Debunking Bogus Claims Made By Critics of Sotomayor

29 05 2009

Karl Frisch of Media Matters takes on two of the bogus claims made by the right against nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court:

By now you’ve no doubt heard Exhibit A — Sotomayor’s February 2005 comment at a Duke University School of Law forum that the “court of appeals is where policy is made.” This, they claim, proves that Sotomayor would be little more than an evil activist jurist on the bench. Her words — taken out of context time and again by conservative and mainstream media outlets — make clear that Sotomayor was simply explaining the difference between district courts and appeals courts. Her comments were in sync with the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States‘ explanation of the federal appellate court’s “policy making” role. That’s a view even conservative legal god Antonin Scalia seems to share and even go beyond, having articulated the “policy making” role of the courts himself and noting that “the judges of inferior courts often ‘make law.’ ”

For Exhibit B, we find media conservatives in a huff over not only Obama’s stated intention to nominate someone possessing “empathy” among other qualifications but also Sotomayor’s 2001 comment that a “wise Latina woman” might bring a little something extra to the bench in adjudicating race and sex discrimination cases. Conservatives in the media leapt at the president’s “empathy” comment, typically portraying it as proof of Obama’s intention to nominate a liberal activist to the Supreme Court rather than a jurist committed to the Constitution, even though the president said that his nominee would demonstrate both.

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