The only thing we know for sure about Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor is that she is a master dodge ball player. At times boring all of us – except perhaps the most adept legal eagles – with her equivocating answers, Sotomayor has not directly answered any of the questions put to her by the Senators.
Today’s exchange with Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn was an exercise in futility. For nearly one hour, Coburn asked her questions on several key issues including gun control vs. the right to ownership, abortion, and what constitutes a fundamental right that can not be overturned by a Court or the Congress.
Sotomayor’s answers were consistently boring and laden with legal terms and case citings. She never once answered how she would rule on any of these cases or what her own views are on these issues.
What does she think the purpose of this hearing before the Senators is all about? Does she think it’s so we can see her face?
The purpose of appearing before the Senate committee is to ascertain how a nominee for the Supreme Court thinks, what their decision process is, how they arrive at decisions, and their belief system.
The reason why it’s so important to find out how a potential member of the Supreme Court believes and thinks is because Supreme Court justices are, once confirmed, on the Court for life or until they voluntarily retire.
Dodging questions or refusing to answer how she feels about issues does not help the Senators nor any of us understand what kind of justice she will be if confirmed.
At one point, Senator Coburn became so frustrated with her equivocation that he let her know it: “If I can’t get you to go there, I want to quit and go on to something else, if I can.”
Coburn wrapped up his time raising doubts about Sotomayor. “And the problem I’m having is, I really see a dissonance,” Coburn told Sotomayor, “about what you said outside of your jurisprudence,” most likely referring to her “wise Latina” comment. “And the only thing…the only ability we have to judge is what that passion has relayed in the past and your statements here, in combination with your judicial practice…I have yet to decide where I’m going on this, because I am still deeply troubled because of the answers I couldn’t get in the 50 minutes…and also deeply troubled because I believe what you’ve spoken to the law students, what you’ve spoken in your writings truly reflect your real passions, which I sometimes find run in conflict with what I think the Constitution has to say.”