Sen. Jon Kyl announced July 22 that he would vote against Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying he is not convinced that she will set aside her biases and decide cases impartially based on the rule of law.
Kyl, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said judges should not decide cases based on issues of gender of ethnicity, and expressed concerns based on Sotomayor’s oft-repeated line that a “wise Latina” would make better judgments than a white male based on her experiences in life.
“Her attempt to re-characterize these speeches at the committee hearing strained credulity,” Kyl said on the Senate floor. “I remain unconvinced that Judge Sotomayor believes judges should set aside biases, including those based on race and gender, and render the law impartially and neutrally.”
Sotomayor has come under fire from conservatives over her ruling as a U.S. appeals judge in Ricci v. DeStefano, in which white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., sued after the city threw out promotional exams because no black applicants scored high enough to qualify.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently voided the appeals court decision in the case. Kyl said the court has directly reviewed 10 of Sotomayor’s decisions, eight of which were reversed or vacated.
“In my view, the most astounding thing about the case was not the incorrect outcome reached by Judge Sotomayor’s court – it was that she rejected the firefighters’ claims in a mere one-paragraph opinion and that she continued to maintain in the hearings that she was bound by precedent that the Supreme Court said didn’t exist,” Kyl said.
Kyl said he was troubled by Sotomayor’s decision in Maloney v. Cuomo, a second amendment case the Supreme Court may hear next year. In that case, Sotomayor upheld the State of New York’s ban on nunchaku, a martial arts weapon, which Kyl said could have an impact on the right to bear arms.
“(I)f Judge Sotomayor’s decision were allowed to stand as precedent, then states will, ironically, be able to do what the federal District of Columbia cannot – place a de facto prohibition on the ownership of guns and other arms,” Kyl said.
Kyl also said he has concerns about inferences made by Sotomayor that foreign law could be used as a basis for judicial decisions in the United States. The senator said “it’s completely irrelevant to consider foreign law in U.S. courts. I don’t believe Judge Sotomayor is sufficiently committed to this principle.”
The announcement comes as some of Kyl’s Republican colleagues in the Senate have pledged to vote for Sotomayor’s appointment to the bench. Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Mel Martinez of Florida have voiced their support for President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee.