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Sotomayor Debate Is Under Way

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) has led GOP opposition to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation. GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (right) supports her nomination, while GOP Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (left) is also against it.

Democrats this week will also continue to align with advocacy groups to make a final final push for Sotomayor. Sens. Benjamin Cardin (Md.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) — both members of the Judiciary Committee — will attend a rally today with civil rights organizations, while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is expected to hold a separate event with Hispanic leaders.

Republicans, meanwhile, continued their assault on Sotomayor’s speeches and on President Barack Obama’s argument that judges should meet an “empathy” standard. What’s more, GOP Senators will make a larger case for the direction of the Supreme Court and the role of the judiciary.

For instance, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in a floor speech before the debate began, argued: “Sotomayor has impressed all of us with her life story. But if empathy is the new standard, then the burden is on nominees, like her, who are chosen on that basis to demonstrate a firm commitment to equal justice under the law. On the contrary, Judge Sotomayor has openly doubted the ability of judges to adhere to this core principle, and she has even doubted the wisdom of them doing so.

“Sotomayor is a fine person with an impressive story and a distinguished background. But a judge must be able to check his or her personal or political agenda at the courtroom door and do justice even-handedly, as the judicial oath requires. This is the most fundamental test. It’s a test Judge Sotomayor does not pass,” McConnell said.

When confirmed, Sotomayor will be poised to take her seat on the bench before the court reconvenes this fall. She would become the second female on the bench and the third woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court. She would replace Justice David Souter, who retired in June.

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