June 08, 2009

MY MEETING WITH JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR

This is an exciting time to be a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee as we move forward in vetting President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to become a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.  

 

Last week I met with Judge Sotomayor.   She is a remarkable individual and I was very impressed by the breadth of her legal experience. During our meeting, w e talked about a wide range of issues including the protections found in the U.S. Constitution. I found her responses to be very frank and open. I was impressed by her candor and willingness to answer my questions about how she would go about deciding constitutional issues that might come before her, should she be confirmed.

 

Judge Sotomayor has an extraordinary judicial record that encompasses nearly every level of the judicial process, including prosecutor, corporate litigator, trial judge, and currently an appellate judge. Twice confirmed by the Senate, President George H.W. Bush appointed her as a federal district judge in 1992, and she was elevated by President Clinton in 1998 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  If confirmed, she would replace Justice David Souter as the only Supreme Court Justice with experience as a trial judge. She also would be the third woman and first Hispanic Justice to serve on the Court.

Supreme Court justices have a lifetime appointment and it is clear that the next justice could very well have a profound influence on the Court, which is closely divided.   We don't have openings on the Court very often, so I appreciate the need for a fair and balanced hearing, but also for a hearing that will not delay her appointment just to score partisan points.

My major interest is to ensure that the next Supreme Court Justice is a leader who holds a passion for the protections found in our Constitution and will uphold the precedents of the Court. The Supreme Court is the last refuge for individuals against abuses of government power and I want the next Supreme Court justice to have a clear record of standing up for civil rights and civil liberties.

The nomination of Judge Sotomayor will be my first opportunity to participate in the confirmation process for a Supreme Court Justice.   I take my duty very seriously and I will be looking forward to questioning Judge Sotomayor more extensively at her upcoming confirmation hearing.