Now that President Obama has nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, it will fall to Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to actually vet the nominee. Democrats are aiming to rubber stamp this judicial activist and try to rush the process so that it can be completed before Congress adjourns for the summer recess on August 9.
The vetting process will fall heavily on the new Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Sessions took over the position recently when Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) abandoned the post and left the Republican Party to become the most junior of the Democrat members on the committee.
“Of primary importance, we must determine if Ms. Sotomayor understands that the proper role of a judge is to act as a neutral umpire of the law, calling balls and strikes fairly without regard to one’s own personal preferences or political views,” Sessions said of the upcoming process.
Serious questions have already arisen regarding a Sotomayor speech at Berkeley in 2002 in which she stated she believes it is appropriate for a judge to consider their “experiences as women and people of color,” which she believes should “affect our decisions.” At the same public appearance, Sotomayor went on to say, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Reverse “Latina woman” and “white male” in that statement and see how far that would fly.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s role is to act on behalf of the American people to carefully scrutinize Ms. Sotomayor’s qualifications, experience, and record,” Sessions concluded. “We will engage in a fair and thorough examination of Ms. Sotomayor’s previous judicial opinions, speeches, and academic writings to determine if she has demonstrated the characteristics that great judges share: integrity, impartiality, legal expertise, and a deep and unwavering respect for the rule of law.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, weighed in on the nomination.
“The President has done his part, but now it’s up the Senate to determine Judge Sotomayor’s qualifications,” DeMint said. “Some of her writings seem to raise serious questions about her approach to the Constitution and the role of the federal judiciary, but I will withhold judgment about her nomination until she has the opportunity to fully present her views before the Senate.”
On the Rush Limbaugh radio program yesterday, Rush played a clip of a Sotomayor appearance on a panel in 2005 at Duke University Law School. There was a discussion about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Sotomayor said, “All of the legal defense funds out there, they’re looking for people with Court of Appeals experience because it is — Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know.”
Sotomayor continued, “Okay, I know. I know. I’m not promoting it and I’m not advocating it. I’m — you know.”
More laughter. Wink. Wink. Shredding the Constitution is fun for liberals.
Senior Senate Judiciary Committee Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said, “The Judiciary Committee should take time to ensure that the nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law, not personal politics, feelings or preferences. We need to ask tough questions to learn how this individual views the role of a Supreme Court justice.”
Four times the Supreme Court has reversed Sotomayor-authored opinions and in three of the four the Court held that she erred in her statutory interpretation. Not exactly a stellar track record. The cases are Knight v. C.I.R.; Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Dabit; New York Times, Inc. v. Tasini; and Correctional Servs. Corp. v. Malesko.
Conservative grassroots groups began to weigh in on the Sotomayor nomination immediately yesterday, among them the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, a group of over 350 organizations working together during the confirmation process in support of most of President George W. Bush’s nominees, Harriet Myers being the exception.
“Although Justice dons a blindfold when weighing the scales of justice, Sotomayor admits that she lifts that blindfold so as to peek at her own complexion and the skin color of the parties before her,” said Kay Daly, President of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. “That might explain why she held it was constitutional for white firefighters to be denied promotion based on their skin color. Sotomayor’s own words should be her nomination’s undoing.”
Representative of the pro-life groups, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans for Life, said, “She believes the role of the Court is to set policy which is exactly the philosophy that led to the Supreme Court turning into the National Abortion Control Board denying the American people to right to be heard on this critical issue. This appointment would provide a pedestal for an avowed judicial activist to impose her personal policy and beliefs onto others from the bench at a time when the Courts are at a crossroad and critical abortion regulations — supported by the vast majority of Americans — like partial-birth abortion and informed consent laws lie in the balance.”
All this and much, much more from just day one of the nomination. Pop the popcorn, folks. This nomination offers Republicans in the Senate (at least those with a spine) the opportunity to actually present to the nation exactly how radical this choice by President Obama really is.