Confirmation Hearings Day Two

July 15, 2009
Day two of Judge Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearings brought a long day of tough questioning. Read the transcript of Tuesday’s live blog below and be sure to join us again on Wednesday.

9:17 AAUW:  Good morning AAUW and friends!
9:18 AAUW:  Welcome to Day 2 of live-blog coverage of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor
9:18 AAUW:  Today’s hearing is scheduled to begin in about 15 minutes
9:19 AAUW:  Today’s hearing will be devoted to Q & A for all senators on the panel
9:21 AAUW:  Transcripts of most of the opening statements can also be found here: http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=3959
9:22 AAUW:  Each senator will be alloted around 20-30 minutes each for an initial round of questioning
9:23 AAUW:  Chairman Leahy, depending on time and demand, may have additional rounds as well
9:23 AAUW:  So we’ll be here all day, and possibily into tomorrow as well
9:26 AAUW:  Here again are the questions AAUW submitted to the committee in advance of the hearings: http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/actionpages/upload/sotomayorHearingQuestions.pdf
9:27 AAUW:  Here’s a good piece on expected lines of questioning today: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE56B0TA20090714?sp=true
9:30 AAUW:  Chairman Leahy has gaveled the hearing into session
9:31 AAUW:  For anyone who would like to see a hearing of our live blog transcript yesterday, click here: http://blog-aauw.org/2009/07/13/confirmation-hearings-day-one/
9:31 AAUW:  Like yesterday, we’ll start with senator leahy and work our way down line of seniority
9:32 AAUW:  first questions: what are the qualities a judge should possess, and how does experience shape approach to the bench
9:34 AAUW:  sotomayor: process of judging is process of keeping an open mind; not coming into a case with a predetermined outcome
9:34 AAUW:  careful examination of the facts, making a decision that is limited to what the law says
9:35 AAUW:  leahy is mentioning sotomayor’s previous experience as an assistant district attorney
9:35 AAUW:  sotomayor was an assistant DA under Robert Morganthau in New York County…otherwise known as Manhattan
9:36 AAUW:  leahy wants to know how that time period shaped her as a judge
9:36 AAUW:  sotomayor: i became a lawyer in the prosecutor’s office
9:36 AAUW:  she owes her legal career to mr. morganthau
9:37 AAUW:  law schools teach hypotheticals; when you work in a prosecutor’s office, you understand the law is more than legal theory
9:38 AAUW:  she says that what she took with her as a trial and appellate judge – all cases decided on their own bases
9:39 AAUW:  a discussion is ensuing about sotomayor’s role in the “tarzan murder case” a summary of which can be found here: http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=9E1720C5-18FE-70B2-A848232D85DE659B
9:40 AAUW:  from that article: Despite it being her first murder trial, Judge Sotomayor distinguished herself as a skilled litigator, investigator and student of the law. She visited the crime scenes with the detectives and established a strong rapport with the detectives, victims’ family members and witnesses, which was critical to our prosecution of the case. She organized and analyzed the hundreds of files and facts of this complex, multi-victim murder case, even creating a case diagram – People’s 1 – which outlined the People’s case and distilled a complex and possibly confusing set of facts into a powerful and striking visual aid for the jury.
9:41 AAUW:  sotomayor is expounding on her role in that case, and how she prosecuted it
9:42 AAUW:  she is tying that into her role as a trial judge
9:43 AAUW:  sotomayor: “it is important to remember that as a judge, i don’t make law”
9:44 AAUW:  leahy is beginning a discussion in the Ricci case
9:44 AAUW:  reminder of AAUW’s position there, and a summary of that case: http://blog-aauw.org/2009/06/30/ricci-v-destefano/
9:44 [Comment From Lisa]
That’s a good thing for her to say… wonder if other folks on the committee will believe her
9:45 AAUW:  leahy is discussing her role in the majority on the second circuit that upheld New Haven’s decision to throw out the results of its exam
9:46 AAUW:  leahy is pointing out that she followed precedent, and had she done otherwise, that would have been a biased ruling
9:46 [Comment From Kim Towle]
Being overturned by the Supreme Ct does not mean Sotomayor’s opinion was “wrong.” A case is granted certiorari since it is a complicated issue often with no clear answer.
9:47 AAUW:  Good point, Kim…the supreme court often takes a case when there is a split at the circuit level and no clearly defined standard for all courts to follow
9:47 AAUW:  in the Ricci case, though, there was a clear precedent that sotomayor and others chose to uphold
9:47 AAUW:  sotomayor is discussing the “disparate impact” of that case
9:48 AAUW:  which is a clearly defined legal standard
9:48 [Comment From Lisa]
As I suspected, Ricci was decided on precedent… which is what judges are supposed to do.
9:48 AAUW:  indeed, Lisa…lower court judges are bound to follow Supreme Court precedent
9:49 AAUW:  sotomayor said New Haven based its decision on what it understood to be the requirements of the law
9:49 AAUW:  sotomayor: the supreme court established a different standard in its decision to overrule the second circuit
9:50 AAUW:  she is standing firmly behind her decision in this case, in the face of ample criticism she has received from the conservative side of the aisle in the lead-up to the hearing
9:51 AAUW:  wonder how sessions, kyl, et al will react to that when she does the same with them
9:51 AAUW:  leahy is now getting to quotes of hers that have been criticized
9:52 AAUW:  including the one that has received the most attention: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.”
9:52 AAUW:  leahy is giving her the opportunity to respond to critics
9:52 AAUW:  looks like she appreciates the opportunity to finally respond!
9:53 AAUW:  sotomayor: i was trying to inspire them to believe that their life experiences would enrich the legal system
9:53 AAUW:  ”they could become anything they wanted to become, just like i have”
9:54 AAUW:  sotomayor says the context has created a misunderstanding
9:54 AAUW:  ”i want to state upfront, unequovocally: no racial ethnic or gender group has an advantage of sound judgment”
9:54 AAUW:  ”every person has an equal opportunity”
9:54 [Comment From Lisa]
Good for Leahy… a good way to open, get it all on the table. Might take the fire out of their cannons.
