Posts Tagged ‘Sotomayor’

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It Comes Down To Sotomayor Or Constitution

August 12, 2009

IBD   5 Aug 09

Judge Sonia Sotomayor appears bound for a seat on the Supreme Court. Even so, Republicans should use her nomination to educate the American people about the dangers of politicizing the judiciary.

Sotomayor is a competent jurist who symbolizes hard work, personal achievement and ethnic diversity. However, as Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., argued during the hearing on John Roberts, “the burden of proof for a Supreme Court justice is on the nominee.” She has not met that burden.

Judge Sotomayor’s advocates have emphasized her moderate record on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. But in several decisions she has summarily dismissed protection of fundamental liberties. Moreover, Circuit Court judges remain constrained by the possibility of Supreme Court review — and the hope of advancing to the high court.

How would Justice Sotomayor act? She’s been involved in ethnic identity activism throughout her college and professional life. She spent 12 years as a board member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which promoted the usual ethnic and liberal agenda.

Her judicial vision is extreme. Perhaps her most famous comment was that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Six years ago she declared: “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences … gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

She returned to this theme many times: “My experiences will affect the facts that I choose to see as a judge.” Moreover, “there is no objective stance, but only a series of perspectives — no neutrality.” Indeed, “our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that.”

She also believes judges are to change the law: “The public expects the law to be static and unpredictable. The law, however, is uncertain and responds to changing circumstances.”

In fact, “Our society would be straitjacketed were not the courts, with the able assistance of the lawyers, constantly overhauling the law and adapting it to the realities of ever-changing social, industrial, and political conditions.”

Thus, “a given judge (or judges) may develop a novel approach to a specific set of facts or legal framework that pushes the law in a new direction.” After all, she contends, “Change — sometimes radical change — can and does occur in a legal system that serves a society whose social policy itself changes.”

One need not have an idealized vision of the law to find these sentiments profoundly disturbing. Empathy is a dubious guide to statutory and constitutional interpretation. Diversity has value, but Sotomayor’s claim that her ethnicity and gender make her a better decision-maker is bizarre.

Moreover, her stereotypes are seriously misleading. Nine white men outlawed racial segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. A Hispanic firefighter challenged New Haven’s “pro-minority” employment policy in Ricci v. DeStefano.

No one would disagree that as society changes, so must laws and practices. But the Constitution leaves that job up to the legislative and executive branches. Turning a group of nine jurists into a continuing constitutional convention puts all liberties at risk.

Another issue of concern is the use of international law to interpret the U.S. Constitution and law. Thoughtful legislators should consider foreign experiences in assessing social problems and deciding how to resolve them.

But Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation has detailed how Sotomayor argues that foreign cases should be used by judges — and justices — to shape U.S. law.

Early this year she said: “International law and foreign law will be very important in the discussion of how to think about the unsettled issues in our legal system.” She also said “unless American courts are more open to discussing the ideas raised by foreign cases, by international cases, that we are going to lose influence in the world.”

Why should the judiciary worry about America’s international influence?

In 2007, Judge Sotomayor wrote: “The question of how much we have to learn from foreign law and the international community when interpreting the Constitution is … worth posing.”

Why should foreign cases have any role in interpreting the Constitution?

Sonia Sotomayor is a decent person and capable jurist. But her radical ideas suggest she would be a less-measured justice than judge. The rule of law, and thus the original constitutional system based on individual liberty and limited government, would suffer. Judge Sotomayor has not met Sen. Durbin’s burden of proof. The Senate should vote no on her appointment.

• Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a graduate of Stanford Law School and a member of the California and District of Columbia bars.

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Connecting Sotomayor to Flight 800

July 22, 2009

Sotomayor Squashed Journalist’s First Amendment Rights

Jack Cashill – June 18, 2009 – AmericanThinker.com

What no one can question about the investigation into the mysterious July 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island is that the government came down hard on serious journalists, and on no journalist harder than investigative reporter, James Sanders.

A key player in that government machinery was none other than District Court judge, Sonia Sotomayor.

In May 2000, she and two colleagues ruled against James Sanders and his wife, Elizabeth, in a civil suit the pair brought against the government agencies that had pursued and arrested them.

True, Sotomayor acknowledged, the government’s “aggressive investigation commenced immediately following publication of the newspaper article,” and yes the article in question did point to criminal conduct on the part of senior Justice Department and FBI officials.

