Judge frustrates senators

July 16, 2009
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It’s times like a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that really drive home the differences between how the general public and judges think, especially on hot-button issues like abortion and gun rights.

I found a few quotes from U.S. Supreme Court nominee 2nd Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor worth highlighting.

Senators questioned her on the topics mentioned above, to which the judge failed to give the answers the senators wanted to hear. According to a CNN.com article, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, was frustrated by Judge Sotomayor’s responses saying she’d need specifics of a particular case before giving her opinion about whether someone has a fundamental right to own a gun or whether certain abortions would be legal.

“What we do is different than the conversations citizens have about what they want the law to do,” the judge said, noting judges have to look at the facts and apply the law based on those facts. “It’s not that we make a broad policy choice and say this is what we want.”

This is something I think most of the general public, and apparently politicians, don’t understand when dealing with judges. They are selected (or elected) to uphold and interpret the law, not to interject their personal beliefs into the law.

A judge may believe abortion should be illegal or all guns should be outlawed, but as Judge Sotomayor stated, judges have to consider the facts of the case and the applicable laws to make a decision. Of course, the politicians who oppose her nomination would love for her to respond to the questions with answers they don’t like so they can jump all over her and use it to vote against her.
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