A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Senators conclude Sotomayor questioning

[JURIST] US Supreme Court [official website] nominee Sonia Sotomayor [WH profile; JURIST news archive] reiterated her commitment to applying the law fairly to the facts of each case as members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] concluded their questions [materials] Thursday. During questioning from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) [official website], Sotomayor said:

The role of the courts is to interpret the law as Congress writes it. It may be the effect in a particular situation that, in the court doing that, in giving effect to Congress's intent, it has that outcome, but it's not the role of the judge to create that outcome. It's to interpret what Congress is doing and do what Congress wants.
After the Senators concluded their questioning, the committee began hearing testimony from witnesses speaking both for and against Sotomayor's confirmation. One witness who spoke against Sotomayor was Frank Ricci, the named plaintiff in the firefighter racial discrimination case of Ricci v. DeStefano [JURIST report], in which Sotomayor ruled in favor of the city of New Haven. Ricci said [testimony, PDF]:
Despite the important civil rights and constitutional claims we raised, the Court of Appeals panel disposed of our case in an unsigned, unpublished summary order that consisted of a single paragraph that mentioned my dyslexia and thus led everybody to think that this case was about me and a disability claim. This case had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with ensuring our command officers were competent to answer the call and our right to advance in our profession based on merit regardless of race.
Testimony and questioning of the remaining witnesses will continue into Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, Sotomayor said that she has rejected personal bias [JURIST report] and "ruled according to the law" in abortion-related cases. On Tuesday, she defended her judicial record [JURIST report] and emphasized her reliance on precedent when deciding cases. Sotomayor's confirmation hearings began Monday with her saying that she would bring a "fidelity to the law" to the Court in her opening statement [materials; JURIST report], and Senators offering contrasting interpretations of her record in their opening statements [JURIST report]. Last week, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary [official website] gave Sotomayor a unanimous "well-qualified" rating [letter, PDF; JURIST report]. In May, Obama praised [JURIST report] Sotomayor's experience and wisdom, rebuking Republicans who would oppose her confirmation. Obama warned against partisanship in the confirmation process, saying that he hoped Congress would "avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship" that marked past confirmation hearings. Obama nominated Sotomayor in May to replace retiring [JURIST reports] Justice David Souter [official profile, PDF; JURIST news archive].

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.