Wendy Long, Chief Counsel for the right-wing Judicial Confirmation Network, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee today accusing Judge Sotomayor of misrepresenting her record on the death penalty:
A first read through Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s U.S. Senate questionnaire for her Supreme Court nomination raises more questions than it answers. It is already clear that she has omitted controversial material from her past in which she asserts that “[c]apital punishment is associated with evident racism in our society” and advocates public opposition to restoring the death penalty in New York state.
The “controversial material from her past” that Long refers to is an 1981 internal memorandum, co-signed by Sotomayor, which was prepared by a Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund task force for that organization’s board. That memo does indeed include the statement that “[c]apital punishment is associated with evident racism in our society.”
Although the internal memorandum is not specifically disclosed in Sotomayor’s questionnaire, Sotomayor did disclose, and provide senators with multiple copies of a 1981 letter she drafted on behalf of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. That letter states that “capital punishment represents ongoing racism in our society,” a virtually identical statement to the one Long accuses Sotomayor of hiding. Sotomayor’s 1981 letter can be viewed at the Senate Judicary Committee’s website.
Sotomayor kept no secrets from the Senate about how she felt about the death penalty in 1981, and Long shouldn’t waste the Senate’s time by grasping at straws.