Conservatives Down on 'Policy Maker' Sotomayor

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WASHINGTON -- To hear the White House tell it, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has it all: a compelling life story, vast judicial experience and a heavy dose of empathy, something the President is looking for in a Supreme Court judge.

"I strive never to forget the real-world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses, and government," Sotomayor said.

But conservative groups say hold on a minute. They believe she's a liberal judicial activist and their smoking gun is a Youtube video of her speaking at a law conference.

Click play for comments from Gary Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network, following David Brody's report.

"Court of Appeals is where policy is made, And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don't 'make law,' I know," she said on the video.

"This is a judge who has gone on the record in defense of the idea of judicial activism so it's pretty certain that she's going to approach the bench with an intention of imposing her own personal political preferences into the process," said Charmaine Yoest with Americans United for Life.

Republican senators are taking a wait-and-see attitude, but clearly her remarks on "making policy" from the bench are troubling.

"If it looks like to me she's going to be a policy maker as she sometimes bragged about then I won't vote for her because you know why, you' re putting somebody on the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment," Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said.

The White House is pushing back

"I don't think anybody could reasonably argue based on looking at her cases that she's somebody that legislates from the federal bench," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Another potential fire she'll need to address is something she said back in a 2001 speech. Talking about how her heritage shaped her views she said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

"Her decisions will probably be influenced to some extent by life experience but I think that is good," said Robert Morgenthau, New York County District Attorney.

The GOP now has a decision to make: How much should they fight her nomination? They may be in a political pickle. Mounting an offensive against the first Hispanic female nominee could erode support among the ever-growing Latino population. The party has already taken a thumping on the immigration issue.

"It's going to be very hard for any Senator, Democrat or Republican, to vote against her," New York Senator Chuck Schumer said.

 

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David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.