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Key Excerpt: Hatch and Sotomayor on Judicial Activism

Courtesy of CQ Transcriptions

SEN. HATCH: You have described your judicial philosophy in terms of the phrase "fidelity to the law." Would you agree with me that both majority and dissenting justices in last year's gun rights decision in District of Columbia v. Heller were doing -- doing their best to be faithful to the text and history of the Second Amendment?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: Text and history, how precedent had analyzed it, yes.

HATCH: OK. In other words, do you believe that they were exhibiting fidelity to the law as they understood it?

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. Yes.

HATCH: OK. Then I take it that you would agree that the justices in the majority were not engaging in some kind of right-wing judicial activism that some have characterized the decision? Is that fair to say?

SOTOMAYOR: It is fair for me to say that I don't view what a court does as activism. I view it as each judge principally interpreting the issue before them on the basis of the law.

HATCH: Great. Well, let me just ask you one other constituent question. It's a short one. Another constituent asked, which is more important or deserves more weight, the Constitution as it was originally intended or newer legal precedent?

SOTOMAYOR: What governs always is the Constitution...

HATCH: Yes, which -- which -- which is more important or deserves more weight, the actual wording of the Constitution as it was originally intended or newer legal precedent? That's a tough question.

SOTOMAYOR: The intent of the founders was set forth in the Constitution. They created the words; they created the document. It is their words that is the most important aspect of judging. You follow what they said in their words, and you apply it to the facts you're looking at.

HATCH: Well, thank you, Judge.

Continue reading the exchange between Sen. Hatch and Judge Sotomayor here.

By Washington Post editors  |  July 16, 2009; 1:01 PM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court , Topics: Judicial Activism  
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