June 19th, 2009
03:30 PM ET
4 years ago

Ken Starr backs Sotomayor court bid

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) - Although several prominent conservatives such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and talk show host Rush Limbaugh have been sharply critical of Sonia Sotomayor and her nomination to the Supreme Court, President Obama's first high court pick has won the support of at least one high-profile conservative legal figure: Kenneth Starr, the former federal judge who led the investigation that ultimately lead to the impeachment and trial of President Bill Clinton.

"I'm very much an admirer of her, and I'm supporting the nomination," Starr said Thursday at a law and journalism conference at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "I think that's a very wise and sound nomination of our president."

Starr, the former independent counsel for the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigations of the 1990s, told reporters after the event that he has voiced his support to at least two U.S. senators, whom he declined to name, but has not been asked to write an official letter of endorsement.

He also addressed comments that Sotomayor made in a 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley, in which she said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

"She has said some things, hasn't she, that suggest, well, we need to pause here, hit the pause button, and let's explore this," he said. "She said what she said, and so that very much merits examination. She didn't say that in a judicial opinion, and that's very important. Let's see what she did in her judicial work, right? What was her formal work as opposed to what does she say in an important setting at Boalt Hall at Berkleley, University of California Berkeley, wherever she may have said this."

Asked by CNN to comment on Sotomayor's 2005 statement that the federal appellate courts, where she has served since 1998, is "where policy is made," Starr suggested that it is at times appropriate for judges to make policy.

"There are times when policy reasons are in fact informing the judicial process and openly so," he said, pointing to family law and to the issuing of injunctions as examples. "In that process in weighing the factors for an injunction, it is well settled that judges are in fact considering policy questions, overtly, with everyone smiling. Think about more daily administrations of the law. Family law issues. We want judges to be thinking about issues of policy and morality and so forth."

Starr served as U.S. Solicitor General under President George H.W. Bush and currently serves as the dean of Pepperdine University Law School.


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. kww

    Ken Starr? Who cares what he thinks? He's a has-been that never was.

    June 19, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Independent_me

    One giant step forward in redeeming his sorry self!

    June 19, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. M

    kww,

    Respectfully disagree, but don't be rude. Ken Starr makes some very rational and objective points, which is precisely what is needed when trying to balance the scales of justice.

    June 19, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. ItIsMe

    I'm sure you were singing a different tune when he was trying to force Clinton out of the White House...

    June 19, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. reply to kww

    and why does kww think anyone cares about what he/she thinks?

    June 19, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Ron Johnson

    Another opinion from the judge that really accomplished nothing in the Clinton case.

    I saw no onw except for possibly Lewinski that lost her job or suffered from Starr's *excellent?* work.

    Sotomayor was unqualified to be appointed by Clinton, I agree with the two republicans that won't confirm her, if she wasn't qualified (in their opinion) in the first case, why would she be now?

    She was appointed too a *lifetime* government job straight out of law school, being a lifetime appointed government employee does not qualify her.

    Find another person that deserves it and wasn't at the public trough without working their way up.

    June 19, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Steve (the real one)

    His private choice! He just doesn't get a vote! Just like you and me!

    June 19, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Jeff of Peoria

    That's a real BLACK mark on her resume. That can't be good for her nomination and subsequest approval. Watch Obama's ratings fall now. The Dems will accuse him of being a Republican

    June 19, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It is interest that this conservative that was known to leak things about his Clinton persecution... I mean prosecution is supporting this nominee. I guess that mean that she is either a stealth candidate or just really good.

    June 19, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. LAW

    maybe he is...but this is still a surprise.

    June 19, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. D. Tree

    It show how far to the Right our country moved under Bush/Cheney, that conservatives like Ken Starr see our Democratic President as making wise and sound court decisions.

    Well, the fact is President Obama is very wise and makes sound decisions... that's why we elected him and not John McCain.

    June 19, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Emma

    A few of the GOP are demonstrating their belief that being only adversarial to the administration will not win back GOP power.

    June 19, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Jim

    At least there are a few Republicans who have an open mind.

    June 19, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    smooth move Kenneth Starr

    June 19, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. kishen c.rao

    when I saw him carrying 490 video tapes, 6789 pages of papers in pres. clinton's case, I told all this guy is a waste of time and money....I am post grad. in law....listen...he is a total waste....

    June 19, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. SFW

    kww June 19th, 2009 4:06 pm ET
    Ken Starr? Who cares what he thinks? He's a has-been that never was***Who cares what you think? Shut you Sour Pie Hole!!!

    June 19, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Matt

    kww = tool

    June 19, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Boana

    Ken Starr now make the GOP look like fools because he can see through the spin and see her for who she has been as a judge and not her comment. Always remember, A lie doesn't care who tells it.

    June 19, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Matt

    Look at her judicial record instead of just one flippant remark taken out of context. What a concept!

    June 19, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. Res ipsa loquitur

    @Ron Johnson: "She was appointed too a *lifetime* government job straight out of law school, being a lifetime appointed government employee does not qualify her.

    Find another person that deserves it and wasn't at the public trough without working their way up."

    Uh, dude...it would help if you knew what you were talking about before making statements like that. She was a New York prosecutor for five years and a civil litigator for seven before she was appointed as a federal district judge under Bush I. Then, she was appointed to the Second Circuit by Clinton. And by the way–both times with overwhelming Republican support.

    June 19, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    @Matt June 19th, 2009 4:59 pm ET

    Look at her judicial record instead of just one flippant remark taken out of context. What a concept!
    -----------------
    I just KNEW the was a lib who also thought her remarks were flippant! There just might be hope for the libs yet! Thanks Matt!

    June 19, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. joe smith

    now that should be a feather in someones' hat..but what about the revelation, and of course NO MEDIA coverage, of our newly elected President, when giving the commencement address to OUR Naval Academy, and future leaders, and protectors of OUR Freedoms, including the Constitution; he made those men/women remove from their formal white dress, their swords..you talk about an a front to everything patriotic, this group of people/handlers are beginning to look more like a bunch of goons from where else, the windy..

    June 19, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. js

    The usual moronic band inside of the republican party will oppose anyone Obama nominates. That Ken Starr approves of her helps to rehabilitate his former image as a partisan hack. Maybe he, like other moderates, is getting fed up watching his party being taken over by a bunch of ignorant crackers.

    June 19, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Ed

    Looking at her judicial record is extremely disturbing to say the least. It's inconceivable that the right to bear arms does not apply to states rights.

    June 19, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Russ

    "Looking at her judicial record is extremely disturbing to say the least. It's inconceivable that the right to bear arms does not apply to states rights."

    Gee Ed, have you read through the several thousand cases she's renedered decisions on? If not, then I gues you really can't pass judgement so shut up.

    June 19, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
1 2