier this month, said the new Supreme Court Justice Nominee, Samuel Alito, had in fact legislated from the bench in a prior case but recanted his statement during the conference call.

“(Tim) Russert (Meet the Press host) misinterpreted the question and now that I have reviewed the case I see now that Judge Alito did not in fact legislate from the bench,” Coburn said. “I have sent a letter to Russert letting him know that he misinterpreted the question. We need judges that look at the law and the constitution and interpret not legislate the law from the bench.”

Coburn, who had the opportunity to meet with Alito, said on his website:

“I had a very good conversation with Judge Alito concerning his judicial philosophy and the proper role of the court.  I look forward to learning more about his judicial philosophy when he appears before the Judiciary Committee in January.  I would encourage my colleagues to give Judge Alito the courtesy of a fair hearing and take time to thoroughly review his expansive record before making up their minds. Senators also should not be inventing new standards for a Supreme Court nominee based on today’s interest group politics.  The only mold Judge Alito needs to fit is the mold of the Constitution.  The Constitution does not require the President to maintain the ideological balance of the court or nominate a judge who will follow in the steps of their predecessor.  The Constitution also certainly does not include a ‘non provocation’ test that requires the President to please all members of all parties. Ideological diversity is an important feature of democratic societies, which is why our founders created a legislature.  However, judges are not politicians and our confirmation process should not treat them as such.”

Coburn also touched on the war in Iraq and where he stands with President Bush’s choice’s concerning the war.

“I agree strongly with the war and with what our troops are doing over there,” Coburn said. “I disagree with the other side of the aisle in the Senate who are trying to rewrite history concerning this matter however. Islamic fascist terrorist are the greatest threat we as a nation are facing right now and this is a war we could very well lose if we aren’t careful.”

Coburn commented as well on the recent defeat of his amendment that would have stopped several pork projects including a bridge that has been proposed to be built in Alaska.

“Can Oklahoma be healthy if the country isn’t? I am not against these projects but I am against legislative members using money to help themselves politically,” said Coburn. “Our economy will be undermined if our current spending practices remain the same. When the financial community starts to believe we as a nation cannot pay our debt back then we will start to have real problems.”

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