Sen. Inhofe: Can Sotomayor Rule "Without Undue Influence" From Her Race And Gender?

May 26, 2009 3:45 pm ET — Melinda Warner

In response to President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice Souter, Sen. Jim Inhofe issued the following in a press release: "In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences."

Sen. Inhofe Doubts That A Supreme Court Justice Can Rule Without Consulting The Goals Of Their "Own Personal Race" And Gender?

The Tuesday morning announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the nominee to succeed Justice Souter on the Supreme Court resulted in a flurry of press releases, official statements, and the endless parade of yammering pundits.

Not to be left out, or over-shadowed by another member's talking points, Sen. Jim Inhofe sent out a statement indicating he feared that Judge Sotomayor would be unable to prove her legal decisions have not been based upon her race and gender.  Inhofe said the Senate will "weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender."

In comparison, the press release on Sen. Inhofe's website regarding the nomination of Justice Alito does not include a charge for (then) Judge Alito to watch how his race and gender would affect his decisions on the bench of the Supreme Court.

October 31, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator James M. Inhofe today issued the following statement regarding President George W. Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

"I am pleased that President Bush has put forward a nomination we can all support, a high minded constructionist judge with an unprecedented amount of experience in the legal field. Judge Sam Alito has had a highly distinguished career as a judge and appears to meet the standard of excellence for Supreme Court nominees. I look forward to learning more about Judge Alito's judicial philosophy and closely examining his past decisions and writings.

"Unfortunately, Judge Alito's nomination met a wave of partisan rhetoric from Senate Democrats just as soon as his selection was announced this morning. With our recent confirmation of a new Supreme Court Chief Justice the Senate has demonstrated its commitment to fair and dignified confirmation proceedings. I hope that Judge Alito's nomination will receive the same treatment.

"Upon first glance, Judge Alito's wealth of experience and legal accomplishments present him as an ideal candidate for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I look forward to a fair hearing process and carrying out my Constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on the president's judicial nominations."

The full release regarding Judge Sotomayor, however, includes not only a reminder that Sen. Inhofe is already on the record as being against the nominee but that he also anticipates judging for himself whether or not Sotomayor can separate her legal mind from her Latina mind.

May 26, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) made the following statement regarding President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Inhofe was one of 29 U.S. Senators that voted against Sotomayor's nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.

"Without doubt, Judge Sotomayor's personal life story is truly inspiring.  I congratulate her on being nominated.  As the U.S. Senate begins the confirmation process, I look forward to looking closer at her recent rulings and her judicial philosophy.

"Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench.  Some of her recent comments on this matter have given me cause for great concern.  In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences."

What does that even mean?  Would Sen. Inhofe have said the same thing if a white male had been nominated?  Would he have asserted that the nominee should refrain from making decisions based upon his race and gender?  Is Inhofe saying that Sotomayor's Latina lineage will supersede her Bronx-to-Ivy League life, that she was nominated to the appellate court by George H.W. Bush, her track record on the bench, or her background which gives her an almost unprecedented glimpse into the lives of Americans across the country?

According to the Huffington Post, Judge Sotomayor is clear on her position of Constitutional authority: "Indeed, during her 1997 confirmation hearing, Sotomayor spoke of her judicial philosophy, saying 'I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it.'" In no way does that statement indicate a struggle between the Latina and the Judge within Sonia Sotomayor's mind.

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