Reaction Mixed On Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination
McCaskill Statement on United
States Supreme Court Nominee
D.C. – Following President
Barack Obama’s announcement this morning that he had nominated Judge Sonia
Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter, U.S. Senator Claire
McCaskill, a former prosecutor herself, made the following statement on the
President’s pick. Judge Sotomayor currently serves on the 2nd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in New York,
a role she was appointed to by President William Clinton. Previously she was
appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve on the U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of New York and before that was an assistant district
attorney in New YorkCounty.
“She has accomplished great things in her life through
the all-American values of discipline, hard work, and integrity. I’m especially
glad she has experience as a courtroom prosecutor and a trial judge. There
hasn’t been a person with more experience nominated in decades. She will be a
terrific Supreme Court justice,” McCaskill said.
Bond Statement on Judge Sonia Sotomayor
D.C. – U.S. Senator Kit Bond made
the following statement Tuesday regarding the President’s announcement of his intent
to nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the upcoming vacancy on the Supreme
“I look forward to reviewing Judge Sotomayor’s
record and learning more from her hearings. Judge Sotomayor once said ‘I
don’t believe that we should bend the Constitution under any circumstances,’ I
agree that is how judges should rule and I will expect her to continue that
President Obama Nominates Sonia
Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court
Washington, DC – Today President Barack
Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the seat of
retiring Justice David Souter. If confirmed, Sotomayor would become the first
Hispanic and third woman to serve on the High Court.
Sotomayor is a graduate of Princeton and
obtained her law degree from Yale. She served in private practice as Assistant
District Attorney in New York County and was nominated to the Second Circuit
federal Court of Appeals by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.
Despite 17 years on the bench, Sotomayor has
never directly decided whether a law regulating abortion is constitutional. In
Center for Reproductive Law & Policy v. Bush, she wrote an opinion that
upheld the Mexico City Policy prohibiting federal funding of overseas
Sotomayor does not believe that the Second
Amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals. While on a panel
discussion at Duke Law School, she argued that the “Court of Appeals is where
policy is made.” Judge Sotomayor has had 5 decisions reviewed by the U.S.
Supreme Court, 3 of which have been reversed. She has carried 11 of 44 possible
votes during those cases. In Knight v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Chief
Justice Roberts stated that her method of reading the statute in question
“flies in the face of the statutory language.”
She has written in support of Affirmative
Action, upheld the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and in Amandola v. Town
of Babylon, she wrote that denying use of a town hall annex for their worship
services violated the First Amendment. She has written a book called “The
International Judge,” which suggests that international law and policy should
be considered in some court decisions.
Some have described her temperament on the
bench as a “bully” and “abusive” to lawyers.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder and President of
Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented on the
nominee: “The ghost of George H. W. Bush still continues in the nomination of
Judge Sonia Sotomayor. He gave us Justice David Souter and he may have given us
Sotomayor. No one ever expected President Barack Obama to nominate someone who
respects the original intent of the Constitution. While Sotomayor is not the
easiest nomination the President was considering in his short list, she is by
far not the most risky either. She has had a mixed history on cases. Her personality
is not likely one that will persuade other Justices to her point of view. Her
nomination does not change the makeup of the United States Supreme
BY THE PRESIDENT
SONIA SOTOMAYOR TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
10:13 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well, I’m excited, too.
many responsibilities granted to a President by our Constitution, few are more
serious or more consequential than selecting a Supreme Court justice. The
members of our highest court are granted life tenure, often serving long after
the Presidents who appointed them. And they are charged with the vital
task of applying principles put to paper more than 20 [sic] centuries ago to
some of the most difficult questions of our time.
don’t take this decision lightly. I’ve made it only after deep reflection
and careful deliberation. While there are many qualities that I admire in
judges across the spectrum of judicial philosophy, and that I seek in my own
nominee, there are few that stand out that I just want to mention.
and foremost is a rigorous intellect — a mastery of the law, an ability to
hone in on the key issues and provide clear answers to complex legal
questions. Second is a recognition of the limits of the judicial role, an
understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret, not make, law; to approach
decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to
impartial justice; a respect for precedent and a determination to faithfully
apply the law to the facts at hand.
two qualities are essential, I believe, for anyone who would sit on our
nation’s highest court. And yet, these qualities alone are insufficient.
