Family and life advocates concerned by Sotomayor's 'judicial activism'

Family and life advocates concerned by Sotomayor's 'judicial activism'

President Obama meets with Sonia Sotomayor in the Oval Office on May 21 / Photo Credit: White House
President Obama meets with Sonia Sotomayor in the Oval Office on May 21 / Photo Credit: White House


President Obama introduced Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter this morning at the White House. Conservative court watchers reacted to the announcement by warning that Sotomayor's judicial record shows she is an activist judge.

This morning just after 10 a.m., President Obama introduced Sonia Sotomayor, emphasizing her rise from humble beginnings to graduating from Princeton and later Yale.

"Along the way," Obama said, she's faced down barriers, overcome the odds, lived out the American Dream that brought her parents here so long ago. ...What Sonia will bring to the Court, then, is not only the knowledge and experience acquired over a course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated from an inspiring life's journey."

Sotomayor will be the third woman to serve on the nation's highest court and the first Latina.

However, some court watchers are worried by remarks that Sotomayor made in a 2001 speech at Berkeley, where she stated that she believes it is appropriate for judges to consider their "experiences as women and people of color," and that these experiences should "affect our decisions."

She went on to say in the same speech, "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."

Judge Sotomayor also said in a speech to the Duke Law School in 2005 that the "Court of Appeals is where policy is made," a comment that has stoked fears that she will be an activist judge.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, commented on the Supreme Court nominee's remarks by saying, "Women are best protected by the rule of law – and blind justice. Their rights are most endangered when personal preference, ideology or painful personal history inform judgment."

On the other hand, Judge Sotomayor appeared to distance herself from her remarks about letting personal experiences inform the law when she said today at the White House, "I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights."

While Sotomayor's judicial stance on protecting the unborn is somewhat unknown, the Latina judge did rule against abortion supporters who sued to overturn the Mexico City policy. The pro-abortion group claimed the policy violated their First Amendment, due process and equal protection rights.

Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright called on all senators to demand ample time for a careful and thorough examination of the nominee's record.

"A necessary quality for a Supreme Court justice is to be committed to equal treatment of the law, regardless of ethnicity or sex. Sonia Sotomayor has an extensive record and several troubling opinions where she seems willing to expand certain 'rights' beyond what the Constitution establishes and the appropriate Supreme Court precedent," Wright said. 

One other issue highlighted by CWA is the fact that Sotomayor has a high rate of having her rulings reversed. Out of five cases brought before the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has had the court overturn three of her decisions.

Her reversal rate "alone should be enough for us to pause and take a good look at her record. Frankly, it is the Senate's duty to do so," Wright stated.

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