GOP Sen. Cornyn: ‘The Two Sonia Sotomayors’; Judge is ‘Steady but Confusing’

Jul 16, 2009 2:55pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapping up today, Republican senators are settling on a final strategy on approaching a nominee who seems certain to be approved — while trying to set the terms for the next debate. On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, a member of the committee, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, expressed frustration with what he sees as a disconnect between speeches Sotomayor has given, and her performance this week under questioning by senators. “I think she’s been very steady but confusing in her testimony,” Cornyn told us. “I think the biggest conundrum that I have, and I think other members have, is how do you reconcile the two Sonia Sotomayors. The one that’s been on the federal bench for 17 years and been pretty much in the mainstream — although, she’s made decisions I disagree with, but that happens to every judge? Or is she the Sonia Sotomayor reflected in her speeches, which are pretty radical, and which she’s had a hard time I think explaining during the course of the hearings?” Cornyn, a former member of the state supreme court in Texas, said he’s still undecided, though he didn’t sound like he’s ready to support Sotomayor. “Does she have the burden of proof? I would say yes. Has she met that burden of proof? I don’t yet believe that she has,” he said. “But I’m trying to keep an open mind at least through the time the hearing ends, and then I’ll make a decision.” “I think she’s been pretty vague when it comes to — what’s the difference between making law and interpreting the law,” Cornyn continued. “I tried to get her to find that but ultimately it sounds like it’s a distinction without any difference. And I’m not sure we know a whole lot about how she would acquit herself if she was confirmed.” With Sotomayor on track for confirmation, Republicans have cast the hearings as “teachable moment,” to inform the public about what’s at stake — and, potentially, to influence the hearings and selection process surrounding the next Supreme Court vacancy. “This is I think an opportunity for the American people to refresh their memory on what kind of decisions, why it makes a difference which kind of judges are selected,” Cornyn said. “Whether judges respect the limits that should be imposed on judges because they’re not policy-makers, not law-makers.” “In other words, I think elections do present choices, and I think this is one of the most consequential choices that those elections dictate. But I do think it’s important that whether it’s the right to keep and bear arms, whether it’s the right to participate in the political process, whether it’s private property rights, whether it’s the equal  justice under the law; these are very fundamental, very important concepts and I think maybe, just maybe this has been a little bit of a refresher course for a lot of people about important subjects they haven’t thought about for a long time.” Click HERE to see the full interview with Sen. John Cornyn.
Also today, we spoke with Politico’s Jonathan Martin about the White House’s lobbying push on health care — and former Gov. Mitt Romney’s emerging status as the (very, very early) GOP frontrunner for 2012. Click HERE to see the interview with Jonathan Martin.

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