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White House: Sotomayor Says She Chose Words Poorly in 2001 Remarks
The quote in question from Sonia Sotomayor has emerged as a rallying call for conservative critics who fear she will offer opinions from the bench based less on the rule of law and more on her life experience, ethnicity and gender.


Friday, May 29, 2009
President Barack Obama on Friday personally sought to deflect criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who finds herself under intensifying scrutiny for saying in 2001 that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge.

"I'm sure she would have restated it," Obama flatly told NBC News, without indicating how he knew that.

The quote in question from Sotomayor has emerged as a rallying call for conservative critics who fear she will offer opinions from the bench based less on the rule of law and more on her life experience, ethnicity and gender. That issue is likely to play a central role in her Senate confirmation process.

"I think that when she's appearing before the Senate committee, in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is," Obama said in the broadcast interview, clearly aware of how ethnicity and gender issues are taking hold in the debate.

The president's damage control underscored how the White House is eager to stay on message as the battle to publicly define Sotomayor picks up.

Obama's top spokesman, Robert Gibbs, told reporters about Sotomayor: "I think she'd say that her word choice in 2001 was poor."

Gibbs, however, said he did not hear that from Sotomayor directly. He said he learned it from people who had talked to her, and he did not identify who those people were. Sotomayor herself has made no public statements since her nomination became official Tuesday and was not reachable for comment.

A veteran federal judge, Sotomayor is poised to be the first Hispanic, and the third woman, to serve on the Supreme Court.

She said in 2001: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." The remark was in the context her saying that "our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging."

Sotomayor's comments came in a lecture, titled "A Latina Judge's Voice," that she gave in 2001 at the law school of the University of California, Berkeley.

After three days of suggesting that reporters and critics should not dwell on one sentence from a speech, the White House had a different message Friday.

"If you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through, that will make her a good judge," Obama said in the broadcast interview.

Sotomayor appears headed for confirmation, needing a majority vote in a Senate, where Democrats have 59 votes. But beyond the final vote, White House officials are pushing for a smooth confirmation, not one that bogs down them or their nominee. Plus, Obama wants a strong win, not a slim one.

Obama told NBC that part of the job of a Supreme Court justice is to stand in somebody else's shoes and that Sotomayor will do that. "That breadth of experience, that knowledge of how the world works, is part of what we want for a justice who's going be effective," Obama said.

More than one line in the 2001 speech has helped drive the debate over Sotomayor's judgment.

She also said, for example: "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 in which I am unfamiliar," she said. "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."

At the time Sotomayor gave the speech, she was in the same job she is now, a federal appeals court judge. She said then she was reminded daily that her decisions affect people and that she owes them "complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives."

"I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage," she added, "but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate."

In announcing Sotomayor as his choice, Obama said he wanted a judge who would "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice." But he also called her life experience essential, saying she had an understanding of "how ordinary people live."

Sotomayor will hold her first face-to-face meetings next week as the confirmation process begins to take shape.


I applaud the choice Obama made,I think she is one of the smartest brains in the legal field~We need more ordinary people in our judicial system~ Hurrah's!

rosco 357

gyp im wondering how u know she is one of he brightest mines in the legal field,? anyway, this is just from things i heard, on tv news political analyst, one that the republicans should not attempt to give her a hard time, they need to get the hispanic vote back on there side, and mentioned some comments the very conservative senators made, and said , its a mistake, i think one was one of my senators, i think i have this correct, she has made some conservative rulings, i think she ruled, the government has no business paying for abortions, that is just from memory on tv.. so grain of salt, the analyst said she will sail through so trying to stop her will only hurt the republicans, because there are enough hispanics now to sway a election one way or the other, bush had them but obama had them in the last election. it was said, but all this is just things i heard, i have not studied it, i will correct anything i see i got wrong


Because i have read a lot about her in the last few days,her associates, her cases, have all raved about her, the news has stated she is one of the brightest in her field,i can look that up.but you can to LOL

rosco 357

OK . obama also could be playing politics with the hispanic vote, but if so it is a smart thing to do,


yes i totally agree~


NRA is mounting a large movement against her because of her standing on gun control, but you are right Obama is trying to hold the Hispanic vote, if that ever leans to the Repubs . the Dems are sunk.