9:55 AAUW:  she remarks that her comment is similar to ones former justice sandra day o’connor has made, which is that both men and women are both equally capable of being wise and fair judges
9:56 AAUW:  ”in every case that i render, i first decide what the law requires under the facts before me”
9:56 AAUW:  ”whether their position is sympathetic or not, i explain why my decision was commanded by the law”
9:56 AAUW:  leahy has switched to the DC guns case
9:57 AAUW:  that case was DC v. Heller: http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=DC_v._Heller
9:58 AAUW:  sotomayor has applied the DC guns case standard, that there is an individual right to bear arms, to cases before her on the second circuit
10:00 AAUW:  leahy is discussing various second amendment cases
10:00 AAUW:  sotomayor: “like you, i understand how important the right to bear arms is to many, many americans”
10:01 AAUW:  she understands fully the individual right to bear arms recognized by Heller
10:02 AAUW:  ”i would not prejudge any question that came before me if i was a justice on the supreme court”
10:04 AAUW:  senator sessions is now up
10:05 AAUW:  sessions: “you have a philosophy that suggests that a judge’s background should impact a decision”
10:06 AAUW:  sessions claims she has “body of thought over a period of years” that causes us difficulty
10:07 AAUW:  sessions: what do you really believe on these subjects?
10:07 AAUW:  sotomayor: record of 17 years demonstrates fully that judges must apply the law, not make the law
10:07 AAUW:  in every case that i have decided, i have done what the law requires
10:08 AAUW:  sessions also asked her about another quote where she said that courts of appeals make the law
10:08 AAUW:  she responds that the context was the difference between circuit courts and district courts
10:08 AAUW:  district courts make a finding, and circuit courts set the precedent, which has policy ramifications
10:09 AAUW:  ”if the fully context is examined, it is very clear i am talking about the policy ramifications of precedent”
10:09 AAUW:  sotomayor joked that a person needs to see more than the 90 second clip on youtube
10:09 AAUW:  well said, judge!
10:10 AAUW:  sessions asks if there’s any circumstance where a judge’s prejudices should influence a decision
10:10 AAUW:  sotomayor: never
10:11 [Comment From Lisa]
You know, if Sotomayor’s wise Latina comment all about context–to inspire young women & Hispanic lawyers & students. Why didn’t WH say that from start?
10:11 AAUW:  good point…the white house claimed she would have chosen her words better if given the chance
10:11 AAUW:  sotomayor is giving her own rationale, quite different from what her white house handlers were suggesting
10:12 AAUW:  good for her…talk about an independent nominee
10:12 AAUW:  sessions appears frustrated with her
10:12 AAUW:  he’d only be happy is she states that she’s an awful judge who never considers the law and hands down decisons willy-nilly
10:12 AAUW:  don’t quite think that’s the case, senator
10:14 AAUW:  Now might be a good time to remind all about the time senator sessions came before the judiciary committee for a judgeship, and was rejected: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/us/politics/08panel.html
10:14 AAUW:  keep in mind, folks, that senator sessions has not asked a SINGLE questions about any of the hundreds of cases in which she has participated
10:15 AAUW:  he’s trying to portray her as a person who decides cases based on who she wants to win
10:15 AAUW:  rather than what the law commands
10:16 AAUW:  she is standing up to senator sessions and not letting his comments get to her
10:17 [Comment From Lisa]
From Nan Aron over at Alliance for Justice: “Sessions seems like he’ll only be happy if Sotomayor announces that she is a prejudiced, racist, activist judge.”
10:18 AAUW:  that about sums it up
10:20 AAUW:  I like when senators remind her about the oath she has taken
10:20 AAUW:  and quote from it
10:21 [Comment From Lisa]
She is very calm and cool yet very firm.
10:23 AAUW:  sessions finally gets around to a case
10:23 AAUW:  back to Ricci
10:24 AAUW:  sessions points out that firefighters are often sent to burning buildings to fight fires
10:26 AAUW:  sotomayor comments that her ruling in Ricci was very similar to one that judge richard posner, a conservative circuit judge, handed down on the 7th circuit
10:28 AAUW:  sessions and leahy are having a quibble over facts of Ricci
10:30 AAUW:  sessions is bringing up answers sotomayor gave during her1998 confirmation hearing to the second circuit
10:30 AAUW:  and is trying to show that those comments don’t square with subsequent rulings and statements
10:31 AAUW:  sotomayor says New Haven’s decision was based on law and legal precedent
10:34 [Comment From Lisa]
and in fact completely different points of law that the case Sessions keeps brining up as a way to try to discredit her
10:34 AAUW:  SCOTUS made clear that its ruling in Ricci was the advent of a new legal standard, setting a new precedent
10:36 AAUW:  Sessions is trying to ger her to say, in effect, that her ruling was anti-firefighter
10:36 AAUW:  she responds that the second circuit upheld a 78-page opinion from the district court that was firmly rooted in precedent
10:38 AAUW:  Leahy is inserting into the record the ABA’s unanimous, well-qualified rating it assigned her
10:40 AAUW:  for more on the ABA’s rating system: http://www.abanet.org/scfedjud/
10:40 AAUW:  sen. herb kohl is now up
10:41 AAUW:  he points out that 22 judges in total looked at the Ricci case, and they were split 11-11 in terms of where they ruled
10:42 AAUW:  sen. kohl points out that a mere 2 percent of her cases were ultimately reversed
10:42 AAUW:  remember, she’s authored hundreds of published opinions
10:43 AAUW:  he asks her about the chief justice roberts standard of ‘judges as umpires’
10:43 AAUW:  she says like any analogy, it is imperfect
10:44 AAUW:  because judges need to have an open mind
10:44 AAUW:  kohl asks which current SCOTUS justice she most admires
10:44 AAUW:  she essentially says all of them
10:45 AAUW:  she doesn’t want to go further, because she worries that it will be seen as her making herself the ideological equivalent to whatever name she gives
10:45 AAUW:  she says as far as a justice of the past, it would be justice cardozo
10:46 AAUW:  More on Cardozo: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/history/cardozo.htm
10:47 AAUW:  Kohl now turning to affirmative action
10:47 AAUW:  asks for her views on it
10:48 AAUW:  she says it’s a legislative determination
10:48 AAUW:  she references the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment
10:49 AAUW:  shares hope with justice o’connor that 25 years from now, we won’t need it
10:49 AAUW:  cites the Michigan law school admissions cases from 2003
10:50 AAUW:  Gratz v. Bollinger: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-516.ZS.html
10:50 AAUW:  AAUW’s position paper on affirmative action: http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/actionpages/upload/affirmativeAction.pdf
10:51 AAUW:  Kohl now turning to Bush v. Gore, the infamous case arising from the disputed presidential election of 2000
10:52 AAUW:  sotomayor says that some good came from the discussion surrounding the issues involved
10:52 AAUW:  including the various state election laws that were bolstered in its aftermath
10:52 AAUW:  she’s witholding a viewpoint on the actual ruling in the case
10:52 AAUW:  not surprising
10:53 AAUW:  Kohl now discussing the Kelo case from 2005, concerning private property and eminent domain
10:54 AAUW:  Kelo v. New London: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-108.ZS.html
10:54 AAUW:  sotomayor says it is now precdented, and she’s bound to follow it on the second circuit
10:54 AAUW:  as a justice, she would give it appropriate deference, as she would any precedent-setting case
10:55 AAUW:  understands the concerns citizens have with the case
10:55 AAUW:  this is a typical answer SCOTUS nominees give when asked about their views on a typical case
10:55 AAUW:  they’ll describe the facts, say they understands the facts/concerns, and describe it as precedent
10:55 AAUW:  without giving their personal view on the merits
10:55 AAUW:  she is following that same pattern
10:56 AAUW:  Griswold v. Connecticut is up next
10:56 AAUW:  and the right to privacy
10:56 AAUW:  sotomayor: there is a right ro privacy
10:57 AAUW:  courts have found it in 4th amendment, 14th amendment
10:57 AAUW:  now Roe v. Wade
10:57 AAUW:  sotomayor: planned parenthood v. casey reaffirmed Roe
10:57 AAUW:  she is again declining to offer a personal view
10:58 AAUW:  kohl now asking her views on televising supreme court hearings
10:59 AAUW:  she basically says she need to experience what it’s like there before deciding whether it’s appropriate
10:59 AAUW:  though notes she has enjoyed being a part of televised proceedings in her current and former judgeships
11:00 AAUW:  kohl really wants her to offer an opinion on this
11:01 AAUW:  she’s again declining
11:01 [Comment From Lisa]
Did anyone else find it interesting that between Sessions and Kohl we had an all white panel wondering if we still need affirmative action?
