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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today in Washington D. C. - July 14, 2009 - Senate Reviews Judge Sonia Sotomayor

The Senate will resume consideration of the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill, S. 1390. The bill would authorize $679.8 billion in military funding. There is a pending amendment to S.1390 Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) and ranking member John McCain (R-AZ) to cut $1.75 billion for F-22 procurement.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 76-15 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Robert Groves to be census director. He was subsequently confirmed by voice vote.

At 9:30 this morning, the Judiciary Committee resumed hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Today’s hearing will feature the first, and potentially second, round of questioning of the nominee. Each senator will have 30 minutes to question Judge Sotomayor. Questioning will likely continue Wednesday. On Thursday, and possibly Friday, witnesses for and against Judge Sotomayor will be heard from, including Frank Ricci of the New Haven Fire Department.

Judge Sotomayor opening remarks (The following comments were provided by a Senate Republican staff member):
In Judge Sotomayor’s opening statement yesterday, she made a number of statements about her approach to judging that seem to be contradicted by things she’s said in the past. In particular, there are concerns about her statements concerning her declaration of “fidelity to the law,” how her personal experiences will affect her rulings, and her views on impartiality.

Judge Sotomayor also said, “In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law – it is to apply the law.” Yet this seems to conflict with her famous statement in 2005 at Duke University that “Court of Appeals is where policy is made.” So is her judicial philosophy fidelity to the existing law, or that the court is the proper place to make policy?

Judge Sotomayor also sought to address how her personal experiences affect her work as a judge. She said, “My personal and professional experiences help me listen and understand, with the law always commanding the result in every case.” But in 2003, she said, “…My experiences will affect the facts I choose to see as a judge… I accept there will be some [differences] based on my gender and my Latina heritage.” So do her experiences “affect the facts [she] choose[s] to see” or will the law command the result?

On the topic of a judge’s impartiality, Judge Sotomayor said yesterday, “…I seek to strengthen both the rule of law and faith in the impartiality of our justice system.” However, during the 1990s, she claimed that “[T]here is ‘no objective stance but only a series of perspectives. . . .” She also said that the “aspiration to impartiality” “is just that, an aspiration . . . .” So does she believe that impartiality is simply an aspiration, or that it is fundamental to our system of justice?

As the hearings continue today, Senate Republicans will be looking for explanations on these seeming contradictions. They will also be looking at whether it’s really the case, as she said yesterday, that her career as an advocate ended when she became a judge. Her record on the Ricci case and her rulings on campaign finance reform call that into question, as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell discussed yesterday. Sen. McConnell said, “Boiled down, my concern is this: that Judge Sotomayor’s record suggests a history of allowing her personal and political beliefs to seep into her judgments on the bench, which has repeatedly resulted in unequal treatment for those who stand before her.” Republicans will be looking for her explanations on all of this today.
Related Material:
- Sen. McConnell: Sotomayor and ‘the short end of the Empathy Standard’
ICYMI: Republicans' Opening Statements on the Sotomayor Hearings
SRCC: Judge Sotomayor’s Opinions Were Reversed, Vacated, or Criticized Nine Out of Ten Times by the U.S. Supreme Court
SRCC: Unlike Judge Sotomayor, Previous Nominees Stated That A Judge “Must Not” Bring “Preconceived Notions” From Their Background
SRCC: Confirmation Conversion Part 1: “Fidelity To The Law”
SRCC: Confirmation Conversion Part 2: Effect of Experiences
SRCC: Confirmation Conversion Part 3: “Impartiality”
SRCC: Judge Sotomayor’s Record of Advocacy Coincides With Her Decisions as a Judge
SRCC: Confirmation Conversion Part 4: "Complete 180 on O'Connor Statement"
SRCC: Confirmation Conversion Part 5: "Prejudices"
SRCC: Confirmation Conversion 6: "Prejudgment"
SRCC: Misunderstanding on "Wise Latina" Remarks?
SRCC: Fact Check: Judge Sotomayor’s Opinions Were Reversed, Vacated, or Criticized Nine Out of Ten Times by the U.S. Supreme Court
SRCC: Sotomayor's "Rhetorical Flourish" on "Wise Latina"
SRCC: Judge Sotomayor Was Not Following Precedent in Ricci

Tags: confirmation hearings, Defense authorization bill, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, SRCC, Supreme Court, US Congress, US Senate, Washington D.C. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 10:29 AM - Post Link


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