quinta-feira, 6 de agosto de 2009

Senado americano aprova Sotomayor para Corte Suprema

O Prof Farlei Martins, doutorando de direito da Puc-rio e professor da Ucam envia a seguinte informação

The New York Times
August 7, 2009
Sotomayor Confirmed by Senate, 68-31
WASHINGTON — Voting largely along party lines, the Senate on Thursday
confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the 111th justice of the Supreme Court.
She will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the court.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was expected to administer the oath of
office to Judge Sotomayor, 55, in the next few days, with a formal ceremony
likely in September. She succeeds Justice David H. Souter, who retired in

Democrats celebrated the successful nomination and relatively smooth
confirmation process as a bright spot in a summer when they have been
buffeted by several challenges, including rocky progress on their attempts
to overhaul the nation’s health care system, President Obama’s falling
approval ratings, the climbing unemployment rate and other lingering
economic problems.

Shortly after the vote, President Obama said he was "deeply gratified" and
confident that Judge Sotomayor would become an outstanding justice. The
ideals of "justice, equality, opportunity" that guide the high court are the
very ones that made the judge’s "uniquely American story" possible in the
first place, the president said.

Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation was never in much doubt, given Democrats’
numerical advantage in the Senate. But the final vote — 68 to 31 —
represented a partisan divide. No Democrat voted against her, while all but
9 of the chamber’s 40 Republicans did so. Senator Edward M. Kennedy,
Democrat of Massachusetts, is ailing and did not vote.

During three days of debate on the Senate floor, Republicans labeled Judge
Sotomayor a liberal judicial activist, decrying several of her speeches
about diversity and the nature of judgments, as well as her votes in cases
involving Second Amendment rights, property rights and a
reverse-discrimination claim brought by white firefighters in New Haven.

“Judge Sotomayor is certainly a fine person with an impressive story and a
distinguished background,” the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell,
Republican of Kentucky, said this week. “But a judge must be able to check
his or her personal or political agenda at the courtroom door and do justice
evenhandedly, as the judicial oath requires. This is the most fundamental
test. It is a test that Judge Sotomayor does not pass.”

But Democrats portrayed Judge Sotomayor as a mainstream and qualified judge
whose life — rising from a childhood in a Bronx housing project to the Ivy
League and now the Supreme Court — is a classic American success story. And
they called her judicial record moderate and mainstream.

“Judge Sotomayor’s career and judicial record demonstrates that she has
always followed the rule of law,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of
Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday.
“Attempts at distorting that record by suggesting that her ethnicity or
heritage will be the driving force in her decisions as a justice of the
Supreme Court are demeaning to women and all communities of color.”

From the moment Mr. Obama chose her in May, many political strategists
warned Republicans that opposing the first Latina nominated to the Supreme
Court would jeopardize the party in future elections. In the waning days of
the debate, some Democrats sought to portray Republican opposition as a
grave insult to Latinos.

“Republicans will pay a price for saying ‘no’ to this judge,” Senator Robert
Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said in Spanish at a news conference

And in July, the National Rifle Association, which historically has stayed
out of judicial nomination fights, came out against Justice Sotomayor and
said it would include senators’ confirmation vote in its legislative
scorecard on gun-rights issues for the 2010 election — a pointed threat to
Democrats from conservative-leaning states.

But attempts to appeal to interest-group politics in the confirmation
process largely faltered.

The final vote was “a triumph of party unity over some of the interest group
politics that you would have expected to play a bigger role,” said Curt
Levey, executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice, which
opposed Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation.

Many Republicans took pains to emphasize that their vote against Judge
Sotomayor did not mean they were anti-Latino. They praised her credentials
and her biography, saying they were troubled only by what they said was her
judicial philosophy.

Before announcing his opposition to her nomination, Senator John McCain of
Arizona, last year’s Republican presidential nominee who has been
sympathetic to calls by Latinos and others for reforming the nation’s
immigration laws, first described her as an “immensely qualified candidate”
with an “inspiring and compelling” life story. And he dwelled on his support
for Miguel Estrada, an appeals-court nominee of President George W. Bush
whom Democrats blocked from a vote even though “millions of Latinos would
have taken great pride in his confirmation,” Mr. McCain said.

Many other Republicans echoed Mr. McCain’s approach in explaining their
votes. On Thursday, for example, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah,
spoke at length about the “unfair and disgraceful” treatment of Mr. Estrada,
while criticizing Judge Sotomayor’s record.

“I wish President Obama had chosen a Hispanic nominee whom all senators
could support,” Mr. Hatch said.

Juan Hernández, who served as Hispanic outreach coordinator for Mr. McCain’s
presidential campaign, said most Republicans had not done enough to persuade
Hispanics that they were welcome in the party.

“It’s not good enough to give two or three lines about Hispanics and then
say, ‘No, I’m not going to vote for Sotomayor,‘ “ he said. “We’re just
losing Hispanics left and right. It’s amazing, in the Republican Party — we’re
doing it to ourselves.”

But Manuel A. Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition
of conservatives who opposed the Sotomayor nomination, said Hispanics were
ideologically diverse and would understand that Republican opposition to a
particular liberal-leaning judge did not mean they were hostile to
Hispanics — especially since her confirmation hearing was civil, he said.

“Hispanics are not going to be offended by the opposition because
Republicans didn’t torment her,” Mr. Miranda said. “Republicans can take
this vote because they treated her well.”

For many Hispanic voters, the symbolism of the first Latina joining the
Supreme Court — and the memory of who opposed her — could be all that
lingers, said Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza,
an Hispanic advocacy group.

“This is a singularly definitive historic moment,” she said. “So it is a
vote, I think, that will matter to the Latino community and will be
remembered by the Latino community.”

A few people have argued that Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who served in the
1930s, should be considered technically the first Hispanic on the Supreme
Court. He was a Sephardic Jew whose family believed its ancestors came from

But the term “Hispanic” was uncommon during that era, and it usually means
people from the Americas with a Spanish-language heritage. On Thursday, the
Hispanic National Bar Association hailed her as the first Hispanic justice

What also remains to be seen is whether Democratic senators — especially
those from conservative-leaning states and those who have received high
ratings from the National Rifle Association in the past — will pay a
political price for voting to confirm Judge Sotomayor despite the group’s

Andrew Arulanandam, an N.R.A. spokesman, declined to comment about the vote,
but he did say it was too early to know how much weight his group would give
to the Sotomayor vote when putting together its scores and endorsements for
the 2010 election cycle.

Still, despite the seeming impotence of the gun-rights group’s ability to
intervene in the nomination fight, Mr. Miranda said he believed the threat
of lower ratings might have had led more Republicans to vote against Judge
Sotomayor, noting that many had cited her alleged lack of support for Second
Amendment rights in explaining their votes.

“That was a seismic shift,” Mr. Miranda said.

Matthew Dowd, a former political adviser to Mr. Bush who had warned
Republicans to be civil, disagreed. He said the Supreme Court confirmation
process had simply become increasingly polarized along party lines,
regardless of a nominee’s qualifications or the stance of groups like the
National Rifle Association.

“My view is that gun rights had nothing to do with it,” he said. “Supreme
Court nominations have become dodgeball games, with Democrats lining up on
one side and Republicans lining up on our side.”

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