GOP to Label Sotomayor as ‘Activist’

By Caitlin Taylor

May 26, 2009 10:07am

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports: Republicans are prepared for a major confirmation showdown over the Sotomayor nomination.  At the start, Senate Republicans will likely make innocuous statements about the need to thoroughly review her record, but make no mistake, GOP leaders, with a big assist from outside conservative groups, will wage a vigorous campaign against this nomination. In fact, key Senate Republicans are already on record voting against Sotomayor.   When President Bill  Clinton picked her for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in 1997, Republicans blocked her nomination for more than a year.  Ultimately she was confirmed, but 29 Republicans voted no, including Mitch McConnell (now the Republican leader) and Jeff Sessions (now the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “President Obama could have chosen a consensus candidate,” says a top Republican Senate leadership aide, “but he did not.”   For Republicans, Sotomayor was the most controversial of the names widely reported to be on Obama’s short list. Senate Republicans don’t expect to defeat the Sotomayor nomination.  But they hope to raise enough questions about the nomination to make it a tough vote for Democratic Senators in more conservative states.  They will also use the confirmation battle as an opportunity to motivate a demoralized Republican base. There’s an obvious political risk for Republicans in all of this.  If they have any hope of regaining political power, Republicans need to make inroads among Hispanic voters.  Strenuously opposing the first Hispanic Supreme Court nomination, isn’t going to help accomplish that.
Here are some of the key points Republicans will make against Sotomayor: They will call her an “activist” judge intent on making law from the bench, not interpreting law.  As evidence of her “activist” philosophy, conservatives point a statement she made in 2005 that “court of appeals is where policy is made.  I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m — you know..”  You’ll see THIS CLIP a lot.  Republicans will also make much of a 2002 speech Sotomayor made, saying that the sex and ethnicity of a judge “may and will affect our judging.”  She said:  “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Republicans say that four of her opinions have been heard by the Supreme Court and that all four were overturned. Conservatives are also pointing to an article in the liberal magazine The New Republic by Jeffrey Rosen entitled, “The Case Against Sotomayor.”  The article is stuffed with anonymous sources saying Sotomayor has temperament issues and is not an intellectual heavyweight. Although it is highly unlikely that Republicans can defeat the nomination, they can make it extremely difficult for President Obama to reach his goal of confirming Sotomayor before the Senate’s August recess. –Jonathan Karl

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