No matter, ruled the judges, “It does not follow that [the Sanders] were punished because they may have drawn blood.”

From the beginning, the story of TWA Flight 800, the one that James Sanders chronicled, has been a story of humanity betrayed – none more so than the families of the 230 good souls aboard that doomed plane.

Fifty-three of the dead were TWA employees. A TWA trainer, Elizabeth Sanders had worked with many of the attendants on the doomed flight and knew several of the pilots.

Their deaths wounded Elizabeth deeply. In the weeks afterward, she and her TWA colleagues passed numbly from one memorial service to another, their grief matched only by their growing anger at the obvious misdirection of the investigation.

Elizabeth introduced one of those colleagues, 747 pilot and manager Terry Stacey, to her husband, and he would become Sanders’ best source within that investigation.

That introduction would get the sweet, vulnerable Elizabeth arrested and convicted of conspiracy.

The harassment of Sanders can be traced to March 10, 1997, when California’s Riverside Press-Enterprise headlined its front page with an article titled, “New Data Show Missile May Have Nailed TWA 800.”

The story identified James Sanders as an “investigative reporter,” provided information on his previous non-fiction books, and described his inquiry into the Flight 800 investigation over the preceding months.

This story created a significant problem for the Justice Department. The article’s text confirmed that Sanders was on the trail of potential criminal activity by certain investigators.

As those charged with containing the investigation realized, their worst nightmare had come to pass. Forensic evidence had left the hangar.

(Above: James Sanders explains in his own words)

Some unknown person within the investigation had removed a pinch of material from the plane as telling and potentially damaging as Monica’s famed “blue dress.”

That person was Terrel Stacey. He had removed it of his own volition and sent it to Sanders FedEx.

This piece of seat back was laced with the DNA of the crash, a reddish-orange residue trail that streaked across a narrow section of the plane’s interior.

The FBI had lifted samples in early September 1996, then refused to share the test results with Stacey and others working with the NTSB. For the record, those tests today remain classified under the guise of national security.

The Clinton Justice Department began to defame the Sanders the day after the article appeared, March 11, publicly and falsely claiming that the reddish-orange residue was glue.

If the residue were nothing but glue, it is hard to explain why the FBI launched a major investigation that resulted in the arrest of Stacey, James Sanders, and Elizabeth Sanders.

The law in question had been enacted in the 1960s to discourage souvenir hunters from carting away wreckage at a crash scene before authorities arrived.

What Stacey had taken was much more precious, namely information. Had he managed to scrape off the residue, as he tried to do, he could not have been prosecuted under the scavenger law.

In the Sanders’ trial, the jurors were not allowed to know that James was a reporter. For all they knew, he and Elizabeth were rogue junk dealers. Both were convicted.

Sotomayor and colleagues fully ignored the suppression of Sanders’ First Amendment rights in their ruling.

“The government,” they claimed, “was motivated by a legitimate desire to identify and eliminate a patent security breach in the official investigation, rather than by an illegitimate desire to silence an objectionable viewpoint.”

If this were true, it is hard to understand why in1997 the FBI’s New York office Internet site headlined the story of the Sanders’ arrest, “Conspiracy theorist and wife charged with theft of parts from airplane.”

The use of the word “conspiracy theorist” would seem to suggest that the FBI arrested Sanders precisely because he held an “objectionable viewpoint.”

Having ignored the obvious, the judges concluded, “Absent any evidence that the prosecution was brought to punish the defendants or to retaliate against them for exercising their rights, the defendants were not entitled to discovery on the issue of actual vindictiveness.”

As Sanders observes, discovery would have revealed that the FBI and CIA had changed the testimony of key witnesses, fully fabricated some witness statements, altered the debris field, reshaped recovered airplane parts, and concealed or corrupted a wide range of additional salient evidence to fit their cover story.

Sanders, who has lived this case for the last twelve years, does not mince words in describing the Supreme Court nominee: “The evidence clearly established probable cause to believe Sotomayor entered the conspiracy and aided and abetted the conspiracy.”

What gives legs to Sanders’ conspiracy charge is that during that same year Sotomayor ruled against him, she ruled in favor of TWA and Boeing.

Despite her famed Latina compassion, Sotomayor was the sole dissenting vote in denying compensation to the victims’ families.

