GOP Complains Of Vague Responses From Sotomayor

08/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are growing increasingly frustrated with what they claim is a vagueness to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's responses to their questions about past speeches or lines of judicial thought.

Speaking before reporters after the first portion of Wednesday's hearing, Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) bemoaned what they saw as a lack of forthright answers, arguing that the nominee was depriving the Senate of crucial information about what would be a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

It was a predictable play for the opposition party, one that Democrats have also used. During the confirmation hearings for Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Cornyn was asked whether the hearings for those two Bush nominees were any different than Sotomayor's.

"I think it is different because we're asking her about her speeches and I think we are not getting a very good explanation about how she can reconcile her speeches with what she views the role of the judge to be with what she says now," he replied. "As you recall, I don't think Justice Alito or Chief Justice Roberts had such an extensive body of work that was not judicial. In other words, all these speeches that she's given around the country... it's impossible to say one thing in Berkeley and say one thing at Washington D.C. and expect people not to compare those. And that's what we've been trying to do -- to reconcile what kind of judge she'll be on the Supreme Court."

Such reconciliation wasn't always in demand. When Roberts was seated before the Judiciary Committee during his nomination process, he, like Sotomayor, evaded questions on abortion law, executive power and the infamous Kelo decision.

As passed along to the Huffington Post by a Democratic source, here is a video of the Chief Justice repeatedly declining comment when his nomination was before the Senate.

In doing so, Roberts was actually applauded by Sessions. While saying that he would "like to know how you would rule on a lot of those cases," the Alabama Republican determined at the time that asking for those details was not "appropriate."

Cornyn, likewise, all but gave up asking probing and previously-posed questions to Roberts, arguing that it was pointless to solicit what would surely be the same answer from the well-prepared Supreme Court choice.

CORNYN: Let me ask you this: If we keep asking the same question over and over and over again, but try to approach it from a slightly different way, to get you to answer a question that you don't feel you can ethically answer, are you going to give us a different answer? Or are you going to give us the same answer?

ROBERTS: I hope my answer would be the same, Senator.

CORNYN: Well, I'm sure that's the case.

Get HuffPost Politics On Facebook and Twitter!