Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, is currently facing confirmation hearings.
Talking Points Memo has enlisted an appellate litigator to sift through the proceedings. If you enjoy law, as I do, Pincus’s live reporting is very interesting.
I am particularly delighted by an exchange between Sotomayor and Senator Feingold. Feingold asked a question about the Korematsu case,
in which the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Judge Sotomayor says the decision was wrong, and Feingold asks how Justices can avoid such errors. “A judge should never rule from fear. A judge should rule from law and the Constitution.”
How does a judge resist fears? “By having the wisdom to understand always no matter what the situation that our Constitution has held us in good stead for over 200 years and that our survival depends on upholding it.”
In brief, judges should be guided by the Constitution, not fear. In light of everything that happened during the Bush years (when fear was used as a pretext for executive actions contrary to the Constitution), those are very reassuring words indeed.
Also relevant: Sotomayor’s reply here: “In answer to your specific question, Did [9/11] change my view of the Constitution? — No sir.”