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Today's News & Views
May 26, 2009
Obama Nominates Judge Sotomayor to Supreme Court
Part One of Two

By Dave Andrusko

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As the preeminent single-issue pro-life organization, National Right to Life is scouring the record of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor with great care.

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor

But whomever pro-abortion President Barack Obama's nominee would have been, there are several considerations we keep high up on our list of items to check off. Let me offer just three of many examples.

First, we will not be intimidated into silence by the same people who tried to rule an honest appraisal of then-candidate Barack Obama out of order. For us the issue was not about the prospect of electing the first African-American president but what would he do to advance the cause of death were he the first president who happened to be African American.

It was clear from the get-go that Obama had a lengthy abortion agenda that he would try to realize. That was why we opposed him. Likewise, the issue is not about the prospect of Judge Sotomayor being the first Hispanic to sit on the High Court but her possible impact on abortion jurisprudence.

Second, what is the nominee's view on what might be called the plasticity of the Constitution. Is the text and history of the Constitution the solid materials out of which he or she renders their rulings? Or is the nominee a free-lancer who considers the text and history the equivalent of funny-putty that can be shaped into any result they wish? The latter perspective gave us Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

Third, there has been no end to the discussion of President Obama's insistence that judicial nominees have "empathy"--an appreciation of the "real-world" implications of their decisions. Those who are made nervous by this--like me--worry that under this loosey-goosey standard the law simply becomes politics by another name.

In announcing his selection of Judge Sotomayor, Obama went out of his way to state that the qualities he admires in judges includes a "recognition of the limits of the judicial role, an understanding that a judge's job is to interpret, not make, law; to approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda." But he added that she also had "had a practical understanding of how the law works in the everyday lives of the American people."

In addition Obama talked about "experience"--essentially overcoming life's difficulties--and how that "can give a person a common touch and a sense of compassion; an understanding of how the world works and how ordinary people live." That, he said, "is a necessary ingredient in the kind of justice we need on the Supreme Court."

At the risk of stating the stupendously obvious, we would hope that this "sense of compassion" extends in Sotomayor (and/or any other Obama nominee) to the littlest Americans.

Near the end of her acceptance remarks, Judge Sotomayor said, "I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses, and government." We can only hope that she never forgets the "real-world consequences" of Roe--the deaths of well over 50 million unborn babies and a gaping hole in our nation's heart.