- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor denied a statement from a former boss that she would support abortion rights Wednesday as the third day of her confirmation hearings opened.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, pressed Judge Sotomayor on whether she would be a safe vote to support legalized abortion on the bench and asked whether the White House had asked her directly about her views on social issues.

George Pavia, the managing partner of a law firm she worked at in the 1980s had told The Washington Post in May: “I can guarantee she’ll be for abortion rights.”

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“I know for a fact I never spoke to him about my views on abortion, or for that matter on social issues,” Judge Sotomayor said regarding Mr. Pavia. “I have no idea where he has drawn that conclusion” from.

Judge Sotomayor entered her third day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday answering many of the same questions she answered Tuesday.

Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn repeated back to Judge Sotomayor a statement that the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade is settled law, as he pressed her on whether technology should effect how judges rule in abortion cases.

“We have this schizophrenic rule of law, where we define death as the absence of life, but refuse to define life as the presence of life,” Mr. Coburn said Wednesday morning.

Judge Sotomayor deferred questions about abortion and talked mostly about how the high court had ruled in previous cases. When Mr. Coburn asked her whether the court should deal with new technology in abortion cases, she said it would be improper for the court to take up an issue unsolicited.

“That’s not a question the court reaches out to answer,” Judge Sotomayor said.

Judge Sotomayor also answered questions about the high court’s ruling last year overturning the District of Columbia’s gun ban, and whether the right to bear arms should pass through to states, as many other constitutional rights do.

Debating the extent to which a defendant could use a self-defense claim in court, Judge Sotomayor drew a lot of laughs with a rather explicit hypothetical situation.

“If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend” yourself, Judge Sotomayor told Mr. Coburn.

“You’ll have lots of ‘splainin’ to do,” said Mr. Coburn, jokingly.

“I’d be in a lot of trouble then,” she said.

A group of New Haven firefighters filed into the room at the start of her hearing Wednesday. Frank Ricci, a former New Haven firefighter, was the lead plaintiff in an job promotion discrimination test that has become a central part of the debate over her confirmation. Mr. Ricci is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

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