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Despite Right-Wing Claims, Sotomayor Has a Record of Impartiality

SOURCE: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009, before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Republican attacks in today’s confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor focused largely on their claim that Sotomayor lacks “impartiality” and is likely to decide cases based on her personal beliefs instead of the law. This line of attack is not surprising in light of their comments prior to the hearings, yet Republicans have still been unable to cite a single case where Sotomayor put her feelings before the law.

In Ricci v. DeStefano, the New Haven firefighters case, Sotomayor followed a 1984 precedent whose facts were nearly identical to those presented by Ricci. In her Second Amendment decision, Maloney v. Cuomo, she followed a binding Supreme Court precedent, which holds that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states. Sotomayor, in an eminent domain case called Didden v. Village of Port Chester that Republicans are dwelling upon, dismissed a landowner’s claim because he filed his case two years after the statute of limitations had run out. Despite all their ranting against “activist judges,” conservatives seem most bothered by the fact that Sotomayor refuses to be an activist.

As Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) points out, Sotomayor ruled against immigrants 83 percent of the time, for the prosecution 92 percent of the time, and against discrimination plaintiffs eight of nine times. She is a nonideological judge, and she will be confirmed unanimously if she is given the fair hearing that Republicans claim she will receive.

Ian Millhiser is a Legal Research Analyst at American Progress.

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