Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee ended last week, after four days of testimony from her supporters, detractors, and the judge herself. The judge seems set to be confirmed by the Senate in August, enjoying the support of most, if not all, Democrats, and perhaps a few Republicans.
While the above New York Times article suggests that Sotomayor’s repudiation of the idea that empathy is part of judging, and her deliberate efforts to distance herself from her “wise Latina” remark, were victories for conservatives, the bloggers at Womenstake pointed out that her testimony should reassure pro-choice Americans:
On the first day of questioning, Senator Kohl asked directly, and Judge Sotomayor responded clearly, that she believes that the Constitution contains a right to privacy. …In sum… her clear agreement with the right to privacy, and strong description of the Court’s current precedents regarding Roe and women’s health, lend further support to the impression from her legal record that she would not undermine Roe v. Wade if confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor’s performance contained no fatal errors. Jill Filipovic at RH Reality Check, in fact, seems to think the Republican Party is the ultimate loser of the hearings – her enthusiastically outraged blog post is worth a read.
Overall, the nominee’s pending confirmation is good news for women, who will finally have another voice on the court. We previously blogged about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views on women in the court here. Political realities made it necessary for the nominee to distance herself from previous comments about how her experiences and gender might influence her rulings. Human realities mean that every judge comes to the bench with a lifetime of experiences that affect how he or she interprets the circumstances of any case, the exact meaning of ambiguities in law, and even the Constitution. More than half of Americans are female. The closer our court comes to reflecting this statistic, with four or five female justices, the more likely we are to see true justice.