Sotomayor Latest Justice To Criticize Confirmation Process

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the latest member of the high court to criticize the judicial confirmation process, suggesting the process is not oriented towards useful priorities.

Sotomayor delivered the 18th annual John P. Frank Memorial Lecture at Arizona State University, during which time she said the current confirmation process is essentially useless, because senators attempt to pigeonhole nominees into revealing how they would vote in certain cases.

“What you want is for us to tell you how as a judicial nominee we’re going to rule on the important issues you find vexing,” she said. “Any self-respecting judge who comes in with an agenda that would permit that judge to tell you how they will vote is the kind of person you don’t want as a judge.”

She suggested that senators should attempt to identify cases in which judges have reached a result which is in tension with their personal views. This, she says, makes a useful study in integrity and temperament. (RELATED: Sotomayor: Sometimes I Wanted To Beat Scalia With A Bat)

“Find out whether they have ruled in ways in which they expressed a difference with their personal feelings, because a judge who can’t point to a decision that’s different from how they personally feel is not a judge who’s following the rule of law,” she said.

Sotomayor is not alone among her colleagues in voicing such criticisms. Chief Justice John Roberts offered a similarly blunt appraisal of the confirmation process during an event at New England School of Law.

“Look at my more recent colleagues, all extremely well qualified for the court, and the votes were, I think, strictly on party lines for the last three of them, or close to it, and that doesn’t make any sense,” the chief said. “That suggests to me that the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees.”

“We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans, and I think it’s a very unfortunate impression the public might get from the confirmation process,” he added.

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