Sen. Cornyn Statement In Advance Of The Judiciary Committee’s Vote On Judge Sotomayor

In: All News   Posted 07/28/2009

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Texas Supreme Court Justice, will make the following opening statement in advance of today's Judiciary Committee vote on Judge Sonia Sotomayor, which can be viewed live here. Below are his remarks, as prepared for delivery. Click here to view the video of Senator Cornyn delivering his statement.  I'd like to thank all my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for making our hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor fair and respectful. Judge Sotomayor herself acknowledged that she could not have received fairer treatment from this committee. I hope that the tone of our hearings will set a standard that will guide both Democrats and Republicans as we consider future nominees to the federal bench. Last week, I made clear my intention to vote against confirmation of Judge Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  I will do so for several reasons. First, while Judge Sotomayor's record as a judge on the District Court and the Second Circuit is generally in the mainstream - some of her decisions demonstrated the kind of liberal judicial activism that has steered the court in the wrong direction over the last few years. These decisions are related to the Second Amendment, the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the New Haven Firefighters case. Second, many of Judge Sotomayor's public statements about judging include very radical ideas on what the role of a judge is.  She has said:  there is no neutrality in law; legal uncertainty is a good thing because it allows judges to change the law and make policy; foreign law can get the "creative juices flowing" as judges interpret the U.S. Constitution; and ethnicity and gender can and even should impact a judge's decisionmaking. Third, this committee gave Judge Sotomayor the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind some of her most controversial decisions - as well as put some of her public statements about judging into the appropriate context - but she did not clear up the confusion over what kind of Justice she would be. Because I cannot be sure which Judge Sonia Sotomayor we will see on the Supreme Court, I must vote against her nomination. The stakes are simply too high for me to confirm someone who could redefine "the law of the land" from a liberal, activist perspective. Mr. Chairman, I know many Senators take the position that Judge Sotomayor will not address legal questions from a liberal, activist perspective. I certainly hope they are right. I also hope that her testimony before this committee represents a "teaching moment" - a moment that defines our consensus on what the role of a judge should be. In the past, we've disagreed about judicial philosophy and judicial activism.  We've debated "original understanding" versus "an evolving constitution." Yet during our hearings, we all seemed to agree. We agreed that judges should interpret the law - and not make the law. We agreed that judges should rely upon the original intent of the Framers when interpreting the Constitution - and not on foreign or international law. We agreed that judges should apply the law faithfully - and not move the law in the direction of their own policy preferences. We agreed that judges should be impartial - and not pick winners and losers based on "empathy" or what is in the judge's heart. Our new consensus is encouraging, Mr. Chairman. We have defined where the judicial mainstream is. We have made clear that radical views on judging have no place on the federal bench. And we have set expectations for future nominees. Thank you Mr. Chairman. *** Sen. Cornyn's first round of questioning with Judge Sotomayor: Sen. Cornyn's opening statement on Judge Sotomayor: Audio of Sen. Cornyn's opening statement: For more information on Sen. Cornyn's previous statements, floor speeches and his daily questions for Judge Sotomayor, please visit the Supreme Court section of his website - also available by clicking here. Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary and Budget Committees.  He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.