From Alexander Bolton at The Hill:
Senate Republicans are planning on pressing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on what they believe is her willingness to disregard the rule of law in order to help minorities and the poor.
The strategy would be risky, especially because it could trigger a backlash from Hispanic voters, a key demographic. But some Republicans, armed with her rulings on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, believe they can portray Sotomayor as antagonistic toward the middle class.
Obama had said he would pick an empathetic judge who understands the hardships of the working class, and the selection of Sotomayor, who was raised by a widowed mother in the Bronx, is consistent with that pledge.
Yet some Republicans wonder if she is too eager to press her thumb on the scale in favor of the poor and minorities without paying full heed to the law.
Conservative activists wasted no time Tuesday in blasting Sotomayor, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as an intellectual lightweight and an activist judge with a political agenda.
Senate Republicans held their public fire, issuing cautious statements about how Sotomayor’s nomination needs a careful review.
Behind the scenes, Senate GOP officials vetting Sotomayor’s record are focusing on two controversial rulings and a potentially damaging remark she made in 2005.
In one case, Ricci v. DeStefano, Sotomayor upheld the rejection of a lawsuit by white firefighters who alleged racial discrimination against the city of New Haven, Conn., for discounting a promotional test that would have hindered the advancement of African-American candidates who scored poorly.
In the second, Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor ruled that the Second Amendment only applied to the federal government, in effect giving state governments greater freedom to regulate weapons.
Senate Republican aides are also looking closely at an off-the-cuff remark Sotomayor made several years ago at a panel discussion hosted by Duke University Law School: The “Court of Appeals is where policy is made,” she said.
She quickly added, “I know this is on tape and I should never say that, because we don’t make law. I know. OK. I know. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. OK,”chuckling as the audience laughed along.