11:01 AAUW:  well as we said yesterday, the judiciary committee is predominantly white male lawyers
11:02 AAUW:  only two women, for instance, out of 19
11:02 AAUW:  kohl asks if we should have terms limits from federal judges
11:02 AAUW:  she again says that’s a legislative question
11:04 AAUW:  kohl turning to antitrust law
11:04 AAUW:  thoughts from the viewer gallery so far on sotomayor’s performance?
11:05 AAUW:  in my view, she responded quite well to Ricci and held firm against critics like sessions who have tried to portray her in a negative, racist, prejudiced light
11:05 AAUW:  i wish she would have bene more specific on her views regarding particular cases like Roe, where her judicial record is thin
11:06 AAUW:  but to be fair, she is following a pattern set by several nominees before her, in terms of declining to offer a personal view on cases
11:08 AAUW:  leahy announcing a short break now
11:08 AAUW:  committee will recess for 10 minutes
11:08 AAUW:  comments, thoughts, questions all welcome!
11:11 [Comment From JoAnn]
Listening to Fox News for their contrarian views of her testimony. Just the interpretation that you’d expect
11:12 AAUW:  There was a funny story yesterday, JoAnn, where Glenn Beck yesterday criticized Senators for their “softball questions” yesterday…even though there was no questioning yesterday
11:13 AAUW:  par for the course
11:17 AAUW:  when the recess ends, senator orrin hatch will be up next for questions
11:23 AAUW:  15 minutes into the 10-minute break
11:23 AAUW:  still not back yet
11:26 AAUW:  judge sotomayor has returned to the hearing room
11:26 AAUW:  should be back in a minute or two
11:27 AAUW:  hatch, feinstein will go before a lunch break
11:28 AAUW:  hearing will resume at 2 pm following these two senators
11:29 AAUW:  hatch asks if gonzales v. carhart, the ’07 decision which upheld the partial-birth abortion ban act of 2003, if settled law
11:29 AAUW:  she replies that all decisions are settled law
11:32 AAUW:  text of recent cases that have been discussed
11:33 AAUW:  Gonzales v. Carhart: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-380.ZS.html
11:35 AAUW:  Hatch is sticking to a right to bear arms discussion
11:36 AAUW:  this is a key topic for republicans and conservatives
11:36 AAUW:  DC v. Heller, like many other controversial cases, was a 5-4 decision
11:40 AAUW:  a discussion over whether the second amendment applies to the states
11:41 AAUW:  Heller involved DC, which is of course not a state
11:41 AAUW:  in a guns ruling post-Heller, Sotomayor relied on previous precedent to say that the second amendment is not incorporated, or does not apply to states
11:42 AAUW:  Hatch believes that she used the wrong line of cases to justify that decision
11:45 AAUW:  long discussion over gun rights here
11:47 AAUW:  switching back to Ricci now
11:47 AAUW:  Hatch says people all over the country of courts pitting one group against another
11:48 AAUW:  Hatch says New Haven engaged in disparate treatment of one group to avoid disparate impact of another
11:49 [Comment From Lisa]
That discussion over Heller is the first time I think she was a little flustered, but Hatch also kept disregarding the fact that she really based her decision on 2nd circuit precedent cases, not the 19th century cases where he thought she’d applied it wrong anyway
11:49 AAUW:  Hatch was certainly well-prepared for that line of questioning
11:50 AAUW:  he’s pretty methodical
11:52 AAUW:  Sotomayor is talking about the risk the city was facing, in that it could face a lawsuit absent a better test being devised that did not have a disparate impact
11:55 AAUW:  sotomayor is defending the action of the vity to take action against a “prima facie” case
11:56 AAUW:  prima facie is a latin legal term literally meaning “on its first appearance”
11:56 AAUW:  in other words, at first glance of how the test results had shaken out, the city believed it had a disparate impact case on its hands
11:57 AAUW:  and thus took action to mitigate its impact
11:58 AAUW:  Hatch just mentioned that he’s heard rumors that Frank Ricci, the plaintiff in the firefighters case, has been “smeared” by People for the American Way
11:58 AAUW:  sotomayor: i would never endorse or approve any kind of that conduct
12:00 AAUW:  I’m sure PFAW will have something to say about that exchange
12:01 AAUW:  Feinstein’s turn
12:03 AAUW:  she appears none too pleased about the “provocative” questions coming sotomayor’s way by the GOP side
12:03 AAUW:  saying that they “got her adrelaine going”
12:04 AAUW:  Feinstein is annoyed at those who portray sotomayor as an “activist”
12:04 AAUW:  since the statistics bear out that she has voted overwhelmingly with republican colleagues in the majority
12:05 AAUW:  she’s going to turn to women’s health
12:05 AAUW:  listing a long line of cases where the Court upheld women’s health standard, such as in roe and casey
12:06 AAUW:  she says the important standard was removed in Gonzales v. Carhart
12:07 AAUW:  Feinstein asks if she believes that standard still exists
12:08 AAUW:  she gives the typical careful answer, agreeing with feinstein that it’s included in a long line of cases before Carhart
12:09 AAUW:  sotomayor: “the doctrine of stare decisis…puts a value on predictability”
12:10 AAUW:  judges cant change the law on personal whim
12:10 AAUW:  should be guided by humility and deference to prior justices
12:13 AAUW:  discussion turning to executive power and terrorism
12:13 AAUW:  first time this has come up today, which is pretty surprising to this blogger
12:14 [Comment From Lisa]
Although Alito and the Chief Justice changed that precedent very readily… after saying they would not in their confirmation hearings
12:15 AAUW:  That is true…the ’07 decision in Carhart was the first time SCOTUS had upheld an abortion restriction that did not contain an exception for the woman’s health
12:17 [Comment From Lisa]
