July 15th, 2009
05:40 PM ET
5 years ago

Sotomayor denies prejudging gun-control issue

Sonia Sotomayor responded strongly to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions when he contended she had pre-judged the issue of gun control.
Sonia Sotomayor responded strongly to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions when he contended she had pre-judged the issue of gun control.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday strongly rejected a Republican senator's contention that she had pre-judged the issue of gun control, insisting at her confirmation hearing that wasn't true.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked if she would recuse herself from future gun control cases because she ruled in the past that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment does not apply to state gun control laws.

"I have not made up my mind. I didn't say that I didn't believe it was fundamental," Sotomayor shot back.

She explained that the word "fundamental" in legal terms refers to whether a federal statute applies to the states. Her ruling cited by Sessions referred to a prior case that made the determination, Sotomayor said, so she was following the precedent.

Previously in the confirmation hearing that started Monday, Sotomayor said she recognizes an individual right to bear arms as recently identified by Supreme Court in the ruling District of Columbia v. Heller.

The recent Supreme Court 5-4 ruling concluded that a sweeping handgun ban in the nation's capital violated the constitutional right to "keep and bear arms."


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Pre-judging? Well, I suppose the GOP would know it when they see it, having perfected it and all...

    July 15, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  2. Tom in CA

    Senator Sessions is showing his true colors. That is his RACIST colors!

    Thank God he was confirmed as a US District Court judge eons ago!

    July 15, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  3. AntiRush

    In answer to a question on a closed article about Franken's Perry Mason question, according to the Hamilton Burger entry on Wikipedia, Burger beat Mason twice: once in "The Case of the Terrified Typist" and again in "The Case of the Deadly Verdict".

    July 15, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. Mattie

    If you ask me Sen. Jeff Sessions has a made up mind about Sotomayor and nothing she says will make much difference. He is still going to keep hammering at her on something.

    July 15, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Sean

    I've been watching some of the hearings, and it strikes me as being more of a witch-hunt than it is confirmation hearings. I don't know how Sotomayor has been able to sit so silently and calmly as jerk after jerk spews their rhetorical, politically-driven, accusations and assumptions at her. What a joke.

    July 15, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  6. JerriinNM

    God, what is WITH the GOP...Sessions is a proven bigot, and he is bitter because he wanted the "candy" and he was not approved for the bench. Why, oh why don't they just goooo awaaaaayyyy

    July 15, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  7. Joe Terrogano

    Senator sessions is the penultimate example of a racist who barely covers it up. I lived in Alabama for over 3 years and they are fine people. However, pockets of ex-Klan supporters exist. I can think of no better argument for all Americans to ask themselves if Sessions is a person that speaks for the real majority or for the dwindling group of right-wing wacko's (Graham is also included here). Time to grow up folks.

    July 15, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  8. AlwaysThinking

    Sessions has been completely prejudiced against Sotomayor from the day she was nominated. Case in point:

    When asked about whether intenational law can be used to decide US law, she responded, "American law does not permit the use of foreign law or international law to interpret the Constitution. That's a given and my speech explained that, as you noted, explicitly. There is no debate on that question. There's no issue about that question."

    And yet, Sessions later goes on TV, claiming that he has serious doubts about when Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice would use international law when interpreting the Consitution.

    Why did Sessions do this? Because he, like the rest of the GOP, are pandering to their "base," which is dumb and paranoid enough to listen to their "leaders" instead of listening to the confirmation hearings and thinking for themselves.

    The GOP has no shame!

    July 15, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. bozo the obama

    Be afraid America, another of the chancellors liars.

    July 15, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Willy Brown

    She has done nothing more than distance herself from herself...

    July 15, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. decent american

    i think this woman is crafty. i would not want her to be against me in an argument, thats all im sayin'

    July 15, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. Ken in Gainesville

    Let's face it. The extremists in the Party of No are not going to vote for anyone President Obama nominates, regardless of their qualifications. All they can do is grandstand and make points with their base, and everyone knows you can't get any more unqualified for rational thought than their "base." So blather on, Senators Coburn, your good friend from Alabama Senator Sessions, and the rest of you 19th Century pundits. The train is leaving, and you will forever remain in the station, with your back water friends. Whining! Ain't life grand!

