Sotomayor Does Not Directly Address “Wise Latina” Comment

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Posted: Jul 13, 2009 3:27 PM

Guest blog post from Brian Darling

Sonia Sotomayor just completed her opening statement and it was short.  She discussed her education and her appointment by President Bill Clinton to 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  She has “served as an appellate judge for over a decade.”  A good portion of her short opening statement was dedicated to a discussion of her resume for the job of Associate Justice to the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor never apologized for her “wise Latina” comment, nor did she directly address many of the claims made against her.  Sotomayor indirectly pushed back against the argument that she is a judicial activist and argued that her belief is that the role of a judge is to “not to make law, it is to apply law.”  She said that she has a “rigorous commitment to interpret the constitution according to its terms” and will “apply the law to the facts at hand.”  She attempted to explain away her prior comments, without directly addressing them, by stating that her “personal and professional experiences help me to listen and to understand” how to apply the law.  Clearly Sotomayor and Committee Democrats will fight any claim that she is selectively empathetic and a judicial activist.

I was struck by the strong differences of opinion on the definition of judicial activism and the strong push by Senate Judiciary Democrats to fight the perception that Sotomayor brings biases to the bench.  Republicans made a case today that they are concerned about Sotomayor’s bias in prior decisions as a federal judge.  The Ricci, New Haven Firefighters Case, and Maloney, Second Amendment Case, will be center stage tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how Judge Sotomayor answers questions about those two very controversial decisions. 

Not much news today from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the fireworks seem reserved for the next two days of questioning for the nominee.

Brian Darling is Director of Senate Relations with the Heritage Foundation