Almost sounded like she thought the precedent was still there, despite what Roberts and Alito did in Carhart II
12:17 AAUW:  Certainly hope so…shows that precedent can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder
12:19 AAUW:  sotomayor is being particularly careful on the executive power questions, since so many of these cases are making their way through the courts currently
12:23 AAUW:  a question on the commerce clause
12:23 AAUW:  commerce clause is huge, because a lot of congressional action is rooted in their ability to regulate interstate commerce
12:24 AAUW:  or, as the constitution puts it, regulate commerce “among the several states”
12:24 [Comment From Lisa]
Feinstein doing a good job here… wish she would pay as much attention to the Paycheck Fairness Act… and LESS attention to DC vouchers. :)
12:25 AAUW:  For anyone watching…call Senator Feinstein and tell her to cosponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act
12:26 AAUW:  (202) 224-3841
12:28 AAUW:  From the NY Times:According to party talking points distributed to Senate offices, Judge Sotomayor in her answers has “expressed her judicial philosophy clearly — ‘the process of judging is the process of keeping an open mind’ and ‘not coming to a decision with a pre-judgment.’ ”As for Republicans pounding on the ‘wise Latina’ comment, Democrats say the opposition has “taken one line from Judge Sotomayor’s long legal career – seventeen years on the bench, 3,000 rulings as a Second Circuit Judge – to try to predict the kind of justice Judge Sotomayor will be. But, as numerous independent studies make clear a look at her lengthy judicial record demonstrates that she is a fair and impartial judge.”
12:30 AAUW:  Feinstein’s questioning has concluded
12:30 AAUW:  lunch recess now until 2:00
12:31 AAUW:  as we did yesterday, we’ll keep the blog open during lunch for anyone to add thoughts or comments or quetsions
12:31 AAUW:  hope you’re all enjoying our coverage!
12:39 AAUW:  by the way, here’s a piece on the disruptions during yesterday’s portion of the hearing: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/13/AR2009071302345.html
1:19 AAUW: As expected, PFAW has responded to the charges leveled by Senator Hatch during his questioning
1:19 AAUW: People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

Earlier today at the confirmation hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Senator Orrin Hatch shared a rumor he had heard:

“There’s a rumor that People for the American Way, that these people have been smearing Frank Ricci, because he may be willing to be a witness in these proceedings. I hope that’s not true.”

It’s not true. With all due respect to Senator Hatch, he’s attacking a straw man. It is not a smear to point out than an individual used the law to protect his interests. It’s time to get past this distraction and have an honest discussion about the importance of anti-discrimination laws for all people.

1:33 AAUW:  Dahlia Lithwick from Slate.com has weighed in with her take on Sotomayor’s “elaborate nonanswers” to case questions:Let me just point out that Judge Sotomayor is very, very good at elaborate nonanswers. Each sounds fresh as spring rain. She’s clearly culled from the Greatest Hits of Hearings Past and deployed the “it may come before me in the future” defense as well as the “summarize Youngstown” dodge, plus the “precedent is precedent” duck. She can’t answer broad questions (because they are broad) or narrow ones (because they are narrow). This morning was no more revealing than any other morning of any other Supreme Court confirmation hearing in recent years, and to the extent any news was made, it was that Sotomayor is very empathetic and open-minded in those few minutes before she robotically applies the facts to the law. That, and she might be able to persuade her future colleagues to allow cameras into the court someday.
1:34 AAUW:  I’m curious to know how those in the viewing audience feel about this
1:34 AAUW:  Should nominees be more forthcoming on their views on particular issues? Or should they keep that close to the vest?
1:42 AAUW:  personally, i’m in favor of more disclosure
1:42 AAUW:  the hearings represent the best opportunity for the american public to discern the type of nominee we’re getting prior to service on the Court
1:43 AAUW:  i think they should err on the side of being forthcoming, so we can all make informe decisions
1:43 AAUW:  anyone disagree?
1:45 AAUW:  hearings should resume in about 15 minutes
1:58 [Comment From Adrienne]
I agree with you Adam – Obviously this is a very sensitive environment and she is trying to be careful so her words don’t get twisted around but I would like her to be as candid as possible.
1:58 [Comment From JB]
I think when you consider that the Constitution prohibits court decisions on anything other than cases or controversies, it’s difficult for a nominee to the highest court to answer many of the questions posed. So often we see exceptions to precedent previously established rather than a complete change in the Court’s approach. So I’m ok with the Judge “ducking” certain questions. Doing great work down there, AZ.
1:59 AAUW:  That’s an excellent point, JB
1:59 AAUW:  it goes to why “hypotheticals” are almost impossible for nominees to answer
2:00 AAUW:  Adrienne I agree that she’s being careful, and doesn’t want to slip up or say something that could be used as opposition fodder
2:01 AAUW:  senator leahy is gaveling the hearings back into session
2:01 AAUW:  next up is senator grassley
2:01 AAUW:  who says he’s going to start with issues of private property rights
2:02 AAUW:  Chuck Grassley is an Iowa farmer, so property issues always resonate with him
2:02 AAUW:  as we mentioned yesterday, he’s one of the few non-lawyers on the committee
2:04 AAUW:  I want to quickly going back to JB’s point of the Court handing down “exceptions to precedent previously established rather than a complete change in the Court’s approach.”
