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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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