July 14th, 2009
04:03 PM ET
14 years ago

Sotomayor says she has different approach to judging than Obama

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judge Sonia Sotomayor broke with President Barack Obama Tuesday on the importance of empathy in judging, saying that she did not agree with his assertion that in a small number of tough cases "the legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision" and "the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart."

Asked by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, to reply to the president's remark, Sotomayor said she "wouldn't approach the issue of judging in the way the president does."

Sotomayor told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Obama "has to explain what he meant by judging. I can only explain what I think judges should do, which is judges can't rely on what's in their heart. They don't determine the law. Congress makes the laws."

Sotomayor asserted that the "job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases. It's the law. The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge."

She said that, in every instance, she looks strictly "at the law that's being cited. I look at how precedent informs it. ... We apply law to facts. We don't apply feelings to facts."

Sotomayor made her remarks during the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
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