‘Activist’ appellate judge picked for Supreme Court

By WND Staff

A judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals who once boasted during a conference that it is at that level in the court system where “policy is made” has been named by President Obama to replace the retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a forum at the Duke University School of Law in 2005, Sonia Sotomayor said, “Court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know – and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. OK, I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it, I’m – you know. OK. Having said that, the court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating – its interpretation, its application.”

The video of her statement is linked here and is embedded below:

Sotomayor would replace the left-leaning Souter, and speculation was thick today whether she would – or even could – move the court further to the left.

In his announcement, Obama praised Sotomayor as “the kind of justice we need” on the Supreme Court.

He called her “an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice.”

She is the first candidate of Puerto Rican heritage named to the nation’s highest court. Born in the Bronx, the 54-year-old’s father was a tool-and-die worker who died when she was a child. Her mother, a nurse, raised Sotomayor and her brother.

Sotomayor was married in 1976 but was divorced after seven years.

According to Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, Sotomayor is “a liberal judicial activist of the first order.”

Long described Sotomayor as thinking “her own personal political agenda is more important tha[n] the law as written,” and a Fox News commentator said she is neither a consensus-builder nor well-liked by her appellate panel co-workers.

Christian Broadcasting Network commentator David Brody warned the nomination could rebound on Obama.

“He may get her through because he has the numbers in the Senate but his poll numbers showing him as a centrist may take a hit. Keep an eye on Gallup,” he said.

However, because of Souter’s similar leanings, the nomination is unlikely to change the ideological bent of the court immediately.

Democrats have 59 votes in the Senate and would need 60 to clear a Republican filibuster. Also, according to Senate rules, at least one Republican would need to vote for her at the committee level.

Long earlier talked with Greg Corombos of Radio America/WND about why she believes the three women including Sotomayor who were at the top of Obama’s list for the court should be scrutinized carefully. The audio of the exchange is embedded here:

Long said Sotomayor’s activism is “exactly what the president has talked about. He likes that. He thinks that liberal judges are so smart and so enlightened and have such great instincts about what policy should be that they should be making the decisions about policy for the rest of us.”

Long contends self-government is “destroyed” when unelected judges begin taking over the function of elected representatives.

Sotomayor was part of a panel on the 2nd Circuit that declined to rule on the merits of a major reverse-discrimination case regarding firefighters in New Haven, Conn. The case is currently in front of the Supreme Court.

“Judge Sotomayor basically buried their claims and tried to throw them out without even really analyzing these very important questions about quotas and reverse discrimination and fairness under the law,” according to Long.

Sotomayor has been on the 2nd Circuit since 1998. She began her legal career as an assistant district attorney in New York County, and after graduating from Princeton in 1976, she attended Yale. She’s been active in the special interest New York City Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage and the National Association of Women Judges.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, described Sotomayor as “a radical pick that divides America.

“She believes the role of the court is to set policy which is exactly the philosophy that led to the Supreme Court turning into the National Abortion Control Board denying the American people to right to be heard on this critical issue,” Yoest said. “This appointment would provide a pedestal for an avowed judicial activist to impose her personal policy and beliefs onto others from the bench at a time when the courts are at a crossroad and critical abortion regulations – supported by the vast majority of Americans – like partial-birth abortion and informed consent laws lie in the balance.”

“Despite 17 years on the bench, Sotomayor has never directly decided whether a law regulating abortion is constitutional,” noted officials with Liberty Counsel. “In Center for Reproductive Law & Policy v. Bush, she wrote an opinion that upheld the Mexico City Policy prohibiting federal funding of overseas abortions.”

Liberty Counsel also noted, “Sotomayor does not believe that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals.”

“The ghost of George H. W. Bush still continues in the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. He gave us Justice David Souter and he may have given us Sotomayor. No one ever expected President Barack Obama to nominate someone who respects the original intent of the Constitution,” said Mathew Staver, chief of Liberty Counsel. “While Sotomayor is not the easiest nomination the president was considering in his short list, she is by far not the most risky either. She has had a mixed history on cases. Her personality is not likely one that will persuade other justices to her point of view. Her nomination does not change the makeup of the United States Supreme Court.”

“This is a very aggressive decision that will trigger a national debate on the issue of judicial activism,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law & Justice. “The background and philosophy of Judge Sotomayor clearly puts the Constitution front and center. How will this nominee view the Constitution and the rule of law? Will she embrace past comments when she stated that the ‘court of appeals is where policy is made?’ This nomination raises serious questions about the issue of legislating from the bench.

“We’re hopeful that the members of the Senate will ask the tough questions about her judicial philosophy and temperament when the confirmation hearings get under way this summer,” he said.


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