Despite Concerns, Gonzales Praises Sotomayor

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 11:34 PM

By Rick Pedraza

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President George W. Bush’s former U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, says Judge Sonia Sotomayor is the right person for the job of U.S. Supreme Court justice, CNN reports.

Gonzales, a former Hispanic judge himself who was once seen as a possible contender to be the first Latino on the high court, told CNN Tuesday that Sotomayor is an exceptional choice.

“I think it's a proud day for the Sotomayor family,” Gonzales told CNN. “It's a historic day for the Hispanic community. I don't think that any gender group or ethnic group is entitled to representation on our courts. I don't think that the outcome of a case should depend upon the ethnicity or gender of the judge, any more than the outcome of a case should depend on the ethnicity or gender of a prosecutor or defendant.”

Gonzales said Obama’s selection of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court sends a powerful message of hope and opportunity. He believes the appointment is akin to “an African-American elected president or an African-American or Hispanic appointed as attorney general of the United States. It's a powerful message that a president listens to, and this president obviously did. That says a lot about what's going on in our country right now.”

Sotomayor –– a Puerto Rican descendent who rose from humble beginnings at a housing project in the South Bronx and went on to attend Princeton University and Yale Law School –– was named a U.S. District Court judge by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and was elevated to her current seat by President Bill Clinton.

Gonzales conceded to CNN that Sotomayor still needs to go through the rigorous confirmation process, and admits there are concerns in certain quarters about her judicial philosophy.

“But that's what the confirmation process is all about,” he added. “No nominee is entitled to an easy confirmation process. She will be fully vetted, as she should be, because this is a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court.”

Gonzales, who served on the Texas Supreme Court, admitted he thinks it's dangerous when judges impose their own personal views with respect to the outcome of a particular case.

“I think we'd like to think that all of our government officials are good people, compassionate people. And obviously, someone with this kind of story makes a very attractive candidate in a confirmation process. But to say that you empathize with someone, I think it's very difficult to predict the outcome of a case based upon whether or not a judge feels good about a result. I think there ought to be predictability and certainty in the interpretation of our laws. I think that's the number one requirement that a president should look for in the nomination of a Supreme Court justice.”

Gonzales doesn’t question Sotomayor’s qualifications to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice, but does suggest Sotomayor may not be Obama’s best choice for confirmation.

“I think there are legitimate questions about her judicial philosophy,” Gonzales said. “And again, that will be something that will be examined in the confirmation process.”

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