    July 15, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. Bondsman

    Judge Sotomayor said in a ruling that the second Amendment is a state right and yet it is clear when it says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” not that a state or government can tell them if they can, why else would it say “shall not be infringed”? It is the bill of rights for the people not any government, by her thinking free speech, the right of the people to peaceable assemble, The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures or any other of the rights of the people are at risk. It was written over two-hundred years ago and in plain language so that the people could understand what it said, now we have Judges telling us that we don’t understand the meaning and they must tell us what it says?
    Are we less intelligent then we were then or is the government with the help of the courts attempting to become dictatorial and domineering over the people and leave us without away to defend ourselves and families from criminal and the Government? The Second Amendment is the corner stone of the Bill of Rights if we let that one go they will take the rest. She does not belong on the SCOTUS and her and many others should not be judges. The Second Amendment is a fundamental right of the people she should know that!

    July 15, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. Ken in Gainesville

    And oh by the way. Too bad you have never read the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Boy do Republicans hat that one!

    July 15, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. addon

    Every american has the right to keep and bear arms. Let's get off this topic

    July 15, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. Third Party Palin

    If the right to keep and bear arms is a fundemental right, no state could outlaw any weapon.
    Gentlemen start your tanks, rocket launchers and nukes, we're going squirrel hunting.

    July 15, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. Gator

    From accounts that I have read about her ,she will probably be a advocate for gun control and an adversary of the second amendment. She has said nothing yet to make me think she will be good for this country. She may say she's not biased but her track record disproves this.

    July 15, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. joe smith

    governments who have seized the peoples arms,and their results: Uganda; 1970-79; 300,000 Christains executed. Cambodia; 1956-1977; 1 million executed. USSR; 1929-1953; 20 million executed. Germany; 1938-1945; 1,3 million executed. China; 1935; 20 million executed. Guadamala; 1964; 100,000 Mayan Indians executed. in the 20th century, 56 million defenseless peoples were executed. Switzerland, issues every adult a rifle, with training; they have the lowest weapons related crime in the free world. governments who want to seize the peoples right to keep, and bear arms, are wanting a lot more. You can protect your freedom, by voting for men and women who have the Consitution of these United States in mind..

    July 15, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Illinoistom

    To assert that one of the Bill Of Rights does not apply to the states contradicts the 210 year history of the U.S. Constitution. This woman uses pretzel logic at best, at worst she is as activist as Dear Leader himself would be were he a Supreme Court Justice. If our founding documents don't say what they mean, and mean what they say, then we may as well scrap them and let the Supremes dictate law to us.

    July 15, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Brianna, CT

    Sotomayor is doing a fabulous job. She is not allowing the GOPers to rattle her. Well done, Sonia.

    -Sarah Palin is a pig. She has oinked her way from one side of the country to the other spreading lies and "pretending" she's intelligent.

    -Sessions is also a pig. This is the same guy who told another white lawyer that he was a discredit to his race (because he represented black people). So cut to 2009, this same pig is prejudging Sonia Sotomayor and saying she's a racist. What nerve.

    Obama/Biden 2012
    Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court in October

    July 15, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  21. spanky

    obama will be out in 3.5, but his wise latina puppet will still be there

    July 15, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. Slowhand

    I know if I lived in DC I would sure want a gun. People who think that any kind of gun control keeps them out of the hands of criminals are idiots.

    July 15, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  23. Bradley

    Senator Sessions is once again showing the idiocy that kept him off the bench. When Sotomayor ruled that the 2nd Amendment didn't apply to the states, that was pre-Heller. Pre-Heller, the Supreme Court had not addressed the issue. There was no binding precedent. Now there is, and just like every other judge in the country Judge Sotomayor will conform her decisions to Heller. That's how it works. Judges don't recuse themselves just because the law changes.

    Based on Sessions logic, any judge who, pre-Roe v. Wade, held that a state could prohibit abortion would have to recuse himself from any subsequent abortion case.

    July 15, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. ib

    Past records speak for themselves. This woman should not be confirmed just because of where she came from.

    July 15, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  25. Really???

    Again, the "sound bite sally's" make sour notes. Sotomayor continues to prove her salt and worth., I just wish that the inquisitors would ask a question worth the tax payers dollars that they are supposed to be earning doing a job of lawmaker in our country. I hope the whole lot of them are voted out in the coming elections to make room for citizens who actually WANT to do a good job for the country. Poor Judge Sotomayor, she must be bored to tears with all the stupid questions and spin she has to put up with . What a bunch of hoooey!

    July 15, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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