WASHINGTON (CNN) – An offhand comment that Judge Sonia Sotomayor made to a group of law students in 2005 will likely help fuel conservative opposition to her nomination to the Supreme Court.
At a Duke University panel discussion held in February 2005, the federal appeals court judge and President Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice David Souter told a group of law school students that the U.S. Court of Appeals "is where policy is made."
She made the comment in response to a question from a student on the differences between working at the federal appeals court as opposed to the district court. The New York judge said that traditionally, those interested in academia, policy, and public interest law tend to seek appeals court clerkships.
"All of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is - Court of Appeals is where policy is made," she said. "And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don't 'make law,' I know. [Laughter from audience] Okay, I know. I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it. I'm, you know. [More laughter] Having said that, the Court of Appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating. Its interpretation, its application."
Conservative activists have a long criticized so-called "judicial activists," who use their position on bench to make public policy. President Obama, in announcing his pick Tuesday morning, said that one of the reasons he selected Sotomayor was her "understanding that a judge's job is to interpret, not make law."
– CNN's Martina Stewart contributed to this report.
Judges are NOT to make the law ... PERIOD! THAT is the perview of the Legislative branch of the government.
If this woman is willing to say (and not for 1 minute do I believe she would say something she didn't ACTUALLY believe!) and believe something like this ... then she has no business on the Supreme Court.
Here is a huge fundamental rift between liberals and conservatives: the nature of the Constitution and application of laws. Conservatives believe that the Constitution should be taken literally and that laws should be applied to everyone without regard for their circumstance. Liberals believe that the Constitution is a "living, breathing document" and that laws are to be interpreted in the context of the political, social and personal climate. The job of the Supreme Court is to enterpret the law, not tailor it to each situation. Sotomayor is a bad pick based on her record and comments.
Admittedly, I am just the product of a southeastern US public school system, but I seem to recall for my junior high school and high school civics classes that the role of the judiciary is to interpret and apply the law, not to make policy. I would have thought that a nominee for the Supreme Court had a better understanding of the Constitutional authority of the judiciary.
She clearly knows what she's talking about and knows that the job requires interpretation of the law. Simple as that.
I believe she is a very intelligent choice. I hope they'll confirm her and put a little more balance on the bench.
She will serve our country well! the PERFECT PICK!
It doesn't matter who Obama picks because the republicans will try to find a way they can use this for their own political gain. They had their hand up to complain about her before Obama even made his pick.
This is the very definition of what an "Activist" judge believes. Change the law, don't interpret it. This enfringes on the duties of the legislative branch of government. If confirmed, Sotomayor is but one more nail in our coffin.
There is no doubt that Sotomayor is an activist and views the courts as such.
The judiciary doesn't make policy. It enforces law created by the legislature.
Justice is blind. It doesn't see rank, status, economic or sociological place.
Too bad socialists like Obama can't see that this is one of the strengths of this country.
I am sure there are no Conservative "Activist" justices on the Supreme Court. Only Liberal Judges are "Activist". Just ask any Right Wing Wag.
another nail in the coffin of this once great nation..we will never survive with this clown as president.
Oh please. This comment will not 'fuel opposition'. The opposition is already present and its fuel is hate. This comment - one comment out of how many? - will be the excuse of the bigots.
once again CNN tries to stir up controversy against President Obama and his pick for the supreme court
I dont watch CNN much anymore
Your getting too much like fox too BIASED against the decisions President Obama makes
Sorry you have a big chunk of the population that is not in your corner
Your all becoming limbaugh robots, excluding Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty who are always honest and fair!!
Sotomayor, nominated by George H.W. Bush in 1992 to the Federal Court bench. It wasn’t a problem then. There's nothing here to see..move along everyone.
I am pleased with President Obama's pick for high court. The choice was his and I do believe the Commander-In-Chief has made good and the right choices. We must support our President and not criticize. I was hoping for another choice but Sotomayor is the one and I support her. Congrats...to her and wishing her the very best.
Nothing wrong with what she said. How many times are verdicts or opinions overturned or upheld in appeals. If the Supreme Court does not hear the case then that is it. Republicans want to find any reason to not appoint her. I think she is a great choice by President Obama.
again President Obama ,make but another good choice .. cool :)
as he and the administration moves the machine of repair forward ,we wake up each morning looking as if a light at the end of the tunnel is begining to show a glimmer of light and hope
GOOD JOB MR. PRESIDENT !!!!
Even though she says she "knows" that the judiciary is not a cudgel with which unelected lawmakers sit and devise schemes to change society–she says that she "knows" this 5 times–she still insists that the appeals court makes policy...except of course when overruled by the supreme court.
But that won't be an obstacle for her any more.
I thought Texas and Alaska wanted out of the United States and be their own clicky little cult ?
she will do a great job open and fair
She was comparing the trial court to the appellate court, and any law school graduate knows that all she did was explain the difference between the two.
You can find fodder to oppose anyone if you look hard enough, and if the Repulicans want to insult the intelligence of the American people by pretending that what she said was anything out of the ordinary ... well... it won't be the first time.
From the tape it is obvious Sotomayor is joking.
Not like when the shrub made his "joke" about looking for WMD under the table and lectern.
At least no one died with Sotomayor's comments, the same cannot be said for bush's "joke".
She shows her true colors through this off-hand comment. She is not qualified to uphold the Constitution with beliefs like this.
You bible beater "christians" also think that tome of fables called the Bible should be taken literally as well.
So what is your point?
Making the laws from the bench. Sounds like an Obama elitist. Remember your job is to defend the constitution, but you probably forgot what that is, lol
Even Scarborough on "Morning Joe"(sorry CNN, but I only do the ticker now, your broadcasts have become Fox-Lite) said this would not be a bad pick. She is a "pull yourself up by the boot strap" kinda of woman and Daddy Bush is the one that nominated her to the Federal position in the first place.
Not a bad pick and still is a stroke of political genius for President Obama, as the neo-cons cannot attack her or they alienate the largest growing minority in America, Hispanics.
Of course, that whole "party purity" would be intact but the "pure" repub party would become increasingly smaller.