Correcting The Record
Republicans Have Asked Judge Sotomayor Again and Again About a Few Words, But Have Largely Ignored Her Distinguished Record
RHETORIC: Yesterday and today, Judiciary Committee Republicans have asked Judge Sotomayor again and again about one line from a speech and have suggested that a few snippets define the kind of judge she will be, while ignoring the bulk of her distinguished 17-year judicial record.
JUDGE SOTOMAYOR has been clear and forthcoming in her answers to questions from all Senators. She has put to rest any legitimate concerns and has demonstrated through her answers what her record shows: that she is a fair and moderate judge.
Republican Senators have asked again and again about one line in a speech, but have asked few questions about the best indicator of what kind of a judge she’ll be – her 17-year judicial record.
FACT: Republican Senators have asked Judge Sotomayor fifteen times about comments from one speech. While she has participated in more than 3,000 cases her 17-year judicial career, they have asked her about only fourteen questions about only eight of her cases. So they have asked her more questions about a single speech than about her entire 17-year judicial career.
FACT: During Justice Alito’s confirmation hearings, Republicans argued that a judge’s record is by far the best indicator of how he or she makes decisions. One senior Bush administration official wrote: “Judge Alito has sat on the federal appellate bench for more than 15 years, and his decisions in that capacity represent the best evidence of his judicial philosophy and the manner in which he approaches judicial decision-making.” (Letter to Senator Leahy from Assistant Attorney General William Moschella, January 6, 2006.)
Judge Sotomayor has answered all concerns about her speeches.
FACT: Judge Sotomayor has repeatedly explained that she brings no bias to the role of judging and has disavowed comments that suggest otherwise. She said of the “wise Latina” comment, “It failed because it left an impression that I believe something that I don’t, and as I have indicated, it was a bad choice of words by me, because it left an impression that has offended people and has left an impression that I didn’t intend.” There is no more to be said about this issue. (July 15, 2009)
FACT: Asked why he didn’t question Judge Sotomayor about the same speech, Senator Grassley replied, "I didn’t ask about it because so many other people asked about it and how many times can you beat a dead horse to death." (July 14, 2009)
During the hearings for Justice Roberts, Judiciary Committee Republicans recognized the fruitlessness of repeatedly pursuing a single line of questioning.
REALITY: Senator Cornyn specifically noted in his questions to Justice Alito that asking a question repeatedly results in nothing more than a repeated answer: “Let me ask you this, if we keep asking the same question over and over and over again, but try to approach it from a slightly different way to get you to answer a question that you do not feel you can ethically answer, are you going to give us a different answer, or are you going to give us the same answer?” Judge Roberts replied, “I hope my answer would be the same, Senator.” (Roberts Hearing Transcript, p. 381) Judge Sotomayor has followed this example.