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Grassley: GOP Isn't Going to 'Rubber Stamp' Sotomayor

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 09:52 PM

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that Republicans wouldn't "rubber stamp" Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court, noting some of her troubling statements.

He also warned that ugly "precedents" had been set by Democrats when Justice William Rehnquist faced hearings for the chief justice position.

Grassley also raised the treatment of Judge Robert Bork, whom the Senate rejected he was "Borked by liberals in Congress."

See Video: Sen. Chuck Grassley reveals how the GOP plans to confront Sonia Sotomayor on the issues - Click Here Now

Grassley indicated that Republicans would not treat Sotomayor any differently.

"I expect Republicans to follow precedent," Grassley said ominously.

During his exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Grassley also said he was bothered by statements the nominee has made suggesting that judges at the appellate level make policy.

He frowned on now-infamous remarks Sotomayor made about "wise Latinas" being better at decision-making than white males, though Grassley said he would give her the benefit of the doubt until she explains her comments.

In interviews with Newsmax and other media Tuesday, Grassley stressed that:

  • Republicans will look for signs that the nominee is a judicial activist who will seek to legislate from the bench.

  • GOP senators also will follow a precedent that Democrats have established during the past 25 years by Democrats and parse Sotomayor’s non-judicial statements and activities.

  • Sotomayor’s long experience as a working attorney and judge is a plus not only because of the courtroom experience she brings but also because she’s an “open book” of rulings and pronouncements from the bench.

    “I think one thing you can be sure of, if original intent means anything . . . it means that all policy making is done in the legislative branch of government,” Grassley said. “So consequently, such a statement would be out of the intent of the Constitution’s writers, and it would be judicial activism.”

    Stressing that he hasn’t talked yet with his GOP colleagues about Sotomayor, Grassley said, “I can tell you that we Republicans have met, as Democrats are meeting now, to formulate strategies because the last 25 years of confirmation of judges and justices have been a lot different than the first 200 years.

    “There’s more of an in-depth view of people looking beyond just their qualifications of whether they should be on the bench,” Grassley said. It was partly a result “of Judge Bork being Borked in the U.S. Senate.”

    As for a filibuster, Grassley said Republicans would be “as thorough” as Democrats have been during the past quarter century in researching Sotomayor’s opinions, other writings, and stated positions.

    "The committee has to take time to make sure the nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law rather than personal politics, feelings or preferences. It's our job to ask very thorough questions," Grassley told Radio Iowa. "The Senate, obviously, can't be a rubber stamp — in the last 20 years on Supreme Court nominees (it) has not been a rubber stamp."

    Grassley’s reaction was similar to most GOP lawmakers Tuesday. They stressed that Sotomayor would receive a fair but thorough vetting even as they drew attention to some of her more troubling rulings and opinions.

    “We will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law evenhandedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

    South Carolina’s Jim DeMint was less sanguine, saying that that some of Sotomayor's writings raise serious questions about her approach to the Constitution and the role of the federal judiciary.

    As one example, his office pointed to a decision last year in which she sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case white firefighters brought. The city threw out results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough.

    DeMint said he looks forward to meeting with Sotomayor and learning more about her judicial approach.

    "Few things are more central to our duty than confirming Supreme Court justices who will uphold the law and apply it equally for all Americans, not rewrite it from the bench based on personal opinion," DeMint said.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings on Sotomayor's nomination. "A lot of hard work for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee begins and I'm one of those members and I'm kind of sorry that it's coming on top of all the work I have to do on health care reform," Grassley said.

    In early May, President Obama said he wanted to choose a justice who had "empathy" for the "hopes and struggles" of those who bring cases before the court. Grassley referred to that statement in several interviews Tuesday.

    "I think one of the things that I want to explore is if the president emphasizes this word 'empathy' that I want to know how the judge, justice nominee takes that into consideration," Grassley said.

    See Video: Sen. Chuck Grassley reveals how the GOP plans to confront Sonia Sotomayor on the issues - Click Here Now

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