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Bench Memos

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6 of 7 GOP Committee Votes



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It was a historic vote just now in the Senate Judiciary Committee; almost all Republicans voted against appointing Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is the end of Republican deference to judicial activism.

This vote will mark the moment when Senators began, in their constitutional exercise of “advice and consent,” to push the Supreme Court back to its proper role of judicial restraint under the Constitution.

Americans already oppose, by a margin of more than 3 to 1,  judges ruling based on their personal experiences, feelings, and opinions. That majority will continue to grow with leadership like that exercised today by Senator Sessions and all Committee Republicans except one.

For the first time in their long experience on the Committee, Senators Hatch and Grassley opposed the choice of a president for the Supreme Court. They, like many Republicans, have historically been far more deferential to Democratic presidents when it came to Court picks than Democrats have been to Republicans.

This one-sided deference, epitomized by then-Senator Barack Obama’s votes against Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito merely because they practiced judicial restraint, followed by now-President Obama’s nomination of a liberal judicial activist, cannot continue. Not when a runaway Supreme Court continues to march to the left, inventing law that is nowhere to be found in the Constitution (increasingly looking to foreign and international law to do so) and failing to uphold the guarantees that are explicit in the Constitution, such as the right to keep and bear arms, the right to keep private property unless needed for a true public use, and the right to equal protection and treatment under our laws regardless of race or ethnicity — something Judge Sotomayor would have denied to Frank Ricci, Ben Vargas, and the other New Haven firefighters.

The irreconcilable tension between the record and the testimony of Judge Sotomayor means that senators must vote on her liberal-activist record. Her testimony trying to disavow that record signifies that even she and the Obama White House know their view of judging doesn’t square with the great majority of Americans who know that the proper authority of our courts rests upon their impartiality and the rule of law, not the rule of a judge’s personal views and feelings.



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