Friday, July 10, 2009

Judge Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings Begin Monday

Hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on whether Judge Sonia Sotomayor should be confirmed to replace Justice Souter on the United States Supreme Court begin on Monday. News accounts indicate that Republicans do not expect they will be able to stall or block the judge's confirmation.

Over the past few weeks a wealth of material has appeared analyzing Judge Sotomayor's rulings on the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The plain intent of much of the material is to present her as a moderate liberal well within the legal mainstream.

One report of particular interest is the study released earlier this week by the majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "Sonia Sotomayor: The Criminal Justice Record." The report shows that while sitting on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor voted to affirm criminal convictions 92% of the time, and in criminal cases voted with Republican-appointed judges on the court 97% of the time. The full report can be found here.

The Judiciary Committee has posted all the material submitted to the Committee in connection with the confirmation process. The material can be found here.

Yesterday, Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the names of the witnesses who will be called by the majority Democrats and the minority Republicans. The list can be found here.

I have said before that at the confirmation hearings Judge Sotomayor's most discussed decision will be Ricci v. DeStefano, in which the Supreme Court reversed the Second Circuit panel on which Judge Sotomayor sat, and held that New Haven could not decline to certify a fire department promotion examination on the grounds the examination results had a disparate impact on minorities. One of the Republican minority witnesses will be Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff in the case.

To bolster Judge Sotomayor's moderate liberal and law enforcement credentials, the Democratic majority witnesses will include the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Michael Garcia, and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

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