Sanders is not alone in his belief that TWA and Boeing had been coerced into accepting the government position on the crash in return for the administration’s help in weathering its consequences.

All Sanders asks for now is a little of Sotomayor’s superior justice and Obama’s equally superior transparency.

Jack Cashill

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Courting Votes Of Hispanics A GOP Mistake

July 16, 2009

Courting Votes Of Hispanics A GOP Mistake

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN | IBD 15 July 2009

Republicans have been given fair warning: Should GOP senators treat Sonia Sotomayor as contemptuously as Democrats treated Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, they should expect Hispanic hostility for a generation.

The chutzpah of this Beltway crowd does not cease to amaze.

They archly demand that conservatives accord a self-described “affirmative action baby” from Princeton a respect they never accorded a pro-life conservative mother of five from Idaho State, Sarah Palin.

Pundits here gets hoots of appreciation for doing to a white Christian woman what would constitute a hate crime if done to a “wise Latina woman.” ….

The imperative of the GOP is not to appease a city that went 93-7 for Obama, but to win back its lost voters.

In 2008, Hispanics were 7.4% of the total vote. White folks were 74%, 10 times as large. Adding just 1% to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10% to the candidate’s Hispanic vote.

[what] Republicans… must do is expose Sotomayor, as they did not in the case of Ginsburg, as a political activist whose career bespeaks a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males to the degree needed to bring about an equality of rewards in society.

Sonia is, first and foremost, a Latina. She has not hesitated to demand, even in college and law school, ethnic and gender preferences for her own. Her concept of justice is race-based.

Yet here is a judge who ruled that New York state, by denying felons the vote, violated their civil rights. How so? As there are disproportionately more blacks and Hispanics in prison, denying convicts the right to vote has a disparate impact on minorities.

The New York law does discriminate, not on the basis of race, but whether or not you raped, robbed or murdered someone.

Even if Sotomayor is confirmed, making the nation aware she is a militant supporter since college days of ethnic and gender preferences is an assignment worth pursuing. For America does not believe in preferences. Even in the blue states of California, Washington and Michigan, voters have tossed them out as naked discrimination against white males.

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Photo Clipping: Sonia Sotomayor

July 16, 2009

IBD: 15 July 2009

Sotomayor

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor smiles during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing on Monday.  “The task of a judge is not to make the law, it is to apply the law,” she said.

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Cartoon: Sotomayor Hearing

July 14, 2009

IBD: 14 July 2009

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Thumbs-Down On Obama’s ‘Empathy’ Standard

June 15, 2009

Thumbs-Down On Obama’s ‘Empathy’ Standard

By RAGHAVAN MAYUR | Investors Business Daily | 15 June 2009

Most Americans reject the broader criteria that judicial activists think can be brought to bear on Supreme Court decisions, including the “empathy” standard that President Obama has said is important in particularly difficult cases, a new IBD/TIPP Poll shows.

Three in five (59%) believe a high court justice should consider only the Constitution, applicable laws and precedents rather than all of these plus his or her own life experiences and views. Only one in three (32%) say justices must consider their life experiences and personal views.

By party, 42% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans and 66% of independents favor exclusive reliance on law.

By ideology, 71% of conservatives, 57% of moderates and 39% of liberals favor this approach.

On the empathy factor, a majority (51%) disagree with a statement paraphrasing remarks Obama made in 2005: “When it comes to the Supreme Court justices, law and precedent should determine rulings in 95% of the cases, but in the really hard and important cases, justices should go with their heart.”

Only 23% agree with the statement. Most independent voters (58%), conservatives (61%) and moderates (50%) disagree with it. Democrats (31%) and liberals (35%) are the leading supporters of the concept that justices should go with their heart.

Obama’s position on “empathy” dates to September 2005, when as a senator considering the nomination of now-Chief Justice John Roberts, he said:

“What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5% of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.”

By nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor, one can reasonably conclude that Obama is applying his “empathy” standard.

In a CNN report, for example, an administration official concurred that Obama “was looking for someone with a balance of skills: very, very smart; independent thinker; highly regarded for integrity and commitment to the law. He found all of those things with (Sotomayor), including his goal of selecting someone with the empathy factor — real-world, practical experience and understanding of how the law affects real people.”

Some commentators, such as Karl Rove, former strategist for President George W. Bush, believe “empathy” is the latest code word for liberal activism — “for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn’t pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would generate voter backlash.”

