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Rep. Blair Thoreson, Published June 26 2009

Ask Sotomayor tough questions

A recent poll shows that the majority of Americans differ with President Barack Obama’s position that “empathy” should be a key factor in determining the qualifications of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The poll – conducted by the respected firm IBD/TIPP – shows 59 percent of Americans believe a judge should consider only the Constitution, applicable laws, and precedents when ruling on a case.

Just 32 percent believe justices should consider their personal views and experiences. Most Americans, it seems, agree with Justice John Roberts, who has said a judge should be like an impartial umpire.

Because of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s extensive experience on the bench, it will take time to determine whether or not her actual record warrants classifying her as an “activist” judge. For this reason, we believe this lifetime appointment warrants a thorough vetting.

However, we do know that her past statements are concerning, as they seem to imply she believes a judge’s role is more than merely interpreting the law as written by the legislative branch and signed by the executive.

The confirmation hearings are set to begin in July, and I urge Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., to ask tough, but

fair, questions about Sotomayor’s concerning statements regarding judicial activism.

Rep. Thoreson, R-Fargo, has represented District 44 in the North Dakota House of Representatives since 1999. He is a member of the Steering Committee for the North Dakota Judicial Confirmation Network.