May 27, 2009
President Obama has announced his selection to replace the Supreme Court position to be vacated by Justice David H. Souter in June. If confirmed, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, 54, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for the Supreme will become the first Hispanic and only the third woman to sit on the Supreme Court bench.
"I don't take this decision lightly and there are few that stand out," President Obama said in a White House event announcing his decision. "I've decided to nominate an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice. Judge Sotomayor has worked at almost every level of our judicial system."
Critics say she is a controversial pick who is the most liberal of the potential nominees.
Focus on the Family Action deplored the selection.
“With President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the country is again confronted with the question: What type of justices should sit on the Court,” said Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht. “Americans overwhelmingly support justices who base decisions on the law and the Constitution, practice judicial restraint, and believe judges should never make policy."
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice believes Sotomayor’s nomination will trigger national debate about judicial activism.
“The background and philosophy of Judge Sotomayor clearly puts the Constitution front and center,” said Sekulow. “How will this nominee view the Constitution and the rule of law? Will she embrace past comments when she stated that the ‘court of appeals is where policy is made’? This nomination raises serious questions about the issue of legislating from the bench.”
Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright said, "A necessary quality for a Supreme Court justice is to be committed to equal treatment of the law, regardless of ethnicity or sex. Sonia Sotomayor has an extensive record and several troubling opinions where she seems willing to expand certain 'rights' beyond what the Constitution establishes and the appropriate Supreme Court precedent. Revealing her immodest bias, she stated that a 'Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.'"
Wright challenges Congress to thoroughly vet Sotomayor. “Americans deserve enough time to evaluate her record and her announced bias for certain people. Her high reversal rate alone should be enough for us to pause and take a good look at her record. Frankly, it is the Senate's duty to do so.”
Some say the timing of the Supreme Court announcement is nothing more than a distraction away from troubling issues across the sea. North Korea’s recent nuclear test missiles present serious national security threats.
Regardless of conservative opposition analysts say it is likely the nomination will be confirmed, barring unexpected scandals or surprises. Obama has solid support from a Democratic majority which is expected to bring enough votes for this Supreme Court nominee, and most liberal groups welcome the nomination.
Ironically, Sotomayor was first appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush. Later, in 1998, she was appointed to the Second Circuit Federal Appellate Court by Bill Clinton.
"Thank you Mr. President for the most humbling honor of my life," said Judge Sonia Sotomayer. "I stand on the shoulders of countess people, yet there is one person whom I owe so much - my mother. I have often said that I am all I am because of my mother. I am half the woman of my mother."
A New York native, Sotomayor, 54, graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976. She earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1979.
"I strive to never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals and corporations," said Sotomayer.
Sotomayor was born in the south Bronx, N.Y., to Puerto Rican parents. Her father, a manual laborer with a third grade education, died when she was nine years old. Her mother, a nurse, raised Sotomayor, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age eight.
"Sonia has overcome great odds," said Obama. "What she brings to the court bench is not only a great background, but also the wisdom that comes from her life experience."
Time will tell the success of Sotomayor’s nomination. Obama’s first 100 days of office proves a shaky track record in choosing scandal-free candidates. If, however, Sotomayor is confirmed, her previous record causes one to wonder if the blindfold of ‘Lady Justice’ is needed.