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Sotomayor is the pick, but is she the right selection?

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By Robert E. Beckner

Some readers might think that it’s too early to be trying to expose the type of person that 54-year-old Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the President’s Supreme Court nominee would make if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She is Hispanic which covers a lot of Spanish speaking groups, including both those from Mexico and Puerto Rico. This lady was one of six contenders for the Court seat. The President picked the most liberal, so this is just the first preliminary report.

How did our President choose this person? For part of the answer, you can go back to his campaign when  “He favored judges with the ‘empathy’ to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African American, gay, disabled or old.” As the type of judges he would appoint to the Supreme Court, his choice seems to be the personal embodiment of his philosophy. This choice places a premium on personal feelings over following the law. The President’s own record holds clues for his choice, as he has also said he wanted someone who empathizes with the downtrodden and is wary of establishment power, someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, someone who understands and can identify with people’s lives and struggles.

As a senator, he said, Bush’s nominees were qualified for the court, but he still voted against Judges Roberts and Alito as he felt they would be “too conservative.” Then, four months later, he joined a full Democratic effort to block Alito’s confirmation with a filibuster. So we have a Supreme Court battle, which consists of empathy versus the Rule of Law. That’s what your President wants and what follows is why conservatives, some 40 percent of them do not feel she should sit on the High Court.

You have already read about and heard the remarks she has made over the years since 2001 that have the opposition chomping at the bit to get to the form questionnaires she submitted. Five boxes of “questionnaires”, approximately 3,000, she has turned over for her examination that begins July 13, 2009. This time is way too early for the Republicans, they wanted the date set in September so they would have enough time to formulate their questions. The Democrats with total control of both houses and the White House got their way, as usual. The President’s press agent Robert Gibbs was an unapologetic intimidator, warning everyone to be ‘exceedingly careful’ in talking about her. Criticism of Ms. Sotomayor is to be regarded as proof of racism, sexism, and maybe even fascism. In other words, criticize her at your own risk. This person has a damning paper trail and the dan-ger is that Republicans will not be too tough, but not tough enough. This is the time to ask deeply probing questions, vigorous and robust ones to say the least. Our nation is entitled to know exactly who the President wants to put on our nation’s highest court.

If the President has read Sotomayor right, she won’t immediately change the tenor of the court, through decisions and the judgment of the court, but she will certainly try. There is evidence in her court of appeals decisions where she has done just that. Her personal life story is just what the President was looking for and no need to go over it here, as we have all heard it 29,212 times in the first week after her nomination!

So what are people saying about her is important. Some feel that when you enter her courtroom and you happen to be the “wrong” gender, race or sexual orientation, will you be granted a fair hearing? If Sotomayor’s feelings guide her judicial decisions, justice could depend on a constantly shifting landscape, depending day to day, or even moment to moment, based on her mood, biases and personal whims. Lawyers who have argued cases before Sotomayor have called her, nasty, angry and a terror on the bench, this according to the current almanac of the Federal Judiciary. Out of 22 judges evaluated, she was the only one who received decidedly negative comments. She has been said to lack judicial tem-perament and behavior. She abuses lawyers and is an intellectual lightweight. Senator Jeff Sessions, (Ala. – R) told Sotomayor that she was out of bounds in a 1997 case, when she used the word “abomination” in criticizing the mandatory minimum sentence from the bench during one sentencing proceeding. The Senator thought she was not respecting the law or the system. The Almanac profiles every federal judge on rulings, political leanings and legal abilities and is published every November.

One major item the public should be very interested in, that her reversal rate as an appeals judge in the 2nd Circuit Court is 60 percent of her rulings are overturned. This 60 percent reversal rate is certainly enough for the Senate to take an extra good look at her overall record. You can see that in just a short period of time, the questions are mounting. She will be questioned about her demeanor and the previously mentioned her remarks during writings, opinions and speeches and conferences. She once stated, at Duke Law School, where she endorsed “judicial activism,” telling students that the “Court of Appeals is where policy is made.” Then, almost immediately, said, “this is on tape and I should never have said that.” Just a slip of the tongue! Her true feelings exposed.

The best is yet to come when the Senators really begin to work on her past rulings, speeches and writings, with the information she provided. Her position on abortion is still unknown, but if confirmed she will be the sixth Catholic on the Court. Questioning of her high school, college, law school and professional life all said they had never heard her talk about her faith, nor to be known to attend Mass or belonging to a parish. Her family re-fused to comment. Studies have shown that 52 percent of Catholics who do not attend church regularly say abortion is morally acceptable. Is this a clue to how she’ll vote?

Overall, we can see how the President and liberals in general use “empathy”. They seem to value those who  have the ability to ignore trifles like the will of the majority, or social peace or law’s actual meaning. In Sotomayor’s case, she doesn’t shun her personal bias; she embraces them and clearly shows it. If you ask for a reaction from noted conservatives, they call her a liberal judicial activist of the first order. All you gun owners should know that from what she has ruledshe has big 2nd amendment problems.

In 2000, after a man was arrested in his home for having a weapon (not a gun – nunchukas), he argued his 2nd amendment rights were violated. Sotomayor held that a state legislature has the right to pass a complete ban on weapons in the home because the 2nd amendment does not apply to the state! How wrong can she be?

It appears the President has the votes to prevail no matter how she answers the ques-tions and for the sake of America this woman should not be on the court. The Constitution set out limits to the powers of the federal government, but judges have greatly eroded those limitations over the years in so many ways.