At White House Event, Law Enforcement Groups Back Sotomayor
By Michael A. Fletcher and Jerry Markon
Eight national law enforcement groups today endorsed the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, saying the former prosecutor is tough but compassionate judge who has performed ably on the front lines of the nation's criminal justice system.
Joined by Vice President Biden, the law enforcement officials announced their support for Sotomayor at an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House.
As conservative critics have sought to focus on several Sotomayor speeches where she argued that her view of the law is shaped in part by her experience as a Latina growing up in the projects in New York City, the White House and Sotomayor's supporters have played up her long record as a prosecutor, corporate lawyer, trial judge and appeals court judge.
Biden said too few people were talking about her "tough stands on criminals and her unyielding commitment to finding justice for the victims of crimes."
Joseph Cassilly, President of the National District Attorneys Association, praised Sotomayor's "deep understanding" of the law and her "thorough" use of legal precedent.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Mongenthau, who hired Sotomayor when she graduated from Yale Law School, said she was "always a step ahead of the rest of us." He said some judges like to intimidate young prosecutors, but "nobody intimidates Sonia Sotomayor."
Conservative legal experts derided the White House event, saying the administration is painting Sotomayor as pro-law enforcement when she is actually a liberal judicial activist on criminal matters.
"This whole effort to portray Sotomayor as kind of a 'hang 'em high judge' is beyond putting a little spin on the ball ... it's really blatantly misleading,'' Wendy E. Long, counsel for the Manassas, Va.-based Judicial Confirmation Network, said on a conference call. She and the other two experts on the call acknowledged they had not seen the White House event or read a transcript.
Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, criticized Sotomayor's record in several criminal cases, including a 2000 case in which she backed African-American plaintiffs from a small town in New York who had sued for discrimination after police stopped them on the street based on an elderly woman's description of her attacker as black. "That's an approach to criminal investigations that would hamper the police,'' Whelan said.
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