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Senators Resume War of Words Over Sotomayor

The rhetorical war over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resumed Tuesday on Capitol Hill, with Senate Democrats burnishing her law-and-order credentials while Republicans and their allies continued to search for weaknesses in her armor.During a press event with the leaders of national law enforcement organizations, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) once again hailed Sotomayor’s record on crime, using a new study by his staff to bolster claims that she is well within the mainstream of judges.“It can be said with confidence that Judge Sotomayor is unquestionably a consensus judge on criminal issues. In fact, Judge Sotomayor’s criminal justice record proves that she is a moderate judge, whose decisions in criminal cases rarely differ from those of her colleagues on the federal bench,— Leahy said.But Senate Republicans argued that Sotomayor’s connections to a Puerto Rican civil rights organization are indicative of an activist approach to the judicial system.Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a floor speech argued that her work with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and her controversial decision in an affirmative action case involving firefighters in New Haven, Conn., indicate a pattern of behavior.“The perfunctory way in which she treated their case indicates either that she didn’t really care about their claims, or that she let her own experiences planning and overseeing these types of lawsuits with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund affect her judgment in this case. … Judge Sotomayor was in leadership positions with PRLDEF for over a decade. While there, she monitored the group’s lawsuits and was described as an ardent supporter’ of its litigation projects — one of the most important of which was a plan to sue cities based on their use of civil service exams. In fact, she has been credited with helping develop the group’s policy of challenging these types of standardized tests,— McConnell said.At the same time, outside organizations continued to press the Senate on the nomination. The American Bar Association announced Tuesday that it had rated her as “well qualified— — a judgement that Leahy called “further evidence of the outstanding experience she will bring to the Supreme Court.—The National Rifle Association came out against Sotomayor’s nomination. In a letter to Leahy and Judiciary ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), NRA Executive Director Chris Cox expressed the “National Rifle Association’s very serious concerns about the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor,— particularly her involvement in a number of rulings on Second Amendment issues.

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