Sonia Sotomayor

Senate Republicans should put Democrats on the spot with Sotomayor

With a newly minted sixty-vote Democrat majority in the US Senate, the approval of the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is all but assured.
But what isn't assured is that it won't cost the Democrats something before all the dust settles.  And that's up to the Republicans.

Do they have what it takes to make her positions on hot-button issues so toxic that the Democrats from "purple" or "red" states who support her will find themselves in political hot water back home?
Her record represents just such an opportunity.

Before becoming a judge, Sotomayor was a leader of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), even serving as the Chairman of its Litigation Committee.  And there we get a glimpse of some of the issues she was willing to lend her support to.

Confirmation conversions: Sotomayor, then and now

Who says people can't change (or flip-flop)?  Sotomayor has proven that you certainly can...especially when you get nominated to the Supreme Court and you've got some otherwise inconvenient statements or actions in your past that you need to have people overlook.

For example:

On impartiality, Sotomayor had previously suggested that "there is no objective stance"...

In the hearings she stated: "The process of judging is a process of keeping an open mind.  It's the process of not coming to a decision with a prejudgement ever of an outcome. (7/14/09)

But previously...

"There is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives...aspiration to impartiality...is just that, an aspiration..." (Women in the Judiciary, Women's Bar Association of the State of New York, 4/30/99)

On whether "predjudices" are appropriate, she said "predjudices are appropriate"...

In the hearings, she stated, "[I] Would Not Prejudge Any Question That Came Before Me If I Was A Justice On The Supreme Court."  And, "I Don't Pre-Judge Issues."

But previously...

"I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and gender but attempt...continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate." (Women in the Judiciary, 40th National Conference of Law Reviews. 3/17/94)

Sotomayor vows to guard the constitutional henhouse

In her bid to pooh pooh conservative fears (brought on by her judicial record) that she can't be relied upon to apply the law, instead of being a judicial activist, Sotomayor vowed "fidelity to the law" and told the Senate that she had not advocated for policy since she became a judge.

Of course, "advocating" for policy isn't necessary when you can "set policy", as she herself admitted that the Court of Appeals does.  And presumably she would know, since she's on the Second Circuit for the Court of Appeals.

In her statement to the Senate, she said:

"In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law," Judge Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"The task of a judge is not to make the law - it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court."

Sotomayor's problems on gun rights and abortion

It seems that the more information that becomes public on Sonia Sotomayor, the more cause for concern Americans would seem to have about the possibility of her sitting on the highest court in the land for a lifetime appointment.

During the past few weeks, she's made the rounds in the Senate, paying courtesy calls to various senators so they can "get to know her".  Of course, this is part of the usual PR plan for pretty much every Supreme Court nominee, regardless of party.  But as she's made these visits, she appears to be raising some eyebrows on some pretty important issues.

When it comes to gun rights, she seems to have some hostility to the Second Amendment, or at least the way in which the vast majority of Americans interpret it.

After her meeting with Senator Jim DeMint, he stated that she was "unwilling to say the Second Amendment protects a fundamental right that applies to all Americans, which raises serious questions about her view of the Bill of Rights".

Indeed, in the case of "Maloney v. Cuomo", she and her fellow appellate court judges ruled that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to state or local governments - an opinion that's in direct contrast with the view of the current Supreme Court in last year's "Heller" case, where it ruled that the Second Amendment provided all Americans with an individual right to keep and bear arms.  Given that the case was decided by a one vote margin, her thinking on this issue is very, very important.

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