Controversial Sotomayor remark surfaces

May 26, 2009 6:55:46 PM PDT
President Obama picked Sonia Sotomayor to become the first Hispanic to sit on the highest court in the country.

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Right now, she's a federal appeals court judge in New York. She graduated from Princeton and Yale Law School. She's divorced with no children.

Sotomayor is a Latina from humble beginnings who has worked her way up to the pinnacle of her profession. She has a compelling personal story.

In accepting the nomination, Judge Sonia Sotomayor addressed the question her critics are already raising.

"I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights," said Sotomayor.

Opponents are pointing to a video clip on YouTube they say exposes Sotomayor as an activist judge.

"Court of appeals is where policy is made, and I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law, I know," said Sotomayor in a YouTube video.

And in 2001 at UC Berkeley speech she said: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion that a white male who hasn't lived that life."

"I think that she's saying something that everybody knows and she's being candid," said Maria Blanco from UC Berkeley Law School.

Blanco is director of the Earl Warren Institute of Race and Ethnicity at UC Berkeley's Law School. She said Sotomayor was talking about discrimination cases.

"I think what she's saying in that comment, is that it's good to have somebody on the bench that knows that element," said Blanco.

Born in New York, Sotomayor was raised in housing projects in the Bronx, rising out of poverty to become a prosecutor in Manhattan and a federal judge appointed by the first President Bush. Later President Clinton appointed her to the Appeals Court.

"She would bring more experience on the bench and more varied experience on the bench than anyone currently service on the United States Supreme Court had when they were appointed," said President Obama.

Senator Barbara Boxer says Sotomayor's life story serves as an inspiration, not just to every Hispanic and woman but to every American.

Senator Feinstein cautioned opponents saying: "We will have 60 votes on the floor of the united states senate therefore any unnecessary delay will only keep the court from getting ready for the new term."

ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain says Hispanics have already voter turned away from the GOP over immigration. If Republicans now oppose the first Hispanic on the High Court, it will could be fatal to the party's hopes.

"They may not officially say that it's in the back of their minds, but I think unofficially it'll very much be in the back of their minds," said Professor Cain, Ph.D.

What supporters are saying, from Maria Blanco at UC Berkeley to the White House press secretary, is Sonia Sotomayor's judicial record is right down the middle. And that is the record on which she should be judged.

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