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Rep. Kathy Hawken, Published June 14 2009

Don’t rush high court decision

Recently, a group of North Dakota leaders and I announced the formation of the North Dakota Judicial Confirmation Network – a group dedicated to informing North Dakotans about the judicial confirmation process.

With President Barack Obama likely to nominate several Supreme Court justices during his tenure, we felt it was fitting and proper to make sure North Dakotans are educated on the process.

NDJCN is dedicated to supporting qualified judges who believe the proper role of the court is to interpret the law – not to legislate from the bench. To be sure, it is more important to find a judge who rules fairly than one who has never made a verbal gaffe, which is why we do not believe her past comments are cause enough for opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. What matters more to us is how a judge actually rules, and Sotomayor has ruled on literally thousands of cases over the years.

We are not interested in taking knee-jerk stands against Obama’s nominees, and will refrain from engaging in the typically heated political rhetoric that often accompanies such battles. Still, a lifetime appointment to the high court is a serious thing, and as such, we are strongly encouraging our U.S. senators to avoid the urge to rush through this confirmation process.

Just as it would be wrong to reflexively oppose Sotomayor, it would also be wrong to rush through her appointment for political purposes. The new Supreme Court term will not begin until October, so there is no reason to rush to judgment one way or another.

To be sure, there are only 100 Americans who will ultimately decide whom to seat on the Supreme Court, but public opinion does play a role. As such, we encourage all North Dakotans to let their voices be heard. One way to do that is to join us on Facebook (where we have about 100 North Dakotans as members) or to follow us on Twitter (@NDJCN). We look forward to helping educate and inform North Dakotans as this judicial confirmation process continues.

Hawken, R-Fargo, has represented District 46 in the North Dakota House of Representatives since 1997. She is on the Education and Environment Division of the Appropriations Committee.