Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings: Transcript (7-14-09)

This is the complete transcript of yesterday's confirmation hearings considering Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor shows herself to be an impressive candidate for the highest court. She was thoughtful and responded in a dignified manner. Her answers were not evasive, which is typical of candidates to the Supreme Court, despite being grilled by small minded politicians whom are incapable of similar thoughtfulnes.

LEAHY: Well, and isn't that what -- you've been on the bench for 17 years. Have you set your goal to be fair and show integrity, based on the law?

SOTOMAYOR: I believe my 17-year record on the two courts would show that, in every case that I render, I first decide what the law requires under the facts before me, and that what I do is explain to litigants why the law requires a result. And whether their position is sympathetic or not, I explain why the result is commanded by law.

LEAHY: Well, and doesn't your oath of office actually require you to do that?

SOTOMAYOR: That is the fundamental job of a judge.

SOTOMAYOR: You are correct, Senator, that the panel, made up of myself and two other judges in the Second Circuit, decided that case on the basis of the very thorough 78-page decision by the district court and on the basis of established precedent.

The issue was not what we would do or not do, because we were following precedent, and you, when on (ph) circuit court, are obligated on a panel to follow established circuit precedent. The issue in Ricci was what the city did or could do when it was presented with a challenge to one of its tests that -- for promotion.

This was not a quota case; this was not an affirmative action case. This was a challenge to a test that everybody agreed had a very wide difference between the pass rate of a variety of different groups. The city was faced with the possibility recognized in law that the employees who were disparately impacted -- that's the terminology used in the law and is a part of the civil rights amendment that you were talking about in 1991 -- that those employees who could show a disparate impact, a disproportionate pass rate, that they could bring a suit and that then the employer had to defend the test that it gave.

The city here, after a number of days of hearings and a variety of different witnesses, decided that it wouldn't certify the test and it wouldn't certify it in an attempt to determine whether they could develop a test that was of equal value in measuring qualifications, but which didn't have a disparate impact.
And so the question before the panel was, was the decision a -- of the city based on race or based on its understanding of what the law required it to do?

SOTOMAYOR: Given Second Circuit precedent, Bushey v. New York State -- New York State Civil Services Commission, the panel concluded that the city's decision in that particular situation was lawful under established law.

The Supreme Court, in looking and review that case, applied a new standard. In fact, it announced that it was applying a standard from a different area of law and explaining to employers and the courts below how to look at this question in the future.

More Transcripts
- Transcript for 3rd day (7-15-09)