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Sotomayor hearings: Democrats, Republicans debate judge's consistency

July 15, 2009 |  9:12 am

Before the hearings began, Republicans were more concerned about Sonia Sotomayor's speeches and advocacy with the Puerto Rican Defense and Education Fund and less focused on her record as a judge.
Three days along, and that's where we still are.

At a press conference minutes ago, Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested that Sotomayor isn't giving an honest account of herself. "You can't say one thing in Berkeley and another in Washington," Sessions said. He also said that Sotomayor had not been as "clear or consistent" as nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito had been during their hearings. And they complained that is remains unclear where Sotomayor stands on abortion and gun rights.

Democrats too are sticking to their message. Sen. Benjamin L.  Cardin (D-Md.) said that Sotomayor hasn't shown herself to be a judicial activist, which he defines as judges such as the aforementioned Roberts and Alito, saying "we don't want an activist judge who will turn the clock back" on voting rights and environmental policy. "I think she's been clear. I think she's been consistent," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). "She has grounded her answers firmly in case law and existing precedent."

Whitehouse praised Sotomayor for not getting drawn into answering questions about her views on abortion and gun rights, saying it "was very appropriate for her not to answer those questions" because cases involving those issues frequently come before the Supreme Court.

-- James Oliphant

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