Senate Democrats

Sotomayor Confirmation: Highlights From Day Four

Judge Sotomayor Meets Republicans’ Standard of the Proper Role of a Judge

RECAP:  Today, Judge Sonia Sotomayor concluded her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Over four days, she testified about a wide range of issues –75 by one count – including her view of the role of a judge.  She answered questions clearly and completely.  Members of the Judiciary Committee – Democrats and Republicans – praised her testimony, and noted that they found her to be in the judicial mainstream.

To watch highlights from Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings and read Democrats’ responses to Republican attacks, please visit

  “And, Judge, let me just say, before I go forward, that you’ve done a good job…You’ve been direct in your answers…I will not support and I don’t think any member of this side will support a filibuster or any attempt to block a vote on your nomination…I look forward to getting that vote before we recess in August.”  (July 16, 2009)

SENATOR GRAHAM:  “That’s what makes you, to me, more acceptable as a judge and not an activist.”  (July 16, 2009)

SENATOR CORNYN:  “I actually agree that your judicial record strikes me as pretty much in the mainstream of judicial decision-making by district court judges and by court of appeals judges on the federal bench.”  (July 16, 2009)

Judge Sotomayor Understands The Proper Role Of A Judge

Since the announcement of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination in May, Senate Republicans have articulated on the Senate floor their view of the proper role of a judge.  Throughout four days of testimony, Judge Sotomayor has shown that she understands the role of a judge, and that she applies the law to the facts of each case.
SENATOR SESSIONS: “The judicial branch, then, is limited to the interpretation and application of law–law that exists, not law they create. At no point may its judges substitute their political or personal views for that of elected representatives or to the people themselves–the people’s will having been permanently expressed in the Constitution that created the judiciary.” (Senate Floor, June 17, 2009)
JUDGE SOTOMAYOR:  “In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make law. It is to apply the law.”  (July 13, 2009)

SENATOR MCCONNELL:  “I don’t believe a judge should rule based on empathy, personal preferences, or political beliefs…”  (Senate Floor, June 23, 2009)
JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: “I have a record for 17 years. Decision after decision, decision after decision. It is very clear that I don’t base my judgments on my personal experiences or my feelings or my biases. All of my decisions show my respect for the rule of law…” (July 14, 2009)
SENATOR HATCH:  “It is no wonder that most Americans believe that judges must take the law as it is, not as judges would like it to be, and decide cases impartially. That is exactly what judges are supposed to do if our system of ordered liberty based on the rule of law is to survive.”  (Senate Floor, June 24, 2009)

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: “I can only explain what judges can do. Judges can’t rely on what’s in their heart. They don’t determine the law. Congress makes the laws. The judge of the judge is to apply the law. And so it’s not the heart that compels conclusions in cases. It’s the law. The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge.” (July 14, 2009)

SENATOR KYL:  “Judges have the responsibility to faithfully interpret the Constitution and the laws that have been adopted through our democratic processes. Again, judges do not make the law, they interpret it.”  (Senate Floor, July 6, 2009)
JUDGE SOTOMAYOR:  “The role of judges is to ensure that they are applying the law to those new facts, that they’re interpreting that law with Congress’s intent, being informed by what precedents say about the law and Congress’s intent and applying it to the new facts…that’s what the role of the courts is.” (July 15, 2009)
Judge Sotomayor Has Received Praise From Law Enforcement,
Civil Rights Groups, And Elected Officials

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor, City of New York:  “Judge Sotomayor has all of the key qualities that I look for when I appoint a judge. First, she is someone with a sharp and agile mind, as her record and her testimony I think made clear…Second, she is an independent jurist who does not fit squarely into an ideological box…And third, whether you, agree or disagree with her on particular cases, she has a record of sound reasoning.”

LOUIS FREEH, Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:  “You know, speeches are important, and it’s great the way [the Committee has] considered that so carefully, but when you enter the courtroom…just as you assume the authority when you take your committee, it’s a whole different set of influences and immense power and influence that takes over. And when [Judge Sotomayor has] been on the bench, when she’s written, when she’s argued, the way she’s conducted herself, I think we can very safely predict this is going to be an outstanding judge with all the qualities I know that you would want. So I urge you all to support her.”

CHUCK CANTERBURY, President, Fraternal Order of Police:  “She has clearly demonstrated that she understands the fine line that police officers must walk, and in her rulings, reflects a working knowledge, not a theoretical knowledge of the everyday realities of law enforcement at work.  After reviewing her record, I can say that Judge Sotomayor is a jurist in whom any beat cop could have confidence. And it’s for that reason that the national executive board of the fop voted unanimously to support her nomination, and we urge you to do so as well.”

WADE HENDERSON, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:  “Judge Sotomayor lived the American dream, and she understands all who aspire to it. Her qualifications are unquestioned, and the lessons that she has learned in her life as well as in libraries will serve her and our country well in the years ahead. All those who walk through the entrance to the Supreme Court seeking what is inscribed above its door, ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’ can be confident that a Justice Sotomayor will continue to do her part to keep the promise of our courts and our country.”

ROBERT MORGENTHAU, District Attorney, County of New York:  “Judge Sotomayor’s career in the law spans three decades and [she] worked in almost every level of our judicial system, prosecutor, private litigator, trial court judge and appellate court judge, and which I think of as the second most important court in the world.  She is an able champion of the law, and her depth of experience will be invaluable on our highest court.  Judge Sotomayor is highly qualified for any position in which a first-rate intellect, common sense and collegiality and good character would be assets.”

Next Steps…

TUESDAY, July 21:  The Judiciary Committee has concluded the confirmation proceedings for the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Judiciary Committee has scheduled an executive business meeting to consider the nomination on Tuesday, July 21, at 10:00 a.m.  The business meeting will be webcast live online.