Sotomayor's Views on Abortion, Gun Rights Come Under the Microscope
By Ben Pershing
The main storyline of Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination -- whether she'll be confirmed -- seems hardly in doubt, but her candidacy has already become the vehicle for other interesting subplots. On gun rights, abortion and even immigration reform, Sotomayor has provided the platform for advocates on both sides of the aisle to battle it out.
Sotomayor's abortion views are the focus of multiple front-pagers today. The New York Times says "some abortion rights advocates are quietly expressing unease that Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v. Wade." As was the case with the man she would replace, David Souter, Sotomayor's paper trail on the issue is relatively thin. With Souter, conservatives made assumptions about his views that later came back to haunt them, and liberals hope to avoid making the same mistake today. The Los Angeles Times notes that "in her only abortion-related decision, she did not come down the way [abortion rights supporters] would have liked," referencing Sotomayor's role in upholding the constitutionality of the so-called Mexico City Policy in 2002. Per tradition, Sotomayor surely won't give a clear answer on her abortion views when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee, so will the White House find some other way to reassure its allies on this issue?
Gun rights groups also have a problem with Sotomayor's views, and in this case it's because of her substantive record, not her lack thereof. In particular, they cite a 2004 ruling in which Sotomayor joined two other judges to declare that "the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right." You can expect conservative groups to put red-state Democratic Senators on the spot on this issue, pushing them to agree or disagree with Sotomayor. "These senators will jeopardize their seats if they vote to support an anti-gun radical for the Supreme Court," writes Ken Blackwell, warning that "you should never underestimate the political power of American gun owners."
Posted at 8:16 AM ET on May 28, 2009
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