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  • Is Sotomayor Neutral?

    Senator John Cornyn asked Judge Sotomayor to comment on a less famous yet still controversial statement that she made in her now infamous Wise Latina speech, in which she stated that there is no “objective stance” or “neutrality” in judging. Her explanation failed the most fundamental of Senate hearing tests—the laugh test.

    She explained she was simply stating that a judge must eventually make a choice in every case to side with one litigant or the other. In the end, a judge cannot be neutral to the parties: “You’re going to rule in someone’s favor. You’re going to rule against someone’s favor. That’s the perspective of the lack of neutrality. It’s that you can’t just throw up your hands and say, ‘I’m not going to rule.’”

    First, no one disputes that a judge must eventually come to a conclusion in a case. This isn’t exactly a novel idea, and certainly not worth spelling out in a speech to law students. Of course a judge isn’t “neutral” when he issues a decision. The question is whether judges can be neutral in the process of making a decision. Sotomayor’s speech makes clear that her answer is, “no”:

    Yet, because I accept the proposition that, as Judge Resnik describes it, “to judge is an exercise of power” and because as, another former law school classmate, Professor Martha Minnow of Harvard Law School, states ‘there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives – no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging,’ I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that–it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.

    Rather than wringing her hands about ultimately reaching a judgment as she claimed before the Senate, Sotomayor’s speech makes the broad and repugnant claim that judges are incapable of being impartial, neutral, or objective in the process of judging because they do—and according to her, they should—take into account their own personal experiences: a flat-out rejection of the basic American concept of blind justice.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Is Sotomayor Neutral?

    1. Jim , Ohio says:

      IF WE COULD HAVE CONNECTED SOTAMAYOR TO A

      POLYGRAPH DURING THE HEARINGS, SOME NEDDLES

      WOULD HAVE BEEN BENT !!!!!!!!!!!

      S T O P THE LOONS NOW !!!!!!!!!!

    2. A.G.Katona Campbells says:

      Republicans must step up in many areas this is one of them.That thing has no business even being a traffic court judge much less Supreme court,her words and decisions condem her.She obviously got where she is because of her ethnicity,if the good guys dont speak up the evil that is hussein will continue unchecked.

    3. Barb -mn says:

      I can't believe the disgrace of this country to be making exception of a woman who is clearly bias and racist. Who's actions speak louder then her words and who's words are dangerous.

      The once upon a time strength of the American judiciary committee would not have made exception to anyone showing or stating bias or racism. Today, their exception is clearly based on race as the government sees her as inferior. This is the total opposite of what the government of this country should exemplify. She's equally human, less the dignity.

    4. Roger S., MA. says:

      Somehow, none of this surprised me, except I'm a little shocked — at myself, for not being surprised, and I'd like to know why. Maybe the following thoughts are a clue?

      I always thought there had to be an explanation how someone like Sotomayor got to be the way she is, and somehow the idea it was racial or socioeconomic background alone just didn't seem enough, not after all the training these people get, and the hard work they're subjected to in the process.

      Now it seems clear, however: our lawschools, not all, but a significant number and quality of them, are producing this type of mentality. And, it must be having to do with the philosophical undercurrent, or properly lack thereof, at these institutions. If the remarks quoted to Resnik or Minnow are true and not wildly out of context, the philosophical lightness floats right through them.

      These people have been taught pragmatism and moral relativity as their sense of life, and are in the process of transmitting this to the next generation of students. Of course, if "there is no objective stance, but only a series of perspectives-no neutrality…", if that is what you were taught, and you accepted it, then you will resent the act, resent that "there is no escape from choice in judging". You will resent it, and alone this very fact will remove you from the realm of dispassionate analysis and evaluation, and then you will shirk or crave, but never accept with equanimity, that "to judge is an exercise of power" over others, which you experience as imposition or burden, rather than as a power over the self, which is always properly a joy. And this will reinforce in the next cycle the notion that objectivity is chimerical, and the vicious circle will have closed.

      The result is what we've seen and heard this past week in Senate chambers. And read about in preceding weeks in sordid detail. It is very shocking indeed.

    5. Will, Washington DC says:

      In just a few short paragraphs you did what the Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee did not: press Sotomayor in the context of her quotes. Since the beginning, both the White House press office and Sotomayor herself have told us that putting her remarks in context takes away their radicalism. As you point out (and as the many good people at Heritage often do), context makes her remarks worse.

      What is often lost in confirmation battles is an understanding of the battlefield: not one of results, but one of process. How does one interpret the Constitution? Obviously a decision is not neutral, but the process should only be partial to one thing: the Constitution's plain meaning. Sotomayor has never expressed an interest in that, giving anyone who cares about intellectually honest Constitutional interpretation reason enough to laugh at her absurdity as they cast a "No" vote.

    6. angela says:

      We need to stop all the bickering between each other and start acting like Republican. Quit conforming because that is what has lead to all this. Politicans need to stand up for us and listen to what the people want. When this happens then there will be real change. Not just lip service. Why Sotomayor got to the place she is, becasue she tells people what they want to hear. She plays all the right cards when she needs to she is so transparent. It will be terrible when she gets in there and they only people to blame is then ones who are voting her in. we do not want this!!!

    7. Kay Gaworski Nevada says:

      Because of a LIFETIME APPOINTMENT, Sotomayer can not be voted out of office. Therefore, all representatives voting for her on our behalf, need to know many people feel she is not the right person for this position. Too many problems have surfaced and the possible damage she could cause during her LIFETIME are too serious to be overlooked. Constituents, their children and their grandchildren need a bright mind on the Supreme Court to help guide us through the problems of tomorrow, let alone today!

      Don't select this candidate when more experienced and well qualified candidates are willing and available to vie for THIS position. IT IS MUCH TOO IMPORTANT TO ALL OUR LIVES.

    8. Patsy Sikes, Peachtr says:

      I sinserly believe that Sotomayor has a "Chip on her Shoulder" and at her age that is a long time to carry such a chip! I am sure she will go to the Supreme Court for the rest of her life…so I hope she will make a "Great Supreme Court Justice" but if she judges on her "feelings" because of experiences, she will not attain in the Public eye what she should deem as a very great achievement in making it to the highest court in the land of the Greatest Country on Earth!!! AND THAT IS SOME KIND OF ACCHIEVEMENT any way you want to look at it…So knock that chip off your shoulder, Ms. Sotomayor. It is most unbecoming to the status you have achieved in this extraordinary place called "The United States of America".

    9. Bob Bartlett, Phoeni says:

      How many more Supreme Court Judges will be INDUCED by the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION too retire and permit them to take control of THE COURT???

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