POLITICS
08/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mitch McConnell Announces Opposition To Sotomayor

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Friday that he would oppose the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

The opposition is expected. The Kentucky Republican, in fact, isn't the first GOP Senator to announce his no vote -- Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he would vote against Obama's pick for the court back in late May.

In doing so, McConnell emphasized the same charge that Sotomayor has spent the last four days of hearings trying to diffuse: Mainly, that she would put empathy above objective and life experiences above jurisprudence.

"If, however, Judge Sotomayor were to become a Supreme Court Justice, there would be no backstop," McConnell stated, in a portion of his speech highlighted by his office. "Her rulings would be final. She'd be unencumbered by the obligation of lower court judges to follow precedent. She could act more freely on the kinds of views that animated her troubling and legally incorrect ruling in the Ricci case. That's not a chance I'm willing to take."

Below are his full remarks:

"From the beginning of this confirmation process, I've said that Americans expect one thing when they walk into a court room, whether it's a traffic court or the Supreme Court -- and that's equal treatment under the law. Over the years, Americans have accepted significant ideological differences in the kinds of men and women that various presidents have nominated to the Supreme Court. But one thing Americans will never tolerate in a nominee is a belief that some groups are more deserving of a fair shake than others. Nothing could be more offensive to the American sensibility than that. Judge Sotomayor is a fine person with an impressive story and a distinguished background. But above all else, a judge must check his or her personal or political agenda at the courtroom door and do justice even-handedly, as the judicial oath requires.

"Judge Sotomayor's record of written statements suggest an alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice, and therefore, in my view, an insufficient willingness to abide by the judicial oath. This is particularly important when considering someone for the Supreme Court since, if she were confirmed, there would be no higher court to deter or prevent her from injecting into the law the various disconcerting principles that recur throughout her public statements. For that reason, I will oppose her nomination.

"In her writings and in her speeches, Judge Sotomayor has repeatedly stated that a judge's personal experiences affect judicial outcomes. She has said her experiences will affect the facts that she chooses to see as a judge. She has argued that in deciding cases judges should bring their sympathies and prejudices to bear. She has dismissed the ideal of judicial impartiality as an 'aspiration' that, in her view, cannot be met even in most cases. Taken together, these statements suggest not just a sense that impartiality is not possible, but that it's not even worth the effort.

"Judge Sotomayor's record on the Second Circuit is troubling enough. But, as I said, at least on the Circuit Court, there's a backstop. Her cases can be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This meant that in the Ricci case, for example, the firefighters whose promotions were unfairly denied could appeal the decision. Fortunately for them, the Supreme Court sided with them over Judge Sotomayor. If, however, Judge Sotomayor were to become a Supreme Court Justice, there would be no backstop. Her rulings would be final. She'd be unencumbered by the obligation of lower court judges to follow precedent. She could act more freely on the kinds of views that animated her troubling and legally incorrect ruling in the Ricci case. That's not a chance I'm willing to take."

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