We need something more. For as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes once said, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been
experience.” Experience being tested by obstacles and barriers, by
hardship and misfortune; experience insisting, persisting, and ultimately
overcoming those barriers. It is experience that can give a person a
common touch and a sense of compassion; an understanding of how the world works
and how ordinary people live. And that is why it is a necessary ingredient
in the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court.
process of reviewing and selecting a successor to Justice Souter has been
rigorous and comprehensive, not least because of the standard that Justice
Souter himself has set with his formidable intellect and fair-mindedness and
decency. I’ve sought the advice of members of Congress on both sides of
the aisle, including every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. My team
has reached out to constitutional scholars, advocacy organizations, and bar
associations representing an array of interests and opinions. And I want
to thank members of my staff and administration who’ve worked so hard and given
so much of their time as part of this effort.
completing this exhaustive process, I have decided to nominate an inspiring
woman who I believe will make a great justice: Judge Sonia Sotomayor of
the great state of New York. (Applause.)
distinguished career that spans three decades, Judge Sotomayor has worked at almost
every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience
and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court
measure of her qualities and her qualifications that Judge Sotomayor was nominated
to the U.S. District Court by a Republican President, George H.W. Bush, and
promoted to the Federal Court of Appeals by a Democrat, Bill Clinton.
Walking in the door she would bring more experience on the bench, and more
varied experience on the bench, than anyone currently serving on the United
States Supreme Court had when they were appointed.
Sotomayor is a distinguished graduate of two of America’s leading
universities. She’s been a big-city prosecutor and a corporate
litigator. She spent six years as a trial judge on the U.S. District
Court, and would replace Justice Souter as the only justice with experience as
a trial judge, a perspective that would enrich the judgments of the Court.
past 11 years she has been a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit of New York, one of the most demanding circuits in the country.
There she has handed down decisions on a range of constitutional and legal
questions that are notable for their careful reasoning, earning the respect of
colleagues on the bench, the admiration of many lawyers who argue cases in her
court, and the adoration of her clerks who look to her as a mentor.
her tenure on the District Court, she presided over roughly 450 cases.
One case in particular involved a matter of enormous concern to many Americans,
including me: the baseball strike of 1994-1995. (Laughter.)
In a decision that reportedly took her just 15 minutes to announce, a swiftness
much appreciated by baseball fans everywhere — (laughter) — she issued an
injunction that helped end the strike. Some say that Judge Sotomayor
saved baseball. (Applause.)
Sotomayor came to the District Court from a law firm where she was a partner
focused on complex commercial litigation, gaining insight into the workings of
a global economy. Before that she was a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s
office, serving under the legendary Robert Morgenthau, an early mentor of
Sonia’s who still sings her praises today. There, Sonia learned what
crime can do to a family and a community, and what it takes to fight it.
It’s a career that has given her not only a sweeping overview of the American
judicial system, but a practical understanding of how the law works in the
everyday lives of the American people.
impressive and meaningful as Judge Sotomayor’s sterling credentials in the law
is her own extraordinary journey. Born in the South Bronx, she was raised in a
housing project not far from Yankee Stadium, making her a lifelong Yankee’s
fan. I hope this will not disqualify her — (laughter) — in the eyes of
the New Englanders in the Senate. (Laughter.)
parents came to New York from Puerto Rico during the second world war, her
mother as part of the Women’s Army Corps. And, in fact, her mother is
here today and I’d like us all to acknowledge Sonia’s mom.
(Applause.) Sonia’s mom has been a little choked up.
(Laughter.) But she, Sonia’s mother, began a family tradition of giving back
to this country. Sonia’s father was a factory worker with a 3rd-grade
education who didn’t speak English. But like Sonia’s mother, he had a
willingness to work hard, a strong sense of family, and a belief in the
Sonia was nine, her father passed away. And her mother worked six days a
week as a nurse to provide for Sonia and her brother — who is also here today,
is a doctor and a terrific success in his own right. But Sonia’s mom
bought the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood, sent her children to
a Catholic school called Cardinal Spellman out of the belief that with a good
education here in America all things are possible.
the support of family, friends, and teachers, Sonia earned scholarships to
Princeton, where she graduated at the top of her class, and Yale Law School,
where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal, stepping onto the path that
led her here today.
the way she’s faced down barriers, overcome the odds, lived out the American
Dream that brought her parents here so long ago. And even as she has
accomplished so much in her life, she has never forgotten where she began,
never lost touch with the community that supported her.
