May 26, 2009
Pro-Life Group Consensus on Sotomayor: 'Activist'
More reactions to Obama's Supreme Court nominee continue to come in from pro-life groups. So far all include a reference to Sotomayor's "where policy is made" comment, and none include a reference to her decisions related to abortion.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice calls the Sotomayor nomination "a very aggressive decision that will trigger a national debate on the issue of judicial activism."
Mario Diaz, Policy Director for Legal Issues for Concerned Women for America, called Sotomayor's "policy is made" statement "a very dangerous way of looking at the role of a judge for those of us who value our freedoms as guaranteed in the Constitution."
Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright is more troubled by a 2001 speech Sotomayor made at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, in which she said, "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 comment "reveal[s] her immodest bias," Wright said.
The full speech is worth reading, not least because Sotomayor makes repeated reference to Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby by Yale Law School professor (and former CT columnist) Stephen Carter.
"I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group," she wrote. She continued:
However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. 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. ...
I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.
There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering.