Friday, May 24, 2024

Sotomayor Clarifies Race Comments, Addresses Hot-Button Issues

As Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings continue, it is clear that she is likely to become the first Hispanic justice on the top U.S. court.  Tuesday morning brought tough questions as the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned her views on everything from race to abortion to antitrust law. She was also given the opportunity to defend one of her most controversial comments from a 2001 speech she gave in which she said a “wise Latina” might arrive at a better legal decision than a white man.

She explained she never meant to imply that a Hispanic woman would make a better judge than a white man. Rather, Sotomayor said she had been misconstrued and that she was merely hoping to inspire young Hispanics and women to get involved with the law. “I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment,” she said, adding that she believed everyone has the same opportunity to be a good and wise judge “regardless of their background and life experience.”

During the morning’s questioning Sotomayor faced a number of hot-button issues, many of which have been proven to draw ideological lines. When asked about gun rights, she said that she accepted the Supreme Court ruling that was issued last year guaranteeing and individual’s right to own guns. “I would not prejudge any question that came before me if I was a justice on the Supreme Court,” she said.

The questioning turned to affirmative action, and she said that she recognized its continued need in some cases, but she hoped this would not always be the case. “It is firmly my hope….that in 25 years race in our society won’t be needed to be considered in any situation. That’s the hope,” she said. Regarding anti-trust cases she rejected suggestions that she is either pro-business or anti-business. She also said the she views the current US law permitting abortion as “settled” and also said she could be open to the idea of broadcasting Supreme Court hearings on television.

Republicans were persistent in their questioning of her potential biases, but she emphasized her position that the law takes precedence over any life experiences. “I believe my record of 17 years demonstrates fully that I do believe that judges must apply the law and not make the law,” Sotomayor said.