This week, the Wonk Room will live blog Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. As we have previously reported, Republicans are prepared to make race the focus of their attacks on Sotomayor, with foreign law, the Second Amendment, eminent domain and opposition to reproductive choice rounding out their strategy. We will be updating this thread throughout the day.
3:53: CAPAF’s statement on the first day of the hearing is available here. It begins “Republican attacks in today’s confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor focused largely on their claim that Sotomayor lacks “impartiality” and is likely to decide cases based on her personal beliefs instead of the law. This line of attack is not surprising in light of their comments prior to the hearings, yet Republicans have still been unable to cite a single case where Sotomayor put her feelings before the law.”
3:02: Hearings in recess until 9:30 tomorrow morning.
3:00: Here is the meat of Judge Sotomayor’s statement:
Throughout my seventeen years on the bench, I have witnessed the human consequences of my decisions. Those decisions have been made not to serve the interests of any one litigant, but always to serve the larger interest of impartial justice.
In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law – it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress’s intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand.
2:54: Sotomayor sworn in; begins statement.
2:51: Gillibrand takes a nice dig at Sessions. Sotomayor’s leadership role in a civil rights organization, just like Justices Marshall and Ginsburg’s service with similar organizations, should not be used as a “disqualifier.”
2:37: Franken: Justice Thomas votes to overturn federal laws more than Justice Stevens and Justice Breyer combined. Indeed, Thomas votes to second-guess Congress 65.63% of the time–more than any other justice. The only Democratic appointees on the Court, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, are the least likely to do so.
2:32: Another “abortion is murder” protestor interrupts the hearing. Finish your beers.
2:30: The Al Franken Decade dawns.
2:25: Specter calls out CJ Roberts for saying in his confirmation hearing that he would led Congress decide how to remedy discrimination, then deciding that he knows better than Congress once he got on the Supreme Court.
2:21: Specter: Court has time for more cases. Worries that there is too much uncertainty in the law because the Court only decides 60-70 cases per year–as opposed to the hundreds of cases it would hear each year in the 1800s. Calls out the Court for not considering the merits of President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping and the rights of 9/11 victims.
2:17: Kaufman calls out the Supreme Court for putting a thumb on the scale in favor of corporations, citing preemption of progressive state laws, punitive damages and other corporate immunity cases as examples.
2:10: Klobuchar attacks the Supreme Court from the right, criticizing a recent decision (by Justice Scalia) which said that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to call lab techs who prepare evidence against them to the witness stand.
2:01: Leahy gavels the hearing back into session. Senator Klobuchar now speaking.
12:38: Committee now in recess until 2pm.
12:38: Durbin: of the 110 justices to serve on the Supreme Court, 106 have been white males.
12:32: Another “abortion is murder” protestor interrupts the hearing and is removed.
12:23: Coburn opens his statement by praising Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld a ban on certain kinds of abortion. Later, he says “we want the system of law to be predictable,” but Carhart overruled a Supreme Court precedent which was only seven years old. Apparently, the law only needs to be predictably conservative.
12:22: Coburn: “I thought this was your hearing and not Chief Justice Roberts’ hearing.” Apparently he hasn’t been paying attention, this is Miguel Estrada’s hearing.
12:12: Whitehouse: “pretense” that Republican judges are modest and Democratic judges are “activist” runs counter to recent history. CJ Roberts’ claim that judges should behave like “umpires” is “belied” by Roberts himself. Quotes Jeffery Toobin’s observation that “In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. . . . Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.”
12:06: Cornyn spends his statement ranting against judges who rule against the elected branches, then cites D.C. v. Heller, the recent Second Amendment decision, as an ideal case. But Heller struck down a law enacted by the elected D.C. City Council. Apparently, judicial modesty = doing whatever conservatives want.