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Sotomayor testifies she has decided abortion cases 'according to law'

[JURIST] US Supreme Court [official website] nominee Sonia Sotomayor [WH profile; JURIST news archive] told the US Senate [official website] during confirmation hearings [materials] on Wednesday said that she has rejected personal bias and "ruled according to the law" in abortion-related cases. During questioning by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) [official website], Sotomayor said that the White House did not ask her about her personal views on legal issues, including abortion, during the nomination process and that her judicial record reveals that she hadn't shown a personal bias. After providing her understanding of the current state of the law regarding abortion, she said that she would not predict the outcome of a hypothetical late-term abortion case posed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) [official website] without specific knowledge of applicable state law. When asked by Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) [official website] to declare that Roe v. Wade [opinion] was "settled law" Sotomayor declined, saying that all standing precedents are entitled to the same treatment under stare decisis. Sotomayor also defended earlier statements [materials] she had made about the influence of background on decision-making, saying that she stands by the sentiment even if she had expressed it poorly.

On Tuesday, Sotomayor defended her judicial record [JURIST report] and emphasized her reliance on precedent when deciding cases. The hearings on Sotomayor's confirmation 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].

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