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Why I will oppose Judge Sotomayor

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Nebraskans,

After meeting with Judge Sonia Sotomayor, watching the confirmation hearings, reading her past judicial decisions, and carefully reviewing her overall record, I have decided I cannot support her nomination for the Supreme Court of the United States. She has good reason to be proud of a long career as a public servant. However, for the reasons detailed below, she will not have my vote.

When Chief Justice John Roberts was questioned at his own confirmation hearing in 2005, he compared a judge to an umpire at a baseball game: "Umpires don't make the rules," he said. "They apply them ... they make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire." It was a perfect analogy to describe those who embody the words inscribed on the outside of the Supreme Court building: "Equal Justice Under Law."

Judge Sotomayor has not demonstrated throughout her career or most recently before the Senate Judiciary Committee that she adheres to that approach. In fact, she has publicly acknowledged that her beliefs and experiences affect her judicial decision making. She had an opportunity during her confirmation hearing to retract those prior public statements, but she did not. Throughout her testimony Judge Sotomayor appeared more interested in avoiding all contentious issues as opposed to speaking her beliefs freely.

Further doubts arose when I examined her history as a judge. Actions do speak louder than words, and when she did act, it did not measure up to those who I personally have thought worthy of sitting on the highest court in the country. The Supreme Court has substantively reviewed ten of her decisions, and reversed or vacated eight of them. In one of them, the Supreme Court pointed out that her decision had ignored two prior Supreme Court decisions. Of the remaining two, one was upheld in a 5-4 decision, and the other, while also upheld, was disparaged for using legal reasoning that "flies in the face of the statutory language."

Lastly, I do not support Judge Sotomayor's rulings that have explicitly demonstrated her belief that the Second Amendment is something that state laws could abrogate. It is alarming to me, and I know it is alarming to many Nebraskans that Judge Sotomayor holds an extremely narrow view on the right to bear arms.

Although Judge Sotomayor has had a successful career, when her nomination comes to the Senate floor, I will not support it.


Mike Johanns

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Sen. Mike Johanns
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Nebraska governor and Lincoln mayor.

Address: 404 Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4224
Fax: (202) 228-0436

You may contact Senator Johanns by emailing mike_johanns@johanns.senate.gov. If you would like to receive a response from Senator Johanns, please ensure you include your name, full address, and phone number.