[JURIST] US Supreme Court [official website] nominee Sonia Sotomayor [WH profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday defended her judicial record and emphasized her reliance on precedent when deciding cases in response to confirmation questioning [materials] by the US Senate [official website]. Sotomayor defended a now overturned [JURIST report] decision in Ricci v. DeStefano [Cornell LII backgrounder] that she joined while serving on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She said that the decision was supported by relevant precedent at the time, and that the Supreme Court had generated a new standard when it reversed the decision. She went on to minimize the significance of earlier statements [materials] she had made about the influence of her background on her decision-making, saying that she does "not believe that any ethnic, racial, or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment." She also responded to questions on abortion and gun rights by saying that current precedent recognizes a right to privacy derived from the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, but that it does not yet recognize Second Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounders] gun rights as also protecting against state restrictions on gun ownership. Also Tuesday, US President Barack Obama [official website] emailed media outlets reaffirming his support for Sotomayor, saying that her "brilliant legal mind is complemented by the practical lessons that can only be learned by applying the law to real world situations." Her confirmation hearings will continue on Wednesday with the testimony of numerous witnesses on Sotomayor's fitness for the Court. A vote on her confirmation is scheduled for August 6.
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].