The dictionary defines judicial activism as “the practice in the judiciary of protecting or expanding individual rights through decisions that depart from established precedent or are independent of, or in opposition to, supposed constitutional or legislative intent.”

Sotomayor is believed by some to have tipped her activist hand when she once said the U.S. Court of Appeals on which she sits “is where policy is made.”

In summary, it’s hard to resist the temptation to conclude that the “empathy standard” is indeed an extension of judicial activism and that by rejecting it, Americans also reject judicial activism.

The IBD/TIPP Poll also probed how Americans view the president as a result of nominating Sotomayor. Seventy percent said their opinion of Obama did not change one way or the other.

One in six (16%) felt “more favorable” toward him and 13% “less favorable,” for a net advantage of 3 percentage points. The advantage with independent voters is negative 7 points (8% more favorable, 15% less favorable).

The net advantage Obama gained among Democrats is 26 points, among liberals 29 points, among women 4 points and among Hispanics 24 points.

Two-thirds say their view of Republicans has not changed in the wake of the Sotomayor nomination.

But 22% see them in a less-favorable light vs. just 9% who view them more favorably.

Mayur is president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD’s polling partner.

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Sotomayor Vs. The Death Penalty

June 9, 2009

IBD         8 June 09

Justice: Sonia Sotomayor says the death penalty disproportionately impacts minorities. A question for her: Death sentences are meted out most often to (a) blacks, (b) whites, (c) Hispanics or (d) the guilty.

A recently unearthed memo not disclosed on the questionnaire filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee shows that the empathy that the Supreme Court nominee feels is more for the predators among us than their victims. It also shows that some of the reasons this self-proclaimed “wise Latina” has for opposing capital punishment are bogus and flawed.

In her Senate questionnaire, Sotomayor accurately reported that from 1980 to 1982 she worked for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. She also truthfully included an April 19, 1981, letter from the PRLDEF to then-New York Gov. Hugh Carey opposing the reinstatement of the death penalty in that state. That letter was not signed by Sotomayor.

What Sotomayor did sign was a March 24, 1981, memo she and two other members of a PRLDEF task force sent to the PRLDEF board listing reasons for opposing the death penalty. Wendy Long, counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, sent a letter Friday to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noting it was missing from Sotomayor’s document dump.

“There are many legitimate arguments against the death penalty, but her memo acts like there’s not even a single argument for it,” Log observed. Our reading shows that her opposition appears to be, well, just plain goofy.

One of the eight reasons Sotomayor et al. give for opposing capital punishment is that it “creates inhuman psychological burdens for the offender and his/her family.” So what about the trauma inflicted on the families of his/her victims? What about the children orphaned, the wives widowed? This is empathy gone terribly wrong.

The Sotomayor memo also says: “The problem of crime and society is so complex, it is unreasonable to think that capital punishment will result in preventing it or diminishing it.” If Sotomayor doesn’t think the death penalty is a deterrent, just ask the family of a prison guard murdered in a state without it. Without the death penalty, such a crime is possible.

Without the death penalty, the clerk of a convenience store being robbed is likelier to be murdered, eliminating the only witness to a crime. In many crimes, if the predator faced the ultimate penalty, the victim might not.

As researcher John Lott Jr. reports: “Generally, the studies over the last decade that examined how the murder rates in each state changed as they changed their execution rate found that each execution saved the lives of roughly 15 to 18 potential murder victims.”

Then there’s the Sotomayor kicker: “Capital punishment is associated with evident racism in our society. The number of minorities and the poor executed or awaiting execution is out of proportion to their numbers in the population.”

Fact is, murders and victims don’t fall in neat demographic columns. Black people represented an estimated 13% of the U.S. population in 2005 but were the victims of 49% of all murders. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 2007, 90.2% of black murder victims were murdered by other blacks. Do we care more about black murderers or black victims?

Empathy for predators is not new. Cop killers like Mumia Abu-Jamal, despite his obvious and proven guilt in the murder of Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner, and the recently executed Hollywood favorite, Tookie Williams, have became poster children for the left as symbols of racial bias in the justice system.

To us, they are symptoms of well-executed justice. They are also symbols from which the Supreme Court and Sonia Sotomayor should help to protect all of us — black, white or whatever.