In a statement that he sent out today he shares why:
I’ve had the opportunity to vote on many judges and Justices since becoming a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We confirmed a great number of them. I had hoped to be able to vote for Judge Sotomayor to be the next Justice on the Supreme Court, but after a thorough review of the hearing record and her cases, speeches and writings, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support Judge Sotomayor’s nomination.
My vote must be based on the nominee’s respect for and adherence to the Constitution and judicial restraint. I question if Judge Sotomayor will be able to set aside personal biases and prejudices to decide cases in an impartial manner and in accordance with the Constitution.
At her confirmation hearing, I asked specific questions about the property rights of private citizens afforded by the Fifth Amendment. My colleagues asked detailed questions about the now famous Ricci case, the right to privacy and the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I was not convinced that Judge Sotomayor understands the rights given to Americans under the Constitution, or that she will refrain from expanding or restricting those rights based on her personal preferences. I am not certain that Judge Sotomayor won’t allow those personal beliefs and preferences to dictate the outcome of cases before her. There’s no question that nominees have become quite adept at dodging our questions, but her lack of clear and direct answers to simple questions regarding the Constitution were troubling. Some of her answers were so at odds with statements she has made over the years, that it was difficult to reconcile them.
Nearly 20 years ago, then Judge David Souter talked during his confirmation hearing about courts “filling vacuums” in the law. That concept greatly worried me, because courts should never fill voids in the law left by Congress. Since Justice Souter has been on the Supreme Court, his decisions have proven that he does believe that courts do indeed fill vacuums in the law. My vote has come back to haunt me time and time again. So, I’ve asked several Supreme Court nominees about courts filling vacuums at their hearings. Her lukewarm answer left me with the same pit in my stomach I’ve had with Justice Souter’s rulings that I had hoped to have cured with his retirement, and reinforced my concerns with her hearing testimony, cases and speeches.
Only time will tell which Sonia Sotomayor will be on the Supreme Court. Is it the judge who proclaimed that the court of appeals is where “policy is made,” or is it the nominee who pledged “fidelity to the law?” Is it the judge who disagreed with Justice O’Connor’s statement that a wise woman and a wise man will ultimately reach the same decision, or is it the nominee who rejected President Obama’s empathy criteria?
There’s no doubt that Judge Sotomayor has the credentials on paper to be a Justice on the Supreme Court. But, her nomination hearing left me with more questions than answers about her judicial philosophy, and I cannot support her nomination.
The Des Moines Register reports that this is the first time in the 29 years of serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee; that he has opposed a Supreme Court nominee. There’s always time for a first. Good decision Senator Grassley.
HT: The Bean Walker for picture & Register article.