2:04 AAUW:  sometimes, we see both at the same time
2:05 AAUW:  as senator feinstein established earlier, beginning with Roe and extending to several others cases
2:05 AAUW:  the Court never upheld an abortion restriction that did not contain an exception for a woman’s health
2:06 AAUW:  as we know, that changed in the 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart ruling, where the Court upheld a law that banned a certain abortion restriction but did not contain a woman’s health exception
2:06 AAUW:  so there we had an exception to precedent that was previously established
2:06 AAUW:  which, in this case, represented a complete change in the Court approach vis-a-vis the health exception
2:07 AAUW:  but JB is right when he says that it’s often the former happening, rather than the letter
2:07 AAUW:  precedents are tweaked, modified, altered
2:08 AAUW:  it’s not often a perfectly linear approach to cases, even on the same issue
2:09 AAUW:  Roe, for instance, established the three-trimester framework. Casey, 15 years later, changed it to the “undue burden” standard
2:10 AAUW:  just one of the many points of discussion as to why the Court fascinates all of us
2:12 AAUW:  another disruption
2:12 AAUW:  boy that was a loud one
2:13 AAUW:  believe it was another pro-life individual
2:13 [Comment From Guest]
Just heard this…. Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence endorses Sotomayo, praising her stmnts on 2nd Amend
2:13 AAUW:  indeed that is correct
2:14 AAUW:  Brady campaign endorsement: http://www.bradycampaign.org/media/release.php?release=1160
2:15 [Comment From LIsa]
Yep, it was definitely another pro-life person… what’s fascinating is that the disruptions give the senators an opp for comity
2:16 AAUW:  clearly hearing disruptions bring about bipartisanship
2:19 [Comment From Guest]
Will Ledbetter decision come up? Sotomayor just mentioned that plaintiff must be aware of the injury that suffered and bring to the court in a timely manner (paraphrase). What would her vote have been (missed a lot today so may already have been covered.)
2:19 AAUW:  Not covered yet, Guest, but hopefully it will be
2:19 AAUW:  in fact, that exact question – how would you have voted on Ledbetter – was in the questions AAUW submitted to the committee
2:20 AAUW:  we asked:
2:20 AAUW:  In 2007, the Supreme Court decided the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. As you may know, Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly two decades for Goodyear. Despite receiving top performance awards, she discovered that she had been paid significantly less than male co-workers with the same job. After her November 1998 retirement, she filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was awarded 3 back pay and other remedies in a jury trial. The verdict was appealed and eventually reached the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the Court not only erased Ledbetter’s award, but also left women, minorities, and others in Ledbetter’s situation with virtually no recourse to pay discrimination. Earlier this year, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law overturning this harmful decision, restoring the paycheck accrual rule and the ability of those who suffer from pay discrimination to have their day in court. Had you been a justice when the Supreme Court heard this case, how would you have ruled?
2:21 AAUW:  from this list, senators feinstein and kohl have touched on Roe
2:21 AAUW:  while most of the questioners have in some way or another gotten to questions of stare decisis
2:22 AAUW:  and of course the Ricci case has come up several times
2:22 AAUW:  so we’re still holding out hope that Ledbetter and our Title IX questions gets some air time
2:24 AAUW:  Here’s a wrap-up of the morning questioning for anyone trying to catch up: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/us/politics/15confirm.html?hp
2:27 [Comment From Carrie]
RT @nwlc: Given the mix of ppl in our country & scope of problems, we need diverse judges 2 decide cases http://tinyurl.com/mjyhj3 #SCOTUS #Sotomayor
2:28 AAUW:  as we’ve discussed, Carrie, Sotomayor’s nomination is historic in a variety of ways
2:29 AAUW:  she’d be the third woman to serve on the Court, and the first Hispanic
2:30 AAUW:  not to mention that we need judges and justices who are committed to upholding constitutional values
2:30 AAUW:  as we say in our judicial nominations position paper
2:31 AAUW:  Protection of the rights of the people is paramount and should take precedence over the political goals of either party or the aspirations of any judicial nominee…With so much at stake, AAUW will remain vigilant and outspoken in urging that the president and Senate work together in a consultative process to ensure that only jurists who are committed to upholding the rights of all Americans—in word and in deed—are considered for these esteemed, lifetime appointments.
2:32 AAUW:  senator feingold’s turn
2:33 AAUW:  as expected, he’s turning to executive power
2:38 [Comment From Carrie]
Speaking to diversity, why do you think Obama decided upon Sotomayor over Kathleen Sullivan, Pam Karlan, or other minority group? I believe that Sotomayor is more than qualified, but are there certain issues facing the court that could better use her perspective/history of decisions more than others? What cases would be first up for Sotomayor?
2:38 AAUW:  According to reports, Carrie, President Obama had four finalists
2:39 AAUW:  In addition to Judge Sotomayor, he also strongly considered Judge Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit, Solicitoir General Elena Kagan, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
2:40 AAUW:  all would have brought their own diversity/experiences to the Court…of course, the possibility remains that President Obama will have more SCOTUS vacancies during his term
2:40 AAUW:  as far as first cases
2:41 AAUW:  the Court has scheduled arguments in september for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
2:41 AAUW:  arguments on this case were heard past term, but the Court decided it wanted to hear rearguments
2:42 AAUW:  the september date is earlier than usual for the official start of a new term, which occurs in October
2:42 AAUW:  Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission
2:43 AAUW:  Democrats would like to see her confirmed prior to the Senate’s August recess, so that she may be seated for those september arguments; Republicans may want to put off that vote
2:44 AAUW:  we’ll see what happens following her hearing
2:44 AAUW:  feingold continuing his line of questioning on presidential power
2:44 AAUW:  now switching over to the second amendment again
2:45 AAUW:  lots of right to bear arms questions today
2:45 AAUW:  considerably more than, for instance, reproductive rights or affirmative action, among the hut-botton social issues
2:46 AAUW:  hot-button*, i should say
2:46 AAUW:  lots of typing these past two days!
2:49 [Comment From Bill]
Probably because she has a long history of being anti 2nd Amendment.
2:49 AAUW:  here’s a summary from Scotusblog.com regarding sotomayor’s notable second amendment rulings: Second Amendment: Sotomayor was also a member of the panel that issued a per curiam opinion in another controversial case that may be headed for the Court next year. In Maloney v. Cuomo, 554 F.3d 56 (2009), the panel considered (as relevant here) a claim by a New York attorney that a state law prohibiting possession of a chuka stick (also known as nunchaku, a device used in martial arts consisting of two sticks joined by a rope or chain) violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms. The district court rejected the claim on the ground that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states. On appeal, the panel affirmed. Relying on the Supreme Court’s 1886 decision in Presser v. Illinois, it explained that it was “settled law . . . that the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose” on the individual’s right to bear arms. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the court continued, “does not invalidate this longstanding principle.” And while acknowledging the possibility that “Heller might be read to question the continuing validity of this principle,” the panel deemed itself bound to follow Presser because it “directly controls, leaving to the Supreme Court the prerogative of overruling its own decisions.” Maloney’s lawyers intend to file a petition for certiorari in late June.
