This is the second response I got from Arlen Specter after I wrote to him on my feelings about the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. I feel he is on crack at this point.................
Dear Mr. Mason:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding the nomination and confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. I appreciate knowing your thoughts and opinions on this matter.
During the eleven confirmation proceedings I have participated in, in addition to other proceedings I have studied, I know of no one who brings a stronger or more impressive record to the bench than Justice Sotomayor. A summa cum laude
graduate of Princeton University who went on to Yale Law School, Justice Sotomayor has served as an assistant District Attorney, a District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, and most recently served as a Judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
There were several different lines of criticism aimed at Judge Sotomayor. However, when you examine each line of disapproval against her outstanding judicial record, the respective arguments are vacuous and unconvincing. For instance, a great deal of time was spent on her comment from a 2001 speech at the University of California, Berkeley Law School that she "would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." I believe Justice Sotomayor should have been commended for her statement rather than criticized. In a society which did not grant women the right to vote until 1920, in which the proverbial "glass ceiling" limits women in their career paths, in which only two women have previously served on the Supreme Court and only seventeen serve in the Senate, I would expect a woman to proudly speak up for women's competency. Similarly, I believe a Latina on the Supreme Court will serve as a role model for diversity in our country.
Critics also argued that Justice Sotomayor displayed racial bias in Ricci v. DeStefano,
the case that involved New Haven, CT firefighters. When the Supreme Court issued its ruling on June 29, 2009, it was divided 5-4. I fail to see what there is to criticize in then-Judge Sotomayor's joining a per curiam opinion. Furthermore, when several members of the New Haven Fire Company appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearing, I asked if they had any reason to believe that then-Judge Sotomayor operated in anything but good faith. Both firefighters candidly stated that they had no opinion on the subject, even when offered the opportunity to present it.
An additional charge was leveled against Justice Sotomayor because she joined an opinion holding that Second Amendment rights are not incorporated within the Fourteenth Amendment "due process" clause to be applied to the states. Sotomayor's conclusion is in line with precedent set by the Supreme Court over one hundred years ago. It is not up to a lower court to rule differently when they are bound by Supreme Court precedent.
Under the Senate's Constitutional role of "advice and consent," it is the responsibility of the Senate Judiciary Committee to question any Supreme Court nominee to determine how that nominee would approach specific issues. There was nothing in Justice Sotomayor's seventeen-year record to suggest that she would legislate from the bench.
I have long said that there is a general lack of understanding about what takes place in the Supreme Court and raised these issues with Justice Sotomayor. For instance, during his confirmation hearing now-Chief Justice Roberts, when confronted with the light workload of the Court, stated that he thought the Court could take on a greater number of cases. When I asked Justice Sotomayor if she agreed with that conclusion, she initially would not answer the question. However, when I posed the same question to her on the next day of the confirmation hearing, she answered in the affirmative.
On August 6, 2009, the Senate confirmed Justice Sotomayor to the Supreme Court by a final vote of 68-31. I am certain that Justice Sotomayor will be an excellent Justice. Thank you again for writing. Please be assured that the concerns of my constituents are of great importance to me, and I rely on you and other Pennsylvanians to inform me of your views. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office or visit my website at http://specter.senate.gov