SOTOMAYOR HEARINGS FULL OF CONTRADICTIONS, THEATER

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After four days of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination hearing, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) commented on the contradictory nature of her testimony compared her past rulings and statements. Sotomayor’s comments have come as the result of intense Republican questioning on her record as an appellate judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and prior statements she has made that call into question her ability to judge fairly. 

“I am deeply concerned by the inconsistency of Judge Sotomayor’s statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee," Inhofe said.  "Her explanations of past comments regarding judicial policymaking and the ability to judge fairly often border on confounding, if not completely contradictory. Don’t be deceived by her new found ability to appease – a few days of placating statements do not erase an 18 year record that speaks quite differently. From the outset, I have opposed the nomination of Judge Sotomayor based upon her record and past comments.  The theater of this hearing does not change that.” 

Two Sides On Impartiality

[T]here is ‘no objective stance but only a series of perspectives.... aspiration to impartiality… is just that—an aspiration....’” (Women In The Judiciary, Women’s Bar Association Of The State Of New York. 4/30/99)“My record shows that at no point or time have I ever permitted my personal views or sympathies to influence an outcome of a case.” (Judge Sotomayor, Remarks, Confirmation Hearing Of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 7/14/09)  

Two Sides on Justice O’Connor’s Statements

“Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases….I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement….” (A Latina Judge’s Voice, 13 BERKELEY LA RAZA L. J. 1 (2002) (and “Raising the Bar,” talk to La Raza at Boalt Hall, October 26, 2001).“I knew that Justice O'Connor couldn't have meant that if judges reached different conclusions, legal conclusions, that one of them wasn't wise. That couldn't have been her meaning because reasonable judges disagree on legal conclusions in some cases.” “The words I used, I used agreeing with the sentiment that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was attempting to convey.” (Judge Sotomayor, Remarks, Confirmation Hearing Of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 7/14/09)  

Two Sides on the Ricci Case

“The panel decided Ricci ... on the basis of established precedent.” (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation Hearing, 7/14/09)Despite her claims, Judge Sotomayor was not following precedent in Ricci. She failed to cite any prior precedent in her summary opinion, and judges from the District Court, the Second Circuit Court, and U.S. Supreme Court all agreed that that “few, if any, precedents in the Court of Appeals” discuss the issue. 

Two Sides on the Use of Foreign Law

“And that misunderstanding is unfortunately endorsed by some of our Supreme Court justices. Both Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have written extensively criticizing the use of foreign and international law in Supreme Court decisions.” (Judge Sotomayor, Remarks To American Civil Liberties Union Of Puerto Rico, 4/28/09)“I have actually agreed with Justice Scalia and Thomas on the point that one has to be very cautious even in using foreign law with respect to the things American law permits you to.” (Hearing Of The Senate Judiciary Committee, Nomination Of Sonia Sotomayor, 7/15/09) 

Two Sides on Judicial Activism

“All of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with Court of Appeals experience… The Court of Appeals is where policy is made.” (Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Remarks At Duke University Law School, 2/25/05)“We don’t make policy choices in the court. We look at the case before us with the interests that are argued by the parties, look at our precedent, and try to apply its principles to the arguments parties are raising.” (Judge Sotomayor, Remarks, Confirmation Hearing Of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 7/15/09) 

Two Sides on the “Wise Latina”

“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." 2001 Speech at UCLA-BerkeleySotomayor completely backed away from her “wise Latina” comments, saying that it was a regrettable "rhetorical flourish that fell flat," and does not reflect her views. She further acknowledged her comment "was bad, because it left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case." Sotomayor said she was trying "to inspire young Hispanics, Latino students and lawyers to believe that their life experiences added value to the process." (Judge Sotomayor, Remarks, Confirmation Hearing Of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 7/14/09).