2:50 AAUW:  as the last sentence of the summary suggests, this may be a case that goes up to the High Court
2:50 AAUW:  sotomayor said she believes that she would have to recuse herself, should she be confirmed and the case reaches that level
2:52 AAUW:  feingold believes that in light of Heller, it is inevitable that the Court will have to decide whether the second amendment is explicitly incorporated
2:52 AAUW:  in other words, applied to the states
2:57 AAUW:  feingold going into the “empathy” standard now
2:58 AAUW:  he agrees with obama that a judge’s life experience plays a role in her views and outlook
2:59 AAUW:  sotomayor: “i do think it’s important to know more than what i live”
3:00 AAUW:  a discussion of korematsu, one of the most ignominious decisions in US history
3:01 AAUW:  sotomayor agrees the Court reached the wrong conclusion
3:01 AAUW:  ”a judge should never rule from fear”
3:01 AAUW:  Korematsu upheld detention camps in which Japanese-Americans were placed during WWII
3:02 AAUW:  Korematsu v. United States: http://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1949/1944/1944_22/
3:02 AAUW:  Kyl and Schumer up next, before another break
3:05 AAUW:  kyl is trying to get sotomayor to say she’ll recuse herself from other potential gun cases in addition to Maloney, that could potentially get wrapped into a joint case
3:06 AAUW:  she’s not buying what he’s selling, insofar as a joint case is concerned
3:07 AAUW:  she’d take a wait-and-see approach
3:09 AAUW:  kyl won’t let this go
3:09 [Comment From LIsa]
Roberts also said he would follow precedent and he has not… so just cuz he said he would recuse himself in certain circumstances doesn’t mean she will or wont
3:09 AAUW:  surprised that kyl is harping on this so much
3:11 [Comment From LIsa]
I believe he wants her to recuse herself from the blockbuster cases
3:11 AAUW:  probably true, although notable that justice souter, who she would be replacing, voted in the minority in heller
3:12 [Comment From Lauri]
It would be foolish on her part to commit now, especially because it would not be a binding decision.
3:13 AAUW:  I agree, Lauri…no reason for her to commit to a recusal if she doesn’t have to, or if there’s no compelling reason
3:14 [Comment From Lisa]
I agree, Lauri. Sotomayor cannot possibly predict what points of law will come before her. It makes no sense. To me, the fact that Alito and Roberts did just so how disingenious they were in their hrgs.
3:15 AAUW:  Let’s not forget that no less a luminary than Justice Scalia went duck-hunting with his friend Dick Cheney…and then refused to recuse himself when Cheney was taken to Court over his secret energy meetings
3:15 AAUW:  the SCOTUS justices pick and choose when they want to recuse
3:16 [Comment From Lauri]
by making no commitment now, she is showing her openness to decide cases based on the law, not on prior judgment
3:17 AAUW:  here’s a fun fact from our friends at Alliance for Justice: During Alito’s hearing, Sen. Kyl stated in his opening remarks: “No judicial nominee should answer any question that is designed to reveal how the nominee will rule on any issue that could come before the Court. This rule has come to be known as ‘the Ginsburg standard’ . . . I was pleased to see that Chief Justice Roberts refused to prejudge issues or make promises in exchange for confirmation votes. We are better off because of his principled standard.”
3:18 AAUW:  Kyl is back to Sotomayor’s public comments over her gender and race
3:19 [Comment From Bill]
As he should be.
3:19 [Comment From Guest]
Here’s the thing… gender and race has had lots of influence on the development of the law… but its been male and white. I think a lot of the hoopla about Sotomayor is that she had the nerve to imply that perhaps it might change as people who don’t look like that are part of the system… and that threatens white men
3:20 AAUW:  How do you feel about Guest’s point, Bill?
3:21 AAUW:  Kyl and others suggest that as a judge, sotomayor has substituted her race and gender for the law
3:21 [Comment From Lisa]
well, I think its an interesting point. and that’s not to fault white men… its just the simply axiom that you view situations through the lenses of your own experiences
3:21 [Comment From Lisa]
and right now, on the SCOTUS, its been 106 white men, 2 black men, and 2 white women
3:23 AAUW:  kyl: “some of us are concerned…these speeches all say the same thing, and lead one to a conclusion that you seem to embrace” that you’ll make better decisions than a white male
3:23 [Comment From Lisa]
different is not necessarily wrong… right? and Soto’s record is all about precedent. Truthfully, I think those on the left might have liked someone more obvioulsy liberal, but that has not been her judicial temprment
3:23 AAUW:  sotomayor: “all of my decisions show respect for the rule of law”
3:24 [Comment From JoAnn]
Wow! I didn’t know she said that, but I agree. But I don’t think that its racist or sexist. I just think that the lens thru which the law is viewed may change the perspective and impact a decision. I agree – different is not necessarily wrong.
3:24 AAUW:  sotomayor: “i’m grateful that you took notice that much of my speech was intended to inspire”
3:25 AAUW:  sotomayor: “life experiences enrich the legal system”
3:26 [Comment From Lauri]
kyl’s implication is that he is afraid of the impact of women and non-whites. his is truly the sexist/racist remark.
3:26 AAUW:  Kyl thinks her remarks lead young people to base decisions on ethnicity or gender
3:27 AAUW:  rather than the law
3:28 AAUW:  My view: i think this whole debate boils down to whether one sees race/gender as a means or an end
3:28 AAUW:  sotomayor is suggesting that she believes it’s a means: her life experience, combined with what she has learned and studied, combine and lead her to a conclusion
3:29 AAUW:  kyl believes she views it as an end: that at the end of the day, the fact that she is a hispanic woman informs her entire decision-making, regardless of where the law comes down
3:31 [Comment From Bill]
And Sotomayor’s statements in the past, as well as those of our current President, are that the law should be more empathetic to people in certain situations. Lady Justice is blindfolded, she’s not wearing a burka.
3:31 [Comment From Bill]
That’s not to say that judges will not to some extent allow their personal beliefs to influence their decisions, but they should at least try to suppress such urges, not act on them.
3:31 [Comment From JoAnn]
A diversity of life’s experiences doesn’t mean the result will be prejudicial or biased, just enriched – and maybe more full-flavored.
3:33 [Comment From Guest]
Good way to put it Joann. You know, she was just trying to inspire students and young lawyers.
3:34 AAUW:  sotomayor just said her “rhetorical flourish” was a bad idea because of the reactions it has bene getting
3:34 [Comment From Lauri]
by her record, most of her decisions have been based on the law. that does not mean that all of the statements she makes in non-legal matters have to adhere to that same standard.
3:34 [Comment From Lisa]
As to empathy… I gotta tell you… injecting a little of that into how the impacts people cannot be a bad thing. Using that as a consideration when you are thinking of overturning 40 years of legal precedent and EEOC policy — as the Sp Ct did in Ledbetter — might not have been a bad idea
3:35 AAUW:  leahy has decided to have a break now
3:35 AAUW:  10 minutes
3:35 [Comment From Bill]
Of course they don’t Lauri, but she has implied that her statements do relate to legal matters she deals with.