I disagree, I don't think Hispanics will lean toward repulican ,also i don't think this is purely a move for Hispanic vote..
I think he(Obama) has chose a female,because of bi partisan, and that she is higher on the fairness scale. and rules with experience.of ordinary living.

rosco 357

well it does not matter, sutter, if u spell it that way that is retiring, is a liberal, even thou a republican put him in, but he was not as advertised. like what was said on a tv show . obama is not gaining a liberal vote, in this nomination, he is only swaping one lib for another, she may be more conservative than sutter, but i have not studied her, i will,
but like i said, the republicans need to back off and catter to the hispanics, because she is going to sail through easy, many analyst have said that, and pointed out the ppl that are hurting the republicans, on this


That is good, don't you think? a bit of conservative/a bit of ;liberal!

rosco 357

i have to study her i have not yet, so i cant comment yet, on that, plus it may take years to find out how she votes,

12 Gun Advocates See Reason to Be Wary of Nominee on Sat May 30, 2009 12:36 am


Gun Advocates See Reason to Be Wary of Nominee
WASHINGTON -- Gun-rights advocates are using Judge Sonia Sotomayor's involvement in two Second Amendment cases as ammunition to challenge her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, threatening to draw the Obama administration into a debate over firearms laws that it has tried hard to avoid.

Gun Lobby Mulls Sotomayor Nomination
Judge Sonia Sotomayor's involvement in weapons cases threatens to draw the Obama administration into a gun debate the president deftly avoided since taking office. Some gun groups are campaigning against Judge Sotomayor, focusing on two past rulings that seem to limit the right to bear arms, Gary Fields reports.
The Gun Owners of America, an organization based in Springfield, Va., is telling its 300,000 members to let senators know they oppose Judge Sotomayor's appointment. "Our message will be to the senators [that] it doesn't matter how you voted" on other gun issues, said executive director Larry Pratt. The nomination "is the big one."

The clash between gun-control laws and the breadth of the constitutional right to bear arms is one of several social issues being scoured by people on both sides of the ideological spectrum for clues to Judge Sotomayor's leanings. Her record on the bench provides few hints of her views on such hot-button issues as abortion or gay marriage.

The gun owners' opposition stems from two rulings in which Judge Sotomayor took part while on the federal appellate bench. The January 2009 Maloney v. Cuomo decision involved a challenge from a New York resident arrested for possessing nunchakus, a martial arts weapon made of two thick sticks joined at the ends by a short length of chain or cord. The defendant said the state's ban on nunchakus violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
PA Wire

Judge Sonia Sotomayor rejected a claim by a defendant who said New York's ban on nunchakus violated his Second Amendment rights.
A three-judge panel including Judge Sotomayor rejected the claim in an unsigned opinion. The court cited earlier rulings, including an 1886 Supreme Court decision, in holding that "the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose on this right," not to state legislative efforts.

Another unsigned 2004 decision, U.S. v. Sanchez-Villar, rejected a defendant's claim that a New York gun law "offends" the Second Amendment. Judge Sotomayor's panel cited a 1984 Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling "stating that the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right."

In a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, the justices ruled 5-4 that individuals have the right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. That opinion struck down a 1976 Washington, D.C., law that effectively banned handguns. But because the decision applied only to the capital district, a federal enclave that isn't part of a state, it left open the Second Amendment's application to state weapons regulations.

The rulings in Judge Sotomayor's cases show the administration's true thinking on gun rights, said Mr. Pratt of the Gun Owners organization. "I think the cat has now come screaming out of the bag," he said.

Administration officials have talked little of gun control since President Barack Obama took office, even when pressed on the matter following a slew of multiple murders around the nation. In fact, earlier this month Mr. Obama signed a bill that included an amendment relaxing decades-long restrictions on carrying firearms onto federal park lands.

The Supreme Court is likely to hear arguments in the next few years over whether the Second Amendment applies to states and local governments.

In April, the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco said the Second Amendment does apply to state and local governments, but still upheld a local ordinance that forbids bringing firearms on county property.

This past Tuesday in Chicago, meanwhile, the Seventh Circuit heard a National Rifle Association challenge of a lower-court ruling that upheld gun regulations adopted by Chicago and Oak Park, Ill.

"The judges indicated at the oral argument that they agree with their previous position in a 1980s case" holding that the Second Amendment isn't applicable to the states, said NRA attorney Stephen Halbrook.

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA, said the group has "serious concerns" about Judge Sotomayor but isn't necessarily opposing her nomination. Mr. Arulanandam said his organization, which has four million members, wants to hear the judge explain her stance on Second Amendment issues.

"If there are satisfactory answers to the questions, then we'll move on," Mr. Arulanandam said.

Mr. Halbrook, the NRA attorney, noted favorably Judge Sotomayor's dissenting opinion last December in a gun case. The majority in that case held that a man convicted of gun trafficking could receive a longer sentence than guidelines advised because he was moving firearms to a densely populated area.

Judge Sotomayor disagreed and cautioned against using "subjective considerations, such as a judge's feelings about a particular type of crime," to determine sentences.