Sonia will bring to the Court, then, is not only the knowledge and experience
acquired over a course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated
from an inspiring life’s journey.
understanding that Judge Sotomayor’s interest in the law was sparked as a young
girl by reading the Nancy Drew series — (laughter) — and that when she was
diagnosed with diabetes at the age of eight, she was informed that people with
diabetes can’t grow up to be police officers or private investigators like
Nancy Drew. And that’s when she was told she’d have to scale back her
what you’ve shown in your life is that it doesn’t matter where you come from,
what you look like, or what challenges life throws your way — no dream is
beyond reach in the United States of America.
when Sonia Sotomayor ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the
highest court of the land, America will have taken another important step
towards realizing the ideal that is etched above its entrance: Equal
justice under the law.
the Senate acts in a bipartisan fashion, as it has in confirming Judge
Sotomayor twice before, and as swiftly as possible so that she can take her
seat on the Court in September and participate in deliberations as the Court
chooses which cases it will hear this coming year.
And with that,
I’d like all of you to give a warm greeting as I invite Judge Sotomayor to say
a few words. (Applause.)
SOTOMAYOR: I was just counseled not to be nervous.
(Laughter.) That’s almost impossible. (Laughter.)
Thank you, Mr.
President, for the most humbling honor of my life. You have nominated me
to serve on the country’s highest court, and I am deeply moved.
I could not, in
the few minutes I have today, mention the names of the many friends and family
who have guided and supported me throughout my life and who have been
instrumental in helping me realize my dreams. I see many of those faces
in this room. Each of you, whom I love deeply, will know that my heart
today is bursting with gratitude for all you have done for me.
has said to you that I bring my family. In the audience is my brother,
Juan Sotomayor — he’s a physician in Syracuse, New York; my sister-in-law,
Tracey; my niece, Kylie — she looks like me — (laughter) — my twin nephews,
Conner and Corey. I stand on the shoulders of countless people, yet there
is one extraordinary person who is my life aspiration — that person is my
mother, Celina Sotomayor. (Applause.)
mother has devoted her life to my brother and me, and as the President
mentioned, she worked often two jobs to help support us after Dad died. I
have often said that I am all I am because of her, and I am only half the woman
next to her is Omar Lopez, my mom’s husband and a man whom I have grown to
adore. I thank you for all that you have given me and continue to give
me. I love you. (Applause.)
to be a lawyer, and ultimately a judge, because I find endless challenge in the
complexities of the law. I firmly believe in the rule of law as the
foundation for all of our basic rights. For as long as I can remember, I
have been inspired by the achievement of our Founding Fathers. They set
forth principles that have endured for more than two centuries. Those
principles are as meaningful and relevant in each generation as the generation
before. It would be a profound privilege for me to play a role in
applying those principles to the questions and controversies we face today.
Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my
life to be immeasurably rich. I was raised in a Bronx public housing
project, but studied at two of the nation’s finest universities. I did
work as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting violent crimes that
devastate our communities. But then I joined a private law firm and
worked with international corporations doing business in the United
States. I have had the privilege of serving as a Federal District Court
trial judge, and am now serving as a Federal Appellate Circuit Court
wealth of experiences, personal and professional, have helped me appreciate the
variety of perspectives that present themselves in every case that I
hear. It has helped me to understand, respect, and respond to the
concerns and arguments of all litigants who appear before me, as well as to the
views of my colleagues on the bench. I strive never to forget the
real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses, and
It is a
daunting feeling to be here. Eleven years ago, during my confirmation
process for appointment to the Second Circuit, I was given a private tour of
the White House. It was an overwhelming experience for a kid from the
South Bronx. Yet never in my wildest childhood imaginings did I ever
envision that moment, let alone did I ever dream that I would live this moment.
President, I greatly appreciate the honor you are giving me, and I look forward
to working with the Senate in the confirmation process. I hope that as
the Senate and the American people learn more about me they will see that I am
an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and
experiences. Today is one of those experiences.
you again, sir. (Applause.)
10:53 A.M. EDT