3:35 [Comment From Lisa]
And now we know why SCOTUS judges don’t like to do public speeches… because they get dissected like this…lol
3:36 [Comment From Bill]
There’s a difference between injecting empathy into a decision as to how it relates to large groups, and injecting empathy as it relates to the particular individual standing before you.
3:37 AAUW:  honestly, if we had televised supreme court hearings, and the public could finally lift the veil that covers most SCOTUS activities, we’d be a lot better off
3:37 AAUW:  and have less reason to dissect public statements like this
3:38 AAUW:  my personal view, of course
3:39 AAUW:  pretty riverting afternoon session here
3:39 [Comment From Bill]
That, alas, would imply that the general public would actually watch such hearings.
3:39 AAUW:  Of course, Bill…but at least the choice would be theirs
3:40 AAUW:  but between C-SPAN and news outlets cameras, we’d learn a lot more, and become familiar with a lot more, than we are now
3:40 AAUW:  as it is, reporters are not even allowed to transcribe proceedings electronically now…literally a pen and pad of paper are all they’re allowed to bring into oral argument
3:40 AAUW:  i think that does a disservice to the american people
3:41 AAUW:  as they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant
3:41 [Comment From Bill]
Of course. I just think that public statements, especially “sensational” ones would be dissected on the news anyways, as they provide the talking heads with something.
3:41 AAUW:  couldn’t agree more, Bill
3:41 AAUW:  ”Lady justice wears a blindfold, not a burka” would most certainly qualify under that standard
3:43 AAUW:  another nugget from our AFJ friends regarding Senator Kyl: During his opening statement for Alito: “With your intellect and education, you could have become a wealthy attorney, but instead you devoted virtually all of your legal career to the public service. In doing so, you meet, and even exceed, the stellar examples set by Justices Thomas and Souter, each of whom devoted most of their pre-judicial careers to public service. Perhaps this is because, like Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, you had a father who was an immigrant to this Nation. It seems that immigrants often have a special understanding of the incredible opportunities that this Nation affords its citizens.”
3:45 [Comment From Bill]
It certainly would. Except I’m not up for a nomination to SCOTUS.
3:45 [Comment From Bill]
I also happen to think her “wise latina woman” comment is also one of the less sensational things she’s said.
3:48 AAUW:  fair enough, Bill…we probably disagree on the definition of sensational, but at least the discussion here has been a vibrant one
3:50 AAUW:  so far we’ve got 8 senators who have asked questions: leahy, sessions, kohl, hatch, feinstein, grassley, kyl, feingold
3:51 AAUW:  that means 11 more to go!
3:51 AAUW:  they’re coming back in now
3:51 AAUW:  leahy may announce the schedule…looks like we’ll be heading in to tomorrow
3:51 [Comment From Bill]
Certainly true. I think her referring to the U.S. Supreme Court which she will soon be appointed to as the “North American Congress” qualifies as a bit sensational.
3:52 AAUW:  I hadn’t heard that one, Bill…can you point me to a link?
3:52 AAUW:  back in session
3:53 AAUW:  no word on schedule
3:53 AAUW:  senator schumer up next, my old boss
3:54 AAUW:  schumer, in reference to critics of her speeches: “we’ve heard precious little…about your 17 years on the bench”
3:56 AAUW:  schumer: “empathy is the opposite of indifference…not neutrality”
3:56 [Comment From Bill]
I don’t have the link to her thesis from college, but it’s all in there if you can find the thesis online.
3:58 AAUW:  alright then
3:59 AAUW:  of course, Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University…she must have done something right
4:02 AAUW:  as an example of her neutrality, schumer discussed the following case, discussed in a us news and world report article found here: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/erbe/2009/06/23/the-incredible-disappearing-opposition-to-sonia-sotomayors-supreme-court-nomination.html
4:02 AAUW:  Sotomayor dissented in a 2000 case when the appeals court ruled that the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island occurred within U.S. territorial waters. That ruling allowed victims’ families to sue TWA, Boeing Co. and a parts manufacturer for damages that would have been barred if the crash had happened in international seas.
4:04 AAUW:  in other words, sotomayor voted against a group of families with whom she felt great sympathy, but felt compelled by the law to go in a different direction
4:05 AAUW:  interesting line of questioning here by the good senator from NY
4:09 AAUW:  chuck is doing this line of questioning with a whole series of cases
4:09 AAUW:  pretty compelling
4:10 [Comment From Lisa]
Clearly trying to refute the line of questioning coming from the Republicans. Will be interesing to see if it sways any of them or just firms them up. He is not known as Mr. Bipartisan.
4:11 AAUW:  certainly not on judges, that’s for sure
4:14 AAUW:  schumer: “bottom line here…in your courtroom, rule of law always triumphs”
4:15 AAUW:  schumer asked about foreign law, and its role in a judge reaching a decision
4:16 AAUW:  sotomayor replied that it has no role in interpreting the meaning of the constitution
4:16 AAUW:  says further that there are some u.s. laws which explicitly say you have to look for foreign law
4:16 AAUW:  such as with international contracts
4:19 AAUW:  or foreign treaties
4:20 AAUW:  onto baseball!
4:20 AAUW:  yours truly is a big Mets fan
4:20 AAUW:  Judge Sotomayor is a Yankee fan, but then, nobody’s perfect
4:21 AAUW:  judge sotomayor is known coloquially as the “judge who saved baseball”
4:22 AAUW:  here’s a good article discussing her role in bringing about the end of the 1994 baseball players’ strike: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/sports/baseball/27sandomir.html
4:23 AAUW:  senator graham now up
4:23 AAUW:  interesting to see where this goes
4:24 AAUW:  senator graham is a former JAG attorney, so expect some military law issues
4:24 AAUW:  graham says listening to her is a lot like listening to john roberts during his hearing
4:25 AAUW:  graham, part tongue-in-cheek: “don’t become a speechwriter if this law thing doesn’t work out
4:27 AAUW:  graham asking her to define terms like strict constructionist and originalist
4:27 AAUW:  sotomayor says she applies no labels to herself
4:28 AAUW:  sotomayor: “constitution doesn’t live…what changes is society”
4:28 AAUW:  some news from the majority leader, harry reid, from the NY Times: At his stakeout today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked whether the session would be extended past the break scheduled for after the first week in August. Among other matters that he seemed to vow to finish before completing this summer period, he said, would be the full Senate vote on Ms. Sotomayor’s confirmation.
