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Sotomayor Is Proof That Elections Matter July 21, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Constitution, judicial activism, news, politics, racism, second amendment, Supreme Court, U.S. Senate.
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There are fundamental things which Americans should keep in mind throughout the confirmation hearings and subsequent vote on Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

First, our Constitution confers to the President the right to nominate for appointment to the federal courts whomever he desires to have as a federal judge, including justices to the Supreme Court. The choices of the President go well beyond the legal qualifications of those he nominates. Every nominee, especially nominees to the Supreme Court, gives a clear indication of where the President stands on key issues.

In the case of Judge Sotomayor, President Obama has indicated that he is for activist interpretations of the Constitution on gun rights, property rights, felon voting rights, abortion on demand and racial quotas in hiring.

How can one reach this conclusion? By simply reading Sotomayor’s opinions and what she has written and said in speeches.

Sotomayor has argued that the 2nd Amendment, which declares that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, does not apply to states. In Maloney v. Cuomo, she claimed that it is “settled law” that the 2nd Amendment only limits the restrictions that the federal government would seek to impose on individual gun rights. In other words, while the federal government is limited in what it can do on gun control, state and local governments can do whatever they want.

Based on that interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, you have to wonder whether Judge Sotomayor would agree with the Montana State Legislature’s resolution declaring that a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Montana and that remains within the borders of Montana is not subject to federal law or regulation.

In Didden v. Village of Port Arthur, Sotomayor’s views on the power of eminent domain go well beyond the 5th Amendment. In Didden, she claimed that use of the power of eminent domain to take private property and transfer it to a private enterprise was settled law.

While she has not participated in an abortion case ruling, Sotomayor is on record as saying that after Roe v. Wade, abortion is settled law.

In the case of Hayden v. Pataki, Sotomayor argued in her dissent that because minorities were a disproportionate percentage of those serving time for felony convictions, denying them voting privileges is an act of racial discrimination. On that basis, she argued that felons currently serving time should be allowed to vote. What Sotomayor seems to have missed is that criminals serving time were not convicted because of their race, they were convicted because they committed a crime.

And in the case that has received the most national attention, Ricci v. New Haven, Sotomayor attempted to impose a de facto legal basis for racial quotas in hiring and promotion practices. Frank Ricci and nine other firefighters employed by the city of New Haven, Connecticut were denied promotions that they had applied for because no blacks and only one Hispanic scored high enough on an exam to qualify for promotion. One of those firefighters that passed the test and was denied promotion was Ben Vargas who is Hispanic.

In his compelling testimony at Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing, Vargas told the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the focus should not be on his race, but on what he did “… to earn promotion to captain and how my own government and some courts responded to that. In short, they didn’t care.”

Vargas continued, “I was shocked when I was not rewarded for this hard work and sacrifice but actually penalized for it. I became not Ben Vargas, the fire lieutenant who proved himself qualified to be a captain, but a racial statistic.”

Apparently, President Obama’s idea of fairness is using the courts to turn dedicated people such as Ben Vargas into racial statistics because he nominated the judge that did that to Lt. Vargas and his fellow New Haven firemen.

The question now is: do members of the U.S. Senate support this position?

Just as the Constitution gives the President the power to nominate, it gives the U.S. Senate the responsibility to fully and publicly evaluate each nominee’s fitness for appointment as a federal judge before voting either for or against the nominee. In Sotomayor’s case, as with any federal judge or Supreme Court nominee, what Senators are expressing with their votes is their view on issues such as those above.

When the members of the U.S. Senate vote on the Sotomayor nomination, they will be establishing their beliefs about the rights of individuals to own firearms, property rights, voting rights for incarcerated felons, abortion on demand and racial quotas in hiring and promoting.

The President and the members of the Senate are not the only ones who have a responsibility in this process; voters share that responsibility in every election.

Sotomayor is proof that elections really do matter.

By Gary Palmer, president of the Alabama Policy Institute.

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