Reaction from Kansas was mixed Tuesday after President Barack Obama nominated a New York federal appellate judge, Sonia Sotomayor, to replace retiring Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Responses ranged from praise on her legal experience and the chance to become the first Hispanic justice to concerns about some of her judicial philosophy.
“While I celebrate Sonia Sotomayor’s life story, I am troubled by some of her statements,” U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said.
Both Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., voted against elevating Sotomayor to the appellate court in 1998, but she won Senate confirmation anyway.
On one hot-button issue in Kansas — abortion — national legal analysts said Tuesday that Sotomayor does not appear to have a long paper trail on the issue, and it could make the confirmation process easier for her.
However, she did receive support from one major pro-abortion-rights group.
“What our nation needs from our Supreme Court justices is a deep understanding of the law, an appreciation of the impact of the court’s decisions on everyday Americans and a commitment to the protection of our individual liberties,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“Judge Sotomayor will bring this dedication and commitment with her to the bench.”
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said she did not have enough information about Sotomayor’s record to comment.
Several Republican senators, including Roberts, pledged to go over her record more thoroughly in coming weeks.
Most of the concern from conservatives on Tuesday centered on a 2005 Sotomayor statement at Duke University: “All of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because the court of appeals is where policy is made.”
Brownback, who is against abortion, did not mention the issue in his statement.
“I do have serious questions about her record and her judicial philosophy regarding how she views the role of the court. In my view, the role of a justice is as an umpire, not a policymaker,” Brownback said.