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Sotomayor’s activism, unalloyed bias, clear in her rulings

The Augusta Chronicle They’re doing the same thing to Sonia Sotomayor that they did for Barack Obama: packaging each of them in centrist, moderate gift wrapping when the truth is something different altogether. Even the Washington Post, not exactly a bulwark of conservatism, had to admit it after poring over her judicial record. Of course, a Post news story puts the best face possible on it — referring to Sotomayor’s naked judicial activism as “uncommon detail.” That’s right. Don’t think of government interference in your life as infringing on your liberty or stepping on the Constitution. Think of it as “uncommon detail.” ”Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions,” the Post wrote, “show support for the rights of criminal defendants and suspects, skepticism of corporations, and sympathy for plaintiffs alleging discrimination … ”Her writings have often offered a granular analysis of every piece of evidence in criminal trials, and sometimes read as if she were retrying cases from her chambers.” That’s right out of the ACLU Handbook for Judicial Activism. A criminal lawyer interviewed by the Post warned that appeals court judges such as Sotomayor “are not in the role of reweighing the credibility of a witness. Someone’s demeanor is not reflected on a transcript.” Sotomayor’s key appellate rulings were put through a sort of ideological detector developed at the University of South Carolina. The result: Her rulings were considered liberal 59 percent of the time. That makes her more liberal than even most other Democratic court appointments. ”I don’t think it’s fair to classify her as tough on crime,” USC political scientist Donald Songer, who devised the ideological gauge, told the Post . “I would use the term ‘moderately liberal,’ not ‘moderate.'” But several cases cited by the Post make the “moderate” modifier dubious at best: - Sotomayor voted to overturn the conviction of an admitted killer because the state had charged him with the wrong kind of murder. - She voted to throw out a conviction of a man accused of enticing a 13-year-old for sex because the jury instructions were flawed. - She voted to toss out a life sentence for a convicted heroin dealer, apparently thinking the judge had erred by showing “slavish adherence” to the “literal terms” of federal sentencing laws. This is more than “uncommon detail.” This is ruling by judicial fiat. It’s even beyond that. It’s bringing an overbearing personal bias to the bench. All judges are human and cannot help harboring predilections. The difference with Sotomayor is that she appears to make no effort to check those prejudices at the door. Indeed, she wears them proudly. In six of eight rulings involving corporations, Sotomayor ruled against the businesses. That kind of role-expanding thinking takes judges’ noses where they don’t belong. In one case, says the Post analysis, Sotomayor “worried about damage to U.S.-British relations in arguing that British subjects should have access to U.S. courts.” What? A judge has one eye on foreign policy while making a ruling? Shouldn’t she have both eyes on the law books? ”In 2004,” the Post notes about one case, “Sotomayor appeared to go beyond the facts established at trial.” A fellow Democratic judge in a case said of Sotomayor’s reasoning, “It is inappropriate in all but the most extraordinary cases for this court to second-guess a district court’s credibility findings. (Sotomayor’s) dissection of the district court’s decision departs from our precedents and wrongly supplants the lower court’s assessment of the evidence with its own factual inferences, never having seen or heard any of the testimony that it now seeks to discredit.” Were the shoes on the other feet, a conservative Supreme Court nominee would be adjudged by Democrats as unfit merely for his or her conservatism. That is never the case for liberal nominees, apparently.

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