Saturday, July 25, 2009

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch Will Also Vote Against Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor; Judicial Philosophical Differences At The Core

Utah's senior U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch announced on July 24th, 2009 that he will join Utah's junior senator Bob Bennett in voting against the confirmation of Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Full stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

It is the first time in his Senate career that Senator Hatch has voted against a Supreme Court nominee. "I reluctantly, and with a heavy heart, have found that I cannot support her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court," Hatch said in a statement. "Although Judge Sotomayor has a compelling life story and dedication to public service, her statements and record were too much at odds with the principles about the judiciary in which I deeply believe." Hatch's full statement is posted on the CNN Political Ticker.

Senator Hatch declined an interview request and his statement does not identify his specific objections, although it appears he's discomfited with her judicial philosophy. He read her speeches, reviewed case files, met with legal experts, and even met with Sotomayor herself before making his announcement. Two of Sotomayor's most objectionable statements include a comment before a group of Duke University students where she said the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is where policy is made, and a 2001 speech in California where she said "a wise Latina" should reach better conclusions than a white man because of her life experiences.

Additional issues not cited by Senator Hatch include Sotomayor's membership in the National Council of La Raza and the Ricci v. DeStefano decision. The latter brought her considerable notoriety. In one of her most notable decisions as an appellate judge, she sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in the discrimination case brought by white firefighters in 2008. The city threw out results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough. But in that case, Judge Sotomayor was chastised by fellow Clinton-appointee Jose Cabranes for going to extraordinary lengths to dispense with claims of unfair treatment raised by firefighters. And the decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reaction by Utahns was a bit more favorable than to Bennett's previous announcement. Since Hatch isn't up for re-election until 2012, his announcement isn't taken as being as opportunistic as Bennett's announcement. The Salt Lake Tribune is continuing their poll about Sotomayor's appointment, and here are the latest results (poll found on the Tribune's News Page):

Should Sonia Sotomayor be the next Supreme Court justice?
Total Votes = 2168

-- (Absolute) No. She's a liberal whose views are outside the nation's mainstream: 10.70 percent
-- (Conditional) No. Her writings and decisions show that she is an activist judge: 29.19 percent
-- (Conditional) Yes. She may not be my first choice, but she is the choice of our democratically elected president and she has the credentials: 12.40 percent
-- (Absolute) Yes. She is a skilled jurist whose life experiences make her a welcome addition to the court: 47.69 percent

The Judiciary Committee vote will take place on Tuesday July 28th. It was originally scheduled for July 21st, but was re-scheduled; a possible reason is specified HERE. While most Republican senators are expected to vote for Sotomayor's confirmation, a few RINOs like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will join with Democrats to vote for her. Consequently, she is expected to be confirmed not only by the Judiciary Committee, but by the full Senate sometime before the mid-August recess. The full list of U.S. Senators known to have publicly declared their intent to vote against the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, as of the close of business on July 24th:

-- *Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
-- Bob Bennett (R-UT)
-- Pat Roberts (R-KS)
-- *Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
-- Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
-- Jim Bunning (R-KY)
-- *John Cornyn (R-TX)
-- Thad Cochran (R-MS)
-- Roger Wicker (R-MS)

*Indicates member of Judiciary Committee

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