Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor refused on Wednesday to elaborate on her views about firearms regulations and the Second Amendment, saying she would "make no prejudgments" about future firearms-related cases.I commented previously about Sotomayor's candidacy to SCOTUS, and I admit it was not supportive. In that article, I also focused on her responses to questions about her support for the Second Amendment as acknowledging an 'individual right', and perhaps suggested that her support was tepid at best, reminiscence of a Cracker asserting that "some of my best friends are N ... uh ... Black People".
President Obama's first nominee to the high court did say that she believed Americans do not currently enjoy a fundamental right to bear arms, which echoes her two previous rulings on the topic as an appeals court judge.
Today, the news reports describe her absolute inability (or unwillingness) to comment on the Second Amendment as an Individual Right.
Because Sotomayor has not clarified her position on gun rights, and has declined repeated invitations to do so during this week's Senate hearing, advocacy groups have turned to her written opinions and the president's own record on firearm regulation. (This parallels the abortion question: While Sotomayor parried those questions on Wednesday, the White House had previously reassured liberal groups that she would be a staunch pro-choice vote on the court.)I have nobly managed not to address her decision on the RICCI case, and in truth I'm not willing to initiate a barrage attack on Sotomeyer's candidacy. I don't like the Ricci decision, I don't agree with it, but here ... it is a digression.
What most concerns me is that a candidate for the Supreme Court of The United States, one who has previously and historicallyl based her decisions on "precedence", is unwilling or unable to cite "precedence" as recent as the past calendar year.
Speaking openly, I don't feel much inclined to argue that a SCOTUS candidate who offers "I don't know, it depends on the case" is ipso facto unqualified for acceptance. Our last two SCOTUS nominees, those who somehow made it past the Senate Selection Committee, often felt obliged to respond in much the same way.
Existing Supreme Court decisions indicate the Second Amendment only limits "the actions the federal government could take with respect to the possession of firearms" and can't be used to strike down broad state laws, Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.This is all well and good (it says here), but this is not a nebulous issue which decision must be finessed by reading between the lines, such as Roe v Wade.
This is an issue which has been very carefully defined by the recent Heller decision, and for a SCOTUS candidate who professes to take into account 'precedents', one wonders why an interpretation of the law, for which precedents exist, has so much trouble answering simple questions.
To illustrate, read the transcript at the end of the article which offers a dialogue between Sotomayor and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK):
[Ed: emphasis added.]
COBURN: Do I have a right to personal self-defense?
SOTOMAYOR: I'm trying to think if I remember a case where the Supreme Court has addressed that particular question. Is there a constitutional right to self-defense? And I can't think of one. I could be wrong, but I can't think of one.
SOTOMAYOR: Generally, as I understand, most criminal law statutes are passed by states. And I'm also trying to think if there's any federal law that includes a self-defense provision or not. I just can't...
COBURN: But do you have an opinion, or can you give me your opinion, of whether or not in this country I personally, as an individual citizen, have a right to self-defense?
SOTOMAYOR: I -- as I said, I don't know.
COBURN: I'm talking about your...
SOTOMAYOR: I don't know if that legal question has been ever presented.
COBURN: I wasn't asking about the legal question. I'm asking about your personal opinion.
SOTOMAYOR: But that is sort of an abstract question with no particular meaning to me outside of...
COBURN: Well, I think that's what American people want to hear, Your Honor, is they want to know. Do they have a right to personal self-defense?...
Those are the kind of things people would like for us to answer and would like to know, not how you would rule or what you're going to rule, but -- and specifically what you think about, but just yes or no. Do we have that right?
SOTOMAYOR: I know it's difficult to deal with someone as a -- like a judge who's so sort of -- whose thinking is so cornered by law.
There is more detail available in the original article, and you may be justified in thinking I have
"cherry-picked" the quotations. So go read the whole thing, and maybe it will help you to make up your own mind about Sotomayor's candidacy for the Supreme Court of The United States.
Personally, I don't have much faith in a SCOTUS candidate who professes to be "cornered by the law".
I never thought that Supreme Court judges could be 'cornored by the law'. I always though that they interpreted the law. If they feel 'cornored by the law', are they really the best candidates for the job?