With President Obama's nomination of U.S. Circuit Court judge Sonia Sotomayor to the vacancy being created by U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter's impending retirement, Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network, is urging senators to take a very close look at her record before commenting on her fitness for the job.
"Of all the possible nominees suggested over the past few weeks, it appears Obama selected the most radical one," said Massie. "The U.S. Senate has a duty to scrutinize Judge Sotomayor's record to ensure she has the demeanor and aptitude to be elevated to such a solemn post."
Massie continued: "During the Bush Administration, it was common for liberal senators to demand a consensus nominee with broad political appeal. By selecting an avowed liberal in Sotomayor, it would appear Obama is not following the stipulation he and his former colleagues sought to impose upon his predecessor. This should open up the nomination to the scrutiny it justly deserves."
The Sotomayor nomination, Massie notes, is the perfect catalyst to begin a national debate on the appropriateness of "judicial activism" - when judges essentially cut lawmakers out of the legislative process and try to rule from the bench. For example, in a 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Sotomayor said it was appropriate for a judge such as herself to use her "experiences as women and people of color" to "affect our decisions." In 2005, she told a crowd at the Duke University Law School that the "Court of Appeals is where policy is made" - rather than by lawmakers beholden to voters.
Massie commented: "Considering Justice Souter's record, Sotomayor will not change the balance of the Supreme Court. But she will likely dramatically alter the temperament of the Court and the way in which it operates. Senators must keep this in mind as they take on the very solemn process of vetting her fitness."
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