Sotomayor to face scrutiny over sensitive issues, rulings
Judge Sonia Sotomayor nominated to be the next Supreme Court Justice

Sotomayor likely to face hot-button issues in Senate confirmation hearings

She has also come under fire for controversial statements, rulings

updated 10:33 p.m. EDT, Wed May 27, 2009

From Bill Schneider, Ines Ferre and Ed Hornick

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- There are likely to be two hot-button issues in Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearings as senators gauge not only her positions but also some controversial comments she has made.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Issue No. 1: Abortion. It is the traditional hot-button issue in Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll taken May 14-17, 68 percent of Americans say they don't want the court's Roe vs. Wade decision giving constitutional protection to abortion rights overturned. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Sotomayor was raised Catholic. If she is confirmed, six out of the nine justices on the high court will be from the faith. Catholics make up about 25 percent of the U.S. population. Of the 110 people who have served on the Supreme Court, 11 have been Catholic. Five of those justices -- Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts -- are currently on the court. Read more about the justices on the court

Barbara Perry, a government professor at Sweetbriar College, said she sees Catholics as swing voters with a base of socially conservative principles, and therefore attractive for Republican presidents.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue said Catholics have conservative credentials on issues such as abortion, without the political baggage of terms such as the "religious right" or "evangelicals."

"Is it safer to nominate a Catholic as opposed to an evangelical to get votes? I think the answer is decidedly yes."

Court observers wonder what, if anything, six Catholic justices would mean for Supreme Court decisions. The five Catholics on the bench concurred in a 2007 decision, Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld a state ban on late-term abortions.

Sotomayor has faced few abortion cases, and no tests on issues such as gay rights or the death penalty. However, Donohue expects a Justice Sotomayor to lean more left than her fellow Catholics on the court. Watch more on the issues confronting Sotomayor

"I think she's more reliably liberal," Donohue said.

Issue No. 2: Same-sex marriage. Four states -- Connecticut, Iowa, Maine and Massachusetts -- allow same-sex couples to wed. New Hampshire could soon follow with legislation pending before the state Legislature. Vermont has also legalized same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples in California, however, suffered a defeat Tuesday when California's Supreme Court upheld the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in 2009 that outlawed same-sex marriage.

The state had previously allowed such marriages after the same court ruled that, "An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

On Tuesday the court said: "Our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.''

Obama's Supreme Court nominee
Recent CNN polling has shown that a majority of Americans are against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Fifty-four percent of Americans questioned in an April 23-26 CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said marriages between gay or lesbian couples should not be recognized as valid, while 44 percent said they should be considered legal.

But there was a gap between the opinions of younger and older people, with younger people far more likely to approve of same-sex marriage.

In fact, 58 percent of people age 18 to 34 said same-sex marriages should be legal. Among people ages 35 to 49, 42 percent agreed, as did 41 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds. Twenty-four percent of people 65 and older agreed.

The survey's sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

But is marriage a right under the federal Constitution? The federal courts have not ruled on that.

"That's an issue that may well come up within the federal courts ... almost certain to do so," Justice Samuel Alito has said.

Will Sotomayor set aside her personal beliefs and values? Maybe. A recent clip of Sotomayor has surfaced that is being used by opponents to prove their belief she will rule a certain way.

"The court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don't make law, I know," she said at a 2005 conference at Duke University. "OK, I know, I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it." Read about Sotomayor's key rulings

Another comment that could be scrutinized during the Senate hearings is from 2001, when Sotomayor said the gender and ethnicity of judges does and should influence decisions.

"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," she said.

That comment has outraged conservative critics such as the group Judicial Watch, which said that if confirmed, Sotomayor may rule more on the basis of racial identity than law.

"It is outrageous and racist on its face, and if a nominee that had conservative credentials made a similar although reverse statement they would be laughed at. They would never be put on the court," said Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch.

But one liberal academic said too much is made of these comments and not enough of Sotomayor's legal opinions.

"I don't think having a particular background is going to cash out as having a particular ready style or opinion," said New York University Professor Kenji Yoshino. "If you actually read over 400 opinions that she has written, you will see she is a judge's judge."

One case that will get greater scrutiny is Sotomayor's role in dismissing the appeal of 19 white and one Latino firefighters from New Haven, Connecticut. They claim they were denied a promotion despite doing better on exams, because not enough minority candidates qualified.

Sotomayor was one of a three-judge panel who in a one-paragraph summary sided with a lower court. Other judges on the court criticized the decision, arguing it failed to grapple with questions of exceptional importance.

"In a case like this where there are important competing concerns, it is important for the appellate court to explain the basis of her decision," said Case Western Reserve University professor Jonathan Adler. He said it was as if the court wanted to "make the case go away or brush it under the rug."

The Supreme Court decided it would hear the firefighters' appeal.

Legal analysts said they expect Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee will want to ask Sotomayor about her role in that case, as well as her comments about ethnicity and the bench.

That, coupled with her views on abortion and same-sex marriage, could electrify an already heated debate over her nomination.

Soon there will be even more known about Sotomayor.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the committee's ranking Republican, on Wednesday released the bipartisan questionnaire the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Sotomayor to complete.

Once the questionnaire is completed and returned to the committee, copies will be made available online and in print.

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