Business groups, advocates for and against abortion rights, and a variety of other interests are offering their thoughts today on the choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.
Some of the groups are expressing a strong position for or against Sotomayor. Others are withholding judgment, saying that they can't find much in her record that relates directly to the issues they care about. Sotomayor has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit since 1998 and previously was a trial judge in the Southern District of New York.
Here's a sample of the latest reactions from interest groups, in the order we received them.
Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Litigation Center:
“In recent years, the Supreme Court has played an increasingly important role in deciding issues that affect the business community and the health of the economy. It is important that the confirmation process focus carefully on the nominee’s views and how they would impact economic growth and Main Street businesses. It is equally important that the next associate justice applies the law without bias.
“The Chamber intends to be deeply involved in the confirmation process as it unfolds. We follow a formal policy to evaluate and endorse Supreme Court nominees. A committee of members consisting of Supreme Court practitioners and experts in business law will evaluate the candidate’s fitness for office based on his or her legal scholarship, judicial temperament, and understanding of business and economic issues. The Chamber has followed the policy in its endorsements of Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Associate Justices Alito, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Thomas."
Tiger Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, which advocates for corporate defendants:
“Judge Sotomayor’s apparent embrace of ‘regulation through litigation’ is a matter of concern for those of us who believe that unelected judges should not actively seek to make policy. Judge Sotomayor’s candid remarks at Duke Law School a few years ago have recently become a much reported YouTube sensation wherein she says, ‘It is the court of appeals where policy is made.’ That’s a disconcerting concept that arguably flies in the face of the Constitution’s separation of powers, which properly leaves policymaking in the hands of the elected branches of government.
“In an era when the plaintiffs’ bar and certain special interests are unapologetically pursuing through the courts various policy ends that they have been unable to achieve through the political process, Judge Sotomayor’s comment should trigger a thorough discussion of the judiciary’s role in formulating public policy during her confirmation hearing.”
Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, which advocates for separation of church and state:
"The U.S. Senate must now examine Judge Sotomayor and ensure she is up to the challenge the president has asked her to assume. Given the tenuous nature of the public’s continued support for the religious liberty clauses in the Constitution and constant assaults on the separation of church and state from both government and religion, I will be particularly attentive to the nominee’s views on the importance of preventing any entanglement between the institutions of religion and government in our nation. Though this is not the only concern that merits attention and examination, support for religious freedom is crucial to maintaining the foundation on which our system of government has been constructed and sustained."
Paul Nathanson, executive director of the National Senior Citizens Law Center:
“Older Americans, especially low-income older Americans, have a large stake in courts committed to faithful application of legal protections for access to health care, retirement security, equal job opportunity, consumer protection, and product safety. Judge Sotomayor’s record shows that on the Supreme Court she will be a strong voice for seeing that those safeguards are fairly enforced.”
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, which advocates for separation of church and state:
“We hope Judge Sotomayor turns out to be in the mold of retiring Justice David H. Souter – a strong champion of separation of church and state. ... Americans United looks forward to working with the Judiciary Committee to draft a series of questions for Judge Sotomayor. We hope the coming weeks shed more light on her views on important religious liberty issues.”
Robert Bernstein, executive director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law:
"Her opinions demonstrate that Judge Sotomayor understands the language and the purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability rights laws. Her empathy is evident, as is her understanding that judges' decisions interpreting these federal laws have real-life consequences for people with disabilities and their opportunity to participate in American life."
Mary Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters:
“The League of Women Voters is pleased by President Obama’s announcement this morning that he will nominate the first Latina, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, to serve on the nation’s highest court. The nomination of Judge Sotomayor to fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice David Souter is a bold step by President Obama to diversify the Court.
“It is a time to celebrate our nation’s diversity and differences. The nomination of the first Latina and the third woman to the country’s highest court is cause for all Americans to be proud. Today’s announcement is historic for all American citizens. Judge Sotomayor’s nomination marks another milestone on our path toward a democracy that is truly representative of its citizenry.”
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, which opposes abortion rights:
“A necessary quality for a Supreme Court justice is to be committed to equal treatment of the law, regardless of ethnicity or sex. Sonia Sotomayor has an extensive record and several troubling opinions where she seems willing to expand certain ‘rights’ beyond what the Constitution establishes and the appropriate Supreme Court precedent.
"Revealing her immodest bias, she stated that a 'Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.' Congress needs to thoroughly vet Judge Sotomayor and Americans deserve enough time to evaluate her record and her announced bias for certain people. Her high reversal rate alone should be enough for us to pause and take a good look at her record. Frankly, it is the Senate’s duty to do so.”
David Lizárraga, board chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
“Her independent outlook, record of excellence, and strong integrity are what our nation needs in a Supreme Court Justice. She is a role model of strength, focus, and discipline and exemplifies the American ethos, proving that anyone in this nation can fulfill their dreams, matching their potential with opportunity.”
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which favors abortion rights:
"Over the past three decades, the combined effect of a severe shortage of abortion providers, onerous state abortion restrictions, and lack of funding make abortion virtually unavailable for many women. And the last Supreme Court decision on abortion was 5 to 4 and diluted the constitutional protections for a woman’s right to abortion.
“It is critical that any new Justice empathize with the true plight of women to not only recognize when those protections are being violated, but to take steps to safeguard them. We encourage the Senate Judiciary Committee to engage Judge Sotomayor and any future nominees to the Court on their commitment to the principles of Roe v. Wade. Anything less threatens not only a woman’s constitutional rights, but her life and health."