May 28th, 2009
05:20 PM ET
13 years ago

In her own words: Sotomayor on judicial activism

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sonia Sotomayor in 1997 wrote about judicial activism."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor shared her views on judicial activism with members of the Senate during her two previous federal court confirmation hearings in 1992 and 1997.

A Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire from 1997 asked the judge to "discuss your views" in writing on judicial activism.

Her complete response to that question is available after the jump:

"At the time I was nominated as a district court judge, I answered this question as follows:

'Our Constitution vests the right to make and administer laws in the legislative and executive branches of our government. Judges impermissibly encroach upon that right by rendering decisions that loosen jurisdictional requirements outside of the scope of established precedents and by fashioning remedies aimed at including parties not before the court to resolve broad societal problems.

Judges must provide fair and meaningful remedies for violations of constitutional and statutory rights to the parties before a court. Doing so can, at times, affect broad classes of individuals, may place affirmative burdens on governments and society and may require some administrative oversight functions by a court.

A judge's decision should not, however, start from or look to these effects as an end result. Instead, because judicial power is limited by Article III of the Constitution, judges should seek only to resolve the specific grievance, ripe for resolution, of the parties before the court and within the law as written and interpreted in precedents. Intrusion by a judge upon the functions of the other branches of government should only be done as a last resort and limitedly.'

My service as a judge has only reinforced the importance of these principles. Finding and maintaining a proper balance in protecting the constitutional and statutory rights of individuals versus protecting the interest of government, financial and otherwise, is very difficult. Judges must be extraordinarily sensitive to the impact of their decisions and function within, and respectful of, the constraints of the Constitution."

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. CitizenJane


    Of nearly 3,000 Sotomayor career opinions, only 6 were reviewed and 3 reversed. The 60% you quote is in the higher bracket, not lower. The average for reversals is 75%.

    May 28, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  2. Judicial activism aside - SHE'S NOT QUALIFIED

    Oh my! Are some of you really serious? Do you really think that we should all roll over on Sotomayor just because she'd be an historic appointment? That's ridiculous.

    The woman is a self-avowed judicial activist who thinks the courts ought to make policy as opposed to the legislative branch as prescribed by the Constitution. EQUALLY SCARY IS HER RECORD!

    Of the 8 times her verdicts have been reviewed by the SCOTUS, they were overturned 6 times – including an 8-0 decision. ALL 8 justices disagreed with her. On one of the two cases not overturned, the justices agreed with the verdict but said her arguments fly in the face of all reason.

    Woman or not, Latina or not....she is not qualified (first and foremost) and she doesn't understand or agree with the constitutionally appointed role of the courts.

    ...oh yeah, and then there's the whole issue of reverse discrimination that she supports (ie. New Haven firefighters case)

    May 28, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Jeremiah

    NEILZ said "The woman is, simply, the most qualified jurist to be nominated to the High Court in 40 years."

    What????? Whatever you're smoking you need to share with the rest of us so we can live in an alternate reality along with you.

    Most qualified? Since when does being overturned 6 out of 8 times, including an 8-0 decision, indicate someone is qualified. 75% of the time the SCOTUS disagreed with her. Of the remaining two cases, they said of one that ver verdict was right but by sheer happenstance since her "arguments [flew] in the face of all reason."

    I don't know about you, but where I come from her record is one of absolute failure. Right only 1 out of 8 times someone doesn't communicate "qualified" to me.

    May 28, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. wishing

    Richard, your comment is to academic for many, those complaining about the obvious, to understand. Remember, most Americans don't read books, few read the newspaper, few watch the nightly news, few can and do balance their checkbooks. Speak as if you were speaking to a fifth-grader.

    May 28, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  5. CitizenJane

    @Judicial activism

    Where are you getting your facts from?

    May 28, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. Ford

    Dear Annie for Palin: Yes, everyone really is out to get you.

    May 28, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  7. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    @CitizenJane "Of nearly 3,000 Sotomayor career opinions, only 6 were reviewed and 3 reversed. The 60% you quote is in the higher bracket, not lower. The average for reversals is 75%."

    Actually there have been 8 cases reviewed by the SCOTUS. 7 have been decided and one is pending (New Haven Firefighters). Of the 7 decided, 5 were reversed or vacated (sent back for another try). 2 were upheld. In one of the two upheld, the SCOTUS rejected Sotomayor's reasoning for the verdict, but upheld the verdict for different reasons. In the New Haven case, you can expect a reversal, meaning Sotomayor will be just average (6 of 8 or 75% reversed). Just what we need in the Supreme Court, average.

    May 28, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  8. P Tharp

    Judge Sotomayor was a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton, (straight A's), and has been a federal judge for 17 years. Her first appointment was from President George H.W. Bush, a REPUBLICAN. This is a brilliant, experienced woman and the Supreme Count would be enhanced by her.

    May 28, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. CitizenJane


    Thank you for the correction.

    Please, because I seem to have incorrect data, could you let me know where your data is from?

    May 28, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. Pat, CA

    In her own words, Sotomayor is NOT impartial and should NOT be a Supreme Court judge !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. REGGIE

    The firefighters case is a good example of her racial bias, which Obama desribes as "empathy." It's reverse racism. Her famous latina woman quote, which I known was ofcourse taken out of context, and decisions like these demonstrate that she uses her platform to further her personal agenda not the constitution.

    May 28, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. JT

    ***** Please – If you're posting numbers or stats, list your source too, or the numbers don't have much credibility. Thanks. **************

    May 28, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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