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Death, Taxes, and Judge Sotomayor

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

There has been some curious confusion, even among some conservatives, about whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor will be pro-abortion. Judge Sotomayor is President Obama’s pick to replace pro-abortion Justice David Souter.

There should be no confusion. If Ben Franklin were around today, he would have to amend his famous saying on death and taxes to say: “Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and that Judge Sotomayor is pro-abortion.”

Although most non-lawyers cannot name possible Supreme Court nominees, there is a long vetting process that begins years before nominations are made. There are groups of legal advocates, both liberal and conservative, that thoroughly vet judges over a period of years. Judges, like most people, have their friends and circles of supporters.

Judge Sotomayor has such a circle, as did Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, and others before them. These supporters, including U.S. senators, congressmen, law professors, and partners in top law firms, lobby and advise the White House on which judges are certain to uphold the president’s priorities. These supporters have known the judge in question for years, having private conversations on any number of issues, and come to a thorough knowledge of that judge the same way you could speak confidently about the beliefs and opinions of your best friends or close family members.

There is simply no chance that President Obama would ever take the risk of appointing a Supreme Court justice that would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. For political reasons, presidents never ask a nominee about cases directly. But the people who pushed Judge Sotomayor on the White House would have had to provide detailed assurances of where she stands on a number of hot-button issues, of which no issue is hotter than abortion. Only those potential nominees that are completely vetted and that everyone agrees is a safe pick are passed along to the president for a final decision.

Throughout her career, Judge Sotomayor has been a doctrinaire liberal. Liberals prefer the term “progressive,” because as the latest Gallup Poll shows, twice as many Americans identify themselves (40%) as conservatives as claim the liberal label (21%). This peek-a-boo progressivism served Barack Obama well last year. It kept him afloat in the polls, allowing him to cloak his Senate voting record—which was even more liberal than that of avowed Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

If you ask Americans what “liberal” means, they will tell you it means pro-choice on abortion. Liberal equals abortion. Consider this: Lawrence Lader was the liberal founder of NARAL. Lader wrote in Making the Revolution, his self-flattering memoir of pro-abortion activism, that “abortion is central to everything in life and how we want to live it.” No issue is more important to liberals.

Predictably, the Democratic Party has pledged its allegiance to the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical Roe v. Wade ruling. Roe overturned the abortion laws of all fifty states and forced abortion-on-demand upon the country.

There is no chance that any liberal appointee to the Supreme Court would deviate one millimeter from pro-abortion zealotry. The only justices who disappoint are those appointed by presidents who claimed to be choosing adherents of judicial restraint who would not try to become legislators in black robes. Blackmun, Stevens, Souter—all were named by presidents who thought their nominees would respect the Constitution.

Judge Sotomayor came out of her meetings with the Senate’s liberal lions—and lionesses—with smiles all around. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) enthused that Judge Sotomayor has a deep respect for—what else?—Supreme Court precedent. I half-expected Sen. Feinstein to wink at the camera and say Judge Sotomayor would even respect “Super Precedent,” the label that pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter (D(?)-Penn.) gave to Roe v. Wade.

When Sen. Feinstein and Judge Sotomayor were having their constitutional chat, rest assured they weren’t talking about the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling or Plessy v. Ferguson. Those atrocious decisions are precedents, too.

As we go into the Senate confirmation hearings on Judge Sotomayor this summer, everyone should follow them closely. Judge Sotomayor could be on the Supreme Court for decades. If confirmed, she will doubtless line up with the Court’s liberal bloc with all the consistency of a metronome. Tick Tock.

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