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Sotomayor Stands Alone

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“Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.” — Judge Sonia Sotomayor, October 26, 2001 speech at the University of California–Berkley.

Really? So now judges are supposed to ignore facts because they don’t comport with their heritage? As a Hispanic, I can proudly say Judge Sotomayor’s views do not represent my views or those of the Hispanic community in which I participate. Do you want to know what we believe in? We believe in justice, fairness, freedom, and equality. I have never met a Latino who thinks he is wiser than a white person because he is a Latino. Sotomayor stands alone on that one.

Although I proudly join her in celebrating her heritage, I strongly disagree with her judicial philosophy. I believe judges must look away from personal heritage and look to the rule of law. Judge Sotomayor’s own words indicate that she is incapable of doing this. Therefore, senators should not confirm her to the Supreme Court.

The idea that personal experience instead of facts and law should determine the outcome of cases runs counter to the underlying premise upon which our judicial system is founded: Equal Justice Under the Law. President Obama and Judge Sotomayor have apparently proposed a new system: Justice According to Race, Gender or Sexual Preference. They propose we rip the blindfold from Lady Justice, destroying the very foundation of the ideals we strive for.

One need look no further than the Ricci and Maloney opinions to understand why everyone, including Latinos, should be concerned about Judge Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy.

Sotomayor’s opinion in Ricci is just the latest example of her judicial philosophy in which she chooses to ignore facts to advance a cause in which she believes. Apparently discrimination against certain kinds of people is okay with Sotomayor, no matter what the law says. Reversing her decision, the very Supreme Court to which she aspires was clear in its disagreement with such a stance, stating, “[t]he City made its employment decision because of race. [It] rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white. … [A]fter the tests were completed, the raw racial results became the predominant rationale for the City’s refusal to certify the results.”

In Maloney, Judge Sotomayor ruled that “[i]t is settled law … the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose on this right.” She based her ruling on a case that dated back to 1886, before the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights applies to the states. In Judge Sotomayor’s view, every amendment in the Bill of Rights, except the Second Amendment, represents a fundamental right. Why? Because she says so.

Ironically, while Judge Sotomayor believes that gun ownership is not a fundamental right, she believes that the right to have an abortion is fundamental.

No matter your heritage, Americans should be concerned about a judge who believes that the “court of appeals is where policy is made.” The bench is not the place to create, make, or advance personal preferences on public policy and impose them on the American people.

An activist ruling by the Supreme Court comes with dire consequences. In examining Judge Sotomayor’s record, senators must look past her Latina heritage and directly at her judicial philosophy. A Justice of the Supreme Court, regardless of his or her heritage, must be able to uphold Constitutional principles for all people, not just the ones that look like me.

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