June 2nd, 2009
10:00 PM ET
13 years ago

White House's Sotomayor talking points

(CNN) - CNN has obtained a White House document in support of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor handed out to Republican senators Tuesday.

The document, entitled "Sonia Sotomayor: A Nonideological and Restrained Judge," was shared with CNN by a conservative source who said it was provided to Republican senators who met with the judge on Capitol Hill.

A White House official has confirmed the document is from the White House.

Document after the jump


The New York Times said that Judge Sotomayor's “judicial opinions are marked by diligence, depth and unflashy competence” and that they “are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes careful attention to the facts in the record and methodical application of layers of legal principles.” Nominee’s Rulings are Exhaustive but Often Narrow, New York Times (May 26, 2009).

At the time of Judge Sotomayor?s nomination to the Second Circuit, Gerald Walpin, who the New York Times called “a former federal prosecutor who is widely known in New York legal circles as a staunch conservative,” described Judge Sotomayor as “exactly what conservatives want: a nonactivist judge who does not apply her own views but is bound by the law.” GOP, Its Eyes on High Court, Blocks a Judge, New York Times (Jun. 13, 1998).

Judge Sotomayor wrote expressly about the importance of judicial restraint in the
questionnaire she submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee in connection with her
Second Circuit nomination:

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. . . .

Judge Sotomayor also spoke to the importance of fidelity to the law and of judicial
restraint in the confirmation hearing itself. When asked by then-Senator Ashcroft
whether she would “read additional rights into the Constitution, like a right for
homosexual conduct on the part of a prisoner,” she said: “I can?t do it, sir. I can?t do it
because it is so contrary to what I am as a lawyer, and as a judge. The Constitution is
what it is. We cannot read rights into them. They have been created for us.” And when
asked by Senator Sessions whether “we really weaken and undermine the Constitution
when we try to bend it to make it fit our contemporary feelings of the moment”, she
replied: “Sir, I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It
says what it says. We should do honor to it.”

Since joining the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has developed a record as a moderate
who agrees with her more conservative colleagues far more frequently than she disagrees
with them.

o Since joining the Second Circuit, she has participated in 434 published panel
decisions where the panel included at least one judge appointed by a Republican
president. In those cases, she agreed with the result favored by the Republican
appointees in 413 cases - 95% of the time.

Many of Judge Sotomayor's opinions reflect a keen understanding of the appropriate
limits of the judicial role.

o Takes care to make sure the case is properly before the courts. In Center for
Reproductive Law & Policy v. Bush (2002), for example, Judge Sotomayor
affirmed the dismissal of a reproductive rights organization's challenge to the
“Mexico City Policy” on the ground that the organization lacked standing to bring
the case.

o Respects criminal convictions and sentences, and does not rush to reverse them
even when mistakes were made. In United States v. Falso (2008), for example,
Judge Sotomayor concluded that although the search warrant used to obtain the
evidence against the defendant was not supported by probable cause, the officers
who executed the search acted in good faith reliance on it and thus the conviction
should stand. Similarly in United States v. Rittweger (2008), Judge Sotomayor
concluded that although the prosecution had violated the defendant?s rights under
Brady, the error did not affect the outcome of the trial and thus the conviction
should stand.

o Respects controlling precedent. In Mendez v. Mukasey (2008), for example,
Judge Sotomayor wrote a panel opinion applying circuit precedent to hold that the
court lacked jurisdiction to review an IJ decision on a particular issue respecting
cancellation of removal. Yet her opinion also expressed the panel's view that the
petitioner?s arguments on the merits were “persuasive,” and that “[w]ere we
operating on a new slate, we would be inclined to hold that the question of
whether an alien has established „exceptional and extremely unusual hardship? is
a determination for which we have jurisdiction to review.”

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Dems are communist

    vote her out now, she is racist,just like sharpton.

    June 2, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  2. P Tharp

    She sounds to me like more of a conservative judge than moderate. Wonder what made Obama think she would be more like Souter? She's Catholic; has ruled with conservatives 95% of the time. Oh well, maybe he knows something we don't know.

    June 2, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. Stepford wives are the best

    She will easily get on the bench.

    June 2, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  4. yen

    I think Sonia will make a great judge. What is wrong with tons and tons of life experience !!!!!

    June 2, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  5. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    The White House is going to pick out the good parts in support of their nominee. America needs to see the entire career including the bad decisions and to learn more about her statements in speeches and discussion panels to learn more about her ideology affecting her decisions.

    June 2, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  6. Fred

    Why does CNN always close articles from further postings? By the time you get home for the day, and read the article, it's already been closed. Don't they want to give their readers a chance to respond?

    June 3, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. Hope

    Confirm her already.

    June 3, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  8. Paul in Alexandria, VA

    She's a winner in my mind! This confirmation should be done by the end of July or it will be a travesty.

    June 3, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  9. Kathy

    Mercifully, rhetoric is gone. Is this a sign the moderate, thinking republicans are showing their faces? I certainly hope so.

    June 3, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  10. Carl from MI

    Yeah, so?

    I'm sure it's nothing worse than what Dubya gave FIX-ed News for 8 years....

    June 3, 2009 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  11. James

    RushNewtCheny can be as mean as they want to be but American people are smart.

    June 3, 2009 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  12. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Why would Sotomayor not rule after a 3 year process on the case of several states in the Northeast suing power companies over greenhouse gasses? Does she not want this to be an example of activism by not looking at economic,and national security concerns. Personally I think the power companies should ration the electricity sent to the Northeast so that they can say we do not use electricity that is produced by fossil fuels and then see if those parties responsible for the lawsuit even stay in office with rolling black outs and third world capacity for their residents who want their big homes, multiple electronic gadgets, luxury items, and fancy offices with creature comforts on 24hrs. a day.

    June 3, 2009 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  13. Anonymous

    "Sonia Sotomayor: A Nonideological and Restrained Judge"

    Other White House provided Orwellian-doublespeak documents:
    – Up is Down;
    – In is Out;
    – On is Off, and my personal favorite;
    – These are Not the Droids You're Looking For.

    POTUS Fail.

    June 3, 2009 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  14. John in NC

    What about the NH firefighter case? The firefighters were told they'd get a promotion if they passed a test. The test was passed almost exclusively by white (and one Hispanic) firefighter. The city decides that the low pass rate for black must mean the test is "racist" (even though the city picked and approved it ahead of time) and then throws the test and the promotions out. Firefighters sue and claim discrimination. What does the "wise Latina" do? She rules AGAINST the firemen, saying that yes, a test is racist if not enough blacks pass.

    Is this what we want on the Supreme Court (who are reviewing this case on appear right now)?

    June 3, 2009 02:07 am at 2:07 am |