4:29 AAUW:  graham asking if the constitution prevents a legislative body from regulating abortion in the first trimester
4:30 AAUW:  sotomayor responds that while the word abortion isn’t in the document, courts have made interpretations based on what IS in there
4:32 AAUW:  graham now reading anonymous comments from lawyers suggesting that sotomayor lacks judicial temperament
4:32 AAUW:  again, the ABA, which incorporates judicial temperament, bestowed upon her a unanimous “well-qualified” rating
4:33 AAUW:  sotomayor says she asks tough questions on the bench
4:33 AAUW:  2nd circuit only allows 10 minutes per side, shorter than most
4:33 AAUW:  she says that’s why lawyers can get frustrated at that process
4:34 AAUW:  graham asks if she thinks she has a temperament problem
4:34 AAUW:  senator graham couldn’t be more patronizing if he tried
4:35 AAUW:  he probably thinks his chair should be on the ceiling, rather than behind the dais, because he’s so above it all
4:36 AAUW:  graham now talking about iraq and afghanistan
4:37 AAUW:  and the need for better courts and more women judges over there
4:37 AAUW:  he says her speeches represent the idea that more women and minorities “are coming,” and they’re going to change the law when they get there
4:38 AAUW:  wow
4:38 AAUW:  what a nasty line of questioning
4:38 AAUW:  count this blogger as extremely disappointed
4:38 AAUW:  he’s now asking her to repeat back to him the “wise latina” quote
4:40 AAUW:  graham returning to theme that if he had made such a quote, his political career would be over
4:42 AAUW:  now moving into 9/11
4:43 AAUW:  military law
4:44 AAUW:  graham talking about detaining enemy combatants under the “law of armed conflict”
4:45 AAUW:

LOAC Defined

The LOAC arises from a desire among civilized nations to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction while not impeding the effective waging of war. A part of public international law, LOAC regulates the conduct of armed hostilities. It also aims to protect civilians, prisoners of war, the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked. LOAC applies to international armed conflicts and in the conduct of military operations and related activities in armed conflict, however such conflicts are characterized.

4:45 [Comment From Lisa]
Graham served in the JAG corps in the reserves, did he not?
4:45 AAUW:  Yes, this is his turf
4:46 AAUW:  graham now moving into the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, of which she was a board member
4:48 AAUW:  from an AFJ report: Prior to joining the bench, Judge Sotomayor sat on the boards of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (“PRLDEF”) and the Maternity Center Association, both of which support access to reproductive health care. During her time on the PRLDEF board, the organization joined a series of amicus curiae briefs submitted to the Supreme Court defending the rights of poor women, and women of color, who were disproportionately affected by state laws restricting access to abortions and other reproductive health care. In each of these briefs, PRLDEF described its amicus interest as, among other things, “safeguarding the rights of Puerto Ricans of low economic status [and protecting] Puerto Rican women and other women of color [who] are particularly vulnerable to discrimination[.]” See, e.g., Brief Amici Curiae in Webster v. Reproductive Health Serv., 1989 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1529, *88 (March 28, 1989); see also Brief Amici Curiae in Rust v. Sullivan, 1990 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 692, *55 (May 4, 1990) (“The Fund recognizes that restrictions or limitations on the provision of health services, including information concerning abortions, deny women access necessary to fully exercise their rights, and place Latinos at an even greater risk of inadequate and dangerous treatment and unwanted pregnancies.”). These briefs take the position that a woman has a right to safe and legal reproductive healthcare, but because Judge Sotomayor did not sign any of these briefs or appear in any of these cases, it is not known whether she was involved in these cases or agreed with PRLDEF’s position.
4:51 AAUW:  graham trying to tie her “taxpayer funding of abortions”
4:51 AAUW:  due to the briefs the PRLDEF submitted
4:53 AAUW:  graham asks if she personally supports the death penalty
4:53 AAUW:  i thought republicans didn’t like judges who expounded upon their personal views
4:54 AAUW:  senator durbin up now
4:58 AAUW:  durbin providing further context for her speeches
4:59 AAUW:  moving onto the death penalty, and citing justice harry blackmun’s progression from death penalty supporter to opponent over his long judicial career
4:59 AAUW:  as we mentioned yesterday, justice blakcmun is also the author of Roe
5:02 AAUW:  sotomayor being very careful to refrain from giving her personal views
5:06 AAUW:  an observation from john dickerson at slate: One other note: Sotomayor has totally thrown Obama overboard. Asked whether she agreed with Obama’s claim that because Supreme Court cases are so difficult judges often have to rule with their heart, Judge Sotomayor disagreed: “I wouldn’t approach the view of judging the way the president does.” Later, she said, “It’s not the heart that compels; it’s the law.” So Sotomayor disagrees with part of the criteria used to select her. But I’m pretty sure she’d still vote for herself.
5:07 AAUW:  at slate, emily bazelon, dahlia lithwick, and john dickerson are having the second-best live discussion of the hearing
5:07 AAUW:  you can check it out at: http://www.slate.com/id/2222736/entry/2222737/
5:08 AAUW:  durbin still on the death penalty
5:08 AAUW:  it’s a big issue in his state of illinois
5:08 AAUW:  a few years back their governor instituted a death penalty moratorium
5:09 AAUW:  for more info on that, check out this link: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/674
5:11 AAUW:  durbin says that every two years, members of the senate get together with the scotus justices for dinner
5:11 AAUW:  i didn’t know that, pretty fascinating
5:11 AAUW:  durbin talking further about our “system of corrections”
5:13 AAUW:  and it’s impact, specially on african-americans
5:18 AAUW:  durbin wrapping up with a question on immigration courts
5:18 AAUW:  interesting how many different kinds of specialty courts exist
5:18 AAUW:  military courts, FISA courts, immigration courts
5:23 AAUW:  durbin has wrapped up
5:23 AAUW:  leahy says there will be a second round of questions once the first round is completed
5:23 AAUW:  20 minutes per senator, whoever wants it
5:24 AAUW:  committee wrapping up for today
5:24 AAUW:  first round will resume at 9:30 am tomorrow
5:24 [Comment From Lisa]
I am very curious to see what Klobachar and Franken ask. I mean, when you go last, what’s left??
5:25 AAUW:  first round still needs to hear from: klobuchar, kaufman, franken, whitehouse, coburn, cornyn
5:26 AAUW:  we’ll definitely be here again tomorrow for Day 3
5:26 AAUW:  reminder, 9:30 am again…same time, same place
5:28 AAUW:  Thanks again to all for the very live discussion…let’s hope for more of the same tomorrow
5:28 AAUW:  on that note, we’ll see you all in the morning – spread the word to family and friends!
By:   |   July 15, 2009

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